Tips For Self Drive In East Africa

Self Drive in Africa

Travel has greatly changed with the corona virus pandemic and now many tourists go on self-guided road trips. East Africa being famous for outstanding safari destinations, road trips have become a new normal in the region. Many tourists both local and international are seeking for getaways to reconnect with nature. East Africa consists of some of the most attractive countries in Africa like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda of which through your trusted car hire company, you will be planned an exhilarating self-drive trip in this magnificent and adventurous African region. A self-drive East Africa holiday is the perfect combination of freedom, exploration, and relaxation.

And I guarantee this charming East Africa road trip will leave you with memorable, actually unforgettable memories. Whether you’re after trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda or a refreshing hike to Africa’s highest mountain peak Mountain Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, or even when you are much interested in seeing the great and spectacular wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania, East Africa has something that’s sure to please every traveler in the car on his/her self-drive trip. A self-drive trip in East Africa will surely be a series of day trips across the region discovering its various beautiful and amazing places.

And don’t be concerned by the long list of destinations, an East African self-drive holiday may seem ambitious, but the region is more compact than you might think. Though most self-drive trips in East Africa are taken in the wild (national parks), you can also stop on the way as the entire routes heading to the national parks are so attractive as well, for example, in Uganda as you are heading to the remarkable Murchison Falls National Park to enjoy its varied wildlife and the greatest waterfall in the world, you will break off at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, only home for wild rhinos in the Uganda, and track the gigantic southern white rhinos.

It would really be crazy to visit the Africa and not spend a couple days in its eastern region which is filled up with almost every Africa’s major attractions. Kigali city, Rwanda’s capital, is the region’s cleanest city bursting with woeful history about the country’s 1994 genocide, great food, and classic charm, on your self-drive in East Africa thus endeavor driving through this amazing city visiting the 1994 Genocide memorial sites is such a sorrowful yet memorable adventure.

It’s also a bit tricky to navigate and explore East Africa to the fullest, which is why I recommend reading East Africa sightseeing tips before your trip as it will guide you to a very successful and joyful self-drive trip in the region returning back home with memorable escapades.

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

It is important when planning your trip to have a vehicle with rough and off-road capabilities. Generally, a four-wheel drive is the minimum level of power for a trip. Also, for most of the journey, your vehicle will be in park, so you want to make yourself as comfortable as possible. We recommend a good reliable vehicle, with off-road capabilities, comfortable seating and air conditioning. a good car with an air conditioner.

Most of the safari destinations are located in remote areas especially national parks. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park for example is takes 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.

If you are taking your own vehicle on safari, ensure that your car is completely outfitted with supplies. Your car would need to be in tip-top shape, a tune-up is a must before a journey like this. It’s also a good idea to carry extra oil, gas, and a backup set of tires for your vehicle 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. Pack enough food, water, first-aid kit, and other essential supplies are for safe exploration.

Packing List

This is another important aspect of any tour or safari. When going on self-drive 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 in Africa 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.

You should have a first aid kit, a blanket, food, water, and other staples. It is important as well that you speak with the company in advance about any needs you may have and that they help you plan for them. If you are going out on your own, any medications, as well as any allergies, are going to be important for accommodations along the way.

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 in East Africa on road trips 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.

Important Wildlife Guidelines

When dealing with wildlife it is very important to realize that they are wild animals and are going to be very unpredictable. Here are a few guidelines.

  1. Never drive too close to large herds, always maintain distance.
  2. Do not hang out of your car.
  3. Always stay in the vehicle if you are on a self-guided safari.
  4. Never break up elephants, particularly maintain distance from bull elephants.
  5. Stay away from bright colours and from strong perfumes as they will raise the curiosity of animals.
  6. Never run from a predator. This will make the animal give chase.


If you have never visited East Africa, you might feel overwhelmed trying to squeeze everything in few days. To help you make the most of your time, your trusted tour company will give you a rough itinerary that mixes popular attractions with local gems. Contact Kenya car rental for the best memories in East Africa.

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