Self-drive safaris can be exciting as they allow you to roam on your own schedule and tend to be more affordable. However, there are a lot of important things to keep in mind when doing a luxurious self-drive safari in Africa.
1. Don’t drive by yourself after dark
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid driving in a nature reserve full of free-roaming wildlife when you can’t see the road or what’s ahead of you. Weather conditions such as fog and rain make it especially tricky to drive in the dark due to reduced visibility.
2. Choose the right car
If you’re hiring a car, make sure to choose the appropriate one for your trip based on what you intend to do and the distance you want to cover. A 4×4 vehicle is not necessary unless you’re planning to drive along roads that are not tarmacked.
3. Not having a planned route or guided help
It is absolutely crucial to have some type of plan or guided help, even if it’s just a GPS. Most National Parks are huge and it is easy to get lost and drive for hours before finding your way.
4. Do not crowd the animals or feed them
Remember to not crowd the animals or corner them, and give them space to roam about freely. Just like human beings, animals do not appreciate having their space invaded. Turn your vehicle’s engine off when you want to stop and observe them. Another important safari etiquette is to never, ever feed the animals, and make sure to lock up your food properly.
5. Do not wander outside your vehicle or speed up
Most animals see cars as part of their landscape and have got used to them. However, if they see movements such as someone stepping out of the vehicle, they can become fearful or aggressive. Moreover, it is important to respect the speed limit – if you drive too fast, it can be dangerous both for the park visitors and the wildlife as road kill can happen.
There are many more things to keep in mind when taking on a self-drive safari trip. The easiest and more beneficial option is to take a guided safari, and here’s why:
- Guides are very knowledgeable about animal behaviour, the best places to spot wildlife, and what to do if the animals’ behaviour becomes unpredictable. You will be safe with a guide and can even learn about the local communities and cultural traditions from them.
- Your guide’s enthusiastic stories and love for the African bush will leave you with a deeper appreciation of your surroundings.
- There is no need to worry about navigation or getting lost when you’re on a guided safari drive in a large National Park.
- Your GPS might not always work. In some areas of the parks, there is no signal and therefore no functional GPS system.
- The GPS tends to suggest the shortest path, which means that either you’re wandering along an unpaved and gravel road, or you miss out on potential sightings and beautiful landscapes.
- Accommodation and food are usually included in comprehensive safari packages, which are not always that much more expensive than a self-drive trip where you have to rent a car, buy non-perishable food, petrol, etc.
Whether you chose to take a self-drive or a guided safari enjoy the experience, there is nothing better than seeing animals in their natural habitat.
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