Top Safari Destinations in Africa

Top Safari Destinations in Africa

Organizing a trip to a new place is exciting. Especially when you have had everything play out in your mind and you can just picture yourself having the time of your life. However, if you don’t know where to start with your travel plans, it can be daunting, too. Hence, we have compiled the best safari destinations in Africa for you! So before you tick that box off your bucket list, explore the entire continent with us and then cherry-pick the destination of your dreams.

EAST AFRICA

Kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve
Amboseli National Park

Tanzania
Serengeti National Park
Ngorongoro Crater

SOUTHERN AFRICA

South Africa
Kruger National Park

Zimbabwe
Hwange National Park

Namibia
Etosha National Park

Botswana
Chobe National Park

Malawi
Liwonde National Park

Zambia
Kafue National Park

CENTRAL AFRICA

Burundi
Ruvubu National Park

Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park

Republic of the Congo
Odzala National Park

Rwanda
Akagera National Park

Now, for the juicy details….

EAST AFRICA

 

An evocative and exciting travel destination, this part in Africa is the most popular with the tourists, which explains why this region is particularly the densest. East Africa covers Kenya and Tanzania, and sometimes Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, too. The latter 3, though, are now considered to be parts of Central Africa.

The main attraction in East Africa is the infamous Great Migration. It is also known for its abundant hotel-styled lodges and game drives using minivans with pop-up roofs.

Kenya

lion resting in masai mara plains

Masai Mara National Reserve

Everyone has probably heard of the Mara as it is, after all, Kenya’s flagship conservation reserve and one of Africa’s top wildlife destinations. It features a quintessential African scenery and an abundant, diverse wildlife teeming with over 95 mammal species including the glorious Big 5: lions, elephants, black rhinos, cape buffalos and leopards; wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, jackals, cheetahs, nocturnal black-eared foxes, Thomson’s gazelles, elands, antelopes, hartebeests and about a thousand more.

Also, the Mara holds an incredibly prolific birdlife with more than 470 recorded species including ostriches, vultures, crowned cranes, long-crested eagles and lilac-breasted rollers. As if all the impressive majesty’s not enough, the true highlight of Masai Mara is the annual Great Migration, which is not just a Natural Wonder of the World but also deemed as “the greatest show on earth.”

Amboseli National Park

With an even terrain, rich wildlife and a majestic backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro – the world’s highest freestanding mountain and Africa’s highest peak, it is no surprise why Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s top attractions. Not only is it famous for its splendid view of Mount Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped peak, it is also widely recognized for the massive herds of African elephants roaming freely around its plains. In fact, an estimate of over 1,200 elephants has been recorded to be living in the area.

About 50 mammals can also be found in the park, including spotted hyenas, cape buffalos, Masai lions, impala, hippos, leopards, giraffes, blue wildebeest, zebras, baboons and bohor reedbucks. Pelicans, cattle egrets, flamingos, ostriches and over 47 species of raptors are also present along with 400 other bird species.

Tanzania

great wildebeests migration in serengeti, tanzania

Serengeti National Park

As they say, this is where the safari magic happens. Famous for the Great Migration, Serengeti National Park remains one of the top choices for tourists who dream of that real-life Lion King experience. The park’s wondrous view is also unrivaled and its wildlife is just astounding!

Aside from the Big 5 and the millions of migrants, Serengeti National Park is home to a myriad of mammals like giraffes, klipspringers, antelopes, fringe-eared oryx, spotted hyenas, honeybadgers, servals, East African wild dogs, verbet monkey, blue-and-white colobus, hydraxes and baboons; a number of reptile species including Nile crocodile, rainbow agama, leopard tortoise, black mamba and cobra; and about 500 bird species like martial eagles, ostriches, flamingos and lovebirds.

Ngorongoro Crater

What’s amazing about this attraction is its unique setting teeming with wildlife. It is known as the world’s largest inactive, intact volcanic caldera and is one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa. Approximately 25,000 large animals have been recorded to wander around its open grassland including black-backed and golden jackals, hyenas, Maasai cattle, a large population of ungulates like zebras, wildebeest and gazelles, and a legion of the big 5, mainly black rhinos.

The crater also boasts of a healthy bird population and animals like Tanzanian cheetahs, giraffes, East African wild dogs, African leopards and bat-eared foxes are rarely seen in the area. On top of all these, Ngorongoro Crater is the perfect place for you to interact with the people from the Maasai tribe.

 

SOUTHERN AFRICA

 

Like East Africa, Southern Africa is in almost everyone’s bucket list. However, although both regions have more or less the same wildlife species, they can still be contrasted in quite a few aspects. While the eastern region is teeming with wildebeest and zebras especially during the Great Migration, Southern Africa boasts of its impressive herds of African elephants. It is also relatively less crowded compared to East Africa and when it comes to accommodation and safari vehicles, Southern Africa is usually recognized for its luxury tented camps (which others probably refer to as “glamping”) and its modified Land Rovers.

South Africa

elephant in kruger national park

Kruger National Park

With a classic African scenery, an overwhelming variety of plant and wildlife, plus a title as one of the world’s largest national parks, any traveler can easily determine that Kruger National Park is South Africa’s top attraction. It is only 3 to 4.5 hours drive from Johannesburg and among the many animals you can spot in the park are bushbucks, giraffes, hippos, kudus, antelopes, warthogs, waterbucks, spotted hyenas, a great deal of impalas and a massive population of the infamous Big Five: lions, elephants, black rhinos, cape buffalos and leopards.

The park also hosts 33 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles including crocodiles, black mamba and rock pythons, and in its rivers are about 50 fish species including Zambesi sharks or most commonly known as bull sharks.

The park’s birdlife is just as diverse and exotic with over 517 species of birds. As a matter of fact, Kruger National Park is home to the so-called “Big Six Birds” which are the lappet-faced vulture, saddle-billed stork, Pel’s fishing owl, martial eagle, ground hornbill and kori bustard.

Zimbabwe

giraffes in hwange national park

Hwange National Park

Relatively keener price-wise, Hwange National Park is often compared with Kruger National Park in South Africa. Why? Because it also offers prolific wildlife plus an unforgettable scenery featuring a diverse landscape with plains, grassy savannahs and a teak forest. It houses a compelling amount of nearly 400 bird species and over 100 mammals with strong populations of the Big 5, hyenas, African wild dogs, giraffes and ungulates.

To guarantee a spectacular safari experience, game viewing options in this park is wildly unique as you can opt to have game drives, walking tours, canoe trips or even underground close-up viewing! To top it all off, Hwange National Park is just 1 to 4 hours drive to the majestic Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world!

Namibia

antelope in etosha

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is almost always featured in articles today as one of the must-visit sites in Africa. It is Namibia’s greatest wildlife sanctuary with a flora consisting mostly of savanna woodlands and some hints of grasslands and dwarf shrub savanna along the salt pan, which is a saline dessert that’s considered to be its most notable geographical feature (because you can even see it from space!) and covers 23% of the whole park.

Etosha hosts 114 mammal species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species, 340 bird species and about 1 to 49 species of fish. Commonly seen animals include the Big 5, giraffes, caracals, cheetahs, black-backed jackals, wildcats, brown and spotted hyenas, meerkats, cape foxes, aardwolves, mongoose, bat-eared foxes, warthogs, African squirrels, porcupines, zebras, elands, impalas, flamingos, pelicans, falcons, cranes and even some of the very rare white rhinos. Travel enthusiasts say that compared to other areas in Southern Africa, Namibia has the least extreme seasonal changes which makes it an even better all-year-round destination.

Botswana

african elephants in chobe national park

Chobe National Park

Chobe has a wide array of habitats that are divided into different ecosystems guaranteeing a widely diverse and abundant concentration of wildlife. It is known for its massive herds of elephants and cape buffalos as well as giraffes and puku antelopes settling around the Chobe riverfront. Rhinos, warthogs, kudus, ungulates and many other animals also inhabit the marsh areas; lions, hippos and antelopes in the woods and lagoons; and over 450 bird species all over the park, making it superb for bird lovers and twitchers.

What’s even more exciting is that on top of traditional game viewing, you can also decide to do boat trips where you can see a lot of animals and maybe even some action! Aside from that, Etosha is also just a short drive away from the must-see Victoria Falls.

Malawi

hippos in liwonde

Liwonde National Park

Lying along the banks of Shire River and some part of Lake Malombe, Liwonde National Park features a stunning African vista and an astonishing array of flora and fauna. It is considered as Malawi’s premier safari destination and a haven for a passel of elephants and hippos, from which they are most famous for.

Antelopes, crocodiles, verbet monkeys, kudus, zebras, warthogs, yellow baboons, rhinos and a leopards and spotted hyenas have also been sighted as well as more than 400 species of birds including the African Fish Eagle flitting around the park. Due to its low-key ambiance and tourist count, travelers find their experience in Liwonde National Park a tad bit more intimate among the animals.

Zambia

wildlife action in kafue national park

Kafue National Park

Picture vast open plains with small granite hills in some areas, Miombo and teak forests in others and the Kafue river running into the Itezhi Tezhi Dam. That’s Kafue National Park – the largest national park in Zambia and second in the whole of Africa. It is an underrated, untouched wildnerness that caters to a broad variety of birds, plants, fish and game including large herds of free-ranging antelopes, zebras, kudus, bushbucks, wildebeest, duikers, reedbucks, lechwes, lions, hippos, hyenas, cheetahs, wild dogs, elephants and leopards. Its birdlife is also so compelling that if you are an avid twitcher you might barely be able put your binoculars down!

 

CENTRAL AFRICA

 

What sets Central Africa apart from the renowned East and Southern regions is the more pristine, unscathed landscapes and the distinct wildlife which is more on gorilla tracking. Equally stunning, Central Africa is perfect for those who are looking to explore the road less traveled, so to speak.

Burundi

ruvubu national park

Ruvubu National Park

This African treasure in Burundi mainly lies in the river valley, extends south towards the border of Tanzania and is about 216 kilometers away from Bujumbura. As the largest protected ecosystem in the country, Ruvubu National Park boasts of a rich wildlife with about 44 mammal species including monkeys, leopards, hippos, tigers, lions, buffalos and antelopes; over 9 species of snakes; reptiles like Nile crocodiles; and more than 425 species of birds including flufftail, bee eater, papyrus canary, and several aquatic birds like Ardeola rufiventer.

Uganda

chimpanzee in kibale forest

Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park protects an enormous rainforest that houses a significant number of endangered chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys. Its forest stretches continually to Queen Elizabeth National Park, giving a wildlife corridor of about 180 kilometers long. Famous for its countless chimpanzee residents and high concentration of primates, Kibale National Park also hosts terrestrial mammals like sitatungas, warthogs, otters, bushpigs, giant forest hogs, leopard, buffalos, African golden cats and some lions. Birdlife is abundant as well with over 325 species including tinkerbirds and long-tailed cuckoos.

Republic of the Congo

gorilla in odzala national park

Odzala National Park

In the northwestern part of the Congo lies one of Central Africa’s most valued strongholds for gorillas and forest elephants, the Odzala National Park. It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International due to its impressive array of bird species totaling to 430 species including gray parrot, forest swallow and black guinea fowl.

Non-twitchers won’t also leave disappointed as Odzala holds over 100 mammals like antelopes, hippos, giant hogs, hyenas and buffalos; and about 11 diurnal primates like the guereza colobus, mustached monkey and gray-cheeked mangabey.. Since Odzala is part of the Congo Basin, visitors also get a chance to easily go to the world’s second largest rainforest which is situated in the Congo Basin. Exciting!

Rwanda

zebra in akagera national park

Akagera National Park

With a marvelous network of rivers meandering around its broad expanse, Akagera National Park is dominated by small watering holes, swamps and lakes. It is considered the biggest protected wetland in Africa and is home to the Big 5, zebras, elands and antelopes, and a variety of bird species including the shoebill stork.

 

The RoundUp

Africa can guarantee you an adventure like no other – whichever region you choose to explore. While East Africa is known for its sheer diversity and concentration of wildlife and its classic African scenery, Southern Africa is popular for its diversity in activities. It also features excellent wildlife parks including Kruger National Park, but on top of that, it also has other exciting things in store: wine tasting, whale watching, cage shark diving to name a few. For Central Africa, Uganda and Rwanda are now usually regarded as part of the eastern region although technically they’re more into the central part. This region boasts of many jungles inhabited by a myriad of primates including one of the rarest specie: Mountain Gorillas. Whatever suits your style and purpose of travel, Africa is sure to captivate you and by the end of your trip, you’ll surely find yourself wanting more of Africa.

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