Is joining a safari on your bucket list? Watching a pride of lions saunter a few metres away from you, a tiger cross the road in front of your 4X4, or a herd of elephants fill your telephoto lens, is a magical experience. But what are the best safari holiday destinations worldwide?
There is something incredible about viewing wildlife in its natural habitat. The word safari comes from ‘Ar safar’, Swahili for journey. Let the urban jungle take a backseat as you embark on a journey of a lifetime through grasslands, forests and deserts.
Best safari holiday destinations worldwide
Whether you want to watch warthogs and wildebeest, see sloths and spider monkeys or view vipers and vultures there is a safari out there for you. But not all wildlife watching locations are equal, so we have put together 11 of best safari destinations worldwide to help you find your ideal vacation.
A 2000-feet deep crater brimming over with wildlife, one of the world’s most diverse eco-systems and ancient baobab trees. Every aspect of Tanzania presents a traveller with photo opportunities worthy of a National Geographic magazine cover.
It’s renowned for four of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide. The baobab tree spread of Tarangire, the Lake Manyara national park (famous for its tree-climbing lions) and the Ngorongoro Crater – one of the easiest places in Africa to spot ‘The Big Five’ (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino).
Wind up with dinner at sunset at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater lull you into a calm communion with nature. You’ll be overlooking the plains of the Serengeti Plains the fourth top spot in Tanzania and possibly most iconic safari destination on the planet. Find out more about Tanzania national parks here.
Who’d have guessed that a swamp would turn out to be one of nature’s biggest wonders and one of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide?
The swamps of the Okavango delta in Botswana, located right in the middle of the Kalahari desert, are a network of waterways that are best explored on the mokoro (a dug-out canoe). Highlights include slow rides through the reed-filled channels and the Khama rhino sanctuary.
Masai Mara, Kenya
The northern extension of the Serengeti, called the Mara, stretches out in tall grassland, occasionally interrupted by the odd acacia. The parks here offer sights of numerous animals: grazing wildebeest, zebra and giraffe, and their predatory counterparts: lions, leopards and cheetahs.
It is without doubt one of the most spectacular places on the planet, with red cliffs, grassy plains and rock towers made of hardened lava. Although open year-round, it’s best to visit between mid-August and November to see one of the ten natural wonders of the world – the mass migration of wildlife from north to south Serengeti.
Egypt offers more than just the enigmatic sphinx and majestic pyramids. Sand dunes and canyons also have stories and histories etched on them, and the best way to experience it: on camel back.
Most safaris start at the Wadi Arada, where you can spend the night under the stars at the El Guna plateau and watch the sun rise over Mount Sinai. Sitting in tents drinking Bedouin tea is one of the simpler pleasures of the journey, and you come home knowing you’ve experienced a slice of history that’s still alive today.
Safaris in Zambia tend to be overshadowed by the magnificence of the Victoria Falls. However it is Africa and wildlife does not stay in the shadows for long. The South Luangwa park is home to the giraffe, bushbuck, lion and hyena, and cranes and storks have found perfect nesting grounds at the Kakumbi salt pans.
Of course you have to visit the famous Victoria falls. Here you can try white water rafting, canoe safaris and bungy jumping.
For one of the rarest experiences life could ever offer you, we would recommend a trip to Namibia between April and August. A safari here isn’t in a 4X4, on camel or elephant back; in Namibia the safari is conducted on foot.
As part of the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) initiative, teams of local trackers lead expeditions through the oldest desert in the world, Namib, to catch a glimpse of the rare desert-adapted rhino.
It isn’t just a one-off sighting and a photograph that you come back with; thanks to the work of the employed trackers you will have helped with the research and monitoring of the animal as well. An incredible experience and rightly one of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide.
Cape Town, South Africa
The southern tip of Africa is richly packed with flora, fauna and exciting options of experiencing beautiful nature at its finest. In some ways it’s a puzzle why anyone would opt to go anywhere else. The options are endless with many reserves nearby and so much more.
The Hluhluwe Imfolozi is South Africa’s oldest reserve and offers a rare opportunity to spot white rhinos. You could also spend an afternoon at an ostrich farm at Karoo, or glide by silently sunning crocodiles at St Lucia’s estuary, or spy on a penguin colony at Boulders Beach.
You can also trek and climb on Table Mountain and drink your way through the many wine estates for example the famous Stellenbosch. Finally, between May and December you can also watch humpback whales on their annual migration around the Cape. Without doubt one of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide.
Trekking into the Ugandan rainforest to track the great apes is a magical experience. You can see mountain gorillas, chimps and much more during a safari in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Check out our Uganda safari discounts as you could save a fortune.
Moving out of Africa – yes there are safaris elsewhere! – the eerie landscape of the Udawalawe national forest in Sri Lanka begs for ghost stories around camp fires. Bleached skeletal branches and trunks of dead trees emerge from water bodies spread across the reserve, lending it its haunted air.
It’s a favourite spot for elephants where entire herds gather to drink, bathe and play and the 30,821-hectare dry zone. The park is also home to water buffalo, monitor lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard. Sri Lanka is small, friendly and easy to get around making it one of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide.
Spotting a tiger’s wheat and black stripes from the surrounding plains of tall fawn-coloured dry grass is part of the thrill of an Indian safari. Ranthambore national park in Rajasthan is known for its safaris on elephant back and of course the regal tiger.
You can spot monkey, leopard, deer, elephant, antelope, bear, squirrel, crocodile and countless species of birds at nearby park Bharatpur and the Keoladeo Ghana bird sanctuary. Bandhavgarh and Kanha national parks are thick, green and lush forests where spotting tigers is a regular occurrence.
Between July and September the dense jungles of Mexico invite intrepid travellers by the busload. The Mayan forests offer culture and wildlife in equal measure, with several archaeological sites to explore and numerous safaris to embark on.
We recommend a trip to the Sian ka’an biosphere reserve, snorkelling in the Gran Cenote cavern – with its striking stalagmites and stalactites. Also try a night hike and cruise by the Coba Lagoon to look for crocodiles. And if that proves too tame a pastime for you, why not try snorkelling with whale sharks at Holbox?
Finally a safari in Mexico would not be complete without visiting the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve west of Mexico city. From October to March Monarch butterflies from the US and Canada migrate here in one of the greatest migrations on earth.
We hope this article about 11 of the best safari holiday destinations worldwide helps plan your next trip. Be sure to check out our safari holiday discounts as you could save a fortune.