In Kenya, it is common for a tourist to find either Minivan or land cruiser. The fact is that, there are extensive road networks and many of the safaris are conducted with a driver and vehicle that has to stay with the tourist from the time they arrive up to the time they depart. Minivans are not ideal vehicles for wildlife viewing since most of them are closed. However, their use in Kenyan road based upon safaris makes some sense since travelers may not wish to drive for hour, at high speed (Wato, Wahungu & Okello, 2006).
Along dirt roads and paved highways with open land cruiser vehicles that would subject them to wind, cold, heat, dust and rain. Minivans take almost 6 guests in 3 rows of seating with pop-top roof hatch that is raised for wildlife viewing (Wato, Wahungu & Okello, 2006). Land cruiser are advantageous since as they are fitted with internal framing which move around within the vehicle and allow clear viewing of wildlife. Mini vans are closed in most cases and may get much hotter since they do not have the AC. Another advantage of land cruiser while in Kenya is that they have small fridge.
For the open safari land cruiser, they are generally cooler and they are filled with drinks and ice (Ogutu, et al 2011).
There are land cruisers that have been specifically configured for wildlife photography. In Kenya a tourist can use a 4 x 4 land cruiser that has fully opening side windows.
The opening window allows the photographers to take animal photograph on all angles (Wato, Wahungu & Okello, 2006). All land cruisers are fitted with pop up roofs or the opening roof hatches where the photographer can stand and shoot from the top when required. Land cruiser in Kenya provided possibility of photographing wildlife even from the ground levels mainly to cover the theatrical eye level perspectives of wildlife .
There are many parks the vehicles can tour including Nakuru National Park, Maasai Mara ,Amboseli ,Naivasha , Aberdare,Mount Kenya ,Tsavo national Park ,Olpejeta Ranch and so many places in Kenya to visit .
one of our clients said that we always used a minibus and because of being only for us (2pax) and the driver, we never had any problems. We had very good view at anytime and only in the real Masai Mara it is allowed to leave the streets for a short time to view the animals.
Outside the real Masai Mara you can drive crossover, but you can do this during the dry season also with the minibus.
This year, during our safari, the rain season starts and there even the jeeps had their problems with the black cotton soil.
I think, it depends on the time and the place where you want to go.
When going for a safari in Kenya, the kind of vehicle you use is a great contributing factor to your overall experience. There are two main types of Kenya safari vehicles used by tour operators in Kenya and the choice of which one to use is dependent on several factors including where you are going, your budget, the experience you are looking for, number of people in your group, etc. These two safari vehicles are Toyota Land Cruisers and Tour Vans with pop-up roofs.
The Toyota 4 x 4 Land Cruiser
The Toyota Land Cruiser is the most luxurious safari vehicle to use during your safari in Kenya. Other than being a 4*4 which is quite important for challenging road conditions that might be encountered in some parks, it offers more comfort and greater versatility during your safari. The safari land cruisers are specifically customized for road safari, and not all are identical since different tour companies or camps have modified them in different ways.
Modification of the safari vehicles in Kenya and especially the land cruiser is a great balancing act as the vehicles must be safe for road travel – such as between Nairobi and Masai Mara and also be open enough to facilitate a good tour at the park. If the land cruiser is used for road travel from Nairobi say to the Masai Mara, it will have glass windows as a required safety measure.
Once at the camp, some safari land cruisers especially those used by professional photographers are designed for the glass windows to come off and be replaced with a canvas cover that rolls up and down.
In general, most safari land cruisers have 7 – 8 individual seats. The safari land cruiser also has a pop-up roof to allow for maximum game viewing and photography. If the windows do not come off, they will be large and will slide open to allow for good views. Most safari land cruisers are customized to ensure a window seat for 6 passengers.
There is good space at the back for bigger luggage and under the seats for small day backpacks. The safari vehicle is also fitted with UHF radio call, an important feature that allows the driver to communicate with other drivers during the game drive. This allows them to share information on the spots with interesting happenings such as a hunt or the siting of elusive animals such as the leopard.
In terms of comfort, most 4*4 safari land cruiser vehicles are air-conditioned, some have charging consoles and a fridge or cooler box to preserve drinks. Most land cruisers have two fuel tanks to ensure continuity during game drives and well as two spare tires to mitigate incidences of getting a flat tire that may happen in the bush.
Safari Mini Van
The safari minivan is typically a Nissan, or Toyota made vehicles such as the Hiace van or similar. Like the land cruiser, it is customized for safari, and the most prominent feature is the pop-up roof designed to allow for maximum game viewing. Typically, a safari minivan is modified to a maximum of 8 comfortable seats that allow for extra leg room, but in most cases, only 7 passengers are ferried at any one game drive.
The windows are also designed to slide open allowing for game viewing and photography. Generally speaking, the safari minivan is a cheaper option than the 4*4 land cruiser in terms of price, but this is not a bad thing. While the land cruiser can navigate trickier road situations, there are a few places that the minivan cannot go, with the exception of known off-road terrain that is difficult to navigate.
If you are going to the normal national parks and not for an expedition on treacherous roads, the choice of which safari vehicle to go for mostly boils down to individual preferences and budget considerations. The safari minivan is fitted with a cooler, some also have charging consoles. The safari minivans like the land cruisers are also equipped with radios to enable the driver to communicate with other vehicles during the game drive.