Is A Safari Safe In An Open Vehicle?

If you’re planning on heading on an African safari, it’s best not to delay.

Research has suggested the world could lose two-thirds of its wildlife by 2020, unless urgent action is taken. The misuse of resources means that many beautiful animals, including African elephants in Tanzania, could be part of a vanished world.

The Living Plant Index has reported a 2% drop in numbers every year, which makes for alarming reading. If you want to see plenty of the world’s most unique animals, it’s worth booking a safari in the next few years.

What’s the best way to see animals on a safari?

If you want to see some amazing wildlife up close, an open vehicle is the top choice. In fact, very few people prefer having a closed vehicle during a safari.


Photo credit: Sabi Sabi

For starters, you get a much clearer and more panoramic view of the animals. With open vehicles, you can be only a few metres away from animals, providing you respect their space. They are free to walk straight past the vehicles, which they often do. That means some thrilling up-close encounters with lions, elephants, leopards and more. Your tracker up front will be sure to point them out from afar.


Photo credit: Sabi Sabi

In South Africa, and many game reserves in other parts of Africa, evening game drives are carried out in total darkness. The guide and the tracker usually use a spotlight to spot the animals, making sure they are not flashing the light in the eyes of any diurnal animals.

Secondly, open vehicles are much cooler than closed vehicles. If you find the heat difficult when stuck in rush hour traffic, imagine how searing it is in Africa!

But just how safe are open vehicles?


During an African safari, you not only see some of the most beautiful animals on earth, but some of the most dangerous. For instance, not many people know that hippos are one of the deadliest animals on the planet; although they might look comical, they can be very aggressive to human beings and have been known to attack without provocation.

Every year we hear of scare-mongering headlines about locals attacked by animals. Only a few years ago a woman was dragged from her vehicle by a lion and killed in Johannesburg. Incidents like this are extremely rare and give a false impression of how dangerous open vehicles are. However, this tragedy happened with non-guided closed vehicle.

African safaris have excellent safety records, despite millions of people visiting every year.

Most of the animals do not see human beings as prey- nor associate either open or closed vehicles with food. A leopard can walk past an open vehicle and not give it a second look. Providing the rules of a park are followed, any risks are greatly alleviated. Open vehicles are also usually equipped with a rifle in front for any emergencies.


Photo credit: Sabi Sabi

In other words, a safari will be safe providing the proper precautions are taken. Many of these are common sense: for example, talking in low voices and making no sudden movements.

At Ubon Safari, our guides always make sure everyone follows the right safety procedures and that nobody is ever placed in danger. All our drivers are extremely well-trained, and have many years of experience running safaris.

We have a variety of vehicles to take you off the beaten track, including both closed and open vehicles.

If you want to know more about open vehicles, call our team at Ubon Safari.



A harry
March 3, 2021
How long the lion can survive if there are no prey
March 4, 2021
Hi Harry, Well its a good question. Max time would be around 14 days but lions are resilient and would manage to get some food by scavenging too. Best wishes Ubon safari team
Phillip Burgest
March 8, 2021
Still confused as to why lions will not jump on safari trucks. So, if I had a dog safely tucked up on the truck, will a lion then consider us food and jump up on the truck, or no?
March 8, 2021
Hello Phillip. Thank you for your question. You would not be allowed to take pets on a game drive. The reason they do not jump onto vehicles is that the Animals have been habituated with seeing vehicles around them since they are born and find it as one object which does not threaten them. They are used to the smells and do not see it as a prey species. They see it as a object they have been used to. Ofcourse you are given a brief on the precautions you must follow when approaching game which needs to be strictly adhered to such as not standing up or making noise. However it is always advised to have a professional guide and driver when on Safari to look after you who understands animal behaviour. If the animal is showing signs that it is not comfortable with having a vehicle he/she will not approach the animal. Hope this has answered your question. Kind regards Ubon Safari team.

Leave a Reply