There's something magical about taking your own vehicle through a national park and stopping beside a rhino. Or weaving through the woodland to encounter a large herd of elephants. For those who want complete freedom over where to go, we know some sublime Southern Africa destinations for a self-drive safari.
Where to go.
We'd advise against a self-drive safari in East Africa. The spacious national parks of Southern Africa are the preferred choice. Encounter half the world's rhinos in South Africa's Kruger, journey across the enormity of Botswana's Central Kalahari, or marvel at the wildlife abundance in Namibia's Etosha. There are almost a dozen other destinations we can recommend to you.
Choose your set of wheels.
The choice of wheels is very important and it's worth remembering that all guided game drives are done in vehicles like Toyota Landcruisers. Most African safari landscapes are dominated by grass. A raised vantage point is key to spotting the animals within it; the higher you are the more you can see. Other than Kruger National Park, you won't find paved roads. So four-wheel drive capability is essential, especially given how rugged and rough the trails can be.
A few things to note.
As there isn't a guide in the vehicle, we've really benefited from the knowledge of staff at the camp or lodge. They help map out a route, allowing you to connect the waterholes and maximise the wildlife encounters. Just remember to follow the rules; opening the door to a friendly-looking lion or firing a camera flash at an elephant is dangerous.
As you drive across Africa the etymology of safari is evoked, a Swahili word meaning 'long journey.' For this travel experience isn't about the end destination, but about everything you experience on the way. Stop for a picnic next to giraffe, watch zebra skip past, and then find the trail blocked by 20 elephants. If you're looking for a thrilling drive, Africa is certainly the place to come.