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What is a Safari?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseTour contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments
By Authordor — On Jan 03, 2014

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.

By Ravellu — On Jan 03, 2014

How would I book a safari?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseTour contributor, Tricia...
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