If you are searching for an unforgettable wildlife experience, then a safari in Southern Africa is an absolute must-do.
Comprising of diverse landscapes and ecosystems, Southern Africa boasts some of the world’s most magnificent wildlife destinations. From the lush grasslands of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, through the rugged wilderness of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, to the watery haven of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Southern Africa is a safari destination like no other.
We highlight eight of the best safari destinations in Southern Africa worth visiting for your next African safari.
1. Hwange National Park
Located in Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park is the largest park in the country, and is famous for its large herds of elephants, which can be seen congregating around the waterholes during the dry season. Apart from elephants, other wildlife you may spot includes lion, cheetah, wild dogs, hyenas, and over 400 species of birds. The park has a collection of lodges that offer world-class safari experiences, making it one of the top safari destinations in Africa.
2. Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is Zambia‘s largest national park and boasts diverse landscapes, from rivers and swamps to savannah and woodland ecosystems, that offer a habitat to a wide variety of wildlife. Among the animals you will encounter here include lion, leopard, cheetahs, and the park’s rarest inhabitants, the African wild dogs. Thanks to its vastness, Kafue National Park is normally less crowded than other parks on this list, thus offering a more intimate and exclusive safari experience.
3. Chobe National Park
Botswana‘s Chobe National Park is among the best places in Africa where you can see large herds of elephants. With its close proximity to the Zambezi River, Chobe has a permanent water source that attracts millions of game animals such as buffalo, hippo, lion, leopard, and various antelopes. A river cruise on the Chobe River is a must-do to witness the spectacular herds of elephants who come to the river to quench their thirst. Chobe is also ideally combined with a safari to Victoria Falls.
4. Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is a unique safari destination in Southern Africa renowned for its watery landscape, providing an exceptional land-and-water-based safari experience. One of the best ways to explore the Delta is by a traditional mokoro canoe or motorised boat while observing hippo, crocodile, and dozens of bird species that call the Delta home. The Delta also offers fantastic wildlife sightings, including lion, cheetah, wild dog, and giraffe – making it one of best Southern Africa safaris out there.
5. Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi Game Reserve is the first wildlife park in the world created by an Indigenous tribe, the Batswana. Located within the greater Okavango Delta region, the reserve offers a unique combination of swamp, savannah as well as dry woodland habitat providing habitat to the Big 5 and more than 500 bird species. Game-viewing truly is prolific in Moremi, with superb luxury lodges and tented camps as the backdrop to your safari.
6. Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve is one of the most luxurious wildlife destinations in South Africa, renowned for its exclusive private game reserves that offer luxury lodges and the best wildlife sightings. The reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, and it is home to the Big Five 5, with stand-out sightings of leopard a frequent occurrence.
7. Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest national park covering an area of 19,485 km (about 12107.42 mi) ² and is home to over 500 bird species and more than 147 mammals. The park offers all the Big 5 and many other game animals such as cheetah, hyena, wild dog, giraffe, zebra, crocodiles and hippo. The Kruger is an ideal foray into safari for both first timers and seasoned travellers, with varied experiences on offer. Accommodation options inside the park range from rustic campsites to luxury lodges.
8. Eastern Cape Game Reserves
The Eastern Cape Game Reserves are some of the most accessible safari destinations in South Africa, located less than an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth. The game reserves offer world-class game viewing, including sightings of the Big 5, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe as well as the area’s unique marine habitants. The reserves include Amakhala Game Reserve, Shamwari Game Reserve, and Addo Elephant National Park – all of which are malaria-free and hence are excellent for families with younger children.
Southern Africa is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether you are looking for intimate and exclusive safaris or budget-friendly ones, Southern Africa has it all. The eight destinations we highlighted in this article are among the best safari experiences you can have in Southern Africa. Choose one, and you are guaranteed an unforgettable African adventure. Browse our top Southern African safaris now, or chat to one of our expert Travel Planners to guide your trip.