Guided overland safaris
In a guided overland safari, your guide drives you from place to place, pointing out sights along the way. In some cases, you may have two guides or a guide and a professional driver.
These drives are a great opportunity to learn in-depth about the country’s wildlife and culture from an expert. Some of my most memorable moments in Africa are of conversations I had with guides as we traveled between parks.
I enjoyed the self-drive portion of my Namibian safari, but the experience became even richer when I met up with my guide. Franco is a Namibian who has devoted his life to understanding his country’s natural treasures. Like all good guides, he knows not just where to find animals, but also the best times of day to see them. I learned and saw things I would have missed on a purely self-drive safari.
Highlights of a Guided Overland Safari
In Etosha National Park, Franco spotted two huge male lions about three hundred yards away as we were driving. We stopped to watch their massive shapes slowly move west. Franco speculated they would either stop under the shade of a nearby tree or continue on to the local water hole. We watched and waited. When they passed under the canopy of the tree and moved on, we knew they were headed for water.
Franco made a beeline to the waterhole and set up shop. And sure enough, we watched the lions walk directly toward us and pass by 20-30 yards away as they descended to the waterhole.
If I had been there without a guide, I wouldn’t have known to go to the waterhole (and possibly would have not seen the lions all together). That was the case for the four self-drive vehicles in the area. They crept along the road parallel to the lions, trying to figure out where the lions were going. While they eventually ended up at the waterhole with us, the lions were not in the best spot for viewing by the time they arrived.
Another time, we stopped to watch a female black rhino and her calf grazing on the shrubs near the park road. Black rhinos have been known to charge vehicles, so I was glad that Franco was there. He knew how to keep a safe distance and avoid anything that might be perceived as threatening by the rhino mom. Instead of worrying that I might accidentally commit a rhino faux pas, I could just relax and enjoy a beautiful moment with nature.