My take on the African Lando

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My take on the African Lando

Postby superal1983 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:25 am

I recently returned from the Kenya and Tanzania Overland YOLO trip and traveled on the Lando.

It is important to note this is just my opinion and will of course not be shared by everybody, including other people on the same trip as I was on. I am only sharing this as the below is something I would have taken into consideration were I aware of it before choosing a trip to book.

Firstly the Lando is very comfortable.

We spent many hours traveling in the Lando across very bumpy African roads and couldn't have asked for a better vehicle to be in. The leg room is plentiful, even with a backpack in-between my legs for most of the time (I'll come onto storage space) and when the windows weren't open, the air-con kept us cool enough.

For a mode of getting from A to B I do not have any complaints whatsoever.

The USB charging points on each seat couldn't have made keeping electrical devices fully charged any easier. There were also charging points at the back of the Lando, but I did not use these. The WiFi worked on about half of the days, each person is allocated a code with a maximum daily data allowance of 300Mb per person - I was on holiday so was not too upset about a handful of days disconnected from the rest of the world.

The storage space is a little limited. Backpacks and suitcases are stored in the back of the Lando and day packs are stored in overhead storage. Unfortunately the overhead storage isn't very spacious and similar to some regional trains in the UK. Some were fine as their day pack was quite small, but I brought a slightly larger backpack that I took on the plane as hand luggage.

This meant it spent it's time in-between my legs.

This isn't a criticism of the Lando but something I would have been mindful of when decided what to pack.

This brings me onto game viewing from the Lando.

"The Lando overland adventure vehicle is a revolutionary new mode of transport built to help you get the absolute most out of your safari experience." - G Adventures

Just no.

I had 4x4 game drives in Nairobi NP (not through G), two in Maasai Mara and one in Ngorogoro cretor (the later three through G). I had three game drives in the Lando, two in the Serengeti and one in Lake Nakuru NP.

The 'safari' windows can only be opened when the Lando is stationary and are useful for animals that are away from the Lando (i.e. you cannot see animals close to the Lando through them). This means each row of four (4) people is often limited to half a window (the windows slide and are shared between two rows).

G claim the Lando allows you to get the perfect photo.

The people on my trip were very good in rotating to allow everybody to have the chance to take a photo, but it was far from ideal and created a feeling that we may miss out on some brilliant photo opportunities.

The 4x4 jeeps however do allow the perfect photo opportunity. Even with a maximum of 7 people (two of the jeeps I was in had five people, one had four and one had seven), you are able to stand with a full 360 degree view without the restriction of any windows or other people. This is how animals are meant to be seen, but I feel G sold the Lando to be a very similar experience, when in reality it is not.

I was told we could hire a 4x4 for approximately £300 between seven of us on one of the game drives in the Serengeti. Unfortunately we did not have enough people, but an additional £130 (based on 7 people and three game drives) on the price on the tour for all game drives to be in 4x4 jeeps would in my opinion be well worth the additional cost.

"No matter how often I visit the Serengeti its magic never palls. In this wild and open country you feel you could drive forever and never have enough of it. Out on the plains the light is dazzling. Colossal thunderheads trail shawls of rain across horizons wider than the sea, and wherever you look there are animals." - Brian Jackman

My experience of the Serengeti was largely through half a window shared with three other people.

Please do not think I did not have the most brilliant time, I left with many memories that will last a lifetime. Sadly none of these were in the Serengeti through the windows of the Lando.

I expect my post may seem a little bitter; but yes I am disappointed and I think others should be aware it is not the ideal vehicle for viewing game before booking a trip.
Last edited by superal1983 on Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby movieaddict_traveller » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:49 am

Thanks for this feedback. I was thinking of taking this tour next year!
I will take this into consideration.

Cheers,

Julia
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby superal1983 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:57 am

Hi Julia,

That was the reason for posting my thoughts, the trip itself was an experience of a lifetime but the game drives in the Lando did leave me disappointed.

Whatever you choose to do, if you visit Kenya and/or Tanzania you will come back loving it!

Alan
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby TravelFun » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:44 am

Thanks for the feedback Alan and this will really help others thinking of this trip, as YOLO trip reviews are limited here.

I hope you did provide this information in your trip evaluation to G.


Happy Travels!
DO THE RIGHT THING ...all the time, every time!
http://www.gadventures.com/about-us/gadventures/

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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby stephsimon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:26 am

Do you have any photos from inside the lando?
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby kateyb » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:12 pm

I can easily relate to your experience!
If you can afford it, pay the extra money and go on a safari that uses 4x4's or smaller vehicles so everyone gets a great view. That being said, when I went on a tour to Southern Africa with G and used the overland truck (pre Lando) I had a similar experience as the original poster. However, I could not afford a smaller group type safari at the time and it was better than nothing. I was in Eastern Africa this winter and me and my boyfriend arranged a safari through a local provider and it was amazing. Saying that, I also paid a lot more. You get what you pay for.
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby superal1983 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:16 pm

Don't get me wrong, you can still get some fantastic photos from the Lando but you are sharing the same space with a number of other people. Advertising the Lando as a vehicle that allows you to get "the absolute most out of your safari experience" infers to me that it is the optimal way to view the animals, which in my opinion is not the case.

Game drives in the Lando will usually mean moving around so everybody has a chance to sit by an open window and take a decent photo. This is of course when the Lando stops, which to be fair it did fairly frequently when there was something to see. When moving it is all down to whether you were lucky to get a window seat that day. If you have been lucky, you now have to hope the animal sighting is on your side of the bus.

I've posted a couple of photos taken from inside the Lando. I've included links to my photos as well, the preview isn't displaying the photos in my reply

Serengeti NP - Taken from the main side window

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http://imgur.com/a/xzLGN

Serengeti NP - Taken from the 'safari window'

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http://imgur.com/VC33adU

Lake Nakuru NP - Taken from the main side window

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http://imgur.com/a/np9HQ
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby MonikaH » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:01 pm

Thank you for your post. I did a safari in the Masai a few years ago through a local operator - it was super cheap and it ended up being me and one other person on the trip. The car top would open and I basically got a full view around so I could move and take photos from every angle.

I have booked the Delta, Dunes & Falls trip and since reading your post, I have lowered my expectations for having this ability.

Had a few questions if you could clarify:

1. Does everyone on the Lando get a window they can open on the Lando? I'm assuming it's 2 people per row on each of the side of vehicle, like a bus?

2. Do the windows open all the way allowing both people to put their camera's through to take photos? I know on some shuttle buses or cars I've taken, you cannot open the windows or they slide only halfway open. I love having my camera ready or taking candid photos while the vehicle is moving. Just wondering if I'll be able to do that on the Lando.

3. If there was an animal sighting on the other side of where you were sitting, was it easy enough to get up and take a photo through the window?

4. Did you end up doing that optional safari tour in Chobe where they have DSLR's you can use?

Thanks!
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby superal1983 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:15 pm

I try not to be too critical of the Lando, but my experience(s) in the 4x4 jeeps were a world apart from the game drives in the Lando. I had the most amazing time but in hindsight I would have likely searched for a trip where all game drives were in 4x4 jeeps or independently arranged my trip (this may have been a little overwhelming for a first trip to Africa).

Hopefully the below helps

1. Does everyone on the Lando get a window they can open on the Lando? I'm assuming it's 2 people per row on each of the side of vehicle, like a bus?

Yes, it is like a normal bus with two seats on either side of the aisle. Each row does have a window they can open, although this is shared with the row in front or behind depending where you are sat on the Lando.

2. Do the windows open all the way allowing both people to put their camera's through to take photos? I know on some shuttle buses or cars I've taken, you cannot open the windows or they slide only halfway open. I love having my camera ready or taking candid photos while the vehicle is moving. Just wondering if I'll be able to do that on the Lando.

It is not possible for both rows sharing a window to fully slide them open without obstructing the view of the other, you’ll usually end up with half an open window. This is probably about a foot wide, give or take (maybe closer to two).

If you have a window seat you shouldn’t have a problem taking candid photos while driving along. It is more difficult sitting in an aisle seat, but not impossible with a little communication letting the person sitting next to you know when you are wanting to take a photo.


3. If there was an animal sighting on the other side of where you were sitting, was it easy enough to get up and take a photo through the window?

It is probably worth noting the Lando was completely full on our trip with no spare seats. I don’t know whether this is common on all trips G run that use the Lando, but the short answer is not really.

If the Lando is moving it is extremely difficult to take an unobstructed photo through the window on the other side of the Lando, however like any game drive, we often stopped in the Lando at an animal sighting.

Providing you are travelling with a reasonable group of people you will have the chance to take a photo in most situations. The group I travelled with shuffled around, allowing people to lean over or slide into a seat next to the window. If the animal isn’t right next to the Lando, the people sitting on the other side of the Lando can also stand up and take photos out of the ‘safari windows’. These open outwards, but can be a little limiting due to their narrowness and the fact you’ll likely be standing in the aisle of the Lando.

Our CEOs were good and didn’t start moving until everybody had an opportunity to take a photo. That said, nature isn’t going to hang around for a group of tourists and opportunities can and will be missed for some on the Lando.


4. Did you end up doing that optional safari tour in Chobe where they have DSLR's you can use?

I went on the Kenya & Tanzania Overland tour so unfortunately I’m not able to comment on the game drive in Chobe.
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:04 am

Nice review. When I did Nairobi-Jo'burg (now considered YOLO), we did the Serengeti in Land Rovers instead of the overland truck and it was a fabulous experience. I'm sorry to hear they are using the Lando in the Serengeti as those safaris really need smaller, less obtrusive vehicles. I'm sure running the Lando is more cost-efficient but I would definitely plan on spending the extra money to try to get into smaller vehicles if possible. Real safari vehicles are much better for game drives than a huge bus.
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby downtownjudybrown » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:01 pm

Your post here is Super Fabulous!!! I SOOO Appreciate all of your "Review" and comments, as well as your photos!!! I am going on one of their trips mid-Sept. and ALOT of what you said makes me wonder... My quest is to SEE the animals "up-close & personal" and I shall VERY MUCH want to take a lot of photos!!! GA has told me my tour is "Full", with 16 persons... YIKES!!! When I travel, it's "Me & My Camera", so I guess I'll be hoping for a "bus-load" of GOOD-Natured "Travel-Mates"!!! On the 4x4 safari drives, how many persons are on each of these vehicles??? I'm guessing/ hoping they only use these "Landos" for the longer-distance drives, or am I wrong on this???
I TOTALLY Appreciate your Review!!! MANY THANKS!!!
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby superal1983 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:08 am

Hi Judy,

The Lando is obviously used for the long drives between places (i.e. getting from A to B), but I'm not sure what the rationale is behind when the Lando is used for a game drive and when it isn't. Speaking to a fellow traveler on my tour, I understand one game drive in the Serengeti was previously in a 4x4 jeep but changed to the Lando on later tours. I can only assume it is G wishing to keep their (and our) costs down, but this is just my guess.

The 4x4 jeeps are likely what you imagine a safari to be, and they are amazing. The game drives in the jeeps had four, five, five and seven people in the jeeps respectively, not counting the driver. Even with seven people, everybody could stand up at all times if they wished to and still have an amazing view of pretty much everything.

You will have the most amazing time and no doubt see many animals up-close. It is of course impossible to second guess who you will be travelling with, but the nature of the trip will likely mean you'll be with like minded people.

If you do have a Lando game drive, you could always ask your CEO if they could arrange a 4x4 jeep in advance and meet up with you afterwards if this is practical. This obviously helps if there are other people interested in doing the same, as it'll likely be very expensive on your own.

I hope you have a great time!
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby downtownjudybrown » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:05 pm

For those who are interested, I spoke with a GA agent who explained they only use the Lando for the YOLO Tours. The tour I'm on, "Iconic Southern Africa" will be using 4x4 safari jeeps for ALL of the game-viewing safaris and a 22-seater Mercedes Bus (2-1 seating) for the VERY FEW long drives. I didn't realize that we fly the longer distances, rather than drive (CPT-JNB and JNB-VFF). I looked-up the bus and it looks great!!! Hope this info. helps others!!! Judy
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Re: My take on the African Lando

Postby brad.fraser » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:28 pm

Great, honest review. Having done an African tour on the Lando last year and one a few years ago pre-Lando, I share most of your sentiments. When we were driving through Etosha last year in the Lando I was quite disappointed by the "photographer friendly" windows, and remember wondering if they have ditched the 4x4's I used with G in 2014 in the Serengeti in favour of the Lando.. Turns out unfortunately they have. Glad I got to see the Serengeti in the 4x4's. It's a much more intimate experience and allows for unparalleled game viewing. Even in Etosha the following day some of us opted for a 4x4 tour and we had much better game viewing than we did had in the Lando.

For any future travellers reading this, if you get the opportunity to opt for a 4x4, especially in the Serengeti, do it. It'd be worth every dollar.
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