Safari Vehicles: Open vs Closed

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What kind of vehicle do you picture when you think of an African safari? Some of you might picture an open-air 4X4 while others might think of a minibus type vehicle. It turns out both are options when it comes to African safaris. However, determining which one is right for you can be a bit tricky.

While open safari vehicles and closed safari vehicles both have unique advantages, they offer considerably different experiences. Learn more about the pros and cons of each and discover which safari vehicle you want to take on your African safari adventure.

Open Safari Vehicles

If your safari takes you to countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and other places in southern Africa, you’ll likely be venturing in an open safari vehicle. These 4X4s lack a roof altogether and perform incredibly well in the African brush and savanna. The openness of the vehicles leaves nothing in between you and the African countryside. You can more easily hear and see the gorgeous wildlife as you travel through the brush. The vehicle will be moving, and animals certainly aren’t going to stop for you. Thus, simply being able to turn your head without anything blocking your sight makes it much easier to keep track of the wildlife.

The downside of an open safari vehicle is that you’re left exposed. You don’t have to worry about the animals as your vehicle can easily outrun anything you might encounter though the chances that animals will come after you in the first place is incredibly low. What you really have to worry about is the rain. If your African safari is during the wet season, an open safari vehicle leaves you completely exposed. Some vehicles are equipped with sunshades that can help keep the rain at bay. The sun will also be bearing down on you the entire time, so make sure you pack sunscreen and insect repellant.

Closed Safari Vehicles

When your African safari takes you to eastern Africa into countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, you’ll be more likely to encounter closed safari vehicles like minibuses. This is in large part due to the extensive system of roadways in eastern Africa not being as prevalent in southern Africa. It’s common in eastern Africa for the same vehicle to pick you up from the airport and take you on the safari tour.

While these vehicles are better equipped for traveling on the road, they offer limited visibility when you’re trying to see wildlife. You need the walls and roof to protect from the wind when going at highway speeds, but those same walls and roof leave small openings for you to take pictures or even catch a glimpse of the animals. Most vehicles have a roof that can be propped up in the middle to allow a viewing space of sorts for rear passengers. To make use of this, however, you have to stand up and poke your head through which can be uncomfortable and still offers limited viewing capabilities.

No matter which vehicle you travel in during your African safari, you’re in for an experience like no other. Book your African safari today for an exciting adventure you’ll never forget.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

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