Safari: mini bus vs 4 wheeler

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Apr 28th, 2013, 04:26 PM
  #1
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Safari: mini bus vs 4 wheeler

Safari operators distinguish 2 vehicle options: mini bus (the cheaper one) vs 4 wheeler jeeps. Some group safaris are available only on mini buses. Could somebody share their experiences, whether these options actually make a big difference in terms of overall experience ?
itrvlr is offline  
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Apr 28th, 2013, 06:19 PM
  #2
 
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The mini Bus is a 9-seater Van with windows on the sides and an open canopy at the top from where you could view game eh ile standing (on seats).
The jeep is open on the sides with roll-up canvas. Ni windows.
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Apr 28th, 2013, 10:09 PM
  #3
 
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I've been on only one safari (Tanzania 2011) that used the "mini bus". In fact, is was not, but a Toyota pickup frame with specially designed body especially for photography. (Roys Safaris). The "pop top" was totally open all way around 360. So no corner posts to get in the way. (If we needed it closed, done by roll up canvass). So this vehicle with only 2 (two) photographers was great.

Now, for my other 6 or so safaris in South Africa the vehicles have been Land Rovers. Totally open, no windows, no top. And I really like that, you are out there almost like walking. And you feel closer to and more vulnerable to the big five.

You mention Kenya, in 2006 went safari to Kenya, Little Governors Camp. We flew into camp. They use Land Rovers or Land Cruisers that were totally open. Think you'll find that if "tour" is by land and thus lot of driving, it will be mini-bus. But if you fly in most likely open vehicles (Land Rovers/Cruisers). Sandi here I'm sure can add a lot to this. But I'd do the open vehicle no matter where. Even if it means flying into camps.

regards - tom
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Apr 29th, 2013, 03:08 AM
  #4
 
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In Kenya, white Toyota mini-buses seem to be popular. They do impact viewing as described above and are less able to handle rough roads, etc. I've seen them stuck a few times. If budget allows I would opt for the non-minibus option.

Also, you may want to Google, "Kenya Safari minivan" and select images to see what they look like.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:27 AM
  #5
 
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If a driving safari, vehicle has to be closed for safety reasons, to avoid road kick-back of dirt, gravel, dust. Can be the minibus, some of which are 4WD, others not. Or a Landcruiser 4WD. Jeeps 4WD might have closed sides/windows, others with plastic rollup windows. The mini-bus/van types will also be the less expensive, though if either is 4WD a tad higher price. Others as Landcruisers will also be more expensive. Many expecially if during the wet months prefer 4WD, but even on my recent trip during the wet, it was rare that our guide even used it.... and we had quite a bit of wet. And, some (always personal) prefer the mini-bus/van while other the other options. I've been in all and both worked fine - always got us from point-A to B, no issues.

If on a 'group' safari, and depending on # of pax in each can be comfy with only 4, or rather tight with 6. For private of only 2/pax... either works.

For fly in/out, you use lodge/camp vehicle and these vary between properties. Few, if any, in East Africa as it's located on the Equator with brutal sun, will not have some cover up top... whether metal or canvas. Unlike in southern Africa where most vehicles regardless type are completely open on top.

See where your budget gets you to make a decision.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 09:27 AM
  #6
 
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It is not quite clear to me whether you mean vehicles driven by guides or self-driven rental cars?

If you are driving yourself, I strongly recommend a 4WD. In the rainy season, it is a must.

If you go on a safari is a vehicle driven by a guide, a jeep offers a better experience of anmimal viewing. In fact, once in Masai Mara a lioness approach our open Landcruiser, lay down in its shadow and wagged her tail right into our car. We could grab it (but didn't).

In a minibus, you are somewhat separated. Most minibuses have roofs which can be opened or lifted in order to give you an unobstructed view if you stand up, but it will be somewhat cramped.
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May 2nd, 2013, 02:14 PM
  #7
 
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The safari vans are custom built and specially modified 7 window seat vehicles which can withstand most of the terrain while on safari.
While the custom built four wheel drive land cruisers are really the all weather safari vehicles
They all have roof hatches and high ground clearance to optimize all round visibility for game viewing and ensure maximum comfort and enjoyment while on safari.
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