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What is a Safari?

A safari is an adventurous journey into the wild, where the raw beauty of nature unfolds before your eyes. It's an immersive experience, offering close encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat. From the majestic lions of Africa to the elusive tigers of Asia, a safari connects you with the earth's untamed spirit. Ready to explore the wilderness within?
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A safari is a trip on land, usually in jungle or savanna environments, which is engaged in for the purpose of viewing or hunting animals. Most often, the modern safari involves viewing, photographing, and experiencing animals in their natural habitats. With greater laws for the preservation of many animal species, fewer people undertake a safari to hunt animals.

Safari is a Swahili word, which originally derives from the Arabic word for travel, safara. Most associate the idea of going on safari with Africa, but actually there are many safari destinations throughout the world. For example, one can take safari trips in India, Australia, Antarctica, Alaska, Brazil or Peru. Essentially any place where one can observe animals in their true habitats can be a safari destination.

Safaris often are carried out using motor vehicles.
Safaris often are carried out using motor vehicles.

Some safari trips are done mostly by motor transport. It may simply be too dangerous to be walking around lions, tigers, and bears, or other possibly deadly animals. It can also be dangerous to the animals to closely interact with humans. Watching animals from the security of a vehicle allows one to come more closely to the animals with less danger to both animals and humans.

Some safaris are for the purpose of hunting animals.
Some safaris are for the purpose of hunting animals.

Other safari trips are walking trips, and armed guides usually lead them. They may take place on wildlife preserves. People might camp out for a night on the African Savannah, for example, in tent cabins or semi-permanent camps. These are usually the cheapest way to take a safari, but they do have their privations. For example, access to toilets and ability to bathe or shower may be quite limited.

One might see giraffes on a safari.
One might see giraffes on a safari.

Alternately, many lodges are built near animal reservations. Lodges can also vary in price. Some of the most expensive can cost over 500 US dollars (USD) a night. They usually include meals in the price, and one can experience some fantastic meals if one is willing to fork over quite a bit of money for the more expensive lodges.

With sufficient funds, one can take a vast variety of transport on a safari. Some lodges offer air balloon or helicopter rides. Others may provide boat trips down rivers, or even journeys on elephants, or camels. Many safari lodges also provide additional activities and luxuries to keep guests amused when not viewing animals.

Lions may be spotted on a safari.
Lions may be spotted on a safari.

A safari, meaning the actual tour to see or hunt animals, can last anywhere from two days to two weeks. One might also spend part of this time traveling by air or bus to several locations in order to see the best sights. A single safari could involve camping or staying in multiple locations, which makes packing light a good idea, particularly on the more budget oriented safaris.

Tigers are one animal that can be spotted on a safari tour.
Tigers are one animal that can be spotted on a safari tour.

Though Africa has the largest number of safari offerings, those in Australia, Asia and South America often can be equally exciting. Many are constructed on the same principals as African safaris, with lodges or semi-permanent camps based near wildlife reservations. In places like Alaska, one can also take one-day tours to view grizzly, Kodiak and polar bears in their native environment. These tend to be offered in conjunction with cruises to Alaska.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a safari and where did the concept originate?

Polar bears might be seen on an Alaskan safari.
Polar bears might be seen on an Alaskan safari.

A safari is an overland journey, typically in Africa, that allows participants to observe and photograph wildlife and landscapes. The concept originated in the 19th century in East Africa and was initially associated with big-game hunting. However, the modern safari has evolved into a conservation-minded tourism experience focused on wildlife observation and appreciation. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, safaris now play a crucial role in supporting wildlife conservation and community development in many African countries.

What are the best destinations for a wildlife safari?

Several nations in central and southern Africa maintain game parks specifically for the purpose of attracting tourists on safari.
Several nations in central and southern Africa maintain game parks specifically for the purpose of attracting tourists on safari.

The best destinations for a wildlife safari are often found in Africa, with countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia being top choices. Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve are renowned for the Great Migration, while Botswana's Okavango Delta offers unique water-based wildlife viewing. South Africa's Kruger National Park is known for its accessibility and high density of animals. Each destination offers a distinct experience, with diverse ecosystems and wildlife.

How should one prepare for a safari trip?

Safari tour companies offer various ways to view and photograph big game in Africa.
Safari tour companies offer various ways to view and photograph big game in Africa.

Preparing for a safari trip involves several steps: ensuring you have the necessary travel documents, vaccinations, and health precautions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's also important to pack appropriately, including clothing for varying temperatures, binoculars, camera equipment, and protective gear like sunscreen and insect repellent. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the customs and culture of the host country can enhance your experience and respect local communities.

What types of safaris are available?

In Alaska, one-day tours can be taken to view bears in their natural environments.
In Alaska, one-day tours can be taken to view bears in their natural environments.

There are various types of safaris available to suit different interests and preferences. Traditional vehicle safaris are the most common, but walking safaris, horseback safaris, hot air balloon safaris, and even canoe safaris offer unique perspectives on wildlife and the environment. Luxury safaris provide upscale accommodations and amenities, while mobile and camping safaris appeal to those seeking a more rugged, close-to-nature experience. Specialist safaris may focus on birdwatching, photography, or tracking specific animals like the Big Five.

What is the best time of year to go on a safari?

The best time of year to go on a safari largely depends on the region and the wildlife events you wish to witness. Generally, the dry season, which typically runs from June to October in Southern and East Africa, is considered ideal for wildlife viewing as animals congregate around water sources and vegetation is less dense. However, for specific events like the Great Migration in East Africa, timing is more precise, usually between July and October. Always check the seasonal patterns and wildlife activities of your chosen destination before planning your trip.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseTour contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseTour contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

Authordor

Most local travel agencies have contacts for booking a safari to any number of different locations worldwide. If your local agent does not have the ability to book a safari for you, they would be your best resource for finding a reputable agency that can fit your needs. Some established British safari agencies have a history of bookings dating back to the mid-19th. And many of the newer safaris are catering to the regional increases in eco-tourism.

Ravellu

How would I book a safari?

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    • Safaris often are carried out using motor vehicles.
      By: Eric Isselée
      Safaris often are carried out using motor vehicles.
    • Some safaris are for the purpose of hunting animals.
      By: zorandim75
      Some safaris are for the purpose of hunting animals.
    • One might see giraffes on a safari.
      By: David_Steele
      One might see giraffes on a safari.
    • Lions may be spotted on a safari.
      By: Michael Ireland
      Lions may be spotted on a safari.
    • Tigers are one animal that can be spotted on a safari tour.
      By: Mingis
      Tigers are one animal that can be spotted on a safari tour.
    • Polar bears might be seen on an Alaskan safari.
      By: ILYA AKINSHIN
      Polar bears might be seen on an Alaskan safari.
    • Several nations in central and southern Africa maintain game parks specifically for the purpose of attracting tourists on safari.
      By: pavalena
      Several nations in central and southern Africa maintain game parks specifically for the purpose of attracting tourists on safari.
    • Safari tour companies offer various ways to view and photograph big game in Africa.
      By: Photocreo Bednarek
      Safari tour companies offer various ways to view and photograph big game in Africa.
    • In Alaska, one-day tours can be taken to view bears in their natural environments.
      By: erllre
      In Alaska, one-day tours can be taken to view bears in their natural environments.