African Safaris are the top choices of tourist who visit Africa and they are fast becoming a “must see” for anyone who visit the continent.
Wildlife parks in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Gabon have been noted as some of the best safari destinations in Africa.
We have compiled a list of the top ten safari destinations where you can be guaranteed to see the “big five” – Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and Cape Buffalo.
When next you plan a safari visit as part of your “things to do in Africa,” consider one of these destinations.
1. Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)
Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) is known as one of Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserves, situated in southwestern Kenya on the border with Tanzania and it is part of the northern section of the Serengeti National Park. Famous for the abundance of the big cats, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and the Great Wildebeest Migration. The Maasai tribesman also offer cultural tours which will enhance your experience.
There are many places to stay in and around the Maasai Mara. The Mara has several conservancies surrounding it, that have restricted number of vehicles allowing a more private game viewing.
Click here to get information about what animals you can expect to see, the topography of the area, where to stay, how to get there, and what there is to do beyond the game drives.
2. Chobe National Park (Botswana)
Whether arriving by air or road, the first glimpse of the river – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breathtaking. It appears as a swathe of brilliant, peacock blue ribbon, winding its way through the tiny town of Kasane, and ensuing wilderness – the Chobe National Park.
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalled anywhere else in the country.
Chobe National park lies in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and covers four distinct Eco-systems. The Savuti marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa year round. Chobe boasts around 120,000 elephants, you’re unlikely to miss them when you enjoy a safari here.
The best time to visit Chobe is between April and October, the dry, cooler winter months. Herds of zebra, eland, buffalo, giraffe and wildebeest congregate around the Savuti marsh this time of year. Chobe is accessible by car which makes it a little less expensive than some other Botswana Parks. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets, you can even rent a houseboat. Click here for more travel information.
3. Kruger National Park (South Africa)
One of the most famous national parks in the world is Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park is located in the far northeastern corner of South Africa and shares a long eastern border with Mozambique. Kruger takes its name from Paul Kruger who in 1898 opened the park as South Africa’s president naming it Sabie Game Reserve. In 1928 the name of the park was changed to Kruger National Park and it was added to the National Park network. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
Kruger National Park is a “Big 5” national park with 147 species of animals and over 500 species of birds. Kruger has varying activities from hiking safaris and horseback riding to just laying by the pool and listening to the calls of the wild at some of the world’s top Kruger safari lodges. Night drives or night safaris are common as this is the best time to see those who stay out of the heat in the day only to become hunters at night. Kruger National Park has all accommodation options from camping to the luxury lodges. Click here for more information.
4. South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
Home of the “walking safari” South Luangwa National Park in Zambia offers a true African experience. There’s plenty of wildlife and over 400 species of birds. The Luangwa river is filled to the brim with hippos and if you’re lucky you’ll spot prides of over 30 lions at a time. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species living in the National Park.
An interest in the vegetation of Zambia will enhance your experience of the bush. Some magnificent trees and plants grow in the Luangwa Valley and it certainly adds to the richness of one’s experience to be able to recognize the different tree species and to discover exotic wildflowers.
South Luangwa offers both budget and luxury safari lodging. The best time to visit is during the dry season from April to October. Near the end of the dry season, the animals really concentrate around the remaining waterholes, which makes for a great safari.
5. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.
There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.
6. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
7. Etosha Natonal Park (Namibia)
Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish. The Etosha Park is one of the first places on any itinerary designed for a holiday in Namibia.
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
The park doesn’t offer scheduled game drives. It’s a self-drive safari experience. But there are several excellent upmarket lodges and camps available just outside the park boundaries in private reserves, where guided safaris are part of the package. Click here for more information.
8. Okavango Delta (Botswana)
The Okavango River cuts through the center of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, creating a unique inland water system that gives life to a huge variety of birds and mammals. The Okavango is a unique safari destination because you can view much of the wildlife from a traditional canoe, a mokoro.
Every year thousands of tourists flock to the Okavango Delta in Botswana as it is transforms from parched savannah into rich wetland.
The best time to view wildlife is during the peak of the flood, in the dry season from May to October. The wildlife is more concentrated on islands at this time, and it’s therefore easier to see therm. as the flooding recedes, new grass springs up and the wildlife scatters to feed. There are numerous lodges dotted around as well as luxury safari camps, many of them offer walking safaris. Visit the site for more information and reservation.
9. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of Africa’s most important wildlife areas and a bold experiment in multiple land use. At its core is the world famous Ngorongoro Crater – a giant caldera in which the dramas of life on the African plains are played out each day by a diverse assemblage of large mammals – wildebeest, zebra, lion and rhino – in a primeval ‘garden of Eden’.
Beyond the crater rim, Maasai pastoralists herd their cattle across the plains, seemingly oblivious to the herds of wild animals sharing this vast landscape, the ‘endless plains’ of Serengeti. Lake-filled Empakaai crater and the active volcano of Oldonyo Lengai are nearby. The area is also of great significance in tracing the origins of mankind with excavations in the Oldupai Gorge and Laetoli, resulting in discoveries of fossil remains of Homo habilis, and 3.5 million-year old human footprints.
There are several lodges and campsites in the Conservation area. Click here for more information.
10. Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe)
Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s finest havens for wildlife and is home to vast herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and has a very large concentration of giraffe. It is also home to many predators and endangered species plus very large and varied birdlife.
The park is situated on the main road between Bulawayo and the world famous Victoria Falls.
Hwange National Park covers just over 14 600 square kilometres. The Park carries 105 mammal species, including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores. Elephant make up the largest proportion of the biomass.
All Zimbabwe’s specially protected animals are to be found in Hwange and it is the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers. The population of wild dog to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the largest surviving groups in Africa today.
Walking, driving and horseback safaris are a popular way of seeing the wildlife. Accommodation is provided at a number of game Lodges.
To travel through Hwange National Park today is to see what much of the interior of Africa might have been like more then 150 years ago.
Click here to learn more about lodging and reservation.