Charles and Meregan Norwood created the first commercial self drive safari in 1992 and after more than 25 years of operations have come to know what makes the perfect journey.
Charles’s first went to Africa in 1980 when he hitched across West Africa and the Sahara. Then he joined Encounter Overland, the pioneers of group overland travel in Africa. From 1980 to 1987 he led major expeditions in India and Africa. Running Land Rover One Ten and Defender vehicles for private expeditions and film reviews followed between 1987 and 1993. In ’93 Safari Drive was formed as the first self-drive safari tour operator. ‘We supplied an expedition-equipped Defender for clients to drive through the best bits of Africa, planned the routes and supported them on the ground.
‘The reason that we used Defenders was that they were the best able to handle the road conditions in Africa. We rarely had stuck vehicles until Land Rover stopped making the Defender and we used Land Cruisers. Their heavier weight tended to bog them down – although we never had another rollover.‘The other reason was that the image of the Defender fitted our marketing image. Selling the dream of driving across the plains of the Serengeti at the wheel of a fully equipped Land Rover and camping in the bush was not available elsewhere. Although we sold Safari Drive in 2018 we are committed to advising and helping people plan and run their own private self-drive expeditions. He still has Stanley, one of Safari Drive’s early Defender Td5s. It’s based in Windhoek, Namibia, as a personal vehicle