Of course, you’ve heard about African safaris and seen snaps of celebrities looking glamourous on safaris in Africa. But, what is an African Safari really like for the regular 21st Century traveller? We’ll tell you all about African safaris in this post and explain what they are like for most travellers (mere mortals) nowadays.
It is a journey in Africa that involves spending some time in the bush watching wild animals. So, basically, a safari is any trip into the wilderness to see wildlife.
That’s quite a narrow definition though. One that has evolved and expanded over the years to mean more than it once did.
Now an ‘African safari’ can be an adventure tour that spends some time in nature looking at animals and birds. Calling an urban or cultural tour in Africa a safari would still be inaccurate.
But, referring to a marine boat tour as an ‘ocean safari’ is acceptable (to marketers at the least). First, let’s take a look at the traditional Africa safari and how it has evolved…
The name safari derives from the Swahili word for “journey”.
And, back in colonial times, the implication was that big game (large animals) would be hunted, shot, and then arduously lugged overland by a small army of local tribespeople.
US President Teddy Roosevelt popularized the concept in the United States, when he embarked on a safari of enormous proportions, ostensibly with the aim of filling the Smithsonian Institute with African specimens.
11,400 Animals fell to the party’s rifles, of which 512 were ‘big game’ – elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, hippos and rhino, including six white rhino – rare even at the time.
We’ll talk more about hunting further down the page, but right now let’s just state clearly that African Budget Safaris absolutely does not sell hunting trips, nor do we endorse hunting for sport. This, in our opinion, is a primitive pastime from a colonial-era that the vast majority of Africa has already moved on from.
Today the negative hunting connotations of the word ‘safari’ are being rapidly replaced by more modern associations with socially and environmentally responsible travel.
Safari travel in contemporary Africa typically implies that the journey will include game viewing and some time spent in wilderness areas (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.