Safari Vehicle Types

Old Oct 27th, 2005, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
I am worried about how I am going to adapt to the pop top vehicles in East Africa. I am happy, however, that I will enjoy a private vehicle for the duration of my 11 night northern circuit safari.

I will say that in Zambia when I was the only person in the vehicle that I was able to enjoy certain liberties...jumping over seats for better positioning, no problem...asking the guide to get very close to the lions even in the no side door vehicles of Chongwe and Puku Ridge (within 10 feet of lions), no problem...get out and walk around whenever I felt like it, no problem.

The only vehicles on safari that I really did not like were the ones this last time at Puku Ridge. They were bucket seats rather than row seats and instead of three bucket seats across, there was a middle compartment that was raised about one foot from the bottom of the other seats. I saw absolutely no benefit in having these middle compartments and it did make things uncomfortable when moving around. It was really almost a waste of having my own vehicle while at Puku because of the seat configuration, except on morning game drives when I sat next to the guide in the doorless vehicle.

I am anxiously waiting for the safari vehicles to get with the program and have electronically heated seats, cupholders and other creature comforts!
Roccco is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 02:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Having a pop top to yourself will ameliorate a lot of the negatives that these vehicles have (in my mind) as you'll be able to move around inside and get views all around.
The other issue for me is that I have the problem with my hip so I would not find it comfortable standing up inside them but you'll be fine!
You'll have tonnes of space for your camera gear too!
Kavey is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 391
Nyamera, you're right. The red dust gives that look in Tsavo that you just don't get in Maasai Mara. I hope more people discover the other parks in Kenya. You can't beat Tsavo for elephants... and that red dust gives them a magical look...

These photos were all taken from an open top.. but still trying to get at least eye level to the subjects. Some of the best photos I've seen on wildlife are at he often gets UNDER his vehicle to get shots. Just look at some of his rhino shots!!
Pumbavu is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I've really enjoyed the open-sided vehicles in Southern Africa, so I share Rocco's apprehension about the pop-tops -- particularly from a photographic perspective, as some of my best shots have been taken whilst crouching down on the floor and shooting over the side of an open-sided vehicle. In my experience, repositioning for better lighting or a different persepctive has never been a problem.

I'm on the short side (5'6") so that's another consideration -- it could really limit your options if you weren't tall enough to be able to tilt your camera down without getting the roof in the way. Any other short-ish people out there have any comments on this?

In addition to photography, I really enjoy the smell of the bush and the feeling of the wind on my face -- the idea of being in a minivan doesn't appeal from that perspective.

RE bench versus bucket seats in open vehcles: I find the bench seat vehicles easier to slide around in (if you have a private vehicle) but the bucket-type seats easier on the back. WS uses bucket-seat vehicles in the Okavango, but they are three across (no compartment in the middle) so you can move around.

I've been quite lucky in terms of sharing vehicles with people -- there's only been one time where there was someone who was rude about rotating. However, there is nothing like having your own vehicle.

jasher is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
I feel same as you about wind in face, being really out in open with no barriers between me and wildlife.
Kavey is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
I used open-sided vehicles in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and pop-ups in Kenya and Tanzania. I do prefer the open-sided type, but pop-ups do have one advantage - you can put a beanbag on the sill to steady your camera - great in low light conditions when you need to use a slow shutter speed.
Heimdall is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,145
The open seating that seems to be in use in some areas seemed much more appealing and less claustophobic to me than the closed type when I was thinking about where/what safari to book. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending - we're all so spoiled) for me I wanted to go to N. Tanzania, so that seemed to eliminate the use of open vehicles. We will be going in a Land Cruiser that has operable windows which hopefully will bring us a little closer to the ground to be able to stick our cameras out the windows. So I guess some people can use the overhead popup area and the rest can be shooting/viewing below - that's the plan, anyhow. The 4x4 seemed to be the lesser of evils when considering the possibility of getting tossed about or stuck in mud in a van. We're promised not to have more than 6 in the cruiser including the guide/driver. As much as I would have loved to go private it would have cost an extra 1000. USD pp. - my husband would have gone into seizures.
So for now we'll just suffer - not.
cybor is offline  
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