There are few feelings in life like being up close and personal with a really wild animal. We’re not just talking about the ducks down the park, we mean some of nature’s most incredible creations. This list of the top 10 African safari destinations is all about the places that give you the best chance of coming face to face with lions, leopards, rhinos and other amazing animals.
The appeal of a safari is that it’s your chance to enter their world. There’s nothing artificial about it. These are genuine wild animals going about their business and you have to play by their rules. It’s thrilling, exciting and an experience you will never forget.
So here are our Top 10 African safari destinations. Remember this is not a definitive list there are lots of other great safari destinations and this is just the opinion of the author. Happy to hear of any you feel should make the list so please leave a comment!
Perhaps the most famous safari destination of them all. The open grasslands of the Serengeti offer a perfect, unobstructed viewpoint of the natural world. If you are fortunate enough, you may see a lion kill, or a migration of wildebeest or zebra. The park is huge at 15,000 square kilometres. The sheer size dilutes the amount of tourists, giving you a less crowded and more authentic experience.
You’ve the best chance of spotting the ‘big five’ at Krueger. It’s the place to go if you are looking for a luxury safari rather than a more ‘rugged’ experience. Tarred roads mean it’s ideal for a self-drive trip. Although the park management is not to everyone’s taste, the wildlife and habitats do cater for all. With year round accessibility, a choice of accommodation and a huge variety of animals, it’s a definite contender for the prize for best all-round safari destination – and well worth a spot in the top 10 African safari destinations list.
The coolest thing about this safari destination is that you can watch the wildlife from a canoe, or mokoro, on the Okavango River. The best time to be in Botswana is when the river bursts its banks, when the delta floods attract all the wildlife to one area. Alternatively, boat cruises are offered at Chobe National Park allowing you a chance to see buffaloes, elephants, lions and hyenas from a more stable lookout.
The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks are best experienced on foot. On a rainforest safari it may be harder to spot the animals, but it’s true exploration. The parks are famous for their thriving population of indri indri lemurs, the largest of the lemur species. They are also home to another thriteen species of lemur and an abundance of plants, birds and reptiles.
Located in the south western part of Uganda, the national park is best known for its gorillas. The endangered mountain gorillas share the forest with chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and several species of birds. The park can only be reached on foot. The tricky terrain, cool temperatures and heavy rainfall makes for an exciting adventure for the intrepid traveller looking for a challenge.
You’ve definitely seen Maasai Mara before – even if it was just on television. An extension of the Serengeti, it’s a hive of activity for grazing cattle – and therefore favoured by their predators. On the downside, it is also a hive of activity for the ever-eager tourists and you will inevitably be sharing the site with a lot of people. If that doesn’t deter you, then you will love Kenya. Its population of wildebeest, zebra and big cats is spread across the savannah and easy to find.
The Luangwa River is teeming with hippos, its plains are dotted with lions, and its sky filled with hundreds of species of birds. Tour guides in Zambia are some of the best in the business. Yes you may need to walk some, and yes it’s stifling hot, but if you want to actually learn about the animals and the ecosystem, Luangwa National Park is a great choice. April to October is the best time to go.
Namibia is one of Africa’s most accessible countries, making it a firm favourite. This is the safari for the keen photographer. No rivers, only watering holes – perfect as Africa’s tallest elephants, black rhino and giraffes roam these plains and appear when they want to quench their thirst. During the rainy season, the flamingos join the party too. It is a self-drive safari, however there are public camps overlook the watering holes so there is no need to venture too far.
Here, wildlife and the Maasai people live side by side. Enclosed in a crater, the site offers a unique view to its visitors. It’s a place to get a glimpse of the ‘big five’, including the possibility of a leopard sighting in the Lerai Forest. The natural enclosure created by a volcano has allowed the wildlife to flourish, resulting in a conservation area boasting one of the densest wildlife populations in the world. Easily makes it into the top 10 African safari destinations.
The Mundulea Reserve is known for its admirable conservation efforts. The reserve reintroduced the native blackfaced impala years ago and they are once again beginning to thrive. Mundulea sits up in the Otavi Mountains, not far from Etosha. It’s perfect for walkers and people who have a real passion for the environment. There is a limit of eight guests per safari, which allows you a truly intimate and memorable experience.
Any of these top 10 African safari destinations will give you the chance to see wild, dangerous and magnificent animals in their natural habitat. There’s no greater thrill in the natural world. And it sure beats sitting by the pool or fighting for room on a crowded beach.