There are many ways to travel on an African safari to view wildlife and the magnificent scenery. The following is a list of the different types of African safari vehicles and bush planes that you may encounter during your trip, as well as a section about self-driving if you are so inclined and adventurous.
We utilize a diverse fleet of aircraft within Africa. Almost all of the aircrafts operated are chosen because they are suitable for connecting to remote bush destinations with small dirt airstrips. All these aircraft types are different in their characteristics and uniquely suited to different types of itineraries and group sizes, or groups with different personal needs. In general, the types of aircraft utilized are Beechcraft, Cessna or Pilatus.
Air charter can require a completely different mindset when putting together an African safari itinerary. Unlike scheduled airlines, charter flights can be set at times which suit the client. Busy airports can be avoided and lesser known airports which are more en-route can be used. For clients wishing to visit a combination of remote areas in a short space of time with minimal time spent in transit, air charter is the answer.
Open vehicles, often times a Land Rover or Range Rover, are exceptional vehicles to handle the diverse terrain found on an African safari. Never seating more than 8, the open vehicle promises a very personal experience in the bush, with the ultimate design for game viewing. The seating is gradually tiered, the benches in the rear slightly higher than those in front, providing optimal visibility and photography for each passenger on board. Similar to that of the American Jeep Wrangler, open safari vehicles lack your typical automobile siding. They do come equipped with flaps, similar to a golf cart’s rain cover, to protect you from the elements in the event of an abrupt weather change. The roof of the vehicle can be compared to that of an awning or canopy like material, often allowing the top to be open or closed. At some camps, the open vehicles don’t have a roof at all. For those early morning and late night game drives, open vehicles come furnished with fluffy blankets to cozy up with. As a traveler on an open vehicle, experience the excitement of being in the wide open (literally) with nature!
Closed vehicles are also generally a Land or Range Rover model, perfect for the varying rugged to sandy landscape. Its interior is without tiered seating and is slightly smaller than an open safari vehicle, seating six travelers. The main difference between an open and closed African safari vehicle is the general structure of the automobile. The closed vehicle looks very similar to that of an American Land/Range Rover, but with larger windows and a “pop-up” roof hatch. These large windows are able to roll down completely allowing for great wildlife viewing. Additionally, in a closed safari vehicle every passenger is guaranteed a window seat, with the option to stand simultaneously through the open hatch, getting a better glimpse of the wildlife. Providing more coverage from the ever-changing elements, the cab of the closed safari brings you up close and personal to some of Africa’s most spectacular residents!
Minibuses cannot go everywhere plus the open hatch is just a lift-roof. Minibuses are also not as comfortable as a 4X4. Minibus safaris cost a lot less than an African safari conducted in a 4X4, which is our preferred mode of transport. In the wetter months minibuses tend to get stuck in the mud a lot whereas 4X4 vehicles should not. The minibus is not our typical choice of transport unless clients are on a tight budget.
For most of our clients, we would recommend self-driving for only certain parts of a South African safari. For example, the Garden Route and the Cape Winelands are perfect destinations for “road trips” where you can explore these areas at your leisure. Rental cars are easily accessible through major rental car companies and Rothschild Safaris can arrange for the cars to be either picked up or delivered to your accommodations. In the Western and Eastern Cape areas, the roads are well traveled, well-marked and maintained.