From wildlife enthusiasts to honeymooning couples, African safari holidays attract visitors from around the world. With tours in open vehicles and accommodations in luxurious lodges in the wilderness of Africa, the memory of a safari holiday lingers in the mind for a long time.
Although, the varied landscape of Africa offers a wide range of Safari destinations, the nature reserves of Eastern and Southern Africa attract the largest number of visitors. Here is a list of the top safari destinations that are present in the itinerary of majority of visitors to Africa.
Masai Mara in Kenya is unquestionably Africa’s top safari destination. The ecosystem comprises of Greater Mara and the Masai Mara National Reserve. Most of the famous African wildlife including the Big Five is largely concentrated in the Masai Mara National Reserve, making it the best place for game viewing. From July to the end of October is the best season for visiting Masai Mara, when herds of wildebeest and other ungulates cross the Mara River to enter the fertile plains of Masai Mara followed by a large number of predators from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania.
To the south of Masai Mara lies the wilderness of Serengeti in Tanzania. The open grassland of Serengeti dotted by acacia is the perfect spot for game viewing. In addition to game drives, hot air balloon rides are an interesting mode of exploring the rolling grasslands of Serengeti. Serengeti is replete with luxurious lodges and safari camps. While central Serengeti is a year round safari destination, the western corridor is the perfect place for viewing the great migration when millions of wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle cross the Grumeti River in search for greener pastures.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is the largest unfilled volcanic caldera in the world. It forms a natural enclosure for diverse animal species. The crater boasts of a range of habitats including forests, swamps and grasslands. It also has a soda lake, fed by the Munge River. Ngorongoro is home to about 30,000 animals including wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelles, buffalo, waterbuck, common eland, black rhinoceros and lions. The soda lake attracts a large flamingo population. You can stay in one of the luxurious hotels on the Crater rim or in lodges in nearby plantations and farms from where the wilderness of Ngornogoro is a little more than an hour’s drive.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the best maintained nature reserves in Africa. With upscale lodges dotting the southern part of the park, it is the perfect destination for a luxurious safari holiday. However, to experience the pristine wilderness of the African bush land, head out to the northern part of Kruger. Kruger is home to the famous African Big Five. It also has a sizeable African wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, blue wildebeest, waterbuck and impala population. Home to more than 500 bird species, Kruger is also a great place for bird watching.
Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the scenic areas in the African wilderness. This inland delta has a huge wildlife population. Although Okavango delta is a year round safari destination, the best time to visit the park is during the seasonal floods from June to August when animals from all over Kalahari migrate to the delta. Apart from traditional game drives in 4×4 vehicles, Okavango is famous for its boating safaris. Home to a number of private game reserves, Okavango is also one of the lesser crowded safari destinations for exclusive game viewing.
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park in Botswana is the best place in Africa for elephant viewing. With approximately 120,000 elephants residing in the park, Chobe has the highest concentration of elephants in the continent. The huge Kalahari elephants, the largest among the elephant species, roam the nature reserve. The lush flood plains, the forests and the rolling grasslands of Chobe are also inhabited by a number of other animal species, which makes the national park a popular destination for game viewing.
South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is one of the most popular destinations for walking safaris in Africa. Located on the southern edge of the Great Rift Valley, the park is home to a wide range of African wildlife species. The Luangwa River is inhabited by hippopotami and crocodiles and herds of buffalo, elephants, wildebeest and giraffes roam the river valley. Bush camps located in the almost unspoiled areas of the valley are interesting accommodation options for visitors to South Luangwa.
Selous Game Reserve
Located in southern Tanzania, Selous is one of the largest faunal reserves in Africa. As human activities in the game reserve are restricted, Selous is one of the unspoiled areas of Africa where animals roam undisturbed. The water channels fed by the Rufiji River to the north of the reserve attract a huge number of animals, making the northern part of Selous the best place for game viewing throughout the year. In addition to game drives, there is scope for boating safaris and walking safaris in the game reserve. Selous is amongst the few African reserves that still boast of a sizeable Cape buffalo, elephant, wild dog, hippopotami and crocodile population.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is Tanzania’s largest national park. It is a popular destination for private safari. The park has a sizeable elephant population that roams the park throughout the year. Cheetahs, leopards and lions are frequently sighted in Ruaha. The best time for game viewing is during the dry season from May to December. Ruaha is also an ornithological treasure house. It is home to hundreds of resident and migrant avian species. The migrant birds flock the park during the wet season.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is one of the most picturesque safari destinations in Africa. Owing to its sparse vegetation, it offers the perfect opportunity for game viewing. The park is home to African elephants, wildebeest, impala, Cape buffalo, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, lion and other African animal species. It is also a good place for bird watching. With tented camps and safari lodges assuring comfortable stay in the wilderness of Kenya, Amboseli is a popular destination for luxurious safari holiday.