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Top 10 African Safari Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

by Cris Puscas

The go-to resource for planning your safaris. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and make your wildlife travel dreams come true.
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Is an African safari on your bucket list?

From the charms of Kenya to glorious South Africa, Botswana, and Uganda, there are dozens of exciting opportunities to explore Africa.

 

If any of these destinations tickle your fancy, then start planning your next adventure. Surely, depending on your style, a safari can range from a walk in the park (quite literally!) to one of the greatest physical exercises on the planet.

Read on to discover the top ten African safari destinations and what each of them offers.

1. Kruger National Park, South Africa

rhino in kurger national park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest parks in Africa with an area of 7,500 sq mi (12,070 sq km). Located in South Africa, it is one of the country’s oldest national park.

A game reserve since 1895, Kruger got its name and first three tourist cars in 1927. Since then, it has become a crowd favorite.

Kruger is home to a large variety of wildlife, including the Big Five animals - Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, and Rhino. But is also known to be home of the Little Five - Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion, and Rhino Beetle.

Thanks to its excellent infrastructure, the park is best explored on a self-drive safari. Should you prefer more guidance, a jeep safari is a great choice to see the wildlife that roams the park.

Families will be happy to know that Kruger National Park is one of the best choices for a safari with kids. Many lodges offer child-friendly activities and the amenities offered are excellent for family travel.

Is Kruger on your safari bucket list but not sure where to start with planning your trip? Read our detailed guide to visiting Kruger National Park!

 

2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

zebras in serengeti

The oldest game reserve in Tanzania, Serengeti National Park, is one of the most iconic safari destinations on the continent. Sprawling on 14,750 sq km (5,700 sq mi), the park is famous for being home to the Great Migration.

Serengeti is home to the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. More than two million wildebeest, 900,000 Thomson gazelles, 300,000 zebras, and the largest population of lions on the continent call this park their home. 

The best way to see the spectacle that the Great Migration unfolds under your eyes is to embark on a bucket-list hot air balloon safari. Other great options include going on a traditional jeep safari.

Should you want to come to Serengeti for the Great Migration, check with your safari operator when it would be best to visit. Generally speaking, from December to April you can witness the spectacle, but the exact times vary from year to year depending on the rains.

Planning to explore this famous national but feel overwhelmed by the choices? Read our detailed guide to visiting Serengeti National Park!

 

3. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

wildebeest in masai mara

Masai Mara National Reserve is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife parks. Despite comprising only 0.01% - 600 sq mi (965 sq km) – of Africa’s total landmass, more than 40% of Africa’s larger mammals can be found here.

Masai Mara is probably best known for the Great Migration. Together with Serengeti National Park, it is home to one of the world's largest natural phenomena’s that occur from July to October. Around 1.8 million of wild creatures, zebras, and gazelles hit the road, leaving Masai Mara and heading to Serengeti, only to come back in December.

For the predators, the arrival of the herds means the beginning of a time of feasting. The Big Cats thrive during this season. The lions, cheetahs, and leopards grow strong and can produce healthy offspring.

Because the movement of the herds is highly dependent on the rains, it’s recommended to go on an organized Great Migration safari. They are tailored for this experience and the safari operators can give you the best advice.

Do you want to witness the Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth? Read our article to discover where and when to go on a migration safari.

Trivia: Did you know that BBC’s “Big Cat Diary” was filmed in the stunning Masai Mara National Reserve?

 

4. Arusha National Park, Tanzania

giraffe in arusha

This astonishing park lies on the Mount Meru active volcanic prominence in the Arusha region of Tanzania. It is the second highest peak after Mount Kilimanjaro, which is almost 40 mi (60 km) away. Spanning an area of 50 sq mi (80 sq km), it was established as a national park in 1960 by the Tanzanian Government and, since then, it receives around 60,000 visitors per year.

Much smaller than other national parks in Africa, Arusha National Park offers a different experience than the other national parks in the northern circuit. The animals you can see on a safari include Cape buffalo, giraffe, warthog, elephant, and lion. The park is also known for its feathery inhabitants, including flamingos.

Whether you choose a walking safari or a jeep safari, you will be having a great time in this park often overlooked by visitors.

Did you know that Tanzania is one of the top counties to visit in Africa? Read our article to discover the other top countries for African safaris!

 

5. Okavango Delta, Botswana

okavango delta

A large, swampy river that encompasses almost 5,500 sq mi (8,850 sq km) of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is the life source to all wildlife in this area.

Moremi National Reserve is located on the eastern side of the Delta and is one of the most beautiful national parks on the continent.

From March until July, frequent floods help animals and plants thrive in this habitat. Elephants and buffalos are common, while lions and leopards make an occasional appearance. You will be happy to know that the rare red lechwe calls the Delta its home.

The best way to take in the great landscapes and wildlife in this area is during a mokoro safari, winding through the Delta’s waterways.

Do you also have Botswana on your bucket list? Read our article about the national parks to visit in Botswana and start planning your next adventure!

 

6. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

gorilla in bwindi

Located in south-west Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park comprises 331 sq km (128 sq mi) of montane and lowland forest.

It can only be accessed on foot and is home to 128 species of mammals. Other inhabitants include birds, butterflies, frogs, chameleons, and many endangered species.

The park is famous for the 400 Bwindi gorillas which make up half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. It is also a sanctuary for the colobus monkey, and chimpanzees. Aside from these, elephants can be rarely seen in the forest, but some species of antelopes are regularly encountered.

Bwindi is open for gorilla trekking year-round, but the conditions are difficult during the rainy season. The best time to plan a safari here is from June to August, and December to February.

 

7. Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

victoria falls

Victoria Falls National Park protects the south and east banks of the Zambezi River and the area around the famous Victoria Falls. An important feature of the park is the rainforest, which includes ferns, palms, and a number of trees. Among the animals that can be seen in the park are elephants, Cape buffalos, rhinos, hippos, elands, and antelopes.

Standing 360ft (110m) tall, Victoria Falls is listed as one of the seven world wonders by CNN.

Over 400,000 tourists come to see the falls annually. If you are visiting somewhere between September and December, and you are adventurous, you will be able to see the ''Devil's Pool'' or the naturally formed ''Armchair.” These phenomena appear due to a lower level of water during this period and, as a result, swimmers can reach stones that act as safety holds on the edge.

 

8. Etosha National Park, Namibia

elephant in etosha

 

Spanning over almost 9,000 sq mi (14,500 sq km), Etosha National Park is home to the black rhinoceros, one of the world's endangered species.

Large populations of animals became extinct due to uncontrolled hunting during the 19th and 20th centuries. After the government officially proclaimed Etosha a national park, some species recovered. Unfortunately, not all species were so lucky and even to this day, there aren’t any Cape buffalos and Cape wild dogs in the park.

Fortunately, the African bush elephant, mountain zebras, Angolan giraffes, African lions, and leopards frequently show up.

The park can be visited year-round but the winter months – July to September- are your best choice thanks to the scarce rain which makes the animal gather at the waterholes.

Observing the wildlife at Okaukeujo waterhole is the highlight of any safari in Etosha. The floodlights are turned on and the spectacle begins. Just sit back and relax on the benches surrounding the waterhole. Don’t forget your camera!

Planning to explore this interesting national but feel overwhelmed by the choices? Read our detailed guide to visiting Etosha National Park!

9. Chobe National Park, Botswana

lion in chobe

Established in 1967 on a large area of 4,500 sq mi (7,240 sq km), Chobe National Park is one of Botswana's three largest National Parks.

The park has four areas thanks to the very different ecosystems in each of them.

The Chobe riverfront is the most popular area and features flood plains and woodland. During the dry season, this is the playground of huge herds of elephants, giraffes, and buffalos.

Another popular area in the park is the Savuti Marsh features savannas and grasslands. Here you can see lions, rhinoceros, cheetahs, and zebras.

The park is famous for the herds of elephants swimming in the Chobe River. The best way to take in the views of these magnificent animals is during a mokoro safari. Should you prefer firmer ground, the jeep safaris are a great choice to see the predators and the striking landscape of the park.

Planning to explore the national but feel overwhelmed by the choices? Read our detailed guide to visiting Chobe National Park!

 

10. Western Cape, South Africa

penguins in western cape

One of the largest and most populated provinces in South Africa, with four great rivers that flow into the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the Western Cape is one of the world's seven ''floral gardens”.

Cape Town stands at the foothills of Table Mountain, and you can visit it using the cableway that will take you to the top of the mountain (3500ft/1,066m). Should you prefer to be active during your holiday, you can hike all the way to the top. Rock climbing and mountain biking are also very popular among tourists.

Table Bay on the Atlantic Ocean has one more secret - a famous prison in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now a museum.

And those cute penguins can be found at Boulders Beach, near Cape Town.

West Coast National Park is located just an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. Known for the magnificent colors of the wildflowers during August and September, the national park is also home to a variety of wildlife. One can spot elephants, elands, zebras, and African wild cats, among other animals.

This combination of urban environment and wild nature will make you fall in love with Cape Town and this province.


Do you also have these interesting African safari destinations on your bucket list? Then book one of the Kenya and Tanzania multi-country safaris and explore two of Africa’s best safari countries.

 

 

 

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