Your Next Big Trip

Where to Go: The Best African Safari Destinations

Where to go for the best African Safari

 

Picture the scene- you are on your first African safari, driving calmly through the Serengeti, the plains are flat and empty as far as the eye can see. Flat, empty and beautiful.

All of a sudden, your driver takes off as fast as the landcruiser and bumpy roads will allow. The adrenaline kicks in. His inside knowledge and experience is your only guarantee that this detour is worth it, but it is. You turn a corner and suddenly there are wildebeest and zebras as far as the eye can see. The Great Migration. One of nature’s greatest wonders, and a reminder of why taking time to wonder at the magic of wildlife in their natural environment is always a worthwhile pursuit.

How to choose your African safari destination:

Choosing where to go on an African safari may seem like an overwhelming task. Thankfully, there are an abundance of National Parks and reserves to choose from, whatever corner of Africa you happen to be in. It’s worth weighing up your priorities. Do you want to see lions hunting? The Great Migration? Or are you after a great landscape with walking safaris? The beauty of Africa is in it’s diversity and African safari destinations are no different. Here are some of the most well known, and with good reason! These destinations were picked by experienced travellers in Africa as unmissable destinations for an African safari.

Best Destination for African Safari

Where to go:

 

Kruger National Park, South Africa

via Cali at Cali on the Go

Aside from the sheer population density of the wildlife inside the park, Kruger is one of the few African National Parks that allows for you to explore in your own vehicle. This allows you to save money on expensive game drives and a guide; however, the guides do have an innate ability to spot animals that the average traveler may totally miss. Kruger also provides a great opportunity to spot rhinos which has become increasingly difficult throughout Africa due to poaching. Kruger has put measures into place to protect them.

Best Places for African Safari

 

Etosha National Park, Namibia

via Dawn at 5 Lost Together

Best places African Safari

It is best known for its large, dry, salt pan.  Etosha National Park features all of the Big 5.  Best places to view wildlife are at the watering holes and the arid shrub land.  Our favorite were the tiny dik-diks, a tiny dwarf antelope.  Namibia is also known for its beautiful coastline of sand dunes and the Namib Desert, making it a great destination to combine a safari and desert trip.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

via Wiebke at Miss Abroad

The Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the Western Region of Uganda, about 5-6 hours away from the capital, Kampala. It is the country’s most popular savanna reserve and has the widest variety of wildlife. It’s diverse ecosystem which includes grassland savanna, humid forests, lakes and wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game (four of the Big five are present and regularly seen), ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds. It also offers great opportunity for boat tours on the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants.

Best African Safari

Uganda is slightly less touristy than its safari peers Kenya and Tanzania. Its people are very welcoming and the landscape is stunningly lush with coffee and tea plantations. Uganda is also home to the endangered mountain gorilla, in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Serengeti, Tanzania

Let’s be honest, almost everyone has heard of the Serengeti, and with good reason. If you’re looking for a real “Lion King” moment, this is it. As mentioned above, the Serengeti is home to the famous Great Migration. Unbelievably, thousands of wildebeest and zebras make the journey from the Serengeti in Tanzania, to Kenya’s Masai Mara, and back again on a yearly basis!
Best African Safaris
To witness the real “survival of the fittest,” try to view the Grumati River crossing. This crossing is crucial to the journey of the wildebeest. Sadly, many fall victim to the river’s crocodiles and deep waters. Those who do make it to the other side will have already overcome attacks from lions and other predators, making it a real battle of nature.

Masai Mara, Kenya

via Hannah at Getting Stamped.

Best Place for African Safari

My first safari was a 42 day overland camping safari from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa. I loved it so much that I returned a year later for a 68-day overland safari. I have spent 110 nights on safari in Africa and would go back in a heartbeat. My first game drive was in Masai Mara National Park, where we spotted the big 5 in the first 24 hours. This is why the Masai Mara is my favorite place for a safari in Africa. I love laying in my tent at night hearing the lions roaring in the distance. Some may find it frightening, I find it soothing. On my safari packing list I always suggest ear plugs!

 

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Where to go african safari

Perhaps not as well known as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater is my top choice for an African Safari. The landscape alone is worth the drive and entrance fee. Some compare the crater to a zoo, given the high density of animals and, in high season, of tourists. However, this also means that your chances of seeing lions are very high! On my last visit, I watched in awe as a pride of 16 lions used my vehicle for shade while they stalked a herd of zebras. Go at sunrise for the best chance of seeing lions on the hunt. It will also give you relatively solitary viewing, as most tourists begin to arrive around 8am.

Read more: Circle of Life: Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater- Your Next Big Trip

Where would you go on an African safari? Or have you any suggestions for where I should go next? I would love to hear from you as I plan my year of African travel.

14 thoughts on “Where to Go: The Best African Safari Destinations

  1. Aileen Ferris

    Nice overview of the different parks! I loved the Masai Mara, and I’d really like to see the Ngorogoro Crater next. Your picture of the lions there is lovely. I’d also recommend the parks in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe for a safari with fewer tourists, but also probably a bit more expensive 🙂

  2. Telma | Blank Canvas Voyage

    Cliodhna,
    This is so awesome! I was actually wondering the best time to on a African Safari? Thomas and I are planning to go to South Africa this year, and a Safari in on the list. But we re really debating the best time of the year. What are your suggestions? 🙂

    Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Hi Telma,
      It really depends on which country you want to visit. In South Africa, July and August are the coldest months but can also mean less crowded viewing in the parks. Shoulder season of May/June or August/September would have nice weather, not too hot but still great game viewing. You’ll love it either way!

  3. Megan Johnson

    Awesome post! I’m dying to go to Africa, but it’s so intimidating trying to decide where to go for a safari! This definitely helps!

  4. Sara Essop

    I’m a safari junkie and although I love Kruger National Park, I’d also recommend the private Sabi Sands and Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. I’ve also been to Masai Mara and Serengeti and would highly recommend them too.

  5. Lianna

    Wow, I really needed this! Africa is a big place on my list and I’d love to do a safari, but I wasn’t sure where to choose from. I love that you gave different countries to choose from, I was only thinking about South Africa but now I’ll have to consider the other places too! Great post 🙂

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