Pros and cons of a self-drive safari
Although I drove for only the first four days, I know I could self-drive the entire trip. The roads, despite being 80 percent gravel, are extremely well-maintained and have fantastic signage. You can generally drive 50 to 60 miles per hour when you are going from place to place.
Self-drive is a great option for people who enjoy the adventure of the open road:
- You can set your own schedule and change it on a dime.
- You can linger over a beautiful landscape as long as you want.
- If you love a lodge so much that you don’t want to leave it, you can simply extend your stay—as I ended up doing at Ongava Lodge with its amazing watering hole and photographic hide.
- You save money!
Of course, these advantages are also available in guided travel, but flexibility tends to diminish the larger your group gets.
- You’ll miss out on insider knowledge about the parks and places you visit.
- Without a tracker or guide, you’re less likely to see all the animals you’d like.
- You need to learn all park safety rules before you set out.
During the guided portion of my safari, I encountered a Swiss family heading to an area of the park that had very little wildlife at that time of year. They had made their plans based on what they had read in guidebooks and the internet. But sometimes you need the expertise of a local.
Getting the best of both worlds
You can lessen this drawback by self-driving between lodges, then hiring a guide at your destination to take you on game drives and to see interesting historical, cultural, geological, and natural highlights, such as the Namib Desert’s Little 5 animals or South Africa’s Robben Island. You will see much more—and gain a deeper understanding of what you are seeing.