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What is a Safari, and How Does a Modern-Day Wildlife Safari in Africa look like?


You’ve probably heard of and seen pictures of celebrities looking glamorous on safari in Africa. But what exactly is a safari? And how would a typical visitor from the twenty-first century experience an African wildlife safari?

Here, we’ll provide you a comprehensive overview of African safaris and describe what a wildlife safari in Africa is like for the majority of modern tourists.

You’ll understand what to anticipate on a modern-day wildlife safari in Africa at the conclusion of this article.

Also Read: Top African Safari Wildlife Park And Its Thrilling Scenery

Top African Safari Wildlife Park And Its Thrilling Scenery

What is a safari?

An excursion is a safari.

Going on safari is, in the widest sense, just traveling. A safari is, more particularly, a journey that entails entering the outdoors to view exotic creatures.

on an African safari

Although the word “safari” has Arabic (and subsequently Swahili) roots, the contemporary definition of a safari is African in origin. These days, Africa and safari go hand in hand.

Can you just go on safari in Africa, or can you also travel elsewhere?

Safaris do occur in Africa. The majority of safaris take place in Africa, despite the fact that you may travel in a safari-style in other locations.

Safaris originated in Africa. Here is where the traditional notion of a wildlife safari originated and developed. There are deep roots for the safari in Africa.

What is a safari in Africa?

The United States, Australia, India, Canada, and other nations all allow for “safari” travel. Of course, there are wilderness regions all around the world where you may see wild creatures.

However, none of the wild areas found outside of Africa are traditionally used for safaris. You can discover wildlife tours or adventures elsewhere (safari-style trips).

Anywhere in the world may be used for wilderness excursions, but only Africa offers the true safari experience.

What is a safari in Africa, then?

In Africa, a safari is the most well-known and popular kind of vacation. The best “thing to do” in Africa, in the opinion of many, is to go on safari. A safari in Africa typically connotes a wildlife safari.

An African safari is, in essence, any excursion into the bush where animals is allowed to wander free.

But over time, the classic African safari notion has grown. Today, any vacation to Africa where you spend time in the outdoors admiring wandering animals might be referred to as a safari.

Safari in Africa with a leopard

In conclusion, a safari is an excursion (or expedition), particularly in East and Southern Africa, to view wild animals.

In Africa, a safari is not…

A wildlife tour in Africa is not just for seasoned game rangers or scientists, or khaki-clad bushwhackers.

To enjoy your time on safari, you don’t have to be an outdoorsman like Bear Grylls. Almost anybody may completely enjoy an African safari in their own travel style.

Also Read: The World’s Best Safari Companies in Africa 

The World’s Best Safari Companies in Africa – Africa Facts Zone

African safari today

A safari is not the same as a visit of an animal shelter or wildlife refuge. Safaris do not include trips to refuges or havens for animals, not even in Africa.

A safari is not a visit to an African zoo. A safari is not a wine tasting excursion in the Cape Winelands. A tour of a township? No.

A journey to Ethiopia to visit the tribes of the Omo Valley? In theory, not a safari. A Namibian road trip? Furthermore, it isn’t technically a safari until you go to a game park with wildlife, like Etosha.

An African safari is still distinct from an African beach vacation, city vacation, historical tour, or cultural excursion.

In Africa, a vacation only qualifies as a safari when you include time spent outside seeing animals. Including wildlife watching on foot, in a tiny plane, a boat, a canoe, or a 4×4 safari vehicle, to mention a few.

Boat journeys and marine tours are sometimes categorized as “ocean safaris” based on this expanded understanding of the term “safari.”

The Meaning of Safari and Its Origin

Let’s first examine the historical development of the typical African safari.

The meaning of the term “safari” (The history of the safari)

The Arabic term “safara,” which means “a voyage,” is where the word “safari” first appeared. The Swahili people of East Africa later adopted the Arabic word and modified it to become the Swahili word “safariya,” which means “journey” or “to travel.”

The term “safari” in English dates back to the late 19th century.

In 1858, the term “safari” was first used in English as a foreign language word before becoming a part of the English language.

It is believed that the illustrious British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton was responsible for introducing the word “safari” to English around 1860.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term “safari” was then added to dictionaries in 1890.

Safari Today

Today, the word “safari” is still often used in dictionaries to refer to hunting:

A journey “…to watch or hunt animals in their native habitat, especially in East Africa.” a journey into an undeveloped region with the purpose of seeing, photographing, or hunting wild animals there.

Forget the outdated notion that a wildlife safari is a hunting trip; that usage is no longer valid.

Nowadays, the term “safari” refers to an adventure or expedition into the African wilderness without any hunting.

African safari travel typically generates income for regional conservation initiatives and game reserves, assisting in the preservation rather than eradication of habitats and wildlife.

African safaris are beneficial to local people and play a significant part in raising awareness about animal protection.

A simpler, more contemporary definition of safari is:

An overland trek to see wild animals is known as a safari (/sfri/; from the Swahili word for “travel,” safari), particularly in eastern or southern Africa. (Wikipedia).

Also Read: Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa – Africa Facts Zone

The history of African safaris

The early colonial period in Africa, which lasted from the late 1800s through the early 1900s, is when the modern idea of a safari first emerged.

The first journeys in the form of a safari began with the advent of the first European explorers and settlers. Many of them were done specifically to go hunting. Some of them were done to explore new lands.

A small army of indigenous tribespeople hunted and laboriously transported enormous animals overland on these early expeditions guided by Europeans.

Later, US President Teddy Roosevelt helped to promote the idea in the country when he set off on a massive safari, purportedly with the intention of stocking the Smithsonian Institute with African artifacts.

The guns of the party killed 11,400 animals, 512 of which were “big game”—elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, hippos, and rhinoceroses, including six white rhinos, which were still uncommon at the time.

In the modern day, the majority of safaris in Africa no longer include hunting. Thankfully, hunting as a primitive past time is mostly a thing of the past.

The great majority of Africa has long since abandoned this colonial-era custom since it is no longer the norm.

The contemporary wildlife safari is improving Africa.

Nowadays, the majority of people have abandoned the unpleasant hunting associations associated with safari vacation.

Modern notions of wildlife safaris have largely superseded the antiquated notions of African safaris as hunting expeditions.

Now, going on safari in Africa is the standard when it comes to traveling ethically and sustainably.

Going on safari in Africa today entails both an exciting vacation and a contribution to society.

Nowadays, wildlife safaris are essential to maintaining African economy and safeguarding wildlife populations. Thus, going on a safari vacation has a positive impact.

Wildlife conservation Africa

African safaris have evolved into vacations that help the continent’s wildlife. Visitors may interact with wild animals and contribute to their preservation rather than hunting them.

The majority of safari tour firms and lodges either actively support (or manage) conservation programs, or they contribute to the management of wildlife projects and game reserves in Africa by generating tourism money.

African safari landscape

African eco-safaris and environmentally sustainable safari tourism.

African safaris are becoming more environmentally friendly since environmental awareness has increased around the world.

In response to the current sustainability issues, several safari lodges and travel operators have improved their environmental practices.

It’s simpler than ever to choose an eco-lodge or go on a low-impact safari in Africa. Even safaris and camps that aren’t advertised as “green” or “eco-friendly” frequently are, at least in some significant ways.

Because of their isolated locations, local laws, and park rules, camps and lodges found in wilderness regions or national parks, for example, are often constructed to have a little influence on the environment and be as self-sufficient as possible.

The contemporary safari in Africa is an environmentally conscious adventure. not as an outlier but rather as the rule.

Safari tourism not only makes a significant economic and employment contribution to Africa, but it also helps to ameliorate social circumstances.

Through social projects developed and/or sponsored by safari organizations, including tour operators, lodges, activity providers, and game reserves, local people across Africa gain from sustainable tourism.

Additionally, going on safari supports local vendors and service providers who sell things (such as food, crafts, and trinkets made in the area) or provide services (such as guiding and entertainment).

Also Read: African Safari in Kenya Nairobi; The 5 Best Safari Parks in Kenya to Explore

African Safari in Kenya Nairobi; The 5 Best Safari Parks in Kenya to Explore

A Socially Conscious Safari

Some safari firms provide options for local community engagement and direct financial assistance for social upliftment initiatives.

Others give back to the neighborhood by patronizing the hotels, game preserves, and other businesses.

According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates, the travel and tourism business in Africa (of which the safari industry is a crucial component) “employed more than 24 million people in 2019.”

According to Bloomberg, Africa’s wildlife tourism sector “typically earns $29 billion a year and employs 3.6 million people” (2020).

Africa’s biggest wildlife tourism destinations, including South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, earn over $12.4 billion a year from the safari business. 2020 (Reuters)

The second-largest tourist market in Africa, South Africa, “depends on the tourism sector to indirectly provide up to 9.1% of the country’s total employment, which amounts to 1.5 million people, and 7% of its GDP” (Investment Monitor, 2021).

It is obvious that safari travel is essential to Africa’s social and economic growth. Additionally by creating significant cash and employment, in addition to social outreach and upliftment projects.

“For many African economies, the hotel sector has grown in importance during the last 20 years.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank, in 2019 it provided $169 billion to the economy of Africa and made up around 7% of the continent’s total GDP. (2021 Investment Monitor)

Safari tourism, in other words, “helps governments justify maintaining wildlife habitat” and “creates cash for state wildlife authority, produces foreign-exchange gains, diversifies and enhances local economies.” 2020 Bloomberg.

What modern-day African safaris are all about

Today’s safaris in Africa are vacation excursions where the main goal is to enjoyably observe and take pictures of animals in the wild.

Today’s Africa still associates safari tourism with game watching and time spent in wilderness areas (game reserves, wildlife conservancies, and national parks).

Although witnessing African animals is still the main goal of a typical safari, there are many other activities that may be included.

In addition to seeing game and monitoring animals, modern African safaris focus on:

  1. The sensation of being outside in the woods (wilderness).
  2. Examining picturesque locations and natural marvels.
  3. Interacting with African local customs (old and new).
  4. Sightseeing and seeing historical sites.
  5. Volunteer work and philanthropic endeavors.
  6. Taking part in outdoor and adventurous activities (adventure travel)

The safari starts in earnest as you enter the wilderness. The majority of your time will be spent at the campgrounds taking in the untamed landscape and seeing animals in the wild.

There are many different methods to explore the outdoors and search for animals and birds on various safari vacations.

You have the option of exploring via quad bike, horseback (even camelback), canoe, mountain bike, river boat, or even on foot. With so many specialized safaris to select from in Africa, the options are boundless.i

Big 5 Safaris in Africa

Big-game hunters first used the name “Big Five” to describe the five most hazardous species to hunt in Africa in the late 1800s.

However, the most popular creatures for travellers to view on wildlife safaris nowadays are the Big 5 of Africa. Lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos are the Big 5 creatures that are most associated with Africa.

Only the buffalo is not in danger of danger of extinction among the Big 5 safari animals.

The thrill of viewing the Big 5 African creatures in their natural habitat, learning about them, and taking pictures of them is now (generally) the focus of coming into contact with them.

A “Big 5 safari” is simply a wildlife excursion that is concentrated on spotting and shooting the Big 5 African species in their natural habitats.

What is a safari now?

A new reputation for the safari in Africa has emerged. In general, safaris have developed into a socially and environmentally conscious (and frequently advantageous) mode of tourism in Africa.

Modern safaris include a lot more than just the unique experience of seeing animals and spending time in the wilderness.

The African safari of the twenty-first century blends animal encounters with a range of intriguing and exhilarating travel experiences, from city stays and cultural exchanges to beach vacations.

Also Read: Safari Holiday in Africa: Top 10 Destinations in Africa For a Safari Holiday

Safari Holiday in Africa: Top 10 Destinations in Africa For a Safari Holiday

African Safaris to the best travel destinations

Southern Africa Safari

  • Botswana Safari – Chobe Park, Okavango Delta, Moremi, Kalahari & Makgadikgadi
  • Namibia Safari – Etosha Park, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Fish River Canyon & Windhoek
  • South Africa Safari – Kruger Park, Cape Town, Garden Route, Addo Elephant Park & KwaZulu-Natal
  • Zimbabwe Safari – Hwange Park, Victoria Falls, Matobo National Park & Great Zimbabwe Ruins
  • Zambia Safari – Victoria Falls, South Luangwa Park, Kafue National Park & Livingstone

East African Safari

  • Tanzania Safari – Serengeti Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, Lake Manyara, Selous Reserve & Zanzibar Islands
  • Kenya Safari – Masai Mara, Amboseli Park, Lake Nakuru, Samburu Reserve, Tsavo National Park & Lake Naivasha
  • Uganda Safari – Bwindi National Park, Kibale Park, Murchison Falls, Jinja & Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Madagascar Tours – Nosy Be Island, Andasibe Park, Montagne d’Ambre National Park & Masoala Peninsula
  • Malawi Safari – Lake Malawi, Dzalanyama Forest, Liwonde Park & Nyika National Park


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