• Don Heyneke

What Does Safari Mean To Us: The Escape

Updated: Nov 18

“It feels like God visits everywhere else but lives in Africa.”

If you are reading this blog, you most likely know what a safari is and you may have an understanding of what a safari means but have you ever wondered where the word safari originated from? It seems nearly impossible to describe the meaning of a safari without knowing the word's origin and the context behind it, even though everyone might have their own interpretation of safari and its meaning.

Safari (suh-far-ee): from Swahili safari 'journey’ originally from the Arabic word 'Safar' meaning 'to journey')


The word “safari” has an interesting history and origin. The earliest evidence of African trade has been recorded in rock paintings dating back to 10,000BC, due to Africa’s geographical position, the continent has been visited by explorers, missionaries, traders and colonialists. The Middle East and the Arabic language have had a particularly long history in East Africa, and have therefore made a significant contribution to the development of the prominent language in the region, Swahili. Between the 9th and 10th centuries, Middle East and Egyptian traders travelled and settled along the coast of East Africa. The long period of interaction led to “linguistic borrowing” flowing from Arabic to Swahili. Swahili literature is loaded with Arabic cultural aspects and Arabic “loanwords”. It was in the late 19th century when the word "safar," which in Arabic means "to journey" or “to travel,” became the Swahili word “safari” and has since become a globally iconic word for explorers and travellers throughout history and now in modern-day travel. The word has been passed by through generations and is now instinctively recognisable around the world.

It may sound cliché, but a safari is only defined by one’s own personal experience with the word and the experience, and can easily become anecdotal. The history, meaning, and more importantly, our personal experience with safari has always inspired our curiosity, and each of our travel specialists and private guides has been inclined to discover more of Africa’s diversity and beauty on a personal and professional level because of it.


In its essence, safari is more than just a word, it really is a personal experience and in many ways it becomes a shared connection. You join a community of travellers and friends that can sit around a fire for hours, sharing stories that evoke a sense of feeling, a series of emotions surface and reminiscent memories take us back in time.

We live in a modern world, filled with distraction, but we believe that a safari has the power to be a life-changing experience, and its reach is broad. It is our endeavour that a safari should genuinely make a difference to the traveller, to the local communities as well as the preservation and conservation of protected areas for wildlife.

In the early stages of Escape Safari Co., we learned that well-designed, responsible travel which is sustainable, intentional and regenerative, is more important now than it has ever been. We have learned that we can expand our influence by forming strong partnerships and relationships with like-minded people, suppliers and organisations.

This spirit has to lead you, as our guests, to become an active co-creator on a journey to leave our world a better place. By travelling on safari, we invite you to press the reset button on what travel means, so that you can travel slower, lighter and deeper and discover how to make your travel choice count.

With over 40 years of collective professional experience as guides and travel specialists in the safari industry, we have an intimate understanding of the destinations we utilise. Our entire team has worked in camps across the continent and have travelled extensively, gaining first-hand knowledge through time spent on the ground.

Africa has a heartbeat, one that you can feel through the whispers of ancient stories, where our very existence is written in the landscape. There are wild, open spaces filled with unimaginable beauty, a place where everything is connected, where nature lives in harmony, and where life is held in a delicate balance. The power of curiosity can never be underrated, it should inspire you and lead you to explore and uncover the wonders of Africa, seamlessly.


Safari is our escape and we strive to reconnect people with the authenticity of the journey. Safari is the place where we feel most at home. It is where we feel truly alive!

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