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Safari VS Game Drive

Updated: Jan 9, 2023



First, I would like to start with a story about a place in the Greater Kruger that I was fortunate enough to visit over the near year. It is one of the most prestigious game parks in the world and if I am not mistaken one of the oldest.


It was an incredible experience because I had dreamt about going there since I was 7 years old and it's an accomplishment when these dreams become a reality definitely something worth celebrating and being in high spirits because of. But having said that I realized that the word Safari is being used incorrectly in the world of tourism and nature experiences, you see what has happened is that for years these prestigious game parks have been promoting a Game Drive as a Safari, what do I mean?


Of Arabic origin (Safara) the Swahili-made Safari means to travel or it means an expedition and all that pertains to it. So, in the context of that area the Masai Mara and Serengeti it means to go on a trip with your gear, food, and all other supplies and live out in nature traveling around and experiencing that place over an extended period of time. It is your entire holiday in laminas terms the full experience but what has happened is that many places probably around Africa have marketed this word as the activity of getting on a Game Viewing 4x4 (Land Rover) and going to look for animals for a few hours. This is wrong as this is what we call a game drive and the reason for this is because it is very much like a game of hide and seek you must go out into nature and use all the knowledge and expertise you have and hope that luck is on your side to spot or find something rare, special, and amazing.


The animals are also called game in Africa, and I am not entirely sure where this originates from because it has been there since the dawn of time within this industry but to full circle back when you climb onto a 4x4 vehicle or any car for the matter of simplicity you are preparing to embark on a game drive. Now if you go to a place that offers these 3-hour exclusive “Game Drives” (Safari) you are being told that this is all it's about, what animals you see and how you go about doing it. Therefore, many of these places have the best vehicle money can buy with all the fancy luxurious add-ons and exquisite sundowners or sunrises. Now the animals have been habituated to years and years of constant human interaction, roads have been made through the bush by driving off the road so there is basically a road every 100m parallel to the other and if there is a sighting with no road, they go off-road to the animal to make your “Safari” (Game Drive) incredible because remember it’s all about what you see.



To me, there is no element of a Game In this as humans will always find a way to outsmart the animals so that we get what we want but to what end? Because we have developed incredible radio technology and all Game drive vehicles have been fitted with them so they may communicate with one another and then take you to that sighting. I must say that some Guides (Rangers) would race to sightings and go off-road whenever they please because they can, but our Guide was incredibly respectful of the bush (Nature) he did not drive off the road till the ground had dried after the rain and he did not race to sightings faraway instead we searched for our own things and if we went past that area where something was we would go look later but he has 21 years of experience.


We need to think about the words we use because words have an intention and, in my opinion, using the word Safari instead of Game Drive takes away from the experience and it becomes a missed opportunity to educate people that finding animals is hard like a game is meant to be but if you play it fair and stay committed you will be rewarded and you will be left with such a wonderful sense of achievement. It also puts all the focus and intention on one thing, we value this one thing so much and it takes away from everything else that you experience on your travels. To me, the food, the people, and the experience of day-to-day at the lodging establishment are just as important.


Humans need to start reconnecting with a holistic perspective and if something were to be the most important on Safari it would be service and the way we treat the animals and nature. Turning a Game Drive into this takes all that away and leaves a big hole that I could not just see I could feel it, this place was empty, and it hurt me because I thought that if there were places in Africa that think like I do, this would be one of them my hope was to experience something that would inspire me in my own business but instead I was left disappointed because what a got was amazing game drives with ridiculous animal sightings and experiences – that have been created by the roads and radios, and nothing else there was no personal touch no vibe and no energy in the place just a business making money, and I won’t stand for this as I have spent 10000’s hours working so hard over the past 5 years to create a holistic sustainable business that provides great service, education through information and conservation through awareness and the preservation through action but a Game Drive won’t do this and there are beautiful game drives all over Africa for a fraction of the price one is made to pay to visit these prestigious establishments, it’s a very expensive game drive and in my opinion not worth it because there is so much more on offer. As an exclusive tailor-made experience where everything gets equal attention (people, food, animals, and education) their marketing and prestige hinder small businesses (me ) and others like me because they have the power and have influenced the audience to see their way but it’s not that way it’s all a smoke and screen act that will one day disappear, Covid-19 has already shown its weaknesses and that it is not sustainable.





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