Our Vehicles

Customised safari vehicles for panoramic viewing and bird photography

We use both Land Rovers and Land Cruisers. However, prior to beginning work on the safari circuit a vehicle undergoes substantial modification including having the roof specially modified to enable it to lift upwards and lock down out of the way. This enables passengers to stand up and look out of the roof in all directions. This is particularly useful for those wanting to pause under tree canopy and photograph birds. Vehicles will often have additional shock absorber mounts installed and stiffer than normal suspension springs, which make the vehicle more robust and capable of carrying the requisite weights, but often results in a slightly bumpier ride, which you should be aware of.

All in all, while a safari with us is an exciting and fascinating experience, it should be undertaken with the mindset of an ‘adventurer’, together with the appropriate awareness of risk and exposure to eventualities that off-road travel in Africa involves, and which will usually be absent from, say, a package coach journey across Europe, or a family road-trip across the United States.

The following slideshow offers an example of each three different types of safari vehicle that are used on our safaris:

  • 110 Land Rovers. These are without a doubt the best performers off-road but have poor window winding and door mechanisms, flex continuously, and are the least well sealed against dust.
  • Extended Land Cruisers or Range Rovers that have 7 rear seats. These are not useful for serious off-roading but are a good compromise between comfort for large groups and resilience on rough roads
  • Standard Length Land Cruisers. These do not perform as well off-road and need to be driven slowly on uneven ground (as opposed to Land Rovers) but have better functioning doors and windows and are sealed much more reliably against dust, as they do not twist and flex like Land Rovers, which have aluminium, riveted bodies.

The following images should be understand as being provided for the purposes of demonstrating how seats are arranged within vehicles and to exemplify the simple, spartan configuration of these vehicles  These vehicles are selected randomly from among our fleet and are neither the newest nor the oldest; neither the best performing nor the worst.

Private vehicle occupation and flexibility of movement

Our Tanzanian safaris are designed for small groups and most vehicles will be occupied only by people who know each other and have booked together. On occasions, where there will be a significant cost saving per person, we may suggest that you join another booking group and get in touch with each other prior to committing, so as to ensure that you have approximately aligned interests. An easy-to-use means of advertising interest in proposed safari routes and dates, so that solo travelers and pairs can attract additional members to their booking and thereby reduce the per person costs, is the TK Facebook page.

A private safari allows a great deal of flexibility. If you enjoy certain aspects of a safari more than others, such as bird watching or finding elephants, you can advise your driver and he will prioritise the things that are important to you, rather than having to accept the modal preferences of a larger group. Or if on some days you fancy a steadier pace or wish to stop off en route to see something un-prescribed, you have the liberty of requesting your driver to do this.

Some of the realities of off-road driving in Africa

Astute readers will have noticed that the majority of safari agents claim that their vehicles are maintained in immaculate condition and are thoroughly reliable. While such assertions likely fall well within what passes for modern marketing ethics nowadays, we would suggest caution as regards how best to interpret such claims, as we cannot remember a multi-day safari on which we have not encountered at least a small handful of broken down vehicles beside the road. These vehicles range from the nearly brand new through to some which are rather ancient, and while we would suggest that there’s a reasonably well defined correlation between frequency of breakdowns, and the budgeting limitations of the most cost-competitive operators, nonetheless in our experience breakdowns do indeed seem to span the whole spectrum of operators, with a handful of incidents amongst the very expensive operators, through to rather frequent stoppages being suffered by the cheapest operations.

The fact of the matter is that four wheel driving in laden vehicles on rough African roads – particularly on adventurous routes off the beaten track – is mechanically very demanding, and minor breakdowns should be anticipated as fairlynormal occurrences. And this applies equally to our safaris also, not merely our budget-oriented competitors.

Readers will have gathered that we prefer to adopt a truthful stance at the outset and prior to securing your commitment, rather than aim to lull prospective visitors into a false sense of security and then feign incredulity when a vehicle suffers a minor breakdown. So we choose to state the facts, namely, that on the average safari lasting more than two days and venturing beyond Lake Manyara, safari-goers should realistically anticipate at least a punctured tyre, and on longer safaris should not be overly disappointed or surprised if their itinerary is further disturbed by a small handful of un-planned events. Additionally, the East African safari circuit relies on a ‘Good Samaritan’ principle, whereby if we find a fellow driver from another company in difficulties, our drivers are trained to ask your permission to pause and offer assistance.

Some breakdowns and mechanical failures are unavoidable when on safari

While we do not wish to discourage readers, it is valuable to establish these facts at the outset so as to dispel unhelpful and unrealistic expectations of off-road safaris. Expeditions in the African bush contrast significantly with normal off-roading experiences in western nations where, typically, an off-roading weekend excursion requires minimal weight to be carried and will involve a couple of hundred miles of good roads and perhaps only 20 – 50 miles of mud and loose stones. Conversely, the substantial weights and distances on very rough, dusty, weather-beaten roads on the safari circuit will cause frequent damage to shock absorbers and suspension springs, wear down expensive tyres in a matter of several weeks, and place difficult-to-anticipate stresses on many engine parts and fuel transmission components. Constant vibrations will also work many things loose, and despite good maintenance practice, problematic door-frame fittings, window winding mechanisms, and windscreen wiper motors are typical issues that frequently arise and which you should please be aware of.

All this said, serious breakdowns very seldom occur on our safaris and realistically one need only expect the occasional small problem and punctured tyre. Our drivers are generally very adept at resolving such scenarios, and with the ‘Good Samaritan’ support structure on safaris, breakdowns can easily be taken in stride and to date have never impinged on security.