Origins of the African Safari

Up-close encounter with elephant on game drive.
Africa safari holidays offer guests the unique experience of seeing African wildlife in the wild. The African safaris we know today was very much influenced by the first Kenya safaris.

African Safari - How it All Began

During the 20th century, safari has been popularized in literature and film through idealistic tales of adventure, thrills and romance. But just how long has this nature, wildlife and cultural activity been going on? Ever wondered what it was like 100 years ago? Read on...

The word safari originated from the word "safar", an Arabic verb meaning "to make a journey.'" From there, you get the noun "safariya," or journey and then safari which is a Swahili synonym of the Arabic version. Clearly, in this original concept of the word, there were no connotations of tents, luxury lodges, backpacks, hiking and Land Rovers, the things that are associated with a safari of today. Rather, in its historical context, it referred to the long journeys people had to traverse for migration, trade routes and so forth.

Safaris were primarily interested in trading according to the earliest records. With the African and Arabic cultures so closely related to our early human history, the indication that they travelled across vast landscapes from city to city all makes a little sense in this mysterious and fascinating historical puzzle.

The history of Safari itself has many twist and theories, with each African state claiming original concepts of this adventurous African spectacle. Be that as it may, fortunately the safari that was closely associated with large-scale trading operations, beatings, slave trades etc all ended before the 20th century.The East of Africa was the thriving land of safari development. Kenya in specific is known as the "land of the original safari". Today it is one of the few African states that offer a truly authentic African safari experience...giving a natural reminder of what it was like many years ago. A safari in Kenya will allow you the unique opportunity to experience its traditional way of life, tribes in ancient styled and coloured garments, farming and living in a truly rural environment. It has the wildlife, the culture and the landscapes.

Over time, a safari experience has gone from an "underdeveloped" experience to an evolutionary one. It has spread across Africa offering diverse and unique safari adventures in each African country. The word safari has definitely been redefined. Luxury safari lodges, open 4x4 safari vehicles/land rovers, amazing wildlife viewings, air ballooning and much more. What one could not experience or even dream of 100 years ago, it is certainly possible today.

A safari experience in Africa is one of the greatest adventures any traveler will embark on. Freedom of travel, satellite connections informing of animal sightings, aerial views of scenic splendor have all added to the modernization of the whole African safari experience,...but still...the untamed wilderness, beautiful natural surroundings, traditional cultures and unforgettable African wildlife encounters remain.

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