POSTED ON 16th September 2015 BY Ollie Blackwell
If you long to get away from it all and have the adventure of a lifetime, a self-drive safari could be perfect for you. When you go on a self-drive safari, you design your own itinerary, set your own agenda and have the chance to get away from everything and discover peace, wilderness and beauty.
It sounds great, doesn’t it?
Although perhaps it also sounds a little risky or challenging. If that’s what you’re thinking, or you just to want to learn more about this unusual format of safari holiday, you’re in the right place. Today I’m going to explain exactly what a self-drive safari entails, and why should you consider going on one…
A self-drive safari is simply a safari where you set your own itinerary, plan your own routes and drive your own vehicle. With safety advice and a fully-serviced, robust 4×4 you can go off on your own, camp in the bush and experience amazing locations – places like Argentina, Oman or Tanzania – in all their glory.
This way of going on safari offers unparalleled freedom and independence. Imagine camping in the wild under canvas with no one else around you, being able to set your own itinerary and go at your own pace. Per this article on huffingtonpost.com, all the above advantages all underscore one thing: freedom. This is what true adventure is all about.
Your vehicle comes equipped with everything you need to survive in the wild, from a fridge to a vehicle roof-top tent. You can store food and keep it cold, you can wash and you can set up a fire for cooking.
Having your own 4×4 is the key to all that freedom I mentioned. As well as customising your itinerary, you’re also able to select what type of accommodation you have each night. You choose how many nights to spend under canvas and how many nights to spend at safari lodges. That means you can select the campsites and lodges which offer you the facilities and experience you’re looking for.
If you like a little luxury as well, a few nights spent in a safari lodge can be great. Stopping at a lodge for the night means a proper bed, a restaurant, a bathroom and all the facilities a lodge can supply. Admittedly, these vary from place to place – but they can include swimming pools, spas and tennis courts.
One of my favourites is Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia, and you only have to see the video below to understand why. Local elephant herds regularly visit the lodge to eat the ripe mangoes which grow in the area, and so they designed the place with that in mind.
Here’s a clip of a few of them walking carefully through the lodge reception…
Safety is paramount on a self-drive safari trip – it’s a holiday, not an exercise in mortal peril! At Safari Drive, for example, we provide all out clients range of facilities to keep them safe, including:
• A fully-serviced, robust 4×4 vehicle.
• Up-to-date maps of every country you visit.
• SatNav – loaded with the latest Tracks 4 Africa data.
• A satellite phone and a 24/7 emergency number.
• Contact details with all our local and regional offices for the area you are travelling in.
• A comprehensive guidebook detailing everything you need to know, from national park rules to how to light a fire and from changing a tyre to driving through water. There is also detailed information on what to do in an emergency and how to use your satellite phone.
Be sure to get a free copy of our African Safari Field Guide here for an insight into the kind of expert support you’ll have behind you.
Staying safe while in the bush is often a matter of following a few simple rules and common sense. Below is a summary of ten key ways to keep yourself safe when out on the road and enjoying the wildlife, landscape and experience of safari.
Staying safe when camping in the bush
1. Don’t leave food out for any longer than necessary and always pack food away overnight.
2. When camping, choose a flat, open area.
3. Set up camp early so you put up your tent, light your fire and cook while it is still light.
Staying safe around wildlife
4. Give wildlife space – keep your distance from them – and time to pass you, especially if they cross the road in front of you. Remember that you are in their environment so respect that at all times.
5. Do not make loud noises, wear bright clothing or invade an animal’s space at any time, but especially if they have their young with them.
6. Take time to learn about the animals you are watching. Understand a little about their behaviour and what might alert them. Make sure you behave appropriately around them.
Staying safe when driving
7. Make sure you understand how your satellite phone works. Buy food along your route rather than overstocking at the beginning.
8. Do not overload your vehicle as this increases the risk that your vehicle might turn over on rutted roads.
9. Drive slowly and do not assume the rules of the road as you know them will be observed on African roads. Make sure you keep lights on at all times when driving on gravel.
10. Be aware of road conditions and take the weather into account.
If you plan well, learn about the country you are going to, pack the right clothes, and learn about the animals you are going to likely to encounter, there is no reason at all why you should not have a safe and very enjoyable self-drive safari. Driving on some African roads can be very challenging and if you want to feel confident about driving a 4×4 on rough terrain, it is worth considering taking an off-road driving course, such as those offered by borda.org.uk.
Of course, if you travel with Safari Drive we give you careful guidance when you pick up your vehicle, like the Land Rover Defender in the video below (yours truly behind the camera). But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hone your skills before you begin your trip.
With so many safety concerns, why would you want to consider a self-drive safari? Well, it’s true that it isn’t the right kind of holiday for everyone, and if you hate camping and don’t like being alone in the wild, a different kind of safari may work better for you.
But if you are looking for adventure, independence and freedom, this could be the perfect choice for you.
A self-drive safari is all about independence and adventure. It’s about experiencing your destination of choice in a unique and memorable way that will be different to any other holiday you have ever had.
In fact, it’s so much more than a holiday because it’s about discovering a place where the only light comes from the stars and the only sounds from the wind in the trees, the insects buzzing around you and the birds in the trees.
In the words of Lisa Grainer on telegraph.co.uk: ‘This isn’t a place for lovers of iPods and spas; it is the earth as it has been for millennia, untouched and unspoilt.’
A self-drive safari means you can decide whether to make a journey from one point to another long or short, fast or slow. You can decide whether to bed down in camp for the night early or late in the day and when to get up in the morning.
So if you want to get out viewing wildlife early, you can do that. You don’t have to wait for a guide or for breakfast to be served. It’s your choice what to do and when.
However, you do have the security of having a pre-designed itinerary; one that is created in collaboration with a team of people who have travelled the path before you and who know what is achievable and what you mustn’t miss on your way.
The most significant point is that you are not tied to anyone else’s agenda or nailed down by anyone else’s needs or desires but your own. Freedom is very much the watchword of a self-drive safari.
If the idea of being out on the road with your own vehicle, following your own specially-designed itinerary sounds good, then a self-drive safari is for you.
To discuss your safari ideas and get the benefit of our expertise in helping you design it, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.