Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours In Africa: Which Is Better?

POSTED ON 15th October 2015 BY

Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours in Africa Which is Better

There’s so much to see and experience, you won’t want to miss out…

Touring Africa can be a magnificent journey. But when it comes to travelling around this great continent, perhaps as part of a safari holiday, there are many different options and routes that you can explore.

Of those, self-drive and guided safari tours are among the most popular options. They both offer different ways to see and experience the land, and both have their benefits.

But which is right for you? What you need is a fair assessment of both guided and self-drive safaris (more on exactly what a self-drive safari is here) to help you make an informed decision, and this is it.

So if you’re considering an African safari holiday, and are curious about which option will best fit your needs, read on…


But First: Why Africa?

Africa has a lot to offer. From spotting the best African wildlife including lions, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, and zebras to breathtaking scenery including beaches, great lakes, and wide-open grasslands.

“There is a good reason why African Safari is on many people’s bucket lists,” writes Matthew Karsten, detailing his experience in Phinda – a private game reserve in South Africa. “The wildlife you see on these trips is nothing short of astounding.”

Of course, safety is a common concern for first-time travellers.

But contrary to what some people think, thousands of visitors come to Africa every year and enjoy trouble-free, safe journeys. It’s important to remember that planning a safari through Africa should be done with great care to help ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.

Africa in and of itself sounds like a dreamer’s paradise, with such a wide variety of wildlife and scenery that there truly is something for everyone. Or, to borrow the words of Ernest Hemingway:

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.”

Still unconvinced? Surely not. Now, back the matter at hand…


Benefits of a Guided Safari

The idea of an African safari sounds both thrilling and exciting and is high on the list for many travel enthusiasts. Going on a guided safari tour can be a great option for those who are looking for an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

A guided safari is often completed as part of a safari group trip, which economises the cost of a guide vehicle. Let’s explore some of the additional benefits of taking a guided safari.

Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours In Africa 2


There’s no need to navigate

A guided safari allows you to experience the sites without having to find them yourself. You will be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about what turn you should take next or following a map.


The knowledge of a guide is handy

Taking a guided safari tour comes with the advantage of having an experienced guide. A guide will know the area, and will be able to provide unique insight into the wildlife and information on the local culture, giving you a true insider’s perspective.

Since a local guide will also have extensive knowledge on the local animals, they’ll know the areas that the animals normally are, and will be able to help you to spot game.


Benefits of a Self-Drive Safari

A self-drive safari allows you to drive yourself and your travel companions on a safari – giving you the opportunity to experience all that Africa has to offer independently and at your own pace. There is no pressure and no waiting for others, just you and the open road or the African plains.

If you’re adventurous and eager to experience counties like South Africa or Zimbabwe on your own terms, then you’ll appreciate the flexibility and freedom that comes from choosing a self-drive safari.

Here are some of the benefits of a self-drive African safari….

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Safari Drive – Ultimate Tanzania


You’ll operate your own fully-equipped vehicle

When you book a self-drive safari with Safari Drive you will get your own fully-equipped 4×4 vehicle – like the Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser.

“Surprisingly most of the animals are not afraid of the Land Rover at all. They just see it as another creature,” writes Matthew Karsten. “This lets you get incredibly close to the wildlife.”

Your vehicle comes with everything you need to survive in the wild, as well as luxuries to make your trip absolutely enjoyable and comfortable, including a fridge and a vehicle roof-top tent.

You can store food and keep it cold, and you can wash. You can even set up a fire for cooking. You can choose when you want to camp, and when you want to stop at a safari lodge, allowing you to create the experience that you’re looking for.


You’ll enjoy an independent experience

On a self-drive safari, you’ll be able to have a truly independent experience. You won’t be tied down to a large group and won’t have to worry about what everyone else wants.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll be roughing it, so to speak – self-drive is a popular option for honeymooners and can be designed to include overnight stays in luxury safari lodges.

You can stay longer if something catches your attention or if you want to spend more time watching the animals. If you have the flexibility to stay in certain locations longer you might also be able to see things that others who couldn’t stay as long would miss.


So Which Option Is Best?

The short answer is: it depends.

The two options pose two very different ways of experiencing Africa, and choosing either a self-drive or a guided safari depends on what you hope to gain from your time in Africa. Determining whether you want the experience of a guide or the independence of a self-drive safari can help you determine which option is best for you.

Africa is a truly amazing continent, one that’s full of breathtaking beauty. Be sure to choose a tour that will help you to get the most from your trip, one that will allow you to truly savour every moment that you’re there.

To learn more about safari holidays in Africa, including useful how-tos on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife, you can download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a 37-page book we wrote on the subject.

Or to get an expert opinion on the kind of safari that will best fit your needs, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

Photos by Massmo Relsig and Diana Robinson

10 Responses to “Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours In Africa: Which Is Better?”

  1. You mean which is safer?

  2. Mix it up. Do some on your own, and use the lodges to wash/shower and go out with the trackers/guides.

  3. Laura Brown says:

    I would like a guide but can’t afford to do either

  4. I have been on TWO guided tours, they were awesome. The guides know where to take you and where the animals will be! They radio each other to let each other know where animals are.

  5. Hmmm..other destination. .peace.

  6. Ian Findlay says:

    Definitely self drive! I’m from Scotland and have experienced both. Self drive (which I’ve now done 4 times) is much preferable!

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