Self Drive in East Africa

Everyone feels the call of the wild at some point in their life. Getting out for a safari in East Africa is one of the best ways to interact with nature, wildlife, and really reconnect with your primal self. Have you ever considered through a safari without a guide? Embarking on a self drive in East Africa is a great way to divert from the beaten path and discover hidden watering holes and savannahs that are not usually explored by tour groups.

Touring in a group has its advantages, but this method is sometimes a bit crowded and you don’t have the freedom to do what you want when you want.  If you are adventurous spirit and don’t mind exploring new territories on your own, then self-drive safaris might be right up your alley. When you are ready to really experience the wild, there is no better way to do it than on your own. Here are some tips that are really going to help you to have a safe and amazing experience.

Let’s explore some of the general tips to ensure successful self-guided road trips while visiting East Africa’s leading destinations. 

Look at the Quality of the Reviews of the Company

When you are looking at a list of the self-directed tours out there, it is important to ensure you are looking at the quality of the locations in addition to the price. Sometimes the cheapest option is not the best and what you save costs you some integral necessities to ensure the success of your trip. Generally, there may be a hole in some part of the equation.  This is why it is so important that you do your homework on the companies you choose to go with. Make sure you research them thoroughly and read the reviews of these companies before you make any decisions.

Cars mechanic condition

This is very vital and a major determinant of successful the road trips end. Most of the safari destinations are located in remote areas especially national parks. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park for example is located a 9 to 10 hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s Capital city. To have a successful safari or road trip to Bwindi your car mechanic condition must be stable.

Most of the roads or trails in savanna national parks are bumpy and to easily maneuver around car stability is vital. It’s hard to access mechanics in these remote wildlife destinations therefore while planning ensure to crosscheck the cars mechanic condition.

Ensure to have car repair equipment like spare Tyre, jerks, and wheel spanners with basic knowledge of repair in-case of breakdown. Remember to fill up fuel while in major towns to avoid running out of fuel in the middle of safari.

Packing List

This is another important aspect of any tour or safari. When going on road trips travelers pack clothes and necessary equipment they will need while on tour. Packing the right things is wise decision.

Packing lists should be dependent on the activities one will be doing at a particular destination. For tracking for example mountain gorillas or chimpanzee tracking, it’s always good to pack long trousers, good hiking shoes as the activities are done in forested mountains. The trails here are often wet in the morning when the activities begin and also slippery and muddy therefore strong hiking shoes are important.

For safari game drives, you can pack casual wear with some open sandals as these are done in a car. It’s very important however to pack what is most needed as many road trips only last a couple of days. Ensure to pack cameras or extra batteries and chargers to be able to capture every road trip moment.

Booking accommodation in advance

If going for road trips where you will be spending nights at particular destination, booking accommodation is important. This should be done ahead of time to avoid missing out as with East Africa’s tourist seasons, lodges get fully booked.

One important aspect of accommodation is to book facilities near or within the destination you will be visiting. This helps you easily access and engage in the different tourist activities you will be interested in doing there.

In case you choose camping also ensure to check on the camping site ahead of time and know where you will get food. If planning a road trip in the peak season from June to September and December to February book accommodation in advance.

Having a Weather forecast

Weather within the tropics where East Africa lies is very unpredictable and rainfall can occur any time of the day. A weather forecast is therefore very important as it would help you plan your road trip well. Weather also determines safari activities while at destinations as you can know what to do and when to do it.

With the nature of roads on major safari destinations, weather forecast helps you to know the best time you can visit with minimal disturbances. Rain fall is among the major challenges of self-guided road trips and therefore if visiting destinations for the first time it’s better to go in the dry season.

Having a weather forecast or knowing the season you will be visiting enables you pack the right clothes to wear. In some destinations like the Ngorongoro crater temperatures drop very low and you can know this by weather forecasting. Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable, Virunga, Kibale Forest, Mgahinga and other forested national parks also have cold temperatures.

Having Updated Maps

Many tourists road tripping East Africa usually go to destinations for the first time and a good map is key. Maps help in guiding on the best or shortest directions to take to reach one desired safari destination.

With maps, you know tourist landmarks of an area and can add some important ones you had missed. With modern technology, you can use Google maps but this requires a smart phone and stable internet. This is a challenge especially in remote destinations that’s why you need to have a physical hard copy map as well.

Having a well laid out Itinerary

This helps in knowing what specific activities you will be doing while on your road trip and when to do them. This helps you maximize every time and experience you have in each destination without wasting time.

Preparing a safari itinerary must be done prior the road trip to avoid confusion when the adventure has started. It also enables you to know how much you will be spending at each destination saving you from unnecessary spending.

Important Contacts

Going on self-guided road trips can become a challenge without important or emergency contacts. These contacts can be of accommodation facilities where you will be sleeping or park wardens who can direct you.

Before embarking on any road trip ensure to research and know who you can call in-case of any emergency. This enables you in problem solving and thus saves you a lot of time maximizing your road trip enjoyment.


Discovering East Africa on a self-drive is in my opinion a great way. Taking a break whenever you need one and stopping for as long as you wish along the way. Listening to your favorite tunes on end while taking in all the sights and sounds of the unknown. I have discovered many destinations on a self-drive and I do believe that exploring East African countries is fantastic and memorable.

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