If you ever wanted to go on on safari or if you’re currently planning a safari, one of the first decisions you’ll face is whether to go on a group tour – also called Overland tour – or on a self-drive trip. We’ll just ignore other fancy options like a fly-in safari here, because well $$$$$…
For us, an overland tour seemed very tempting at first since we had no idea how to “do Safari”. It was our first time in Southern Africa and an overland tour just seemed like a safe bet, but the pros come with the cons:
- You are with experienced safari experts
→ That’s true and hard to beat
- Everything is organized for you
→ but there’s no flexibility for a change of plans and it’s a little less of an adventure
- You meet other people
→ you’ll have to do chores and wash the dishes for 20 people
- You’re not alone when things go wrong
→ you’re never alone and experience everything with 20+ other people
- It’s relatively cheap
→ at first sight only, as often activities are not included and it sums up quickly
As we discussed this we couldn’t help but only see the negatives. We imagined being stuck in a truck for weeks on end with people we might not particularly appreciate and with no flexibility, so ehrm thanks but no.
It just didn’t seem like the wildlife adventure we were after. And where’s the freedom, in an overland tour it’s like you’re on rails with a set track and predetermined stops.
A self-drive safari still seemed really scary, but eventually it was a relatively quick decision with the pros outweighing the cons for us:
- It’s an adventure and that’s awesome, but you can still get a break in a lodge or a guided game-drive if you wish
→ It’s an adventure so it can get uncomfortable
- You experience everything alone and on your own schedule
→ it’s just the two of you for weeks, so choose your partner wisely
- Every animal you’ll see is yours
→ that’s scary if you have no idea what to do, like us. Particularly when a wild animal is charging you or you mistakenly honk your horn…
- You are flexible and your trip is in your hand
→ But that means you’re responsible for everything from firewood, to having enough drinking water to border crossings. Even getting fuel can be very difficult in Botswana…
The list could go on and on, but most importantly we were in for an adventure and that’s why we chose to drive ourselves through Africa. And if you’re in for an adventure too that’s probably what you will want to choose!
We took plenty of guide books with us and learned as much as possible ahead of time. We were still completely unprepared with our theoretical superficial knowledge and you’ll be too, but as long as you don’t underestimate a self-drive safari you’ll be fine, just as we were.
A self-drive safari is a trip of a lifetime and the best thing ever.
Before you leave…