An African safari is a tourist-led expedition or journey to see wild animals in their natural environment and this natural environment can include national parks or game reserves such as Kenya’s Masai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park or Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, to mention but a few. Now, you probably have heard about African safaris and seen photographs and films of African safaris everywhere. But you must be wondering, what exactly an African safari is and what is like. In this article, we will discuss a typical African safari, detailing what a modern-day African safari looks like.
To go on safari is simply to travel in the fullest sense. A safari, in more technical terms, is a journey that entails traveling into nature to observe wild animals. The word “safari” has Arabic and subsequently Swahili origins, although the contemporary concept of a safari evolved in Africa and today, the term “safari” is now associated with Africa. Although safaris may be taken in areas other than Africa, they are primarily African. The safari originated in Africa where the traditional concept of a wildlife safari originated and evolved. One may go on a “safari” in Canada, the United States, Thailand, Australia, India, Brazil, and other places; and of course, there are wilderness destinations all around the world where one may see wild creatures. However, none of the destinations outside of Africa are traditional safari destinations. You may go on a safari anywhere, but only in Africa can you genuinely experience it.
The term safari is derived from the Arabic verb “safar,” which means “to travel,” and also from this, comes the word “safariya,” a Swahili synonym for “travel and safari.” However, in this original understanding of the term, there were, no implications of tents, luxury lodges, backpacks, or trekking: rather, it alluded to the lengthy expeditions people had to make for migration, trading routes, and so on in its historical context.
The history of an African safari is often fraught with twists and hypotheses, with each African state claiming unique conceptions for this daring African extravaganza. However, safaris were mostly engaged in commerce where Africans and Arabs traveled over large areas from city to city for trade and other activities. The safari, which was intimately connected with large-scale commercial activities, beatings, slave exchanges, and so on, all disappeared before the twentieth century and thus modern safaris.
The modern African safari may be traced back to Africa’s early colonial era, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The first safari-style trips began with the emergency of the first European explorers and settlers where some were out to explore new territory, while others were out to hunt animals. During this era, big game (large animals) were hunted and strenuously hauled overland by a small army of local tribespeople on these early European-led expeditions. However, hunting is no longer a feature of most African safaris today and the archaic sport of hunting is mostly a thing of the past.
The African safari has evolved from an “underdeveloped” experience to an evolving one through time. A safari in Africa is currently the norm for a socially and environmentally conscious kind of expedition. Going on safari in Africa nowadays means having an adventure vacation while also making a beneficial influence. Wildlife safaris are increasingly vital to the sustainability of African economies and the conservation of wildlife populations; hence, taking a safari vacation might therefore make a significant effect.
A safari in Africa is one of the most exciting trips that any visitor from anywhere across the world can have. And when we talk about the African safari, it is important to know that the East of Africa is a major safari development area and Kenya is recognized as the “home of the first safari.” Today, Kenya is one of the few African countries that provides a true African safari experience (a natural reminder of what life was like many years ago). For instance, a safari in Kenya will provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness its traditional way of life, mesmerizing wildlife, tribes dressed in archaic-fashioned and colored costumes, farming, and beautiful scenery.
The African safari, however, has extended across Africa, giving different and one-of-a-kind safari adventures in each African country. Moreover, the African safari has undoubtedly been redefined with stays in luxury safari hotels, incredible game viewing in open 4×4 safari vehicles, safari walks, air ballooning, boat safaris, and much more. Therefore, the entire African safari experience has further been modernized; characterizing travel freedom, satellite connections informing of animal sightings, and aerial views of scenic splendor. Nonetheless, the untamed wilderness, beautiful natural surroundings, traditional cultures, and unforgettable African wildlife encounters remain.
Game Drives: Game drives are a traditional safari and the most sought-after safari activity on an African safari. You explore national parks and game reserves in the comfort of 4WD pop-up roof safari vehicles under the supervision of an experienced safari guide. You go through parks and game reserves in a car with a pop-up roof. Expect to be driving for about 3 to 4 hours every day, at least twice a day. You can even spend a full day on a safari game drive, depending on your interests and pockets for your African safari for your African safari. If your guide spots a Lion, buffalo, elephant, or other wildlife, you will stop to watch them and/or snap photographs from inside your car.
There is no specific location to watch the animals in a National Park or game reserve; furthermore, it is difficult to know where the animals will be at any time of day, but your experienced guide, will know where they “may” be. This is why a skilled tour guide is essential.
A walking safari includes tourists, a licensed guide, and an armed game scout who will take you to the best areas in the park to see animals or scenic vistas on foot. Walking safaris, like any other sort of safari, can be solo or group tours in which you join other passengers. Walking safaris in some African parks are strictly prohibited; instead, there are various conservancies where travelers can enjoy the safaris.
These range from pleasant flat rides across savannah and grassland to difficult climbs in hills or mountains. Lowland parks are the best places to see typical African wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, and antelopes among others while on a cycling safari. However, if you want to observe a lot of primates, you need normally to go to more mountainous terrain.
Hiking safaris, on the other hand, are hiking excursions to encounter mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Rwenzori, and the Drakensburg mountains, to mention but a few. These safaris are frequently combined with wildlife drives.
Primate safaris are expeditions that allow tourists to visit endangered primate species in their natural habitat. Primate safaris are common in Eastern and Central Africa in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They include gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, gorilla habituation, and chimpanzee habituation experiences. Here, tourists trek the dense tropical rainforests to spend an hour with the unique primates and learn about their lifestyle. Primate safaris are the most popular safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.
African safaris are available in various African nations but the top African safari destinations include South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, among others. South Africa is a popular safari location since it is more developed and accommodating to visitors who seek more freedom in their safari. Furthermore, it is the best African safari destination for African self-drive safaris. This means you can drive your vehicle because the park is well-marked and even has eateries and petrol stations nearby. Popular National Parks in South Africa include Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Table Mountain National Park, etc.
Kenya and Tanzania on the other hand, are the best African safari destinations to go if you want to immerse yourself in African culture as well enjoy fantastic game viewing. Compared to South Africa, the respective countries are less developed and less accessible adds to Africa’s allure. The countries are home to tribes and hundred-year-old traditions that still exist, and the general atmosphere screams Africa more than anyplace else. More so, Kenya and Tanzania are regarded as Africa’s top safari destinations for wildlife viewing. The two are home to a variety of enthralling National Parks, and both host Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacle – the Great Annual Wildebeest Migration. However, this means that you must rely on a tour operator to organize everything, including housing and food, for the length of your safari. Luckily you can always tell them what you want to do, what you want to see, and where you want to travel so they can create an itinerary tailored to your preferences.
The best National Parks in Kenya include Masai Mara National Park, Tsavo East, and West National Parks, Lake Nakuru National Park, Amboseli National Park, and Samburu National Reserve, among others. Tanzania’s famous National Parks also include Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to mention but a few.
Uganda and Rwanda on the other hand are also popular African safari destinations if you are looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences with the largest apes on the planet, the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered species which can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Rwanda and Uganda offer the most fulfilling gorilla safaris where tourists get to visit and explore the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas in Uganda can be visited in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks and the Volcanoes National park in Rwanda. Uganda on the other hand packs a lot more than mountain gorillas; it is the best safari location in Africa to see chimpanzees and it is also home a numerous wildlife safari parks including Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park, among others.
Other popular African safari destinations include Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, and Mauritius, to mention but a few.
If you haven’t been on an African safari before, you must wonder what is like to be on an African safari. What a typical day on an African safari is like? Well, no matter how long you spend, you can be sure that you will spend your days experiencing the beautiful landscape, plentiful animals, good meals, peaceful afternoons, and fantastic company that may all be expected on your African safari. Not to forget the incomparable African hospitality. But you experience all these prodigies at the same time, so let’s give you a brief breakdown of what a typical day on an African is like;
A typical African safari day starts with an early morning wildlife drive. Awake before daybreak (as early as 5:00 a.m.) for a light cup of coffee/tea with snacks before your first game drive of the day. Amidst the sunrise, breathtaking sights of wildlife in the savannah await you. After around 3 to 4 hours of exciting game viewing, a magnificent breakfast buffet greets you when you return to camp. If you want to unwind, take some time after breakfast to enjoy your room or lounge in the main area. Keep your camera handy at all times as you never know when animals will stroll into camp. If you’re feeling more exploratory, ask a guide about additional activities available at the camp. Depending on the location, each camp provides a variety of activities such as visits to neighboring native communities, guided nature hikes, and aquatic sports, you name it.
In the early afternoon between 3:00 to 4:00 pm, you will be joining in to enjoy iced tea, coffee, and some delicious treats before heading for yet another game drive. After your afternoon game drive, enjoy traditional African sun downers with drinks and cocktails before returning to camp. Your safari vehicle will be equipped with your preferred beverage, assuring an unforgettable African sunset experience. Moreover, some camps and lodges provide night game drives, in which case you can remain out even longer in search of wild animals.
After nightfall, return to your camp to refresh and have dinner. Before a lovely meal beneath the stars, it is not unusual for everyone to share their safari experiences in the bar. And if you’re feeling energetic, join the camp staff and guides around the fire before retiring to your room for a restful night’s sleep. However, remember that your day is always adaptable. If you are not an early morning person or prefer to spend an entire day on safari stopping for picnic lunches in the bush, rest assured that you can do all that. The courteous staff in your lodge will always prepare your itinerary with you the night before.
An African safari can cost between $125 and $1,500 per person per night and African safaris vary ranging from budget and midrange to luxury African safaris. A budget African safari costs up to \$150 per night, a mid-range safari costs \$350, and a luxury safari costs \$750 and above. Extreme top safaris might potentially cost $1,500 or more per night. Regardless, every budget can find a safari that suits them. Furthermore, each African safari destination has its set costs for safaris, determined by distinct factors;
For instance, the cost of a safari in South Africa is determined by the activities you choose to participate in. If for example, you add a hot air balloon trip or a helicopter tour, the price might rise by $400 only for the helicopter. The accommodation also has an impact on the overall expenditure of your safari. A basic African camping safari would cost between 120 and 200 USD per person per day whereas prices for ultra-luxe tented campgrounds can go up to $1,000 per person per day or even more.
Nonetheless, compared to East African destinations, South Africa is cheaper and has a greater selection of lodging alternatives. Furthermore, park fees in South Africa are significantly lower, and you may always opt for a self-drive; but self-driving isn’t always the most cost-effective alternative especially if you are not familiar with the destination. But all-inclusive packages from tour providers might also be less expensive. As a result, it is preferable to consider your alternatives first.
East African safari destinations such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya are somewhat less expensive compared to South Africa since it is customary to conduct a group safari. This means that if you are traveling alone, you may join other passengers and so pay a reduced rate. More so, Kenya’s Masai Mara is the country’s most popular park and it is also the finest site to see the Big 5*. Tanzania on the other hand typically provides private safaris, which are more expensive, especially if you are traveling alone. The Serengeti, which is the country’s and Africa’s most famous park, is significantly larger and it boasts a large game population. Therefore, you’ll have to drive farther and spend more time looking for species; nonetheless, animal sightings in the Serengeti are abundant. Both nations have their appeal, but Kenya is more economical and accessible compared to Tanzania.
An African safari is good all year however, the dry season, which runs from June to October is the greatest time to go on safari, especially in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because water is limited at this time of year and as a result, animals cluster around water sources, making them easier to spot. However, we recommend visiting some parts of Africa immediately following the rainy season when the savannah is lush, the forests are teeming with birds, and the parks are less crowded, providing you with a wilder, more secluded safari.
Southern Africa’s dry season lasts from around May to October and apart from Namibia, which is fantastic all year, this is the greatest time to visit South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia. During the dry season, thirsty animals cluster at any surviving waterholes, while trees and vegetation are frequently barren; providing fantastic wildlife viewing. Furthermore, mid-winter nights are frequently frigid, but daytime temperatures are pleasant and the danger of malaria is at its lowest.
The wet season in Southern Africa lasts from around December to March which is a hot and occasionally humid season with a brief but strong downpour. At this time of year, the Southern African terrain is lush and green and birding is excellent providing a unique game-viewing experience.
The best time to go for a beach vacation in Cape Town is from December to February and this period is often characterized by crowded beaches, a thriving nightlife, and brilliantly bright holiday happiness. However, by March, most visitors have returned home, resulting in lower rates and less congested beaches until April. Mozambique on the other hand is good from May through November when the weather is good and there is little danger of rain. Cyclone season in southern Mozambique lasts from January to February: thus, is not a good time to go there.
East Africa’s seasons are more complicated, and determining when to go depends on the sort of safari experience you want to have. Regardless, East Africa is also good all year. Most East African safari locations are at their finest from January to the end of March, as well as from June to October, when the weather is pleasant and dry. A safari during the brief rainy season (November to December) is, nonetheless, definitely worth considering. Game viewing is still excellent, large crowds are absent, and lesser pricing is available.
Moreover, most safari areas in East Africa enjoy warm days, cool evenings, and excellent game viewing year-round. However, the region has two separate rainy seasons: April to May (during the long rains) and November through December (during the short rains). The major rainy season generates tropical downpours in the afternoons, forcing many safari sites to close. The short rainy season brings periodic showers, but safari camps remain open and animal viewing is exceptional.
This is one of East Africa’s greatest safari highlights and the greatest time to visit Tanzania for a Serengeti Annual Wildebeest Migration safari from January to September. It’s a big park, so make sure you’re there at the perfect time to watch the whole spectacle. Moreover, the best time to view the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara is between June and November.
Besides the annual wildebeest migration, gorilla trekking is also East Africa’s greatest safari highlight. Gorilla trekking safaris are an all-year expedition in Uganda and Rwanda. However, if you’re going on a jungle hike, you’ll love the drier and colder months of January and February, as well as June and September.
June to March is the greatest season to explore Tanzania’s coast, Zanzibar, and other islands. If you want to gamble during the rainy season (April to May), you could get a week of sun or a week of rain, but you’ll enjoy low-season prices.
The Indian Ocean coast of Kenya on the other hand is hot and humid all year, and rain can fall at any time. However, from March to May, temperatures and rains are at their maximum which is not a good time to visit the beach.
And all year round, the Seychelles islands boast balmy, beach-perfect weather. The warmest months are December to April, while the wettest months are January and February, however, rains are often brief tropical downpours followed by more sunshine.
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