Top Safari Destinations in Africa
Review our experts' hand-picked recommendations for Africa's top safari destinations, and the best places to stay.
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Home to one of the greatest shows on earth, the plains of the Serengeti are rightly at the top of the list for most wildlife enthusiasts. The Serengeti perfectly captures the essence of the African safari, and is perhaps best known for its Great Migration, as millions of wildebeest and zebra make their way across the plains in search of water. One of our favourite options here is Klein's Camp, a luxurious and traditional safari lodge set deep in the heart of this game-rich environment, with just 10 spacious cottages. Its perch in the Kuka Hills is perfectly positioned to witness the Great Migration heading north in July/August or heading back south again in October/November. If you prefer a classic tented camp, you could opt for Kichakani Serengeti Camp.
Take a look at our suggested 12 Night Classic East Africa Safari combining Tanzania's Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater with Kenya's Masai Mara.
The epic natural beauty of the Ngorongoro crater is matched by the abundance of wildlife contained within its steep caldera walls, where the lush grasslands of the crater provide a sanctuary to lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, buffalo, elephant and wildebeest; and Tanzania's best opportunity of spotting Black rhino. Game drives in the crater reveal its unrivalled concentration of wildlife. For the more adventurous, take a walk to the crater rim for striking views out over the dramatically beautiful landscape. One of our top recommendations here is Entamanu Ngorongoro - a luxury 6 tent camp, and the only place in the world you can watch the sun rise over the Ngorongoro crater and set over the Serengeti. Another great option is luxury tented Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp.
The legendary Okavango Delta is an incredible natural phenomenon. The Okavango River enters Botswana from Angola in the northeast and fans out into a multitude of waterways and flood plains, creating the largest inland Delta in the world and providing a fertile habitat for a diverse wildlife population. In the heart of the Delta's magical animal kingdom lies the Moremi Game Reserve, often described as the 'predator capital of Africa' and thought by many to offer Africa's best game viewing The most widely known area of the Moremi is Chief's Island, the former hunting ground of Chief Moremi, and now home to the superb Sanctuary Chief's Camp, one of a dozen exceptional camps we recommend in the Delta. Review our suggested 11 Night Classic Botswana Safari
Chobe National Park is perhaps the most biologically diverse park in all of Botswana. Stay in the heart of it all in one of our superb hand-picked Chobe safari lodges where the concentration of wildlife is amazing. Vast herds of elephant often contain more than 500, and buffalo and zebra herds roam freely close by. One of our favourite lodges is Chobe Chilwero, enjoying a commanding view overlooking the Chobe River and its flood plains.
Review our suggested 11 Night Classic Botswana Safari
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve offers some of the best summer wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa. The Reserve is the largest conservation area in Botswana and at 5 million hectares (12 million acres), one of the largest in the world. Nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyaena Island, Camp Kalahari is a perfect spot to experience the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi as it sits on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and is adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park. Many come here just to experience walking with and learning from the San Bushmen of the Kalahari but getting to know and to play with the camp's habituated meerkats is a close second! Find out more about cosy, comfortable and traditional Camp Kalahari
Perhaps the most famous national reserve in Africa, the Maasai Mara is home to the Big Five and much more. The Maasai Mara has a selection of lodges and camps offering incredible and unforgettable safari experiences. The vast park borders Serengeti National Park in Tanzania also affords the world-famous Great Wildebeest Migration in October / November, where visitors flock to watch the once-in-a-lifetime Mara River crossings. One of the best places to enjoy the spectacle is Angama Mara. From its commanding location perched on the edge of the escarpment, Angama has unrivalled views over the Maasai Mara. Alternatively, we love the ultra-luxurious Sanctuary Olonana on the banks of the Mara River. See our suggested 12 Night Classic East Africa Safari combining the Masai Mara with Tanzania's Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
Mana Pools National Park is a spectacular wilderness area running along the southern bank of the Zambezi River in northern Zimbabwe. A combination of permanent water and rich food along the alluvial floodplain bring large herds of game to this area. Mana Pools holds a special place in the heart of all fortunate enough to experience a safari here. It's a particularly atmospheric place, walking through the albida acacia soon after dawn on the tracks of the lion you heard from your bed the night before is an extraordinary experience. As the sun climbs in the sky the rays are filtered by the leaves above giving the air a blue tint, sometimes talked of as ‘cathedral like’, the sense of grandeur is intensified by the colonnades of trees spreading across the floodplains. Amongst the best options to lay your head in Mana Pools is the excellent Ruckomechi Camp, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi, and featured in our 12 Night Highlights of Zimbabwe Safari
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest, runs south of Victoria Falls along the Botswana border. Once the royal hunting grounds of the Matabele king, Hwange occupies 14,600km2 of prime safari ground. Hugely biodiverse, with an array of ever-changing scenery, the park is famous for the large herds of elephant and game that roam freely through it. One of the joys of a safari in Hwange National Park is that its wildlife and scenery can be enjoyed by game drives or on foot, helping to bring a different perspective to your safari. Hwange is home to one of the densest concentrations of game in Africa and Davison's Camp is one of the few within the park, offering complete luxury and utter privacy while surrounded by incredible wildlife. See our suggested 12 Night Highlights of Zimbabwe Safari combining Mana Pools, Hwange, Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls.
Around Lake Kariba's shoreline are some excellent safari lodges and one of our top picks is Changa Safari Camp with just 6 luxury tents, all with panoramic lake and mountain views from its 4km of private shoreline jutting out on a finger of land into the lake. From here you can enjoy walking safaris and game drives, as well as boat and canoe trips to explore the lake's inlets and creeks - take in the views as you cruise gently across its waters and watch the wildlife gather to wash, drink and to prey. In the east of the Matusadona National Park there is the second largest concentration of wild lion in Africa, after those found in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater. Walking safaris in this mountainous area are a constant source of excitement.
See our suggested 12 Night Highlights of Zimbabwe Safari
The Lower Zambezi has become one of southern Africa’s premier destinations for peaceful game viewing, both on and off the water, plus superb tigerfish angling. The park’s 4,000 sq. km. of pristine wilderness contains some of the continent’s most picturesque areas for witnessing nature in all its glory, and the area's non-intrusive policy and low environmental impact has preserved the the mesmerising Lower Zambezi beautifully. One of our favourite riverside safari hideaways here is magical Sausage Tree Camp; two other excellent and very different options (both on the river) are Chiawa Camp and the rather more rustic 'back to the bush' experience on offer at Old Mondoro. Lower Zambezi, of course, is featured in our suggested 11 Night Classic Zambia Safari
South Luangwa National Park lies at the end of the Great Rift Valley, close to the eastern border of Zambia with Malawi. The Luangwa river runs through the park, forming many oxbow lagoons and alluvial floodplains, which attract enormous concentrations of game. This vast wilderness area is renowned for its excellent wildlife, walking safaris and nocturnal game viewing. There's a good selection of excellent camps in Luangwa and one of our top picks is riverside Chinzombo, featured in our suggested 11 Night Classic Zambia Safari However, if you're keen on walking safaris, we would recommend swapping Chinzombo with Tena Tena.
On many people's Bucket List and certainly one of the great natural wonders of the world, The Victoria Falls straddle the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their crashing water is a truly awesome sight from either country, named by locals "Mosi O Tunya" - the smoke that thunders - because the cloud of spray and dramatic noise they create can be seen and heard from many miles away. However, there’s much to do and see around Victoria Falls too - white water rafting, canoeing, scenic flights, river trips and, of course, wildlife safaris. Despite much competition, we feel that Zambia's Tongabezi Lodge is the best place for your stop-over, twinned with the Lodge's gorgeous Sindabezi Island Camp in the middle of the Zambezi River, upstream from the Falls. Of course, we can also recommend options on the Zimbabwe side too (such as Victoria Falls River Lodge). Combine Victoria Falls with our suggested 11 Night Classic Botswana Safari
The Liuwa Plain is a truly untouched wilderness area, located in the far reaches of western Zambia. To connoisseur safari-goers, it is one of Africa's ultimate safari destinations. It feels like you have the vast game-rich plains entirely to yourself and, much of the time, that's true. The first and only permanent camp in the vast Liuwa Plain National Park is the exceptional King Lewanika Lodge, with just 6 luxury villas and superb guiding. Each spacious villa has a lounge area, open plan bathroom and outdoor shower, as well as a terrace with a canvas canopy providing shade. The Lodge offers day and night drives, plus walking safaris and canoeing safaris (when the plains flood).
The vast game reserves of the Eastern Cape have much to recommend them, not least their proximity to the Garden Route and, particularly for families, the absence of malaria. But perhaps one of their greatest draws is the chance to see the ‘Big Five’. From the rich biodiversity and luxurious lodges of the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve to the clear night skies of Kichaka, this is diverse and rewarding safari destination.
Barren and windswept, Namibia’s eerie Skeleton Coast is one of the most unusual and dramatic coastlines in Africa. Located in northern Namibia and covering nearly 20,000km2, you’ll see numerous shipwrecks and whale skeletons littering this wild and desolate landscape. While the name might not suggest an abundance of wildlife, your time on the Skeleton Coast will soon demonstrate otherwise. The third largest national park in Namibia, the Skeleton Coast is rich with bird and sea life, and it even includes a number of Cape fur seal colonies. We recommend mixing this with heading inland a little on a 4X4 safari to spot desert elephant, giraffe, brown hyena, oryx and the king of African wildlife – the lion. The first and only place to stay that's actually within the coastal sand dunes is the aptly named Shipwreck Lodge
Regarded as one of the best game viewing locations in Namibia, Etosha National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife such as elephant, rhino, leopard, giraffe, lion and plains game. With numerous watering holes, Etosha is best visited during dry season (April to September) when animals congregate around the scarce water supply to offer outstanding game viewing. Perched on a hilltop, Ongava Lodge is an ideal base from which to explore with expert guides.
See our suggested 12 Night Classic Namibia Safari
Namibia is a dramatic country of great contrasts, and the territory of Damaraland is no exception, with the arid Brandberg Mountains rising in the background from the desert's valley floor. On a Damaraland adventure you will experience natural history with a strangely surreal edge. Perhaps stay at Mowani Mountain Camp and discover the true meaning of peace and tranquility, enjoying commanding views over the ancient landscape. The luxury tented accommodation is built unobtrusively, to ensure minimum impact on the natural environment, and is the perfect place from which to explore southern Damaraland and visit some of its geological and archaeological highlights and, of course, go in search of the rare black rhino and desert elephant. Nearby, Twyfelfontein provides a fascinating and rare example of Bushmen engravings and paintings occurring at the same site.
Green and mountainous, this small central African nation packs in an astonishing array of jaw-dropping scenery, ecodiversity and leisure activities. From the friendly buzz of downtown Kigali to the jungles and big-game savannah of the world-class National Parks, Rwanda really does have it all. If gorilla trekking comes top of your African bucket list then head north. There is simply nowhere better to make acquaintances with a silverback than amid the lush jungle of the Volcanoes National Park and nowhere better to stay than Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. To the south lies the Nyungwe National Park. This mist-swaddled rainforest is alive with 13 species of primate and 300 species of bird, including the exquisite Rwenzori turaco. We recommend Nyungwe House. For a classic Rwanda experience, see our suggested 8 Night Highlights of Rwanda Tour
Madagascar is still relatively unexplored and yet is one of the world’s greatest biodiversity destinations. We can ensure that you experience its finest landscapes, its unique wildlife and discover what makes this extraordinary island so special. Expert rangers will help you seek out eight species of lemur in Andasibe National Park, and night walks in the Ifotaka rainforest will reveal that wildlife never sleeps. In their sacred forests you can meet the traditional Malagasy Antandroy tribe before you canoe through the mangroves on the coast. There's much to enjoy and discover! Have a look at our suggested 13 Night Classic Madagascar Adventure
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