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Safari on…

Date: September 15, 2016 | By: bigfive | Category: Travel Blog

The Swahili word safari means journey, and the verb for “to travel” in Swahili is kusafiri. Safari became part of the English language at the end of the 1850s thanks to the explorer Richard Francis Burton. In 1836, William Cornwallis Harris led an expedition purely to observe and record wildlife and landscapes. Harris established the safari-style of journey, starting with rising at first light, an energetic day walking, an afternoon rest then ending with a formal dinner and telling stories in the evening over drinks and smokes.

The literary tradition built around safaris was established by writers such as Jules Verne in his first novel Five Weeks in a Balloon published in 1863, and H. Rider Haggard with his first novel, King Solomon’s Mines, published in 1885. Both describe English travelers on safari and the stories were best sellers at the time.

Then came Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most noted writers about African safaris in both fiction and non-fiction. His books Green Hills of Africa and True at First Light are both set on African safaris. “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” are both stories set on African safaris and were written after Hemingway’s own experience on safari.

The concept of safari has evolved over centuries from science and exploration to business and trade to hunting to today’s sightseeing and conservation focus.

Most people still equate safari only with Africa. But we see another evolution of the safari ideal in places from Ecuador to India and beyond. Tracking tigers in India or jaguars in the jungles of Guatemala; or going underwater for a marine safari in the Galapagos Islands; or setting out to find some of the eight species of penguins that inhabit Antarctica – these explorations are in every sense safaris.

So the next time you hear the word safari – let your mind wander a bit. And If you want to see how far that can take you, explore your personal Travel DNA at

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