With half a continent at your disposal, where do you start? Which is the best safari in Africa for you? Not all safaris are created equal.
Africa’s “big seven” safari destinations are South Africa (for the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve), Tanzania (for Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater), Kenya (the Masai Mara), Botswana (the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park) and Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Deciding on the best safari in Africa comes down to your expectations as a traveller. Are you a first-time visitor, or a seasoned safari pro? Do you want to tick the Big Five off your bucket list, or are you interested in specific animals?
Whether you’re looking for rest and relaxation, adventure or romance, here’s how to choose the best safari in Africa for you.
Safari in the Kruger Park
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most famous and best-loved wildlife destination with animals in the hundreds of thousands. Here, you can see the Big Five, over 600 bird species, reptiles and even fish.
The popular southern region is famous for its large rhino and lion populations. Central Kruger is the most game-rich area, abundant in plains game like giraffe and wildebeest. Naturally, these bring with them a healthy predator population. To the south, the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve shares a fence-free border with the Kruger. This park is famous for its variety of luxury lodge-style safari accommodation. There’s plenty of family-friendly accommodation and activities available too, making the Kruger a great safari option when travelling with kids.
Home to the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park and famous for its wealth of luxury accommodation, Botswana indeed is one of the greatest Big Five safari destinations in Africa. During the seasonal rains, the Okavango Delta becomes a lush animal habitat. Here, you can explore meandering channels and papyrus-fringed islands by mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe). Expect to see an abundance of birdlife, hippos, and crocodiles.
On dry land, Chobe National Park is famous for its herds of elephant and buffalo. During the winter months, the animals converge on the Chobe River. As a result, wildlife sightings are particularly rewarding at this time.
Zimbabwe offers true off-the-beaten-track safari experiences, with off-the-grid tented camps providing the wildest of encounters with Africa’s big game. Far-flung spots like Matusadona, Malilangwe and Gonarezhou take your safari experience up a notch. And Mana Pools National Park offers multi-day canoe trips. Lunch on the river anyone?
From the incredible aerial vistas of Victoria Falls in full flood to the dawn marches of elephant herds making their way to the river in Hwange, Zimbabwe is indeed one of the ultimate Southern Africa safari destinations.
For the quintessential African safari experience, it doesn’t get much better than Tanzania. One of the highlights of a Tanzania safari is undoubtedly witnessing the Great Migration in the Serengeti. This is when millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make their way northwards into the Masai Mara to graze.
Your Tanzania safari doesn’t end with the Serengeti. The vast Ngorongoro Crater is a worthy addition to your itinerary. This ancient caldera, filled to the brim with a diverse array of wildlife, is also home to Tarangire, which boasts the largest elephant population in Tanzania.
The original safari destination in Africa, Kenya is a classic. A Kenya safari promises the thrill of the wild against a backdrop of savannah plains, acacia forests, and the snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Kenya’s legendary national parks and game reserves, from the Masai Mara National Reserve to the Lake Nakuru National Park, boast almost guaranteed sightings of Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant). Expect generous sightings of large herds of antelope and hundreds of colourful birds.
The Etosha National Park takes centre stage as the best safari destination in Namibia. Here, extraordinary wildlife sightings are practically guaranteed around the park’s namesake, the Etosha Pan. Dry and mud-cracked through most of the year, it does absorb and retain a little water during the rainy season when birds frolick there in their multitudes, but most of the animals visit the pan to enjoy the salt licks on the edges.
Predators find their place in Etosha and make for fantastic game viewing. Long-limbed cheetah stalk the grasslands, lions laze around in the shade of acacia trees, and lone spotted hyena lollop through the woodlands. But find yourself in the right place at the right time, and you’ll witness the frenzied action of a kill at a waterhole.
As the original home of the guided walking safari, Zambia will reward you with some of the most exceptional safari experiences on the planet at its many National Parks. The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is home to giraffes, zebras, impalas, and abundant birdlife. Zambia’s other national parks include massive Kafue, whose woodlands, plains and wetlands sustain lions, elephants, and hippos. Another exciting Zambia safari destination is South Luangwa, where leopards, giraffes, buffalo, and other animals are viewable by walking safari.
Do you still need assistance choosing the best safari destination in Africa? Browse our curated safari packages and get in touch with us today to start planning.