The Best Safari Vehicle for Wildlife Viewing

Tanzania is a WIDE open space. When you go on an African safari and a game drive through the Serengeti, you’ll be spending a lot of time and covering a ton of land by car. So, the vehicle you choose to travel in can determine the ultimate success of your trip. Watch the video below to hear from safari specialists, expert driver guides and our past guests to hear why private close-sided vehicles are the best choice for a host of reasons.

Wildlife photographer and filmmaker Jeff Smith, takes you on a game drive through the hot African sun – through dust, mud and occasional rain, explaining how our Land Rover Land Cruisers pass the test of safari safety while getting our guests as close as possible to the action.

When you book a safari, you should inquire about what kind of vehicles you’re going to use because you’re going to spend a LOT of time inside of them.

Jeff Smith shares a scenario from his last trip to Tanzania to illustrate this point:

“The other day we were right by the side of the road where a lion had taken down a wildebeest. And those lions that were feeding on that wildebeest were no more than 7 feet away from the vehicle! But you’re IN this vehicle and that gives you a very good sense of security. Also, it doesn’t distract the animals. The animals see the vehicle as one large object. That’s why I’m somewhat against the open-sided vehicles that are starting to show up in the Serengeti because people can move around and reach out and you don’t feel as safe. And that’s probably realistic because you are NOT as safe. You are not as safe in an open vehicle from the elements, from the animals, from the dust, from the mud that gets thrown up sometimes, from the sun… so I think it’s an important thing to ask – What vehicle am I going to be using?”

From a safety standpoint, safari specialist Dawn Anderson explains that “if you’re in an open-sided vehicle, you’re guide is probably going to keep some distance between you and that animal.” There’s only so much the driver can do in this scenario. Their only way to keep you safe is to keep you further away.

Specialist Sharon Lyon agrees: “I would much rather be in a closed-sided vehicle with the lions or leopards right next to me than have to stay 25, 30, 50 feet away from a pride of lions. So, that’s one advantage. I feel safer and can get much closer to the animals.”

Aside from safety, comfort is another important aspect to consider. The open-sided vehicles are proven to be less comfortable because they are not all-weather vehicles.

From his last trip, Jeff Smith recalls:

“In the vehicles that Africa Dream Safaris uses, you can pull your shoes off, you can stand up on the seats and your entire torso is sticking out of the vehicle. You have a 360 degree view all the way around. If you don’t want to stand, you can sit down – it’s comfortable. It’s also quiet in there and it’s out of the dust – you can hear your driver whose going to be explaining things throughout and stuff you don’t want to miss.”

Local Tanzanian and expert safari driver Roman Desiderius explains why he prefers the type of vehicles we make use of:

“ADS vehicles are fantastic. You can remove the roof so guests can stand up and take photos at 360 degrees or whatever they want to do. When it rains and we put the roof back on, then guest can still use the windows to shoot out of for fantastic photos despite the rain. If I’m driving people who really prioritize photography, I think the open vehicles are not as good as the closed vehicles that ADS actually owns.”

“There’s different companies that offer different things so it’s really important to make sure that their vehicles match what you want to be able to do. Because you’re spending all this money to get out here and you don’t want to get out here and find out your ride is terrible.” – Chris Limberis (filmmaker / photographer)

Ultimately, the choice is yours. When searching for a company to be your host to the most magical place on earth, don’t be afraid to ask questions about each and every detail of your trip.  It’s a trip of a lifetime after all and you’ll want to get it right.

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  1. Going on Private Sufari with you in June 2019 and am still so stoked, even though we are doing Hawaii and a Nile Cruise before. This tip has consumed all my energy since making the decision to book with you in late 2017. It has also consumed a bunch of money. But this trip is once in a once in a lifetime.Bought a new lense for my camera, and bought an iPhone X as an additional camera. Oh yes, I also bought a GoPro to record the entire adventure.

    Can not wait for this to begin.

    John Burch

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