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History Of Tanzania Safari

Find out more on the History of Tanzania Safari and how the first Tanzanian safari came about.
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History Of Tanzania Safari

The history of Tanzania Safari dates back to the first explorers on the east Africa continent about 200 years ago; however the actual purpose of a Tanzania Safari has changed many times since then.

Safari is a word that finds its origins in many languages. Arabic, Urdu and Hindi, all contain similar words safar or safariya from which the word safari has been derived. The word safari was adopted into the KiSwahili language and means ‘to travel’

The word safari as we now know it was coined by Sir Richard Burton who was a 19th century English linguist and explorer who along with John Hanning Speke were the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. He left Zanzibar and took over 2 year to cross what is now Tanzania, read more about his exploration here.

Before the Europeans arrived Arab traders were suing the word safari to describe their trade trips. These huge processions travelled throughout east Africa dealing primarily in slaves, ivory and gold.

There were trading ports along the east coast of Africa including the famous Kilwa Kisiwani . The Arabs travelled west across Persia and modern day Saudi Arabia while local African traders travelled across the whole African continent.

The concept of a safari in the 19th century and early 20th century was primarily a series of hunting expeditions. Men with guns, primarily British and Americans and their large retinues would embark on adventures across the wild lands of the continent; many people consider this the true beginning of the safari. One of the most popular early books in America was the account of former President Theodore Roosevelt and his exploits across east Africa on his hunting safaris. Today very few people remember William John Burchell, Frederik Selous and Thomas Ayres, the great explorers and naturalists who explored much of Africa and paved the way for these early hunting expeditions. Frederik Selous was a British explorer, officer, professional hunter, and conservationist, famous for his exploits in Southeast Africa and passed away in the Selous Game Reserve – giving it its name today.

Your modern day Tanzania Safari is similar to this section of history and you will be traversing the continent following hers of wildlife and having great adventures. Gazing at wildlife, treasuring the sights, enjoying exotic food and drinks and relaxing are more or less what comprises a modern day African safari. 

The first question on anyone’s mind when planning a Tanzania Safari is Where to go for a Tanzania Safari.

Tanzania is surrounded on the landward side by Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya and on the eastern coast is the Indian Ocean. Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and much of the land (over20%) is protected areas. Many of these areas are National Parks and Game Reserves and these are famous for being the world’s best wildlife viewing destinations.

Tanzania’s first president; Julius Nyerere spoke of the wildlife and said, “These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are a source of wonder and inspiration”. As well as safari other places to go in Tanzania include – the mighty Kilimanjaro Mountain and the wonderful Indian Ocean dotted with the Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. 

 Tanzania is an east African behemoth lying in equatorial splendour; Tanzania’s  eastern borders are the warm waters of the Indian Ocean; including it’s white sandy beaches and the balmy islands of Pemba, Mafia and exotic Zanzibar. Tanzania’s inland borders are largely bounded by natural frontiers – Lake Tanganyika Africa’s deepest lake to the west, Lake Malawi in the southwest, the southern Ruvuma River forms the border with Mozambique, and Lake Victoria the world’s second largest lake borders the north-west. In the north of the country are the 2 extinct volcanoes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. These volcanoes offer great hiking and mountain climbing experiences and form the border with Kenya. The coastline of Tanzania known as the Swahili Coast was at Kilwa Kisiwani the starting point for the Swahili culture where Arabs arrived and integrated with the tribes producing the Swahili culture we know today.

Our Insider Guide For History Of Tanzania Safari

“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.”

William Burchell

English Explorer

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”

Ernest Hemingway

Author, Hunter, Naturalist

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Full of useful information about planning your Tanzania Safari

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