Africa is one of those continents that offer 4WD enthusiasts thousands of kilometers of unspoilt landscape and the opportunity to be self sufficient while exploring and viewing the wild animals that roam this ancient land.

With numerous companies now offering adventurous tourist package deals that include fully equipped 4WD’s with camping equipment and details on recommended routes this alternative way of seeing the land is definitely for the adventurous type. We spoke to Shaw Safaris one of these companies who are leading the way in self drive safaris in the spectacular Tanzania.

Paul Sweet one of the directors of Shaw Safaris explained that their self drive 4WD Safaris strive to share their love for Tanzania, it’s wonderful people, its wildlife and spectacular scenery.This Safari Company started 10 years ago when Erika and Paul, the owners, decided to do a self drive safari as tourists in Tanzania on their honeymoon.

Paul explains that they did enjoy the overall experience but certainly saw a lot of room for improvement. With no fridge freezer, cups and only very basic camping equipment provided in their 4WD, they thought maybe they could provide a better Safari experience and with that ,the seed was sown.

The couple eventually set up their own self drive safari business in Tanzania with the objective of providing a top notch safari that incorporated well equipped vehicles with top quality and practical camping equipment that would guarantee a comfortable Safari experience.
Over the last ten years Paul and Erika have fine tuned the DO’S and DONT’S of what to take and what not to take on a Safari, no need for stiletto shoes, lipstick, hair dryers and other luxury items Paul explained, they have no place in the back of a Shaw Safari Land Rover Defender.

Paul believes that unlike other Safari destinations in Africa, Tanzania provides a real adventurous experience, and this applies to the driving conditions, the weather, the variety of animals you will see, and the tribes encountered, it’s just a rawer experience Paul explained.

On arrival in Tanzania, Shaw Safaris will meet and greet you at the airport and transport you to Twiga Lodge. Here you can relax after your long international flight. You will stay at the Twiga Lodge for just a day before setting off on your Self Drive Safari, so you are pretty much straight into it after arriving.

For visitors who have limited 4WD experience, they should not be deterred explained Paul. The guys will introduce you to your hired 4×4 and will give a full briefing on the vehicle’s capabilities and all the camping equipment provided. Paul said that it’s not absolutely essential clients have previous 4×4 experience before doing a safari,however they do recommend you try and do at least a day’s training if possible prior to arriving in Tanzania.

The list of equipment each car has on board is extensive. You are provided with everything from GPS (with Tracks4Africa installed with numerous way-points included), you will also get maps, a fridge freezer, tools and spare parts, roof tents, spare tyres, spare fuel, awning, cooking equipment, gas and a BBQ.

A portrait of a young male lion taken on a self drive safari for one month in Tanzania

Shaw Safaris use five door 300TDI Land Rover Defenders, known for their durability and ruggedness the world over these machines sing adventure. Maintenance of the Land Rovers is very important with regular attention given to each vehicle; the Landy’s are fully serviced and thoroughly checked before and after each safari. The last thing you want to happen is to break down in the middle of the jungle with a bunch of hungry lions eyeing you up for dinner.

All the vehicles come fully kitted with camping equipment that includes a fitted 50 litre fridge freezer, camping stove, ‘tents, safari beds and all bedding. Other items include cutlery & crockery: a full set of knives, forks and spoons, dinner plates, side plates, bowls, wine glasses, mugs, plastic glasses, and egg cups.

Your kitchen is made up of a 2 ring gas cooker, grill with legs to cook over a fire, 2.3Lt eurohike kettle, set of saucepans and frying pan, chopping boards, set of knives, wooden spoons, kitchen scissors, ladle, slotted spoon, whisk, turner and masher, vegetable peeler, pizza cutter, tongs, flat grater, measuring jug, waiters corkscrew, tin opener, tablecloth and tea towels x3, Tupperware (various sizes), egg box, flask and mugs.

You are also provided with a folding washing up bowl, dishcloths and pot scorers, scrubbing brush, wire brush, washing up liquid, washing powder, clothes line, kitchen foil/cling film, loo rolls and kitchen roll, mosquito coils, matches and a lighter.

General Equipment provided includes cool bags, table, chairs, 6kg gas bottle, water containers, fuel cans x2, welding gloves, 1st aid kit, mini fan, wind up LED flashlight, slingshot, axe, saw, shovel, fire extinguishers, pump up flower shower, lights, storage boxes, glasses repair kit, GPS, sat phone, radio with ipod connection, inverter for charging small appliances, tool kit, hidden safe, and a lockable storage area.

We think this list could just about cover everything you might need for a couple of days in the jungle.

As regards routes, Shaw Safaris provide maps and will give you suggested itineraries. If you have concerns about getting lost they will also provide you with a GPS with built in coordinates so you don’t need to waste valuable holiday time setting up the navigational system.

Paul explained that a very common question asked by clients is will they be able to see the

animals without a guide? The answer is simply “yes”. Shaw Safaris will give you some tips of do’s and dont’s regarding the animals during the briefing before you hit the tracks.

According to Paul you will pretty much be guaranteed to see various wild animals that make African Safaris hard to match.