November 14th, 2016

Where to sit on a safari vehicle and the etiquette that goes with it

Written by:

Toby Pheasant

Category:

The Insider

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Choosing where to sit in the safari vehicle can play an important role in your overall experience - different seats offer different benefits!

All safari vehicles in Africa are either Land Rover Defenders or a Toyota Land Cruisers. In Southern Africa many have been converted to add three rows of tiered forward-facing seats in the back and in some cases, a canvas has been added to the vehicle to protect from the elements. In Eastern Africa, vehicles are sometimes ‘closed’ offering even more protection.

An open game vehicle at Tswalu, South Africa

If you are travelling in a group of 5 or 6 people, it’s more than likely that you'll have the whole vehicle to yourself. Assuming you are travelling in a couple, you’ll be sharing the vehicle with another 2 couples. 

So with all this in mind, where should you sit?

Front Row:

The front row is the most comfortable, away from the vehicle’s back springs which have a tendency to bounce you sky high if you go over any bumps (you will go over bumps). 

It is also a great place to be to hear every word your ranger is saying. If you are hard of hearing or have a troublesome back then this is definitely the place for you.

The only downside to this row is not getting the same elevated view that you get further back in the vehicle.

Middle Row:

The second row is a very happy medium, and also allows you to get to know the other couples well, being able to chat to both those in front and behind you easily. 

There are no real downsides to this row, but funnily enough it does seem to be the least popular.

Back Row:

My personal favourite row for a number of reasons. Firstly I think the view from here is the best (most of the time), especially if the animals move behind the vehicle. 

It also feels like the most exposed and adventurous row. But, as previously mentioned, the ride can get a little bumpy and uncomfortable and it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to hear what your ranger is saying. 

The only other downside is that sometimes, especially when off-road and trying to get a glimpse of that elusive leopard through the undergrowth, you’re a bit too high and the only view is from down low.


The general etiquette, unless health issues intervene, is to alternate every drive with the other couples on your vehicle. 

Safari from Nomad's Kigelia in the Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

There is usually one more spare seat in the vehicle, and one to be avoided if possible...

The Passenger Seat:

This is where the tracker in most lodges will come and sit when viewing lions or one of the other Big 5 members, sometimes they are brave and stay on what seems like a bait chair on the front of the bonnet. 

It may seem fun for you to go and sit there and chat to the ranger all the time, but from a ranger’s and other guest’s point of view, this can get a little frustrating as it can be quite distracting. 

It is however somewhere which if you struggle to get into the vehicle you can sit. It’s also a good position for low angle photography. 

If you do sit here though, just bear in mind that your ranger might have to ask you to give him or her a few moments to concentrate every now and again.

Photo credit - Wilderness Safaris

So there you have it, our guide on where to sit on a safari vehicle and the etiquette that goes with it!

We hope you've enjoyed this notebook post - If you have any questions about any of the above, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can send us an email at safari@bonamy.co.uk. Alternatively, make an enquiry and we’ll get back to you, or call us directly on +44 (0) 20 3575 1098.

Where is your favourite place to sit when on safari? Let us know!

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel Team

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