Travel Inspiration

Top Six Types of Safari

Top Six Types of Safari

Picture the scene: you’re heading out from your safari lodge on horseback. The horse’s back rises and falls gently under you as you trundle along a tiny track, golden grasses swaying either side. The sun’s morning rays stain the sky a dusty pink, signalling the start of another day in African paradise. Thanks to your trusty steed, the savannah’s residents don’t see you as a threat. A journey of giraffe saunters by, a dazzle of zebras doesn’t bat an eyelid that you’re there and a distant herd of elephants carry on wallowing in a watering hole as if they don’t see you. While you’re probably familiar with the classic safari experience – think a rumbling 4x4 driven by an expert ranger – you may not be aware of the many other types of safari on offer. From walking safaris and helicopter safaris to boating safaris and birding safaris, there’re a safari style to suit every wannabe explorer. So, grab your binos and animal checklist, and check out the top six types of safari


  1. Walking Safaris
  2. Riding Safaris
  3. 4x4 Safaris
  4. Birding Safaris
  5. Helicopter Safaris
  6. Boating Safaris


Walking Safaris

If you’re keen to explore the bush on foot for your next safari adventure, where better than the birthplace of walking safaris: Zambia. Don your boots and head out into the wild following your expert guide (they may be armed depending on whether the area you’re in is home to the Big Five), all the while keeping your eyes peeled for creatures to tick off your safari check list. Walking safaris allow you to get up close and personal with the tiniest of critters, from the ever-famous dung beetle to hard working termites building towering mounds in the sun. Keep an eye out for paw prints and animal tracks; if little ones are in tow, your guide may even whip up some plaster of Paris to make a cast of a lion’s footprint – the ultimate safari take home.


Riding Safaris

If you’re looking for type of safari that will make you seem invisible to the surrounding wildlife, then a few days spent aback a four-legged friend is what you’re after. Whether you’re galloping across the African savannah or getting in and among a herd of curly-antlered kudu, riding safaris are truly spectacular. You’ll get up close to tiny baby elephants just working out how to use their trunks; towers of giraffe looming over you inquisitively; and even a pair of ostriches prancing in the sun. Riding safaris allow you to get an entirely new perspective on the African bush as the wildlife views riders as just another species, so you can get up close and personal.

4x4 safari in South Africa

Image © Olivier Romano 


4x4 Safaris

Nothing quite beats trundling along an unkept trail in the middle of the bush in a 4x4. With open sides, the views out over the plains are phenomenal, making for excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. From the safety of your car, watch as a lioness and her cubs enjoy a siesta under the rays of the afternoon sun, or even sit for a few hours and gaze at a leopard perched perfectly in a tree, waiting for her next meal. Whether you’re wrapped in blankets under misty skies on an early morning drive or tucking into fresh biltong in the evening light, 4x4 game drives are the ultimate type of safari for all adventurers.


Birding Safaris

The African plains aren’t just about the animals. Birds have long held safari lovers captivated thanks to their rainbow-hued plumes and brightly coloured beaks. From the pretty blue crane in South Africa, to the great African fish eagle in Namibia, there are a whole host of feathered friends to keep twitchers occupied while on this type of safari. Whether your checklist includes the long-legged, feather-crowned secretary bird or pretty little oxpeckers perched on the backs of buffalo, birding safaris will keep you on your toes.

Helicopter Safari in South Africa

Image © Olivier Romano


Helicopter Safaris

Exploring the plains from the ground is one thing, but heading for the skies and joining the vultures swirling on the breeze is an experience to add to the top of your bucket list. Hop in a helicopter in Kenya’s Laikipia and soar over the savannah, or even over Mount Kenya and Ol Lolokwe, two of Kenya’s most iconic mountains. Spot giraffes gently lolloping from one acacia tree to the next, stripping them of their spikes and leaves, and watch as a herd of elephants, babies in tow, wander across the plains, their shadows stretching long and low as the sun begins to dip below the horizon. This is by far one of the most thrilling types of safari on offer.


Boating Safaris

Picture this: the sun is setting. You’ve got a cooler box next to you filled with cold beers. Everything is tinged with the golden glow of the evening light. Your mokoro (traditional canoe) skipper takes you through the winding waterways of the Okavango Delta, past snoozing hippos and small winged water creatures. Sail through the serenity, taking in the sights and sounds of the watery wilderness as your silent canoe traverses through the reed-lined inlets and tributaries of this vast delta.


Written by Immy Kelly

Header Image © Olivier Romano