When it comes to adventure holidays, they don’t come much bigger and better than a safari. While there are many kinds of safaris, the word safari will always be synonymous with exploring the wilds of Africa in search of the animals you find nowhere else on earth. Here we look at the 5 best safari countries to go and catch a glimpse of Africa’s ‘Big 5’; lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and cape buffalos.
Quite simply, Tanzania is the best country to go on safari in Africa. Voted time and time again into the number one spot of safari hot spots, the sheer choice of safari circuits available and the amount of animals you can see has seen Tanzania retain its position at the top of the tree. Northern Tanzania is home to perhaps the most famous of all safari locations; the Serengeti National Park. You will see more exotic animals here than you ever thought possible; including the migrations of literally millions of zebra and wildebeest. Look behind them and you will see their predators in hot pursuit.
In the north west of Botswana is Chobe National Park, famed for its high population of elephants. In a typical 3 day safari you can see hundreds of these magnificent beasts. They will be swimming across the river at sunset, or nudging their little ones in the right direction while marching across dry land and even casually stripping the bark from the few trees that haven’t yet been destroyed. This is the most visited of all Botswana’s national parks, and it is not hard to see why. All of the Big 5 reside in Chobe as well as massive pods of kudu, lechwe, hippos, wild dogs, crocodiles and more than 450 species of exotic birds.
If you want to enjoy a fantastic safari without the crowds of the best known safari countries head to Namibia. The top destination for wildlife lovers here is Etosha National Park. This is the home of the tallest elephants in Africa as well as the endangered black rhino and another 91 species of mammals. Etosha is a big favourite with wildlife photographers who congregate here in the dry season to get spectacular shots of the animals at the waterholes. Visitors here have every chance of spotting plenty of elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, cheetahs and leopards. There are no scheduled tours here as it is a self-driving experience; and one that nobody should miss out on.
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is the home of ‘walking safaris’, which give visitors a truly African experience. With an abundance of wildlife and 400 different bird species to cast your eye upon, this is a real treat. If you want to see hippos then the Luangwa River is teeming with them. Lion fans do not miss out either as it is usual to see prides of over 30 going about their daily business. Altogether, there are more than 60 animal species living in this national park which means plenty of opportunities. To see them at their best aim to go near the end of the dry season which runs from April to October. At this time you can see great concentrations of animals around the remaining water holes, clustered together in there thousands.
The full force of nature at its finest is awaiting those who choose to take their safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa. It is the oldest national park in Africa, established in 1898 and offers the most famous safari experience in the world. The Big 5 all reside in Kruger, along with crocodiles, giraffes, hippos, cheetahs and many more species. Kruger is also one of best maintained of all the African parks with such good quality roads those seeking to enjoy a self drive safari have no need to hire a 4x4. Situated 5 hours north of Johannesburg, the safaris here are hugely popular with those who want the best of both worlds and a more luxurious safari experience.
If this hasn’t whetted your appetite and got you chomping at the bit to take a safari holiday then nothing will. Taking a safari is one of the most exhilarating experiences you will ever have. Seeing those beasts up close you have only ever see before on the TV or at the cinema is simply mind blowing. It is also entertaining, educational and one of few trips that is worthy of the much overused phrase ‘holiday of a lifetime’.
Main Photo Credit: Daniel Zaas