Africa offers the most spectacular wildlife viewing possibilities in the world. It’s a place that humbles even the most experienced travelers. Here the battles of life take place right before your eyes in some of the most magnificent scenery.
See the large herds of the Great Migration on the Maasai Mara and Serengeti plains and watch elephants quench their thirsts in the beautiful Chobe Park. From the east to the south, a luxurious wildlife safari to one of these 8 African game reserves will be a memorable experience.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Best for Big Cats
The splendid Maasai Mara National Reserve is the venue for arguably the most astounding wildlife scene on earth, the Great Migration. From July through October, an estimated 2.5 million wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, and zebra trek to the Serengeti ecosystem (and back), that borders the Maasai Mara in the south. The park is known for its large number of predators such as lions and cheetahs that wander the vast plains, waiting for a migrating prey, and leopards that rest in the riverside trees.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Best for the Great Migration and its golden savanna
The name Serengeti evokes images of endless plains with acacia trees, golden savanna, and an abundance of wildlife. Serengeti – a UNESCO World Heritage site- is Tanzania’s oldest and most famous park where from December to July you can witness one of Africa’s greatest spectacles, the Great Migration. Within the park’s borders, visitors can admire the famed “Big Five” and have the chance to see a “battle of waits” between predator and prey – especially during the dry season.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Best for its close-up sightings of the “Big Five of Africa”
The Ngorongoro Crater may probably be the most compact wildlife site on earth. The park is also home to the Ngorongoro Crater, which was created by an enormous volcanic explosion. In this area, the native Maasai pastoralists live peacefully alongside a diversity of wildlife and let their cattle graze on these lands. Ngorongoro is home to Africa’s densest populations of wild lions as well as black rhinoceros, buffaloes, leopards of whom you can rack up unforgettable sightings during the day.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Best for its exclusive private game reserves and lodging
Flanking the western section of Kruger Park lie South Africa’s most exclusive private game reserves. Easily accessible via road or air, these private reserves are also home to some of Africa’s finest safari accommodation where guests can expect a luxury safari experience with superb service. Sabi Sand – featuring the most exclusive safari accommodations, Timbavati and Thornybush all feature the “Big 5”. Here you’ll be able to get closer to the animals than in any other park, thanks to the extremely high standards of guiding. Here you can join unique safari activities that are normally not permitted in the Kruger Park itself, such as off-road driving for close-up sightings, night drives, and guided walks.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Best for its spectacular elephant population
Chobe National Park, located in the north-east of Botswana, boasts the highest concentration of elephants (estimated 50,000) as well as an enviable diversity of wildlife including Africa’s “Big Five”. This is reason enough to visit Botswana’s first national park, bordered by the beautiful Chobe River in the north and by the Okavango Delta in the south.
The best time to visit Chobe is from April to October, during the dry season, when the pans dry up, and large herds of elephants as well as antelope and buffaloes come to quench their thirsts.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Best for Cheetah spotting and waterhole lookouts
Etosha National Park, situated in the northwest part of Namibia, offers superb game viewing in a large, shimmering salt pan. The park has a diverse array of landscapes including savannas, grasslands, dolomite hills and the dry lakebed of the Etosha Pan. The Etosha Park became a game reserve in 1907 with the aim to repopulate the area after large animals such as elephants and lions were hunted nearly to the point of extinction. Today, more than 150 species of mammals including lions, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, and flamingos (that descend on the salt pans after good rains, when the pan briefly fills) are residing within the bounds of the park and even some endangered animals like the black rhinoceros. Photographers will especially love capturing images of wildlife against the stark, silver-looking landscapes.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Best for walking safaris
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is home to one of Africa’s finest big-game stronghold. The park is renowned for its leopards, lions, and elephants as well as its abundance of hippos and crocodiles, which roll around in the lagoons of the Luangwa River, Africa’s most intact major river system, that feeds this beautiful national park. The seasons change the landscapes here in dramatically different colors. The rainy season (November through March) brings lush green colors. In winter, the landscapes seem to be painted in warm gold and brown. Game viewing – by car or by foot – is usually best during these drier months when animals gather at the water sources.
Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Best for a real wilderness experience and the Kalahari lions
Covering an area of 52,800 km², Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest and probably the rawest and most remote game reserve of Africa. Kalahari is home to the beautiful black-maned Kalahari lions, but you can also see cheetahs, leopards, lions, and hyenas here. This reserve is characterized by boundless open plains, salt pans, dunes and ancient riverbeds. Thanks to the sparse vegetation, it’s easier to see and photograph wildlife here than in Africa’s more densely forested parks.