Ground tent or rooftop tent?

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Safari in Africa. Ground tent or rooftop tent?

by Laura van Dijk

You decided your next holiday destination is Africa. You made up your mind about which country, not an easy choice, as all Roadtrip Africa's destinations all jewels. You chosen the type of car you want to rent, decided it should be a self-drive holiday and opted for the ultimate freedom and adventure - road tripping with a full set of camping gear equipment! But should you go with a rooftop tent of ground tent...? 

How to decide what is best: a rooftop tent or a ground tent?

We can equip your Roadtrip Africa rental car with a rooftop tent or you hire a Quechua dome tent. Both comes with a full set of quality camp gear, consisting of a mattress, sleeping bag, headlights, cooking equipment, chairs and table. Both have advantages and disadvantages and there are a few factors that will determine which one will work best for YOU.

The pro's & con's of a rooftop tent 

A rooftop tent is the easiest way to sleep off the ground. This is helpful when your campsite is uneven, the soil is wet or too soft to anchor a tent. In wilderness areas, people tend to prefer rooftop tents for putting some distance between themselves and wild animals lurking around at night. However, this is a FALSE sense of security and you will be just as safe in a ground tent that is properly zipped up. Although we understand that perception of safety plays a role here as well….


You feel safer. 

Rooftop tents are quick and easy to set up, just check out this instruction video. 


You need to wrap up your rooftop tent every time you want to use your vehicle.

Roof top tents are warmer, so we would recommend the dome tents if you plan to do a road trip down the coast in Kenya or Tanzania.

Hiring a rooftop tent is more expensive than the ground tent, and requires going with a Toyota Landcruiser or Nissan Double Cab ( for Madagascar). 

Last thing to consider, how is your mobility? For rather stiff people, getting up and down the stepladder of a rooftop tent can be uneasy.

Yes, you are safe in a ground tent

Bush camping inside a Wildlife National Park is not for the faint-hearted. Yet it is safe and an incredible experience. There’s something amazing about hearing hippo's grazing right up to your tent, missing all of the pegs and guy lines. It's amazing how nimble they can be. It can become quite scary in a ground tent when you have lions and hyena sniffling around. It still amazes me that you are safe in your tent as long as you keep it firmly zipped up. It is as if though the animals don’t realise how thin the tent is. But that’s the thrill of a night you will never forget!

Based on the experience of our own and those of many other road trippers, we've listed an overview of our favourite campsites in East Africa. Just go to the Roadtrip Africa country sides: Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar.  

Do you want to Drive Your Own Adventure? Book your car here.   

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