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Exploring the Wilderness: A Guide to Safari Vehicles in East and Southern Africa

Embarking on a safari in the expansive landscapes of East and Southern Africa is an exhilarating journey into the heart of the wild. Let’s delve into the world of safari vehicles, each offering a unique perspective on the breathtaking scenery that unfolds before your eyes.

Vehicle Types
  • Open Safari Vehicles
  • Closed Safari Vehicles
Open Safari Vehicles

In Southern African countries like South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, open safari vehicles take center stage. These vehicles, characterized by their lack of roofs or side windows, provide an unobstructed view of the surroundings.

This configuration offers an immersive wildlife experience, allowing you to feel the cool breeze and become enveloped in the natural sounds of the wilderness. Perfect for photography enthusiasts, open-sided 4×4 Land Cruisers and Land Rovers, often with tiered seating, are the vehicles of choice.

Despite their openness, many of these safari vehicles are equipped with permanent sunshades (roofs), ensuring passengers stay shaded from the intense African sun.

Closed Safari Vehicles:

In East Africa, particularly in destinations like Kenya and Tanzania, closed safari vehicles become the preferred mode of exploration. This choice is influenced by restrictions on open vehicles in certain areas, such as roads between national parks and specific park regions like Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

Safety is paramount, especially on regular roads where open-sided game viewing vehicles are impractical. Additionally, in parks with thriving cheetah populations, closed vehicles offer a secure vantage point for observing these agile hunters.

Most safari destinations in East Africa boast extensive road networks, making closed vehicles the norm for long-distance transfers between airstrips, camps, and lodges. A typical closed game drive vehicle features three rows of seating and a pop-top roof hatch that can be raised for optimal game viewing and photography.

In private wilderness areas, where off-road exploration is the norm, more open configurations are prevalent. These vehicles often feature a canvas roof and adjustable flaps covering the windows, providing a harmonious balance between openness and protection in the untamed wilderness.

Elewana Collection


Our Top Ten Tips
  1. Choose Your Seat Wisely:
  • Younger children will love the front seat next to the field guide, providing an up-close view of the wildlife.
  • Be aware that the top tier or back seat row can be bumpy, so consider this when selecting your spot.
  1. Embrace the Adventure:
  • There’s nothing quite like an early morning snooze on a rolling safari vehicle. The gentle movement and sounds of the wilderness create a unique and peaceful experience for both the young and the young at heart.
  1. Perfect Photography Spot:
  • For stunning wildlife photos, claim the tracker seat in the front. This prime spot offers an unobstructed view, ensuring you capture the beauty of the savannah without interference.


  1. Capture the Moment:
  • If you’re traveling with a group or family, take advantage of the opportunity to capture the quintessential family photo around and on the safari vehicle. These memories will be cherished for a lifetime.


  1. Stay Organized:
  • Utilize the convenient pockets at your knees, or in the middle row, to keep your essentials organized and easily accessible. This ensures you can focus on the wildlife without searching for your belongings. This includes items such as binoculars, sunscreen, water bottles and bird books.


  1. Treasures on Board:
  • Discover the wonders of the safari vehicle’s “boot-type” storage, where treasures like coffee, biltong, amarula, and other delights are stowed. It’s a delightful surprise that adds to the overall safari experience- sunrise and sunset stops, when these are unpacked, are simply the best!


  1. Arrive Early for the Best View:
  • In some vehicles, the front row may be obstructed by a raised windshield. Ask your field guide if this can be lowered.
  • If you’re sharing a vehicle, arriving early allows you to secure your favorite spot for optimal viewing.


  1. Radio Fun:
  • Engage in some radio fun during your safari adventure. Some guides may allow guests, especially children, to make radio calls – advising the lodge of your return, adding an interactive and educational element to the journey.


  1. Bundle Up:
  • Prepare for the cool mornings by bundling up with a beanie and blanket. There’s a unique charm in experiencing the crisp morning air while wrapped in warmth, creating a cozy and memorable safari atmosphere.

As you embark on your safari adventure with Timeless Africa Safaris, rest assured that our experienced guides will provide a set of binoculars, a bird book, a blanket in winter, and, in some instances, a hot water bottle for those chilly early morning drives. A top tip for the adventurous: the back-row bench offers the bumpiest ride, so if you crave a bit of excitement, those seats are for you!

In this article
  • Introduction
  • Vehicle Types
  • Our Top Ten Tips

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