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Best vehicle for safari?

Tweed heads
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6 posts
17 reviews
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Best vehicle for safari?

I know there are other topics already on TA for this but hoping to have a reply from someone who has experienced both the minibus and the 4x4 land cruiser while on safari.

We will be on safari in Kenya for 12 days in Sept 2013 with long distances of travel on most days. When planning itinerary with travel company, minibus was included as the vehicle. I have only just found out that we could upgrade to 4x4 land cruiser. Cost is additional total $2000 for both me and my husband. From what we have been advised, we have a private tour so will not sharing a vehicle.

I would like to know -

1) is it worth the extra cost for the benefits of the 4x4?

2) I am quite short so would it be difficult for viewing and photography with minibus?

3) does the experience of being on safari in the 4x4 far outweigh a minibus

4) is it going to be extremely hot in 4x4 with no shade once roof open and does this affect photography (which means I might end up staying inside more if sun is extreme?)

5) I know 4x4 is more comfortable but how bad are the roads and is the ride in the 4x4 going to be worth the extra $$$ for this safari experience.

I know I am asking really simple questions here but this is most likely a once in a lifetime trip for us and I want to have no regrets.

I would really appreciate some advice from someone who has experienced both and your thoughts on paying the extra.



Malik Safari
Nature & Wildlife Tours, Historical & Heritage Tours, Safaris
Ilford, United...
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400 posts
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1. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

Hi Ange, I have np been on safari in both minivan (Kenya) 3 times and 4x4 jeep (Tanzania) once - these are my thoughts

1) physically the jeep is bigger, so more spacious however if you are only two in the vehicle space shouldn't be an issue; with the exception of last year when hubby and I were the only two in a minivan we have always been two in a vehicle with six pax. Road noise is slightly worse in the minivan

2) height of the roof line might be slightly higher in the jeep but in both cases the roof lifts (but does not come off) in a similar way to a VW camper van but without the "sides". I'm 5'5" and can rest my arms on the top of the roof ledge fairly comfortably. If height is an issue the side windows will open.

3) the experience of the 4x4 does make it "feel" like you are on a "proper" safari al la Nat Geographic, it can get to more inaccessible places than a minivan but neither is allowed to go off the "beaten track" to get the better shot

4) in both cases as previously mentioned the roof lifts but does not come off so there is a bit of shade still and tbh it can even get chilly as the breeze blows around the vehicle between the sightings (it won't be off between the parks). The sun will still be coming in through the windows no matter which becphicle you opt for

5) as per points 1&3 yes the jeep is more comfortable, the minivan can be a bit of a bone shaker but the roads in Kenya aren't as good as those in TZ - that's said I just take it all as part of the experience and when in the parks and standing (as soon as we are in the park my hubby and I are standing even if others aren't) it does "wonders" for your core muscles as you rock'n'roll with the bumps :)

I hope that helps, I'm sure others will share their experiences too

I hope you enjoy your safari

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
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2. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

$2000 is a lot of money. I would stick to the min van. You can ask the company if they can remove the front row, or middle row of seats to make it even roomier. Also with shoes off, you can stand on the seats to look out of the top.

I find the ride harder in a 4wd as opposed to a van. However we are usually flying around so use the camp's 4wd which are open on the sides.

I would stick to the van and use the $2000 on making your safari even more special.



Amsterdam, The...
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3. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

I second the above advice.

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4. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

Also agree with RWA... the $2K is rather high, so I'd save this amount for use elsewhere.

My very first safari, 18/yrs ago, was in a minivan and we had no issues whatsoever. Since then I've been in both regular vehicles and 4WD, which except if traveling during the wet season where the latter would be preferred... hey, if vehicle has 4/wheels and going to/from where I need... not all that much difference, especially if you're only 2/paxs. And on a driving itinerary, some long distances, many actually prefer the minivan.

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5. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

Hi Ange

I've traveled in 3 types of vehicles while in Kenya and Tanzania - a regular minivan, a 4WD minivan and a Land Cruiser during 3 of my trips to Africa.

I actually prefer the minivan (in Tanzania, I've only been in the Landcruisers). The reason for my preference is I have some back issues. I find the minivan more comfortable and easier to get in and out of than the Landcruiser. I also take 1-2 of those small travel pillows with me for the trip, and toss them out at the end when they have become crushed from the bumpy road landings.

Some Landcruisers have the pop up roof, others have the removable panels (I had one of those on a group tour). With the panels removed, it was extremely hot with the sun beating down on you. My other 2 trips, I went solo with a guide and requested the pop up roof. Much better and better for photography as it shades the camera lens.

Many people swear by the Landcruisers for getting around better. I was in some pretty muddy situations in May, and we had no problem with the minivan, but it was a 4WD minivan. On a couple of occasions, we encountered vehicles that were stuck. They were in Landcruisers. A lot depends on the skills of the drivers.

No way would I pay that kind of extra money for the Landcruiser.

As far as noise goes, I didn't find one quieter than the other, although it was just me.

You won't have any problems viewing out the top. I'm not that tall either. But don't forget, if you are taking photos, try taking some out the side windows. You will find the perspective of the animal shots actually better. I probably take more than 60% of my shots that way now.


Tweed heads
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6 posts
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6. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

Thank you all for your advice. I appreciate your reply. Sounds like the benefits of the 4x4 doesn't really warrant the extra $2000 cost for the 12 days.

7. Re: Best vehicle for safari?

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