Africa is world-renowned for its national parks where wildlife roams free. Deciding on where to go might be a tough decision, which is why we have narrowed it down for you. Here are the five most beautiful safari destinations in Africa:
Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
You can hardly talk about going on safari to Africa without mentioning the Masai Mara. This iconic game reserve is located in Narok County, 280km south-east of Nairobi. There are two main ways of getting there from Nairobi- by road or by air. Flying from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport takes about an hour, while a road trip takes 5 hours.
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is world-famous and for a good reason. It is home to the thrilling annual wildebeest migration, now designated as the eighth wonder of the world. To cement its greatness, the Masai Mara has been named ‘Africa’s leading national park’ for six times in a row by the World Travel Awards.
It is not so difficult to see why this park has earned such glowing recognition. Every year between July-October, its idyllic plains transform into a battleground of wits and survival as millions of wildebeest attempts to cross the crocodile-infested Mara River. On the riverbanks, predators of all kinds lie in wait, anticipating their next meal. Suffice it to say that the ensuing action is one of the most thrilling adventures you have ever experienced.
Away from the wildebeest migration, the Masai Mara boasts hundreds of animal species and birds. Some of the activities you can indulge in here include hot air balloon rides, cultural visits, walking safaris, and bush dinners. Accommodation options range from budget options to super luxurious.
The Masai Mara is unique in that it is an all-year destination, and you can have a fantastic game viewing experience at any time of the year. If you want to experience the thrill of the migration, however, then the best time to visit is between July-October. If you are looking for more information on the Masai Mara, MasaiMarasafari.in has great insights.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park boasts a dense population of wildlife and lush green vegetation, which strikes a beautiful contrast in the African jungle. It is located in northern Botswana, near the town of Kasane. It also borders Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia, making it a convenient destination in Southern Africa. Kasane is located about 925km from Gaborone, the capital city, a two-hour flight.
Chobe National Park, also known as the land of the giants, has one of Africa’s largest elephant populations, estimated at 120,000. The park also has large herds of buffalo, lions, and leopards.
One unique feature of Chobe National Park is the Chobe River, which meanders through the plains, woodlands, and forests, giving life to the park. Hundreds of hippos and crocodiles have made their homes in the river, and herds upon herds of other animals drink on its riverfront. This makes for easy game viewing, including birds, of which there are over 450 species!
One of the most popular activities at Chobe National Park is the river cruise, which you do not want to miss. The morning cruise is an excellent opportunity to see animals as they come for a morning drink. The evening cruise is particularly special, as this is the best time to take stunning photographs and catch the crocodiles lazing by the banks. Magic comes alive when the sun sets on the horizon, illuminating the waters into a beautiful orange hue.
Chobe enjoys wet and dry seasons, and each has its high points. Birds will be more abundant during the wet season (December- April), and during the dry season (May-November), animals congregate along the river banks. Regardless of when you go, Chobe promises you an adventure of a lifetime.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous game parks in the world. It is the origin of the great wildebeest migration, which starts in its northern hills, ending up at Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. This park is located north of Tanzania, about 380km from Arusha. You can reach here by air, flying from Arusha into Kilimanjaro International Airport, or by road, which takes about seven hours.
In 2019, the Serengeti upstaged Kenya’s Masai Mara and South Africa’s Kruger National Parks to be named ‘Africa’s leading national park’ by the World Travel Awards. This park has also seen its fair share of celebrities, most recently in September 2019, when American actor Will Smith visited to shoot a documentary for National Geographic.
It is easy to see why this park is so famous. Its plains extend as far as the eye can see, with thousands of wild animals roaming free. The king of the jungle rules here, and you will not struggle to identify the big five. Other exciting things you can do include hot air balloon rides, picnic lunches, bush dinners, cultural village visits, and walking safaris.
While the Serengeti is a jungle, accommodation is far from that. You will find some of the most luxurious tented camps here, complete with champagne breakfasts and spa massages.
The best time to visit the Serengeti is the dry season between June-October, but there is still plenty to see and do other times of the year. You will not go wrong if you start your great migration African safari here.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of the biggest national parks in all of Africa and the ultimate safari experience. It is located in north-eastern South Africa, bordering Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. You can quickly fly directly from Johannesburg to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP), 40km from the park. You can also go by road, a four-hour drive.
Kruger National Park has been nominated severally for the award of ‘Africa’s leading national park,’ narrowly losing to Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti. Celebrity singer Elton John has been quoted saying that Kruger National Park is ‘one of my favorite places on earth.’
There is no doubt why Kruger is on many bucket lists. Because of its vastness, it encompasses six different ecosystems in one. Today you might be canvassing the grasslands for the lion, and tomorrow you could be scouring the riverine forests for elephants. Kruger is also home to some of the rarer animal species, including sable antelope, side-striped jackal, honey badgers, and the caracal.
There are plenty of accommodation options at Kruger, ranging from camps, lodges, and luxury tented camps. The best time to visit Kruger National Park is during the dry winter months of May-September. This period is ideal because temperatures are low but not cold, and vegetation thins out, which makes game viewing more comfortable.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park is the place to go for those who are looking for a different kind of adventure, gorilla trekking! This park is located in Musanze, north-western Rwanda, and is part of the Virunga Volcanoes Conservation area. Its neighbors include Virunga National Park in the DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. It is easily reached by road, a two-hour drive from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
Volcanoes National Park is famously home to mountain gorillas and the fascinating golden monkeys. You will also likely see the spotted hyena, buffaloes, the black-fronted duiker, elephants, and numerous bird species.
Gorilla trekking, however, is what makes this park a must-see African destination. Owing to years of poaching, these gentle giants were on the verge of extinction until conservation efforts took off. As such, do not be surprised by the stringent rules that accompany gorilla trekking. Since a specific number of trekking permits are sold every day, it is best to consult your East Africa tour operator for a booking.
Once you come face to face with a 400-pound silverback gorilla, you will be amazed, captivated, and mesmerized all at the same time. It’s okay to be a little afraid too. These beasts share 98% of human DNA, and if you follow your guide’s instructions, you will be in for an exciting hour.
Gorilla trekking requires a level of physical fitness, as the name suggests, there is a good amount of hiking involved. As such, it is best to go in the drier months of December-February, or June-September when hiking conditions are ideal.
Africa is an exciting destination, and if you have been wondering where to start, we have just given you the ultimate bucket list. If you still feel slightly overwhelmed with all the options, I recommend that you check out AjKenyasafaris.com. We used them on our last trip and to say the least; they sure know what they are doing! We ended up having an adventurous time in Kenya and Tanzania, and the guides were knowledgeable and professional.