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What is an Eco Safari?

By R. Stamm
Updated May 23, 2024
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An eco safari is a form of travel based on ecology that allows tourists to experience wildlife and places rich in heritage, culture, and natural beauty. There are many companies offering the opportunity to take a safari, but only companies that conserve the resources, travel responsibly, and benefit local communities can be considered eco-friendly. There are different rating systems of companies providing tours in natural environments, and the ratings should be checked carefully to ensure that the safari is environmentally-friendly. Tours can last from one to 15 days depending on an individual’s budget and destination preferences.

The phrase "ecotourism" is based on the words “ecosystem” and “tourism” and involves travel to areas of natural interest for the primary purpose of conserving them. More often than not, an eco safari allows the traveler to observe animals in their natural environment. Sometimes eco tours provide travelers with an opportunity to assist with environmental projects in developing countries. Tours to these natural environments are usually guided by an environmentalist or naturalist.

Eco safaris are offered all over the world. In North America, the State of Florida offers various tours by boat to the Everglades, as well as safaris by foot and horseback. South America allows travelers the opportunity to experience a jungle safari. India is another popular destination with a variety of tours throughout various National parks and sanctuaries. For its abundance of wildlife, Africa remains one of the most popular and expensive destinations for travelers who wish to experience an eco safari.

In order to maintain the integrity of the phrase eco tourism, many countries have developed a rating system. The rating system ensures that those providing eco safaris are reducing strains on the environment and guaranteeing the welfare of local villages. Each country has different schemes for rating tourism companies and hotels. For instance, the rating system in Kenya has three levels, including bronze, silver, and gold, with bronze providing the least amount of benefits to the environment.

Tourists have just as much responsibility in maintaining the environment as the company providing the tour. Tourists should refrain from feeding the animals, which can cause an unnatural dependence on human beings. On an eco safari, it is advisable not to disturb the ecological balance of the environment in any way, which includes the removal of items for souvenirs, handling the animals, or altering the natural environment. Individuals should follow the instructions of their guide, as safaris may be dangerous.

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Discussion Comments
By manykitties2 — On Nov 26, 2011

@drtroubles - If you want to try an eco safari in Florida I would suggest going through one of the local tour operators, rather than one in your state, as they have a much better idea of what to see when it comes to the local environment. My husband and I did an eco safari in Florida down at the Forever Florida eco-ranch, and it was an amazing experience.

The Forever Florida eco safaris are varied and fun. We ended up doing both the zipline safari and the horseback safari that was offered through the ranch. You can easily do either of these safaris as a day trip and they are affordable. So I think they would be a great way for your family to experience the natural beauty of Florida.

By drtroubles — On Nov 25, 2011

Does anyone know of some good eco safaris in Florida?

My family and I are planning a trip and have wanted to see Florida forever. We're going to be doing some of the traditional stuff, like visiting Disney World to appease the kids, but I would like us to do something that gets us more in touch with the local ecology.

My wife and I would love to find something to do that is fun and educational, and allows us to take in something like the Florida Everglades. I can imagine that my son would love to see an alligator in its natural environment, and I know my daughter would enjoy the scenery.

By sunnySkys — On Nov 25, 2011

@indemnifyme - Interesting. I know when I think of florida, ecosafaris aren't the first thing that pop into my mind. However, it makes a lot of sense that Florida would do something like this, because I know a lot of people are interested in observing the wildlife in the Everglades. But not that many people really have the expertise to just take a trip to the Everglades and look around!

I think an eco safari is a really great alternative to going to the zoo. The animals aren't all penned up, they're left in their natural environment. I hope that one day, eco safaris of all kinds will totally replace zoos.

By indemnifyme — On Nov 24, 2011

I've actually heard of florida eco safaris before. They sound cool if you're into that kind of thing. However, I'm not really a big fan of the great outdoors, so I think I would pass on something like this.

Still, I like the idea better. I think it's awesome that people want to go observe wildlife without disturbing it. I would much rather hear about people taking an eco-friendly vacation rather than going on a hunting safari or something like that.

I also think an eco safari is a more sustainable type of tourism. For example, if an area hosts too many hunting safaris, it could eventually deplete the big game in the area. But since eco safaris don't disturb the environment, you can host them in the same spot over and over.

By myharley — On Nov 24, 2011

When I visited some friends in Florida, I had the chance to combine two things I always wanted to do. I have always wanted to go on a safari and also ride on a zipline. This made a zipline safari the perfect combination for me.

I was so excited about this and not only would I get to experience the thrill of the zipline, but also gain a better understanding of the eco-system of this part of Florida.

This adventure lasted over 2 hours and there were places where we were about 70 feet high. This was one of the best guided tours I have ever spent my money on.

We saw thousands of acres of the Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation area and this included seeing alligators, a black bear and deer.

Many of the animals are active at night and they also offer a night safari which would give you a whole new look at this area after dark.

If a safari is something you are interested in doing, there are a lot of great companies out there who offer them. I would just do your homework and read the reviews so you know you are getting one where you will really get your money's worth.

By andee — On Nov 24, 2011

@honeybees - Save your money and take that trip of a lifetime on an African safari - you won't be disappointed! This was always a dream of mine too.

There is a very popular radio station in our area, and they sponsor trips from time to time. A couple of years ago they announced they were going on an African safari, and I told my husband we were going to save our money and go.

They can be kind of expensive and even though you are going to Africa, you have some very nice, luxurious accommodations.

The wildlife and scenery you see will be forever etched in your mind, and hopefully you will get some amazing pictures. Seeing pictures others have taken or watching a safari on TV is just not the same as experiencing it yourself.

We traveled with a company that was rated on the gold level as far as their eco rating system. What I like about this is that is not only helps protect the animals, but also the people who are in the local villages.

As long as you stay in your vehicle and listen closely to what your tour guide says you won't have any problems at all. My heart was racing many times just because of how close we were, and all the excitement of just being there.

By honeybees — On Nov 23, 2011

While most people think of taking an African safari, there are also many other types of eco safaris that are available.

We took a trip with our kids to the Florida Everglades. I found this more relaxing and interesting than a trip to the zoo.

There are a number of different companies who offer a Florida eco safari like this. You have the opportunity to see alligators and a lot of wildlife such as storks, herons and hawks.

It is fascinating to observe them in their natural environment. They are so used to the extra activity that they are not the least bit phased by it.

There is a big restoration plan to help restore and protect this land that covers a wide area in Florida.

Someday I would love to go on a safari in Africa, as I think that would be the trip of a lifetime.

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