What is an African Safari
On each and every person’s wish-list is a safari. It does not matter what kind of safari it is, but all of us dream of going on an African safari one day. So what is a safari? A safari is a journey, a vacation, a holiday that takes us back to nature and to our roots. A safari is a special trip that takes us to Africa to reconnect with nature that includes flora, fauna, culture, and the people. An African safari is a trip to that place from where it all began for mankind, a place of our origin.
This is the reason why it is not a surprise to have one overcome with emotion on landing in Africa. You will see it in their eyes as they meet the locals or as they observe the wildlife of Africa while on game drives. They are reconnecting with the past living freely as it did during the times of our forefathers. To most having an African safari is a feeling of coming home. A safari to Africa is a joyful tour, mostly safe, and an exciting adventure of refreshing discovery and learning of natural beauty of the biodiversity and of cultural history.
History and Evolution of African Safari
The term safari has its origin from the Swahili people who speak Kiswahili. This is a mixture of Bantu and Arabic languages and is wildly spoken in East Africa. This is especially along the Indian Ocean coast and islands. Translated in English, the word means ‘journey’ or ‘trip’. During the colonial times, the implication of safari was that big game would be hunted, shot, and then arduously lugged overland by a small army of local tribesmen. The safari concept was popularized in the United States by the 26th US president, Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt when he embarked on a safari of enormous proportions starting from Mombasa in April of 1909. This was ostensibly with the aim of filling the Smithsonian Institute with African specimens. During this excursion, 11,400 Animals fell to the party’s rifles, of which 512 were ‘big game’ – elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, hippos and rhino. This included six northern white rhino which were rare even at the time.
The negative hunting connotations of the word ‘safari’ has been rapidly replaced by more modern associations. This includes socially and environmentally responsible travel. Safari travel in contemporary Africa typically implies a journey that will include game viewing and some time spent in wilderness areas i.e. wildlife game reserves and national parks. A traditional African safari is usually focused on seeing Africa’s wildlife, but safaris are definitely not limited to game viewing.
What does it mean to be on a Safari?
Being on an African safari is following the natural rhythm of nature. The trends, habits, behavior and ways of life of African people and wildlife. Your African safari tour is what you have always dreamt of it to be, as active and as participatory as you have always wished. It will be full of warm smiles and firm handshakes, with the air filled with laughter and greetings. You will always hear the ‘Jambo’ shout from one corner or ‘Habari gani’ from another. An African safari can be expressed in different forms such as art, dance, ancient traditions and/ or music. At the center of an African safari will always be the wildlife. This is not just placid, innate wildlife, but wildlife full of action, behavior, cute and cuddly, life and death. An African safari is easily accessible and always welcoming. You will be woken up by the singing of the birds at sunrise to witness the dawn of a new day.
Most likely you will observe the animals as they some get into their burrows signing off while others sign up for the new day. With the sun on top of the Equator at midday, you got to take it slow and relax in the comfort of your African safari lodge to avoid the heat of the day. You will again venture out to observe the animals preparing to bed down for the night while some start their nocturnal activeness as the sun goes down. The setting of the beautiful bright African sun means that you have to retire to the lodge. Look forward to a sumptuous meal, under the stars. Most safari days end with storytelling around the fire and gazing at the star-filled African sky before turning in for the night. Look forward to be lulled to sleep by the night music of African lions calling, hyenas’ laughter and the peaceful grunting of hippos, as they feed on the banks of the river.
What African safari is about?
An African safari just as at the beginning still involves wildlife. However, other than that the term has been re-purposed to mean something entirely new. African safaris are now for adventure and to admire African flora and fauna in the wild, along with a host of other experience. Safaris have largely changed into holiday vacation trips that actually benefit the wildlife of Africa. This is mainly through supporting of local conservation efforts and wildlife sanctuaries. As opposed to hunting the animals, visitors get to encounter them and help make a difference in protecting the species. Most African safari companies either actively contribute towards conservation projects or help generate tourism revenue which is used to manage wildlife projects and game reserves. In addition to game viewing and wildlife tracking, African safaris are about:
- Experiencing the cultures of African people
- Exploring scenic places and natural wonders
- Touring historical highlights and sightseeing
- Participating in adventure and outdoor activities
Types of African Safaris: Different Safari Styles
There is an endless variety of safari options are now available for those who are planning to visit Africa. These are a multitude of safaris to match any combination of parameters, taking into how much your is the cost of an African safari, the time you have, activities you would like to participate in and places you would like to visit in Africa.
Budget Safaris: African Safari on a Shoestring
These are cheap African tours and packages and meant for those who are on a tight budget. The accommodation on budget African safari tour varies from the homestays to basic camping and some comfortable, yet not opulent lodges. You can find some of the cheaper safari options below:
- Overland Safaris: They are the cheapest of the organized safaris. They include camping that travel overland in medium to large groups. The cheapest of the accommodated safaris are also overland trips conducted in big safaris trucks with a medium to large sized group of people. The exclusive overland safaris tend to be a mix of camping and accommodated, falling in between the two in terms of price.
- Budget Camping Safaris: This is the next tier up in terms of pricing is the budget camping safari, which is also designed for the budget traveler but generally runs with smaller groups and vehicles.
- Exclusive Budget Safaris: This is a step up from camping, providing a mix of fixed and camping accommodation in or near game parks along the way.
- Budget Lodge Safaris: If you add some style and comfort to the affordable safari category, staying in lodges and tented camps within easy reach of the travel highlights.
- Mobile Camping Safaris: Here you will travel in a 4×4, moving camp from site to site and getting up close to nature. Camp at private and/or public campsites, shifting with the guides, staff and camping gear. These are generally quite unobtrusive safaris that have a low impact on the environment. The price of mobile tented safaris varies, depending on group size and whether they are fully serviced or require participation from clients.
If you have got the means and want to travel and stay in more comfortable and near or opulent places then luxury safari will be your choice. Here you will be traveling to and in Africa in style.
Luxury Safaris: Luxury African Tours
In this category, you will find the mildly to superbly snazzy safaris. On offer in this type of safari will be more comfortability and exclusivity giving travelers with some safari being chic in the bush. Some of the ways one can experience a luxury safari in Africa include:
- Customized or Tailor-made Safaris: These are bespoke safaris that sit at the highest end of the pricing pyramid. They are definitely luxurious trips that are customized to meet the specific requirements of any discerning traveler. One of the expectations of clients in these African trips is to be pampered and cared for every step of the way. It also involves exploring private game reserves in private vehicles while staying in superior up-market private lodges.
- African Luxury Safaris: They cushy safaris that also make use of top-end lodges and hotels. The difference here is that the itinerary is mapped out already. Here clients pay more for the extra privacy, lavish facilities, exclusive game viewing activities and elegant accommodation. The ultimate African luxury safaris include features such as spa treatments, private boat cruises, private dining in wild locations and so forth.
- Lodge-based Safaris: Here one travels to one or several select lodges that serve as a base for exploring the game reserves. Game lodges on these safaris are located in or near the wildlife parks and range from the relatively affordable to the exorbitant. This type of safari generally includes transfers from the airport or nearby city, but not from one destination or lodge to the next.
These are safaris that are focused on specific activity and can be experienced as a standalone or in combination with another safari. There is a long list of specialist safaris you can choose from. However here you can just but find a few of those that we handle:
- Hiking & walking safaris
- Photographic safaris
- Birding safaris
- Horseback safaris
- Canoeing safaris
- Big Five safaris
- 4×4 trail safaris
- Gorilla trekking safaris
- Wildlife tracking safaris
- Culinary safaris
- Whale watching safaris
- Cultural safaris
- Historical safaris
- Family safaris
There is also the emerging trend with the marvelous development of many safaris that are family-friendly and catering for children too. These are African safaris for families with children that specifically visit areas suited to the young ones.
In conclusion, therefore, African safari is earning a new reputation. It is shedding the callous old connotations and maturing into a responsible and benevolent style and type of travel in Africa. Contemporary safaris have evolved into trips that encompass much more than the unforgettable experience of game viewing and staying in the bush. An African safari in the 21st-century safari combines wildlife encounters with a variety of fascinating and exciting travel adventures. This can be experienced from the city stays and cultural interactions to African beach escapades.