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The Great Tours: African Safari

Learn everything you need to know to plan the safari that's right for you with a seasoned guide.
The Great Tours: African Safari is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 63.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't expect a nature documentary I've read several reviews where people were disappointed that the course didn't show more actual safaris. This is not that kind of series. The lecturer knows his stuff and gives you in depth lectures on 3 generally broad areas-- types of safaris, animals encountered, and a kind of mishmash of other things. If you are seriously looking at doing a safari, this is a great nuts and bolts primer. If you're more of an armchair dreamer like me, it gives you plenty to when your appetite to one day go on one (once I win the lottery).
Date published: 2024-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from African Safari This was absolutely AMAZING! WOW! Didnt know there was so many different kind of safari's. I learned SO much! This was so inspiring! Beautiful animals, different people, places, scenery and Cities. LOVED it all! Africa is definitely on my Bucket List to go Adventuring! I have wanted to go on a Safari since I was little, am now 64 years of age. Not giving up! And the Teacher JAMES CURRIE was the BEST! Five Star Teacher GREAT JOB! Thank you so much! Luana M
Date published: 2024-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Binge-watch Worthy Great info and lessons on geography and wildlife mixed in with practical details about planning a trip. Makes visiting Africa seem much more within reach than before.
Date published: 2023-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great gift I bought it for myself but gave it to my nephew who is yearning to travel!! Will buy another one for me!!
Date published: 2022-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Videography and Photography The narrative is great too coupled to the video and photos. Although apparently no good photos of a few of the birds?
Date published: 2022-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For anyone thinking about a safari, see this first James Currie, Safari Guide and photographer gives you all you need to know about destinations, types of safaris, price ranges and what you can expect to see in southern, central, eastern and western Africa. Discussion is interspersed with actual safari and lodging footage. Excellent presentation.
Date published: 2022-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Series So happy I stumbled across this on Amazon Prime. I was absolutely mesmerized and could not stop watching! The visuals are wonderful and the depth of expertise of James Currie is stunning. I loved the way the episodes were broken up to showcase the wonders of Africa. My only complaint is that previously my wish list had a line item for a trip to South Africa. Now, I want to visit every area of the continent. Thank you James Currie and National Geographic for this superlative series!!
Date published: 2022-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Course content fulfilled course title. Excellent course, presented the African Safari experience very well.
Date published: 2022-05-31
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Taught by the highly experienced safari guide James Currie, these 24 exciting episodes take you onto the plains and into the jungles of Africa. From UNESCO World Heritage sites to stunning bird sanctuaries, and from national parks to hidden-gem wilderness areas, experienced travelers and armchair enthusiasts alike will enjoy this exhilarating tour of Africa.


James Currie

My goal is to inspire your next adventure and answer your questions about what to do, where, and when to do it. I want to ignite a sense of passion and love for wild and wonderful places that’ are like no other in the world.


National Geographic

James Currie is a safari guide with the world-renowned company Wilderness Safaris. As a lifelong wildlife enthusiast and native of South Africa, he has led professional wildlife and birding tours for many years, and his passion for adventure and remote cultures has taken him to nearly every corner of the globe.


Mr. Currie is an expert in the fields of sustainable development and environmental management, holding a bachelor’s degree in African Languages from the University of Cape Town and a master’s degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from Middlesex University London. His dissertation, which he presented to the Icelandic government in 2001, received a distinction and has been used as a model for assessing the relationships between wildlife areas and local communities. One of Mr. Currie’s passions is forging links between local communities, wildlife, and international travelers. From 2004 to 2007, he worked as the managing director of Africa Foundation, a nonprofit organization that directs its efforts toward uplifting communities surrounding wildlife areas in Africa.


Mr. Currie is a highly sought-after public speaker who has spoken to sold-out audiences at various venues, including the prestigious Explorers Club in New York City, The G2 Gallery in Los Angeles, the National Audubon Society headquarters in New York City, Zoo Miami, the Educational Travel Consortium’s Annual Conference, and the Travel & Adventure Show. He has appeared as a special guest on various television shows and radio programs, including Martha Stewart Living Radio and WGN-TV, and has been the subject of several newspaper articles in periodicals such as The Wall Street JournalThe Palm Beach Post, and the Orlando Sentinel.


Mr. Currie was the host of Nikon’s Birding Adventures TV, a popular birding show that aired for 10 seasons on Discovery Communications’ Destination America and the NBC Sports Network. He also hosted the action-birding show Aerial Assassins on Nat Geo WILD. Additionally, Mr. Currie provided footage and consulted for the 2011 Hollywood birding movie The Big Year, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson.


Mr. Currie has contributed to several publications, including the Southern African Birdfinder, and he was a contributing author of the acclaimed book The Last Elephants. His book, When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer, details his life as a wildlife guide in Africa.


In 2007, Mr. Currie immigrated to the United States with his American wife and three children, and he currently resides in West Palm Beach, Florida.


Mr. Currie’s other Great Course is The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America

By This Professor

The Great Tours: African Safari
The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America
The Great Tours: African Safari


The Evolution of the Modern Safari

01: The Evolution of the Modern Safari

Begin your journey with a look at the origins and evolution of the safari, from its African roots as a trading journey to the hunting expeditions of the early 1900s to a form of popular tourism. Consider how Africa changed over the 20th century, and witness the rise of ecotourism. Survey the nature of safaris today.

32 min
Comparing Self-Drive and Guided Safaris

02: Comparing Self-Drive and Guided Safaris

Before you embark on your safari, you have a critical decision to make. Do you want to rent a car and manage your own safari—which offers the most freedom, privacy, and affordability—or do you want to hire a guide to plan your itinerary, outfit your trip, and educate you along the way? Consider the pros and cons of each.

32 min
Safaris in East Africa

03: Safaris in East Africa

Get an introduction to the five major safari categories. After reviewing them in total, this lecture delves into safaris in East Africa—namely, in Kenya and Tanzania. Explore the wildlife on the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. Experience the hair-raising sounds of predators. And learn about the major threat that may exist for an East African safari.

31 min
Safaris in Southern Africa

04: Safaris in Southern Africa

Continue your study of safari categories. Here, tour the astounding wealth of Southern Africa, from the enormous Kruger National Park to Zimbabwe’s big-game landscape and to the wild wetlands of Zambia. Southern Africa is an awe-inspiring mix of desert and wetland safari activities. Find out what to expect and how to plan a trip to this magnificent region.

32 min
Water Safaris

05: Water Safaris

Shift your attention to the rivers and wetlands of Botswana, where the opportunity to view wildlife from the water is like nothing else. Whether from a boat or a dugout canoe (or “mokoro”), and whether you are birdwatching or big-game viewing, a water safari is without a doubt the crown jewel of the African safari experience.

30 min
Desert Safaris

06: Desert Safaris

The majority of safari experiences concentrate in the continent’s fertile savannahs and wetlands, but the arid regions of Namibia and the Atlantic coast of Africa hold countless treasures. Here, journey into the oldest desert in the world, view the magnificent red sand dunes, and learn about survival in a seemingly inhospitable climate.

33 min
Primate Safaris

07: Primate Safaris

Trek into the tropical mountains and valleys of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to get a first-hand look at our closest living relatives. From studying gorillas to chimpanzees, there is nothing more enchanting than sitting on the damp forest floor and gazing into the eyes of a great ape.

31 min
Night Safaris

08: Night Safaris

A night drive into the African bush offers a glimpse into a completely different world, from nocturnal animals to the breathtaking sky. This lecture covers the basics of a night safari: what animals you might see, how they might behave, and what tools you need for successful and responsible viewing of animals at night.

29 min
Photographic Safaris

09: Photographic Safaris

Thus far, this course has covered where to go. Here, consider how to experience the safari. Should you soak it all up with the naked eye, or should you bring along your camera equipment to document it all? Whether you’re using an iPhone or the latest and greatest DSLR, learn a few strategies for capturing your trip on film.

28 min
Walking Safaris

10: Walking Safaris

While the most common image of a safari is one of riding into the bush in a 4x4 truck to get an up-close view of big mammals, a walking safari can be one of the most stunning ways to experience Africa. Step away from the bustle of the modern world, slow down, and pay attention to the many wondrous details you can see by foot.

30 min
African Predators

11: African Predators

Now that you have surveyed the range of geographies and types of safaris, shift gears to begin a multi-lecture unit on the flora and fauna you might see on your safari. Here, start with the predators—the crowd-pleasing carnivorous animals at the top of the food chain. Meet the “killer” cats and dogs.

35 min
African Herbivores and Antelopes

12: African Herbivores and Antelopes

Continue your study of safari animals with this lecture on “the hunted”—grazing herbivores that have evolved to thrive in the dangerous jungles and savannahs. From buffalo and antelopes to zebras and impalas, examine an array of herbivores and their astonishing adaptations for survival.

28 min
Giants of the African Bush

13: Giants of the African Bush

Meet the giant mammals of the African landscape: the elephant, the rhinoceros, the giraffe, and the hippopotamus. Each of these mega-herbivores is truly captivating, but they are also threatened by poaching. As you get to know each species, reflect on the illegal wildlife trade for some of the largest animals in the world.

30 min
Africa’s Great Apes and Other Primates

14: Africa’s Great Apes and Other Primates

In Lecture 7, you learned some ins and outs of a “primate safari.” Now, take a closer look at the great apes you might meet. Study the differences between lowland and mountain gorillas, consider the baboons and monkeys of the open plains, and learn about the much-adored nocturnal primates.

28 min
Africa’s Small Mammals

15: Africa’s Small Mammals

The giant animals might be the immediate crowd-pleasers, but the smaller mammals of Africa can be equally fascinating, and they play a critical role in the ecosystem. From mongooses and rabbits to the strange-looking pangolin, get an up-close look at an abundance of small mammals.

28 min
Africa’s Reptiles and Amphibians

16: Africa’s Reptiles and Amphibians

Snakes, lizards, toads, and frogs have a nasty reputation. They’re creepy, crawly, slithery, and cold-blooded. Yet reptiles and amphibians are an important part of Africa’s ecosystem, and, as you will learn in this lecture, there is much more to these fascinating creatures than their nasty reputation. Learn about crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and more.

29 min
Key Birds of Africa

17: Key Birds of Africa

What would a safari be without the avian delights you are sure to encounter in Africa? Ostriches, eagles, flamingos, herons: Africa is home to countless species of truly amazing birds. Examine the stunning world of Africa’s birdlife, and see what equipment you need to make the most of your birding safari.

40 min
Top Birding Spots of Southern and East Africa

18: Top Birding Spots of Southern and East Africa

Africa is home to roughly a quarter of the world’s bird species, so anyone interested in avian diversity should make it a point to visit the continent. In this lecture, you will travel to some of the top birding destinations in Southern Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. Gain indispensable guidance for encountering things that fly.

35 min
Africa’s Trees, Plants, and Flowers

19: Africa’s Trees, Plants, and Flowers

Spotting the notable animals or identifying bird species might be a primary goal of your African safari, but getting to know the common botanical species is an integral part of the experience. Learn about Africa’s different biomes and the plants best suited for each region, and reflect on the intricate connections among the roots, branches, and flowers of life.

30 min
Island and Beach Safaris

20: Island and Beach Safaris

Did you know Africa is home to world-class beaches, wildlife-rich islands, exceptional scuba diving, and some of our planet’s best surfing breaks? Here, you will tour the tropical islands and beaches that offer an experience like no other. Travel to Madagascar, surf the coast of Cape Town, snorkel the reefs of the Seychelles, and more.

31 min
The Sounds of an African Safari

21: The Sounds of an African Safari

Listen: When you go on an African safari, you step away from the hum of household electronics, the wails of car horns and sirens, and experience the call of the wild. The chattering of crickets and frogs, the late-night howls of jackals, the iconic roar of the lions. Learn to observe not just with your eyes, but with your ears.

26 min
Safari Destinations off the Beaten Path

22: Safari Destinations off the Beaten Path

This course, so far, has traversed all the popular geographies and methods for taking a safari. Now, follow some of the less-traveled roads. Get to know the hospitality of Senegal, the deserts of Morocco, and the cultural melting pot of Ethiopia. See some of the “hidden gems” sprinkled across the continent.

30 min
Cities and Other Safari Additions

23: Cities and Other Safari Additions

The word “safari” comes from the Swahili word for “journey.” While safaris typically involve journeys into the wilderness, the cities and cultures of Africa offer a different kind of journey. From Cape Town to Nairobi and from the Zulus to the Maasai, experience the thriving cultures and communities across Africa.

27 min
Tips for a Sustainable Safari

24: Tips for a Sustainable Safari

The safari experience has changed mightily over the last century, and today, sustainability is one of the most important considerations for tourism. This course closes with a look at responsibility and conservation and what some of the leaders in the safari industry are doing to support local communities and to protect endangered species.

28 min