Safari Vehicle Types

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Oct 26th, 2005, 10:35 AM
  #1
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Safari Vehicle Types

I think there was a discussion on this a while ago but I can't seem to find it. Basically I am interested in what people think of the open "bench" seat type vehcles compared to the closed vehicles that have a pop up roof? My hubby feels that the pop ups would be better for photography in that you can walk to the front or back and are not twisting in a forward facing seat to take a picture that is behind you. Assuming the vehicle is not able to reposition easily or may scare away the photo subject by repositioning? He is a very keen photographer. We have travelled in the pop up types only in Tanz.
Looking forward to hearing your opinions.
Thanks in advance.
J
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Oct 26th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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Hi Jules, Just taking a later afternoon break and noted your post. Afrigalah began a thread on vehicles. Not sure if this was one you are thinking of. To compound the issue on vehicle type are variables inlcuding the number of fellow passengers, comfort enroute to "drive", amount of dust, etc. Having been in both types and just the three of us, I think I would still take the pop-up over the open style but also liked the means to hunch down in the open type for change in perspective in regards to elevation perspective. How is that for a definitive answer? Where are you two headed next?
Dick
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Oct 26th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Dick. We are still in the throws of deciding if we want to head to southern Tanz next. We will combine this with a gorilla trek. This won't be until Sept '06. My hubby got on line this past weekend and was looking at photos and the open vehicles with the bench type seats really don't appeal to him from a photography point of view. So we are thinking all that through right now!

Thanks again and to anyone else with an opinion on this.

J
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Oct 27th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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Several things to consider.

1. With pop ups you're OK as long as there's no more than about 3 people wanting to stand up and take photos.
2.As you know, the lower the angle you can get, the nicer the wildlife shots... the bench type is good for that.
3. Seats are usually, slightly more comfortable with the pop-ups... but I'd trade that for the flexability of the open sides... again as long as not to many people in the vehicle
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Oct 27th, 2005, 05:57 AM
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Personally I prefer the open vehicles. I've never had problems with trying to take pictures behind me, so to speak but I have appreciated the freedom of an unfettered view around me as well as space for the camera gear.

Most fellow guests have shared the same sense of etiquette and have naturally rotated which row each couple or guest takes for each game drive which gives a variety of heights.

The idea of being able to move around in pop-ups doesn't correspond with my memories of 6+ guests in one vehicle.
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Oct 27th, 2005, 06:49 AM
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Why not have the best of both worlds? In Kenya Iíve mostly been on game drives in canvas covered Land Rovers or Landcruisers that are opened up to the sides and the top. That way you can lean your elbow on the side door and above it the side is open with no window. To me being close to wildlife is more important than getting good photos. I like the look of the bench type vehicles, but it looks like youíll have a problem if you want to stand up to see whatís behind the bushes while the vehicle is moving, especially if youíre not completely sober. In the canvas covered vehicles you can hang on the steel bar when youíre standing and, if itís not too crowded, you can move around.

If Iíd have to choose between a bench vehicle and a pop-up, Iíd choose the bench.
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Oct 27th, 2005, 07:15 AM
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I feel there's no right/wrong answer to this.

In Southern Africa, I cannot afford "private" vehicles at the expensive lodges so my game drives have always been shared open vehicles. It is common courtesy for older folks get the passenger seat and first row because it's easier to get in/out. I always end up in the back two rows. I have never seen a voluntary rotation but then again I've never been to Mombo. From the back seat I am about as high off the ground as a pop-up jeep so the advantage is lost.

On most of my past shared game drives, overzealous photographers "demanded" the best seats so I relented just to keep everyone happy. Only once did I loose my cool when a huge zoom lens hit me on side of the head because I did not move out of the way fast enough.

As always, I do recommend that serious photographers spend the extra money and arrange private vehicles at the lodges.

In a pop up, if you are serious about photography then don't go on group tour. It sounds obvious but despite our best efforts on this board, many people still don't realize that a private safari for 2 can cost the same or less than a 6-person international group tour. IMO there is no financial reason for keen photographers to be part of a group of 6 in a pop up.

To summarize, if private then I prefer open vehicles for many reasons stated by others. When shared, an open vehicle loses the advantage unless one demands the best seats while granny and grandpa struggles to scramble to the back bench!
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Oct 27th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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Climbhigh, the voluntary rotation thing has nothing to do with Mombo! We've experienced it at pretty much every camp we've been to including Savuti, Tubu Tree, Chitabe Trails, Little Vumbura, Damaraland Camp and a few others!

Where older passengers specifically find it hard (or express that they might find it hard) to climb into the back rows, I'm sure most would be kind enough not to deny them the front row but a) most of the time the older passengers we've shared vehicles with have been just as agile (actually more so) than we are in our early thirties and b) the two individuals I can think of who were less mobile actually preferred to sit next to the driver, up front, rather than on any of the bench seat rows.
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Oct 27th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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PS How rude that overzealous photogs "demanded" the best seats! Whilst we both prefer the front row on these type of vehicles we appreciate that many others to do and that we have no more (or less) right to them than any other paying guest. I've only once had to gently suggest that we all take turns in the front row since we are all evidently keener on it and that gentle suggestion has been enough.

If I were with a fellow guest who tried to hog the front row I'd have a quiet word with either guide or manager. It's their job to help ensure that all their guests are treated fairly and to manage difficult guests if need be.

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Oct 27th, 2005, 07:55 AM
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three posts in a row!

above should read

"many others do too"
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Oct 27th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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I hope people aren't getting the wrong impression from my questions. There is no way I would ever "demand" anything, if I was in a shared vehicle I would never dream of such a thing. Our last trip was in a pop up with a total of 4 people since each person was very aware of the others this actually worked very well. I would assume there would be a natural rotation process in a shared vehicle. Sorry if anyone got the wrong impression.
J
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Oct 27th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Hey Jules

I certainly did not take it the wrong way!

You asked a very good question!

I have just been unlucky it seems but a natural rotation has not occurred in my recollection of many years of Southern African safaris. Just the opposite actually - folks tend to push for the same seats as the day before! And if you go sit in someone else's seat, you may get a bit of a look!

My point is basically that the "ground-view" advantage of an open vehicle is lost if:

a) like me, you always end up at the far side of the sighting
b) like me, you always end up on the high seats
c) like me, you prefer not to ruffle feathers by asking for rotations and such!
f) like me, you travel in high season (6 - 8 people per vehicle) and don't have enough money to arrange private vehicles
g) like me, you have lots of gadgets and these fly all over the narrow bench seats as I have not been on open vehicles with decent pockets!



Eben

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Oct 27th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Eben I think you have summed up my hubbys fears exactly!! We are thinking that in an open vehicle with 2 people per row there are going to be times when you just can't twist around to take that photo or even just to sit and watch the animals. We are exploring our options and trying to find the best result for us. Ideally we would like our own vehicle .......but destination my hinder this. We are thinking S Tanz and the private vehicles are expensive unless we can figure out another way to do it! Always pondering!
Thank you

J
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Oct 27th, 2005, 11:54 AM
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Eben
It seems you've been quite unlucky on this issue which is such a shame. Given that you paid just as much as any of those other best-seat hogs this really irks me.
I know that assertiveness isn't always easy to achieve but I truly think that a polite request to rotate seats should not be a contentious issue.
That back row is definitely not as appealing as the others because a) you can't hear and interact with the guide/ driver as well and b) you are limited to the top-down view for every sighting when it's nice to keep it varied and get the low-down view too.
Anyway, really hoping you are able to find a non-confrontational solution next time around.
Kavey
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Oct 27th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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PS Jules, I didn't get wrong impression either - I think it's totally a good idea for you to consider this issue now and look into what will give you and your husband the best solution rather than leaving it to chance or behaving as inconsiderately as some of those seat hogs Eben has encountered...
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Oct 27th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Hi everyone~ Since you've brought this up, I do have a question: In the open vehicles is it possible to GET OUT of the vehicle from time to time if it's deemed reasonabley safe, to get some lower to the ground shots? (I mean, if it's possible to do walking safaris, in Zambia, certainly you can get out of the vehicle? On occasion? Thanks!
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Oct 27th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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Cooncat, yes it is possible to get out but, on a regular game drive it won't be something you do that often unless you specifically ask your guide.

Usually you get out of the vehicle for coffee breaks/ sundowners (which are also "comfort" stops), additional toilet stops on request and not often other than if your guide decides to take you on a wee walking safari.

That said, provided the guide is confident that there are no dangerous predators around he may let you get out for a photo at other times. The trouble is that many of the animals don't spook at the approach of a vehicle - they have become habituated to them - but will run if they see you on foot outside the vehicle.

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Oct 27th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Thanks Kavey - Hopefully the opportunity will present itself a time or two!
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Oct 27th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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On this occasion I resisted the urge to get out of the vehicle for a better shot!! http://www.simonrushton.com/tsavolions.jpg

;-)
You can't in the game parks... although I have on two occassions to 1. rescue a KWS Vehicle from the mud in Nairobi National Park and 2. To help fix the wheel when it fell off in the Mara!
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Oct 27th, 2005, 02:16 PM
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Pumbavu,
Simba majike wazuri sana na udongo mwekundo wa Tsavo. Asante.
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