You’ve made up your mind: you’re going on a self drive safari this year. Driving at your own pace and away from all the touristy safari trucks. But what do you have to take into account when driving yourself? What kind of car do you need for the type of roads you’ll encounter? We’ll talk about some important things to consider when going on a self drive safari through Africa.

Type of car: 2×4 vs 4×4

A self drive safari without a car is going to be difficult. It is important to know where you’re going on your trip. In almost all national parks in South Africa a sturdy two-wheel drive will be sufficient. This also applies to Etosha National Park in Namibia. For the best game viewing experience you might be better off renting a car that’s a bit higher.

You may also like Etosha National Park: the luxurious way

If you’re heading to any other park in Africa it’s wise to rent or buy a four wheel drive car. The roads aren’t that great and with all the sand, water and rocks you’ll encounter it’s going to be a challenge to do this in a ‘regular’ car. We drove a Toyota Hilux from South Africa to Kenya and back again so it doesn’t have to be a state of the art car of you’re going into these parks.

What to bring on a self drive safari

Just like the roads in Southern Africa the campsites and parks are way more civilized than in the other countries. If you’re planning to go to Kruger you don’t need to bring that much in terms of food and camping gear. There’s a shop at pretty much every campsite and there plenty of bungalows where you can sleep. Even car mechanics can be found in these campsites.

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Back to Basic

If you’re traveling to other countries it’s really back to basic most of the time. Do take enough food and drinks (preferably in a fridge), your camping gear, camp cookware and plenty of water. We always took 3 liters of water per person per day with us.

Be prepared for a self drive safari

Depending on the park that you’re driving through there is some help. In the bigger and more frequently visited parks such as Mana Pools in Zimbabwe or Chobe in Botswana you’re more likely to get help from others, especially near the campsites. If you’re in Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe or North Luangwa in Zambia however it’s a completely different story. You’re pretty much on your own and you must be sure that you have enough food and water with you. Next to that, it’s really convenient to have the following items in your car:
hi-lift jack to get your car from the ground if you want to replace a tyre (or to perform a number of emergency recovery techniques).
tyre repair kit for punctures so that you can fix your tyre without the need of removing your tyre.
– at least one spare tyre but preferably two. This also depends on the length of your trip in the bush.
air compressor to inflate your tyres after you’ve fixed them or simply deflated them
toolbox to do minor repairs while on the road
– some good old duck tape and a bit of liquid steel epoxy to reassemble metal parts (we used it to repair our fridge but it can also be used to repair your exhaust)
– an emergency kit to resolve any small accidents

Final tip: enjoy!

If you took all the precautions then there’s only thing to do: enjoy your time in the wonderful African nature! If you want to capture this it might be useful to buy a bean bag. You can fill this with rice upon arrival in Africa and you have a sturdy tripod like setup which you can use by placing it over the door of your car.

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