Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ben. Ben Wonders, “What is a safari?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ben!

Have you ever seen a lion in real life? How about a tiger or an elephant? If you live in Africa or Asia, you may have seen these animals wandering around in the wild. In most other parts of the world, though, people only see them in zoos. That is, unless they take a special trip to visit these animals in their natural habitats. What are we talking about? A safari, of course!

Where did the word “safari” come from? It’s a Swahili term that means “a voyage or expedition.” It came from the Arabic word safariya. Safari entered the English language in the 19th century. 

In the 1800s, British hunters explored south of Africa’s Sahara Desert. There, they saw magnificent views and wild animals they had never seen. They brought their stories back to Europe. Soon, others wanted to visit Africa.

People started organizing off-road trips through African wilderness. These came to be known as safaris. Early safaris included hunting trips. People often returned with animal skins and other souvenirs from the hunt.

Of course, a lot has changed since the first days of safaris. Today, many of the animals once hunted are now either extinct or endangered species. Hunting is no longer a primary draw for people who want to go on a safari. Rather than skins and tusks, visitors take home pictures and memories

What should you expect on a modern safari? The trip can take many forms. In most cases, people on a safari will live on a campsite. This could be a permanent site they come back to each night. It could also be a mobile site. These can be packed up and taken across the safari region.

Many people go on walking safaris. On these, people can take supervised walks through wild areas. Others prefer different methods of travel. Some view wildlife from an airplane or helicopter. Others travel by canoe down Africa’s major rivers. People even go on self-drive safaris and take their own vehicles on the route.

For most people, the biggest draw of a safari is the incredible sights. Africa is full of amazing landscapes and a wide variety of animals. Most safari trekkers still hope to see the “big five” animals. Those are the elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard.

Have you ever been on a safari? Would you like to go on one? Will you see the big five animals? Maybe the beautiful landscapes would be a bigger draw for you. What type of safari would you choose to go on? With so many options to choose from, it’s no surprise that safaris are a huge part of Africa’s tourism!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s palm-sized Wonder of the Day often has a long tail and is sometimes gray. However, we’re not sure if it likes cheese.