African Safari Vehicles

20th September 2019

All about safari vehicles

Safari vehicles can be broadly defined into two categories; open sided and closed sided. Where you go, and whether you “drive in” or “fly in” to camps will define whether you get an open sided or a closed sided vehicle. If you drive in to the camps, you will likely be in a closed sided vehicle, as for longer journeys these offer a bit more comfort such as air con! If you “fly in”, you will mostly have an open-sided vehicle, which is tailored more for game drives than long distance transfers.

Open sided vs closed sided safari vehicles

We think the only real reason to go with a closed sided vehicle, is if you are driving long distances, as it does offer a bit more comfort for these journeys – there is not so much being battered by the elements. Other than that, for a wholly enriching safari experience, open-sided is always better. This is because you feel physically closer to the action, and there is nothing quite like driving back from a beautiful sundowner in the open African air – the atmosphere Is palpable and not to be missed. Other than this, you get a far better view of the sightings in open-sided vehicles. In the “pop top” closed sided vehicles, whenever there is a sighting, you have to all cram through the sunroof to get an exceptional view. Whereas in an open-sided vehicle, your guide can simply position the car so everyone has a great side on view, allowing for better sightings and photos.

To be close to the action, open-sided is king!

Why are safari vehicles open sided?

  • You feel closer to the action
  • Uninterrupted views
  • Excellent photographs
  • For the atmosphere of being in the wild


African Safari Vehicles

Open-sided safari vehicle. Copyright @Asilia


African Safari Vehicles

Closed-sided safari vehicle. Copyright @Nomad Safaris

Are open safari vehicles safe?

The short answer is, yes. Of course, any holiday where you are surrounded by wild animals can at times be unpredictable. Rest assured though, the guides you are with have the best possible training, and often years and years of experience out on game drives. They can sense what the animals are feeling, and if they feel as though one is showing signs of irritation, they will safety manoeuvre out of danger. Though, this is the same story with closed sided vehicles! The wildlife tends to see a vehicle, closed or open-sided, as one single block and they don[‘t distinguish individual people. As long as you listen to your guide – no standing up, abrupt movement and no loud noises when at a sighting , then you should be absolutely fine.

The best 4×4 safari vehicle

There is much debate as to whether Land Rovers or Land Cruisers offer the ultimate safari vehicle – this is a debated topic! Many people say Land Rovers are a better fit for the bush in wet season, as they are lighter so are harder to get stuck. Both are exceptional vehicles though, and very comfortable with 6 seats and both offer the best game viewing opportunities. Back in the old days, Land Rovers were the norm and if they broke, everyone knew how to fix them,. However, as they progressed they got more electronic and people moved away from them. At that time, Toyotas stole the market and now, most safari camps have Land Cruisers with only a few exceptions. Truthfully, Land Cruisers do offer slightly most comfortable ride.

Off road safari vehicles

In extreme conditions, do not fear – your guide’s vehicle would have thought of it! For example, the vehicles in the Okavango Delta have “car snorkels” as often they are driving through deep water as the floods are in full swing. Even if you did get stuck – don’t worry! Every guide has a radio and phone and are often in communication with other guides in the area – on safari, if someone is stuck, lots of people will rally to the cause. All part of the adventure!