This is a viable proposition in Tanzania if you can get a group together to share the costs since you will have to rent a vehicle and camping equipment. The costs of renting a suitable vehicle will depend on where you want to go and for how long.
Doing it yourself has several advantages over organised safaris. The main one is flexibility – you can go where you want, stop whenever you like and stay as long as you like. You don’t have to follow the standard tourist routes. Another is that you can choose your travelling companions.
The main disadvantage is the extra effort you have to put in to organise the safari — hiring equipment, buying food and drink, cooking and agreeing among yourselves where you want to go and which route to take. It can also be a worry if none of you have mechanical skills and/or no tools and the vehicle breaks down. There’s also the security of the vehicle and contents to think about if you want to leave it somewhere and go off walking. If you do this then you’ll have to pay someone to guard it.
Lastly, there’ s the question of maps especially if you intend to get right off the beaten track. Reasonably good large-scale maps are available in Arusha but the detailed ones are unavailable without going through a great deal of red tape. This means you could find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with not a clue where you’re going and have to backtrack.
As far as costs go, it’s probably true to say that organising your own safari is going to cost at least as much and usually more than going on a company organised safari. By how much more depends on a lot of factors but mainly the cost of hiring a vehicle and buying fuel. You’ll have to sit down and work this out yourself otherwise you can reach us for help.
Car & 4WD Rental
Hiring a vehicle to tour Tanzania (or at least the national parks) is a relatively expensive way of seeing the country but it does give you freedom of movement and is sometimes the only way of getting to the more remote parts of the country. On the other hand, if you’re sharing costs, it’s quite a feasible option.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration before deciding what type of vehicle to take and which company to go through, and there’s no real substitute for sitting down with pen and paper and working out as near as possible what the total cost will be. To do this you’ll need as many hire charge leaflets as you can get hold of and a distances table.
The other major consideration is what type of vehicle is going to be suitable to enable you to get where you want to go. At times other than the rainy season, a 2WD vehicle may be perfectly adequate in some parts of the country including Serengeti Plains, Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks (at least on the main access routes of the latter), but it won ‘t get you to the Crater of Ngorongoro . Most companies also have a policy of insisting that you take a 4WD vehicle if you’re going upcountry and off the beaten track.
This is something of a minefield since the daily/weekly base rates vary quite a lot as do the km (mileage) charges. What initially looks cheap often works out just as expensive as anything else. Contact us for more details.
Minimum Mileage Conditions
Some of the so-called ‘unlimited’ km rates are not quite that. Some have a ceiling of 1200 to 1400 km per week free after which you pay the excess at the normal km rate. Some companies also offer the option of 500 km or 1200 to 1400 km per week free of charge with corresponding lower or higher base rates. If you are renting on a daily basis, some companies have a 100-km minimum charge, regardless of whether you travel this far or not. If you’re not planning on going too far then it may be more economical to opt for the lower free km rate.
There’s a wide variation in the deposits charged on hired vehicles. It’s usually the estimated total hire charges (base rate and km) plus whatever the excess on the insurance. No deposit is necessary if you are paying by credit card.
Drivers’ Licences & Minimum Age
An international driver’s licence or your own national driving licence is standard. Some companies stipulate a minimum age of 23 years but with others, it is 25. There are occasionally stipulations about endorsements on licences (clean licences preferred) and that you must have been driving for at least two years.
Although it’s not always the case, it’s probably true to say that the more you pay for a vehicle, the better condition it will be in. It’s worth paying attention to this, thing) in the event of a major breakdown The major companies may deliver you a replacement vehicle and make arrangements for recovery of the other vehicle, but with most companies, you’ll be entirely responsible for getting the vehicle fixed and back on the road. Only when you return it will you be refunded and you’ll need receipts to prove what you spent.
Some companies provide you with adequate tools to tackle breakdowns others with just sufficient to change a tyre. If you have mechanical skills, it’s worth enquiring about what tools are provided. There are companies which include a full complement of camping equipment in their 4WD hire charges. With other companies, you’ll have to hire this separately.
If you want to hire a vehicle in one place and drop it off in another there will be additional charges to pay. These vary depending on the vehicle, the company and the pick-up and drop-off locations. Contact us for more details.