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7 Types of African Safaris - Different Ways to Experience a Safari

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Elephants crossing dirt road in South Africa

Elephants crossing dirt road in South Africa

The flexibility of a daily safari itinerary may depend on a few factors, such as the lodge or camp you are staying at and the rules of the greater national park or conservancy but certain activities depend on the time of day or even the season. When moving between camps or lodges, you will most likely transfer in the middle of the day.

When traveling between camps in the late- to mid-afternoon, you lose less valuable safari time. The exact program will depend on your destination and accommodation, as some safari destinations only allow daytime game drives versus others that allow a wide variety of guided activity day and night.

1. Guided Game Drives

Leopard sighting on private safari game drive in Botswana

Leopard sighting on private safari game drive in Botswana

Game drives are the iconic and timeless version of safari that you may think of. Taking a vehicle on safari allows you to cover long distances and get within a certain range of wildlife while also giving you access to the eclectic range of animals in different locations, especially idolized large mammals like elephants or big cats.

2. Nighttime Game Drives

Lion in the spotlight on nighttime game drive

Lion in the spotlight on nighttime game drive

A nighttime game drive gives you the same level of comfort and as a guided day game drive but under the cover of darkness. The night makes it feel as though you have traveled to a different place with an ethereal intimacy sweeping the landscape revealing a different variety of wildlife. Encounters may be more thrilling and require more of your senses because of the dark finding wildlife by sound and scent.

3. Walking Safari

Bush walk with Marataba Safari in South Africa. Photo courtesy MORE Family Collection

Bush walk with Marataba Safari in South Africa. Photo courtesy MORE Family Collection

A walking safari gives you a more intimate experience with the land and wildlife guided by a trained professional who understands the ways of the terrain and local animal life. Tribal communities have long-lived in close proximity to the wildlife for millennia informing ancient practices and techniques that can help ensure your safety, especially when in big game country.

4. Boat Safari

Mokoro boat meandering down the river in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Mokoro boat meandering down the river in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Life in the African bush revolves around the water making a boat safari a particularly enriching experience with predators and prey both tentatively eyeing permanent water sources. A boat safari takes you on a cruise down calm water to admire the wildlife of two habitats, those in the water and on land revealing an eclectic range of animals during an immersive but slow-paced exploration.

5. Horse Riding | Mountain Bike Safari

Horse safari experience at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.  Photo courtesy Great Plains Conservation

Horse safari experience at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya. Photo courtesy Great Plains Conservation

Both a horse riding and mountain bike safari require riders with confident skills but offer some of the most intimate wildlife encounters. Instead of watching the wandering herds cross the lush plains, you are riding with them making you equally part of their environment within close proximity to the active, captivating, and often dramatic wildlife.

6. Aerial Safari

Morning view from balloon of wildebeest migration in Tanzania

Morning view from balloon of wildebeest migration in Tanzania

An aerial safari gives you a macro panorama of the landscape and wildlife of any safari destination. You may find herds swirling across the grasslands or plains lined with marching elephants. An aerial safari can take the shape of a hot air balloon, micro flight, helicopter, or a small plane hopping between destinations with each providing a view of the supreme scale and surreal wonder of the wilderness.

7. Primate Safari

Encounter with mountain gorilla while on walking safari in Rwanda

Encounter with mountain gorilla while on walking safari in Rwanda

A primate safari takes you deep into the jungle or forested terrain in search of wildlife like mountain gorillas or chimpanzees. The renowned primates and famed mammals reveal their antics on a guided trek through otherwise impenetrable trees. These types of walking safaris are planned in advance and are only available in certain destinations.

More Travel Information & Tips

The variety of experiences you can have on a safari, from walking amongst peaceful landscapes to witnessing heart-pounding hunts, will astound any visitor. Each safari experience, many times dependent on time of year and location, introduces you to some of the most inspiring wildlife experiences on Earth. To discover a wealth of information and inspiration, visit our African Safari Travel Guide, and when you are ready to speak with an expert, submit a Trip Request or call us at 1-888-265-9707.

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