What is a Boat Safari?

Most people know and understand the concept of a safari but what is a boat safari? 

Safari is a Swahili word that means journey, originally from the Arabic word safar meaning a journey. The word began to be used to describe overland journeys (hunting and exploring) in Africa from the early 1800’s, but it is now widely used to mean a tourist trip in East Africa to observe and photograph wildlife, primarily in a 4×4 vehicle.  A boat safari simply means viewing the extraordinary array of animals, birds, plants and scenery that East Africa has to offer – from a boat.  Most boat safaris are done on a small motor boat.  You can lie back, admire the view and take as many photos as you desire.  It’s also possible to have a canoe safari which allows you to be a more active participant and get even closer to the wildlife.  But you have to listen very carefully to your guide to not end up too near the wildlife and taking photos is more difficult if you’re holding a paddle.

Some people swear by boat safaris.  They don’t have the dust, traffic and occasional chaos of a game drive. We’ve all seen photos of umpteen 4×4 vehicles jostling for a spot around a watering hole with a rare visitor.  Gently floating downstream watching the wildlife approach you, and the water, rather than viewing it the other way, offers a different perspective and is an amazing experience.  It’s usually a more peaceful encounter with the natural environment around you and one that allows you to get much closer to the wildlife in the water itself or on the water’s edge.

Where can I go on a boat safari?

One of the best places in the world for a boat safari is the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania.  Selous is the biggest game reserve in Africa, and as it’s a game reserve, rather than a national park, a larger range of activities are permitted.  The Rufiji River Delta is a striking feature of the game reserve and the perfect place to witness a diverse range of wildlife and spectacular scenery on a boat safari.  And guess what – spending a few nights at Selous and then coming to stay at The Old Boma Hotel in Mikindani are just two elements that make up an inspiring, adventurous tour of Southern Tanzania.