Top 10 African Safari Destinations
Few travel experiences can match an African safari for sheer raw excitement.
A safari in Africa offers the traveler a unique and thrilling opportunity to sleep beneath the stars; listen to the sound of lions roaring in the night; feel the adrenalin rush when in close proximity to a wild predator in its natural habitat; and marvel, with utmost reverence, at the extravagant fiery beauty of an African sunset.
If you’re in search of a unique adventure, then any of these Top 10 African safari destinations are guaranteed to give you the experience of a lifetime.
1. Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Each year the flood plains of the Okavango Delta swells with flood waters from the Okavango River. This creates a unique inland network of waterways, and a flourishing haven for a huge diversity of wildlife.
The best game viewing is done from a mokoro, a crude canoe hewn from the solid trunk of a tree. Polers navigate these craft through the lush waterways, giving the traveler an up-close, bird’s eye view of birdlife and wild game.
All members of the Big 5 (Lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo) are present, and prolific in the Delta. Other wildlife species include hippo, wildebeest, crocodile, giraffe, cheetah, hyena, and a large assortment of antelope, including lechwe and waterbuck.
2. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania is the site of the largest, unflooded volcanic crater in the world. This impressive natural phenomenon is roughly twenty kilometers wide and teems with an abundance of wildlife. The crated is made up of enormous expanses of forests, savannah, and bush terrain.
Here, walking safaris are available, accompanied by qualified guides. Some really unforgettable hiking routes are offered, including routes from Olmoti Crater to Embakai Highlands, and then continuing on down to the Great Rift Valley.
This presents an amazing experience not only to view the wildlife in close and thrilling proximity, but also the opportunity to observe and enjoy grand vistas of unspoiled nature.
3. Kruger National Park (South Africa)
The vast area of the Kruger National Park is larger than many small countries, and the park is probably one of the best known and well run wildlife parks in the world.
The Kruger offers the widest diversity of wildlife anywhere in Africa. Just about every mammal indigenous to Africa can be found here, and there are hundreds of bird species and flora.
The Kruger National Park offers a multitude of safari packages to suite every taste: birding safaris, luxury safaris, adventure safaris, and organized hiking safaris accompanied by trained (and armed) guides.
Accommodation: 5-star luxury game lodges, self-catering rondavels (thatched huts) and chalets, as well as basic campsites for the more adventurous at heart. The rest camps are well organized. Some of them are like bustling villages with all the mod-cons (albeit African flavored): restaurants, souvenir shops, clothing shops, supermarkets.
If you’re in the market for a more “civilized” African safari experience with all the amenities and the frills, then the Kruger National Park should be at the top of your list.
4. Etosha National Park (Namibia)
It is Namibia’s tourist flag ship. Situated at the arid Etosha Pan, a vast salt lake that is dry for most of the year, this national park is especially popular in the dry season, when over 90 species of mammals gather around the sparse waterholes for survival. This makes for a spectacular and crowded tableau of wildlife rubbing shoulders in close proximity.
Game watchers and photographers can feast their senses on huge herds of elephant, zebra, giraffe and a wide variety of antelope, as well as dozens of species of bird life, and the predators are not far away. Spectacular lion kills are a common occurrence at the waterholes. Etosha National Park offers a great self-drive safari experience.
5. South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is well-known for its walking safaris. There is an abundance of wild game (over 60 species), and over 400 species of birds, which definitely makes a safari to this park worthwhile.
The Luangwa River runs through the park and is home to huge numbers of hippo. Lion are also in great quantity and it is not uncommon to spot lion prides in excess of 30 predators. The best time for game viewing in South Luangwa is in the dry season when the wildlife gather around the diminishing resources of water at the waterholes.
6. Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)
Kenya is unquestionably Africa’s top safari destination. First romanticized by the American writer Ernest Hemingway, and later on by Karen Blixen and her masterful book Out of Africa, Kenya has become synonymous with the finest traditions of the African safari.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is probably the most famous wildlife park in Kenya, and certainly the most popular. This park has the distinction of witnessing the remarkable migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra each year, a sight which is absolutely unforgettable.
If you’re searching for a truly “Out of Africa” experience, this is the perfect African safari.
7. Chobe national Park (Botswana)
Situated in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a world heritage site, the Chobe National Park’s Savuti marsh boasts some of the highest numbers of wildlife in Africa. Chobe offers some spectacular elephant watching, with a huge concentration of over 120,000 elephants.
The best time to safari in the Chobe is in the dry, cool winter months between April and October. This is when large herds of buffalo, wildebeest and zebra congregate in large numbers in the Savuti marshland.
8. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)
Most of us have seen the movie “Gorillas in the Mist” based on Dian Fossey’s remarkable account of her involvement with these amazing animals.
If you want to embark on a thrilling gorilla-tracking safari in the forest in order to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals, then Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is the place to go.
This park is home to half the world’s population of mountain gorillas and has been declared a World Heritage Site.
9. Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe)
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is one of the foremost national wildlife parks in the Southern Africa region. The park is an evergreen safari favorite because of its large quantity of over 105 species of mammals, including large concentrations of giraffe, zebra, elephant and lion. Hwange also boasts one of the largest numbers of African Wild Dog on the continent.
While on safari in Hwange, there is also the added benefit of being only a stone’s throw away from one of the most spectacular wonders of the world: The Victoria Falls.
10. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
If you have read books on safaris and dreamed of going on an African safari, then perhaps the definitive, classic African safari destination has to be the
Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. These wide open grassland plains are synonymous with vast herds of wildlife, rugged 4×4 vehicles, and campfires beneath the stars.
This is where the migration starts; this is where the Serengeti grasslands thunder under the hooves of millions of wildebeest and zebra in full flight.
The Serengeti captures the essence of a true African safari. It speaks of a time when this vast, mystical continent was the natural habitat to the millions of mammals who roamed its plains, unhindered by man.
A final word: There are simply not enough superlatives to adequately describe an African safari: amazing, thrilling, unforgettable, captivating – these are just some of the adjectives that come to mind.
Words simply cannot do this mystical place enough justice. But one thing I can promise you is this: If you are adventurous enough, and privileged enough, to go on an Africa safari just once in your lifetime, you will dream of Africa and remember it for the rest of your life.