Why Us

As much as we are uncomfortable about blowing our own trumpets we strongly believe that a self drive journey in Africa should not be undertaken lightly and that we are most experienced operator for the job. Whilst putting in place arrangements on the ground in Africa yourself is possible and the DIY approach can work if you are comfortable with the huge amounts of work and planning that is needed, the pitfalls are also numerous as well as the many hidden costs. However its our expertise in creating unique inspirational journeys as well as our in country back up and a fleet of well equipped vehicles that can travel across borders that makes us unique. Below are a few more reasons why we think that you should let us create your journey in Africa and beyond.

  • The Original Self Drive Safari Operator

    In 1992 we started the business of arranging and operating private self drive safaris as a more rewarding alternative to traditional safaris using Land Rover that were equipped to the highest standards for our clients to drive themselves in Africa. Our original concept of creating the journey and also supplying the vehicles and back up on the ground is still unique and it means that we can maintain the quality of you holiday from start to finish.

  • Your Safety and Security Comes First

    It’s the back up on the ground that’s important as we are incredibly aware of all the many problems that can occur in Africa. Simply put, we have been around longer and have the most experience in managing your self drive safari. The team at our bases have the experience to put it right with the minimum of fuss and expense. This is why we still include satellite phones in all vehicles as you can be sure that the cell coverage will not work when you are in a remote area. We also include free calls to Safari Drive and we are on call 24 hours a day to solve problems. We include flying Doctor services in our prices which mean that should you be involved in an accident on the African roads the Air evacuation medical rescue will take place immediately without having to check with your insurer that you have coverage.

  • The Inspiration For Your Journey

    Arranging a self drive safari is not just about some camping equipment, a vehicle and google research! Its about far more than that and if you get it wrong not only will you have wasted a lot of money and ruined your holiday, you will be left with a poor impression of Africa, its National Parks, its people and maybe put yourselves at risk.

    Every journey that we create is unique and adapted to suit individual needs and budgets. It starts with a discussion about what you are hoping to achieve and how best we can fulfill your dreams. We use our knowledge of 24 years of Safari Drive operations and combine that with all the many years of experience on the ground from our local teams that have up to the minute knowledge of the local conditions to create what we believe is the best self drive safari experience available.

  • The Best Vehicles & Equipment Available

    The equipment that we provide is unique to Safari Drive and specially developed to be sturdy and robust in the conditions that you will encounter. Our latest Land Rover and Land Cruiser vehicles have been developed and equipped as the best expedition vehicles in Africa and these are especially good for families with everything that a family might need for their safari adventure.

    We also include extras such as the electric tyre pumps and pressure gauges, satellite phones with free calls to Safari Drive, Garmin Sat Navs and discreetly track you vehicles for your safety.

    Uniquely we have our own fleet insurance policy that covers all our vehicles and if the worst happens we have a no quibble policy and will replace your vehicle quickly so that you are back on track with your holiday with the minimum delay.

  • The Combined Advantages of a UK Tour Company and An African Ground Operator

    We are a bonded UK tour company so your money is secured and protected through our ATOL and ABTOT licensing which ensures that you will never be left stranded on holiday. Because we are a ground operator in Africa you benefit from not paying middle man charges. The other benefit of this is that you will not be handed on to sub contractors and other suppliers once in Africa. Our ground team takes a personal interest in ensuring that you have the best and safest time possible and their briefings give you the up to date information on your route and road conditions. Our in country briefings and introductory vehicle driver training and key parts of your journey preparation with Safari Drive.

  • We Have a Fair Pricing Policy

    We are confident that we can match any prices for the package we offer. Our service is unique in its extensiveness so it’s important you know what you’d lose by not booking with us. Plus if you want even better value we can offer you discounts by either booking well in advance or traveling at a quieter time of year.

  • No Cross Border Charges & Availability Across Africa

    Uniquely we don’t make any cross border charges for our vehicles and even more importantly we allow one way journeys between countries. This enables amazing journeys to be created that can involve multiple countries.

  • We're Not a Vehicle Hire Company

    Using Safari Drive vehicles means more flexibility to your holiday plans and avoids the pitfalls of booking with an overseas car hire company that probably wont be financially bonded and who often have small print in the booking conditions that may include unwelcome clauses when things go wrong. Large damage deposits and additional charges for every small hired item are also common. In many of the countries that we operate car hire of our type of vehicles is not available and crossing borders with them impossible.

Meet the Team

  • Ben Nelson

    Ben Nelson

    Ben has a real love for adventure and Africa. Having self driven in Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa and parts of Botswana, his knowledge of the roads in Africa is extensive. He’s also been to Zanzibar a handful of times and often finds himself in Kenya’s Laikipia, as one of his closest friend manages a camp there. Keen and passionate, he looks forward to putting together the perfect safari for you, whilst enlightening you with the different safari options available. He also runs a football and a cricket team, so keep an eye out for him on the sporting field!

  • Joe Hanlon

    Joe Hanlon

    Joe has several years experience in the travel industry, creating tailored itineraries. He has travelled widely in Central and Southern America, Australia and South East Asia, but has realised that Africa is his one true love. He first travelled to Mozambique and Zimbabwe as a teenager and since then the travelling never stopped. Years later he’s now one of the most experienced in our team, having been to almost every destination we operate it. Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe etc.

  • Joanna Houlston

    Joanna Houlston

    Jo has been in the travel industry since 2001 working for small specialist tour operators and travelling widely over the years. Joining the team in 2012 her first Safari Drive trip was in Land Rover ‘Bruce’ – an extended journey taking her to through much of Namibia, parts of Botswana and Zambia. Most recently she explored Botswana’s Okavango Delta checking out the best fly-in lodges & some of the wildest campsites you can reach on a self-drive.

    She heads up our Argentina programme and checked out Brazil’s roads in Nov ’18 and the north east of Argentina in May ’19. Latin Drive is coming soon!

  • Jens and Anneli Denk

    Jens and Anneli Denk

    Jens and Anneli head our flag ship base in Namibia, where the majority of our vehicles live. The two of them make the perfect team, as Jens – who is an expert in mechanics and has long history with 4×4’s in Africa – manages and cares for our vehicles, whilst Anneli prepares for each trip and it’s requirements. That said, it’s hard to separate who does what as they really are a team, and will always go that extra mile to ensure that our clients have a great time.

  • Bruce and Barbara Cantle

    Bruce and Barbara Cantle

    Bruce and Barbara Cantle, who live in Maun, are extremely passionate about safari’s in Botswana and are amazing at keeping our UK up to date with the conditions down there. This is essential to our operation as road conditions in Botswana change very quickly after the rains each year and the rains don’t always come when expected. This information always points our clients in the right direction so will have a safe and enjoyable safari.

  • Emma Hunter

    Emma Hunter

    Emma’s true passion is horses, hence living in Lambourn ‘The Valley of the Racehorse’ where our office is located. Her partner Brendan is also a local racehorse trainer. Since first being introduced to Safari Drive a couple of years ago, Emma has quickly become a key member of the team. Her enthusiasm is a joy to be around and her efficiency and attention to detail, like Carly, is simply incredible. An ideas girl (and there’s plenty), she also plays an integral part in improving our systems internally.

  • Paul Marsh

    Paul Marsh

    Paul, based in Cape Town, oversees our vehicle builds. We’re very lucky him have him on board as he has more than 20 years of experience in vehicle-based travel and has successfully led expeditions to some very remote areas of the planet. He has travelled the length of Africa multiple times and provided technical advice and mechanical support for numerous private world expeditions. Since he’s come on board, not a bolt has been left ignored in our vehicles and as new equipment comes available, he is the first to know whether to get it or not. 

  • Gene Pecker

    Gene Pecker

    Gene Pecker is based in Livingstone and works along side Kate Naidoo with running our Zambia base, based at Waterberry Lodge. Gene’s been a wonderful asset ever since she started with us and as our clients keep reminding us. She’s very good at detail and is passionate about making sure the clients have the best trip possible. All her tips and info will go a long way so be sure to listen carefully.

  • Bryan Fawcett

    Bryan Fawcett

    Bryan is a native born Zimbabwean who manages our trips in Zimbabwe. The former teacher left education to pursue his passion for travel back in 2008 and has never looked back, having spent the last 10 years living in multiple destinations throughout Southern and Eastern Africa. His early love of the African bush can be attributed to his early youth in Zimbabwe, giving him a sound knowledge in geography, landscape, ecosystems, and cultures of Africa; all invaluable for when it comes to driving across Africa.


Safari Drive - Our Bases

We have bases in each of the countries that we operate in for your briefing and also support whilst you are your safari. This means that we are never too far away from you when you might need help. Our team on the ground are there for you from the moment you get off the plane to the moment you get back on it. They will brief you on all the equipment, your route, and will give you every tip in the book before you set off on your self drive safari!

Our bases enable you to do one way journeys across the countries at no extra charge. Just give us enough notice so we can make a vehicle available to fit in with your plans.

Safari Drive journeys can start or finish from Cape Town, Windhoek, Maun, Livingstone (next to the Victoria Falls), Lilongwe or Arusha which gives you the choices of some amazing journeys and routes across Africa. Also by special arrangement we can place vehicles anywhere in Africa for you.

Giving Back

We recognise that in carrying out our work as tour operators, we have a responsibility to respect other peoples’ communities. We acknowledge that wherever a tour operator does business or sends clients, it has the potential to do both good and harm and we are aware that all too often the harm can outweigh the good. All tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economic impact on the destination involved. To help us do so, here is a set of guidelines intended to help companies, customers and local suppliers recognise common responsibilities.

Protect flora, fauna & landscapes

Respect traditions, religions & built heritage

Benefit them both economically & socially

From office to destination

Through noise reduction, waste disposal & minimal congestion


Tukongote Community Pre-school was set up four years ago by Waterberry Lodge, who sponsored a teacher for the local village’s youngest children, who could not walk the 8-12km to the then nearest pre-school.

This is a massive success story, with 73 children now attending pre-school here taught by four teachers. Pre-school has recently become compulsory in Zambia for any child who wants to attend primary school, so it is vital that the country’s youngest children have access to these in order to continue their education.

When we got in touch with Tukongote one of the things we were told would be most useful was school rucksacks. Over the course of 16 months we asked all clients visiting Livingstone to take these out with them in their luggage. Finally in January 2015 we had collected enough and were able to hand them out to the children.

Because this worked so well, we have decided to continue this project, this time for Big Tree Pre-School, another community pre-school supported by Waterberry. There are 36 children currently attending class here. By clicking here you can help us support this school by taking out a children’s rucksack with you to Livingstone in Zambia.


The Mammadu Trust was founded by Agnes Albrecht to care for and support orphans, children and minors who are living in extremely vulnerable conditions. Many children that Mammadu currently care for are runaways, whose parents may be alcoholics, abusive, or affected by HIV/AIDS.

In 2010 Agnes acquired a block of land in Otjomuise, one of the poorest areas in Windhoek and began to build the centre. Mammadu meet the financial and pastoral needs of the most vulnerable children in this area by paying school fees, providing suitable clothes and shoes for attending school, cooking nutritious meals and providing health and hygiene care. In addition Mammadu have an officially registered pre-school and run extra classes for all ages to supplement their education.

When we contacted Agnes, she reported that the items most in demand for the children are warm clothes and sleeping bags. These children live in tiny sheet-metal constructions, offering them little protection from the freezing temperatures that occur in winter. We would be very grateful to all future travellers to Namibia for supporting Mammadu by taking out warm clothes for the children here in their luggage.


  • How Do Your Trips Work?

    We supply everything that is required for a complete and safe self-drive holiday in Africa, including the flights, the vehicle, National Parks reservations and importantly the back up. While we tailor ever holiday to fit with your plans you can also select one of the special trips that we have already put together or start from scratch. Generally we supply: The inspiration & itinerary for the holiday, International flights, Airport transfers, Briefings, A fully equipped vehicle, All camping equipment including: Linen & towels, Cooking equipment, A starter kit of food, Lodge, hotel & camp accommodation where requested, Camp site bookings, National Parks bookings, The back up including free use of a satellite phone to contact us in the case of an emergency. We also supply many other parts that you probably won’t see such as vehicle insurance, flying doctor service, servicing, preparing and equipping of vehicles and even bonding your holiday so that you have financial security.

  • Are Flights Included?

    Flights are not included in the prices listed on our website. If you would like us to give you a quote for flights we would be very happy to do so. We provide tour operator fares which are very competitive and in supplying the flights ourselves we can more easily coordinate connections, local flights and airport transfers.

  • Who Owns Your Vehicles?

    Safari Drive owns, operates and runs its own fully equipped Toyota Land Cruisers as we have generally been unable to source vehicles of a high enough standard elsewhere. In some countries we have found suppliers of high quality vehicles and equipment that match our own standards.

  • How Old Are The Vehicles?

    Most of our vehicles are under five years old, importantly they are regularly serviced and prepared for your holiday.

  • What Happens If We Break Down?

    We will send you a replacement vehicle. Usually, this is within 24 hours but it does depend on when we get your call and where you are located at the time.

  • Will We Be Reimbursed For Loss Of Vehicle Hire Due To Breakdowns Or Accident?

    No. Due to the very high costs of repair or replacement of vehicles in the bush we are unable to reimburse you for any days lost usage.

  • What Happens If We Get Lost?

    We all get lost from time to time and discovering the correct route is part of the holiday. However to make things as simple as possible, we provide you with directions, maps, sat nav and a satellite phone in case of emergency.

  • Are Transfers Included In The Price?

    Yes all airport transfers are included in your holiday.

  • Why Are Your Prices Higher Than Other Car Hire Companies?

    Because we believe in including everything that makes up a complete and safe holiday our prices may seem higher than the same number of days with a car hire company. However, once you cost out all the individual elements our prices become very competitive.

  • Can I Just Hire A Vehicle With No Extras?

    No. We believe that for a safe self drive holiday you need to be fully prepared.

  • How Does The Insurance Work?

    The vehicles are fully insured on a fleet basis. In the event of an accident, we ask for an excess amount to be paid. This figure can be reduced by paying a daily amount. These options will be explained to you during the booking process.

  • Can I Do A One Way Journey With Safari Drive?

    Yes we specialise in one way journeys, that means you do not have to back track. If this is booked far enough in advance we will not charge you for the relocation of the vehicle.

  • What Are The Dangers?

    Every adventure holiday carries an inherent risk and you should be aware of the risk assessment document that identifies the possible dangers on a self drive holiday.

  • Do We Have To Camp?

    No we are happy to plan your itinerary around lodges and camps that suit your tastes and budget.

Founded in 1992

Safari Drive was founded in 1992 by Charles and Meregan Norwood. Charles; a highly experienced expedition leader across vast swathes of Africa and Asia and Meregan; a born adventurer. In 1992 Charles Norwood and Meregan Norwood flew into Kano in Northern Nigeria to pick up a Land Rover that belonged to Charles. The original idea was to relocate the Land Rover back to the UK via the Sahara. Fate intervened and instead they drove South and West through Cameroon, The Central African Republic, The Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya.

A return trip followed to southern African countries and having enjoyed discovering these countries so much, they were a natural starting point for our original concept which was the “self drive safari” a different way to discover Africa for oneself. Safari Drive was born.

Having decided to set up the ground operations in 1992 Charles and Meregan returned to the UK to market Safari Drive to the public and became the first Tour operator to offer this type of safari and to this day is the only UK Tour Operating company that has its own self drive vehicles across Africa. Other countries soon followed over the years and we can now tailor self drive journeys across all parts of Africa from Tanzania down to Cape Town.

Since those early days the company has widened its network and we now have seven fully staffed bases dotted across Africa plus our HQ in the English countryside where the passion and ethos continues strongly into the 21st century.

Charles and Meregan are still driving the roads of Africa today.


Our expert team are on hand to answer any questions you have about our safari holidays. Simply fill in the form below and one of our team will be in contact.