Ever dream of seeing an elephant trumpeting its trunk, a lion licking its lips, or a cheetah sprinting through the grasslands? An African safari is a thrilling chance to see wild animals going about their daily lives in their natural habitat. East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) has a huge variety of national parks that offer adventurous opportunities to see wildlife up close.

The history of the African safari

The word safari derives from the swahili word for ‘journey’, and in colonial times, the implication was that big game would be hunted, shot, and then arduously lugged overland by a small army of local tribespeople. US president Teddy Roosevelt popularised 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.

The Modern Safari – Proudly Responsible

A safari still involves wildlife, but other than that the term has been re-purposed to mean something entirely new. Safaris are now for admiring wildlife and birds in the wild, along with a host of other adventures.

Safaris have largely developed into holiday trips that actually benefit the wildlife of Africa, by supporting 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. Safari companies either actively contribute towards conservation projects or help generate tourism revenue which is used to manage wildlife projects and game reserves.

Origins of the Word – Etymology of Safari

The English word ‘safari’ originates from the late 19th century according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

First Arabic: The term originally comes from the Arabic word safara, meaning ‘a journey’ which was first used as a foreign word in the English langiage in 1858.

Then Swahili: The Arabic word found its way to East Africa where it was adapted to the Swahili verb kusafiri which means ‘to travel’ and the noun safari.

And then English: The Swahili word was first used in the English language in 1860 as a foreign word and then attested in dictionaries in 1890 as an English word. The legendary British explorer, Sir Richard Francis Burton is credited for introducing the word safari to the English language.

Forget the old concept of a safari as a hunting trip – that outdated usage is history! In the modern sense of a safari: