Many travelers nowadays prefer the flexibility of planning their own Safari itinerary, booking accommodation online and then hiring a vehicle for the tour. Nonetheless, car rental in Kenya for your safari is best well thought through for obvious reasons. First, you want to ensure you rent a reliable and suitable vehicle at a good price, easier said than done, as safari vehicles are inherently subjected to higher wear and tear. Second, the vehicle supplier from whom you rent the car ought to be established, licensed and above board. Lastly, keep in mind that self drive car rental in Kenya is not for everyone. The process and paperwork is involving and deposits are required to cover for damage, accident or theft. Standards of driving in Kenya are vastly different to other parts of the world and roads are usually in poor state away from the main highways. Getting stuck, breaking down or risking an accident are not uncommon. The best option for many tourists is to hire a safari vehicle with a Driver-Guide included at a minor additional fee, as low as USD 25 per day, as this avoids you being responsible for damage, accidents or theft of the vehicle while offering the advantage of an expert Driver-Guide, making the trip stress free so you can sit back and enjoy the experience. Note also that self drive cars typically do not have a game viewing roof while proper Safari vehicles have these built in, making all the difference in viewing wildlife in the parks. Listed below are options for hiring a Vehicle with a Driver - Guide for your Masai Mara or Kenya Safari.
Also known as Safari Tour Vans, these vehicles are the main stay of the Kenyan tourist industry and are the most common mode of transport for safari tourists, not least because they offer the best value due to lower pricing compared to the other main vehicle on offer below. Safari tour vans typically seat maximum of 8 passengers though 6 is the ideal number for optimal comfort. These vans come with safari customized features such as pop-up game viewing roofs, UHF radio call, individual seats , in some cases with limited recline and cooler boxes. Though most safari tour vans are two wheel drive, some variants come with 4 WD, though by and large the two wheel drive variants perfom well enough and most roads on the typical Kenya safari circuit are now motorable enough to not require 4WD unless in adverse conditions or in cases where the location if off-circuit.
Typically most lodges and camps in the core Masai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies are accessible using Safari Tour Vans. Certain conservancies outside of the the reserve however only allow entry to 4x4 vehicles.
The other dominant type of Safari vehicle in Kenya and East Africa is the 4x4 Landcruiser Safari Jeep. These are often Toyota Landcruiser Jeeps converted into Safari vehicles with the addition of pop up game viewing roofs [ front and main], safari customization, and addition og UHF radio calls and suitable seating. Some vehicles also come with air conditioning and electric cooler boxes. Safari Jeeps are more capable off road and marginally more comfortable as well over rougher sections of road, but will cost significantly more to hire than safari tour vans.
Seating varies from an optimal 6 passengers per vehicle to a maximum of 9 passengers with additional seats fixed into the vehicle to accommodate more people. It should be noted that there are 2 sub types of these vehicles, some that have closed sides, hence suitable for highway travel, and others that are open-sided, suitable for use only for game drives within various reserves and parks, meaning that they are stationed here permanently, and cannot be used for say travelling from Nairobi to Masai Mara. These open-sided jeeps are often a part of Fly-in Safaris, keeping in mind that not all lodges or camps have open-sided jeeps, as some still use closed vehicles even for their flying packages.
A Road in Masai Mara Game Reserve
A Landcruiser Safari Jeep during a game drive in Masai Mara Kenya
Masai Mara Scenery
Safari game drive in Masai Mara with Julia's River Camp