The word safari, meaning travel, was once a popular way of describing trips to Africa for a big-game hunt. But it actually can mean any long or adventurous journey into the remote and rugged of the planet and is not just about filling wildlife with lead. Today a safari can take you to watch the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, track wolves in Yellowstone National Park, on whale watching expeditions in the Arctic or birding eco tours in Costa Rica.

If there is some way to travel and some way of getting there, someone will have thought of a way to bump you along and charge you for it. Safaris can be done in 4wds, on bicycle, motorbike, riverboat, quad bike, cruise, elephant back or any other means. So switch off the documentaries and come take a ringside seat.

Safari Basics

Unless you have a death wish, incredible experience, the right GPS equipment and equipped 4WDs, you’re best to pay for the company of an expert. Besides, you will learn far more about local cultures, wildlife, survival techniques and more along the way.

Wildlife and safari adventure travel trips are growing in popularity and variety and guides can take you almost anywhere. The first thing you should learn is the protocol of observation. Animals have a very attuned sense of smell and hearing and will become aware and affected by your presence the louder you are. You should not speak, stand up, smoke or even use a lot of body fragrance. Always listen to instructions and suggestions from the driver or guide or risk being unpopular with the rest of your group.

Safari - Beginners

The lodge safari is the easiest option for the beginner wildlife traveler. These contain mod cons, good food and can be quite luxurious. During the day you take game drives in a four-wheel drive or walks with an accomplished guide. These lodges are usually set right inside the reserves and even in the evening visitors report seeing lions stalking game or elephants brushing past while they eat their dinner.

However while a game reserve might contain a lot of animals there is a chance you can miss them. Other driver’s will radio in locations of passing game but they can move fast and the reserves are massive so if you only leave a limited amount of time for your safari don’t be surprised if you don’t see what you want.

Safari - Advanced

More active or adventurous folks will prefer to get out where the action is, and not simply see it from the comfort of a land rover or lodge. A mobile safari allows you to move from place to place sleeping in a tent. These make the close encounters even more fun although lions roaring outside your tent or dingoes sniffing around can be a little disconcerting. If you’re worried about comfort, these are hardly bare bones affairs. Meals can be prepared and all the seating, bedding and showers you desire.

Walking safaris are another way of becoming part of the big game action. You generally see fewer animals but it’s definitely adrenaline charged as you try to sneak up on wildlife or worry about what is rustling in the bushes. If you have a guide with a gun you’re in safe hands.

The other alternative is the canoeing, helicopter, hot air ballooning, and elephant or horseback safari. Or you could go by mountain bike, dive with the sharks, drive your own reindeer sled or anything else that challenges you that bit more.

Click here for things to consider when planning a safari