Are you looking for the top safari destinations in Africa?
If you are a lover of the wild, your bucket list ought to have a safari trip on it, especially to any one or more of the various national parks in Africa.
A safari is the journey you will take overland to see and observe animals. In this, you get to appreciate the true wholeness and beauty of nature as it is.
Making the decision on where you want to go on safari is the biggest part of your plan and the beginning. Africa ranks among the top 10 safari destinations in the world.
Infact, Safaris are most often than not had in Africa, especially eastern and southern Africa because they boast of a vast majority of wild animals and bird species.
Are you looking to enjoy this fun filled adventure and awesome experience? Here are my top recommendations for safari destinations. I also talk about some of the best African countries to visit for safari.
1. The Kruger Park
The Kruger national park is a massive park and camping site in South Africa. It is one of the best African safaris in the world.
The Kruger Park also happens to be among the best safari locations in South Africa
It has various entry gates, for example the Paul Kruger, Malelane and Crocodile Bridge entrance gates in the southern part of the park, Phalaborwa and Orpen entrance gates in the central, Punda Maria entrance gate in the south among others; with roads leading to camping sites like the Skukuza rest camp, Nsala Safari Camp, Tsende Rustic Camp site, Pretoriuskop Restcamp, Mopani Rest Camp among others.
Kruger National Park is a year round safari destination.
Animals to look out for
- Various bird species
- Water buck
Activities you should do at Kruger Park
There are two categories of tours you can have in Kruger national park; you can have the guided or self-drive tours.
For the guided tours, you will have a tracker or ranger take you to different sites where you will be able to see the animals you want to see.
You will either use a short tour vehicle, or a tour truck with a bunch of other people as well.
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For your self-guided tours, you will be able to pick your own routes and drive around the park on your own to look for the animals you want to see.
Lots of people that come to Kruger Park love to do self-guided tours to experience the awesome feeling of adventure.
Other activities you should definitely try are;
- The morning bush walk
- Sunrise drive
- Sunset drive
- Night drive
- Special drive
These drives are fully guided. You will have your own ranger or tracker who will spot the animals and let you know what you can see.
Each camp has a set of these drives and they cover different areas, so I really recommend you doing them.
First thing you’ll do when you come to Kruger is check in to your camp. Inside each site, you’ll find a reception building complex and this is where you will be given a key for your booked room and also get situated with your activities.
In front of each reception building, you’ll find a latest sightings board, which has on it pretty much everything anyone has seen on the day of or the previous day.
You will also have access to an ATM machine and a post office service on your stay there.
Within the camp sites, you’ll also find a gas station where you can fill up your car so you won’t have to worry about running out of gas on your day’s drive in Kruger.
There are a ton of different accommodation at Kruger Park. These will vary depending on your budget and itinerary.
There is the cheap option, which include a comfortable bedroom with two beds, a TV screen, table and a good number of charging ports for charging your devices.
Bathrooms and the kitchen are communal though.
With the upscale options however, you will have a pretty decent motel-like room with two beds, a TV screen, a kitchen, your own bathroom and toilet, air conditioning and several ports for charging your devices.
Kruger Park also boasts of luxurious train bridge lodge, The Kruger Shalati Train Lodge. This hotel is found in a railway on a bridge.
The railway carriages are now luxurious hotel rooms and to top it off, you can be able to watch the hippos down below from the lodge.
Here are my recommendations for the best Safari lodges in Kruger National Park.
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Tanzania, located in the eastern part of Africa. It boasts of a rich population of animals, mainly wildebeest in the Serengeti.
It is one of the best safari locations in Africa.
The Serengeti is a home to the great migration, Africa’s largest movement of animals.
In the great migration, more than two million animals can be seen crossing the plains of the Serengeti each year in search of greener grazing pastures while following the seasonal rains in a circular pattern.
When to visit
Generally, there are two seasons which both offer the best time for game viewing.
Firstly, the dry season, which spreads from July to October, and the calving season running from January to February where up to and more than 400,000 calves are born.
Animals to look out for:
- Various bird species
There are various options for accommodation offered in Tanzania, ranging from four star luxury to five star luxury lodges and tented safaris.
With a tented safari, you will go to the migration so you can be assured of an excellent great migration wildlife safari experience.
Famously known as The Pearl of Africa, Uganda should be a must-visit Safari destination on your bucket list.
It is located in East Africa right next to Kenya. Uganda, particularly Lake Victoria in Uganda, is well known for being the source of the longest river in Africa and perhaps the second longest river in the world, river Nile.
It also boasts of a vast majority of animal and bird species, top adventurous activities and major sites.
Uganda boasts of being the only country in Africa where you can see and track mountain gorillas, so be sure to add it to your bucket list.
When to visit
Uganda is an all year round destination for safari.
Animals to look out for
- White rhinos
- Bird species
- Various bird species
Places to visit in Uganda
- The source of River Nile. The source of the Nile River is found in Jinja, Uganda. You will be learn more about its rich history explained in detail and take a boat ride on it as well.
- Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The only place in Uganda where you can see rhinos.
- Murchison falls, part of the Nile River and the narrowest part along its entire length.
- Queen Elizabeth national park.
- Bwindi impenetrable forest.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National park.
- Lake Mburo National Park.
- Kidepo valley national park.
4. Victoria Falls
Located in southern Africa, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria falls is the home to the world’s largest waterfall.
It is twice the height of North Americas Niagara falls. The falls are full from February to May, with April being the peak due to the flooding of the Zambezi River, which powers the UNESCO world heritage site.
When to visit
The best time to visit the Victoria falls is between June to august, where you can enjoy Devil’s pool and superb wildlife viewing or between February and may after the summer rains where the falls are at its most powerful.
During the flooding season however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face.
Activities you should do at the Victoria Falls
- Helicopter ride for an aerial view. The best way to view the falls is from a heli tour from above. You will get to see the spectacular sight, and also see the many inlets and distributaries surrounding the falls.
- Bungee jumping. Are you a dare devil? Well, one of the most nerve wrecking and adrenaline stimulating yet fun filled activities, bungee jumping on the Victoria Falls bridge is one you should definitely try out. You will get to experience the falls up-side-down.
- Take a tour of the Victoria Falls rain forest. You can take walks on the walkways beside the falls and be able to catch the simply breathtaking views of the sun setting over the falls.
- The Victoria falls Canoeing Company provides canoeing activities in the Zambezi River, just upstream of the falls. Don’t know how to canoe? No worries. You will be taken and guided by one of the highly experienced boatmen and enjoy the amazing experience.
- Culture visits at The Boma. Arguably the one place you must visit should you visit Victoria Falls, The Boma is a place which expresses the rich culture of Zimbabwe. Here, you will get to watch different cultural performances, taste different local foods and purchase some souvenirs to carry with you when you return home.
- Wildlife safaris in neighboring Chobe and Hwange National parks and game drives at night.
- Zip lining and white water rafting.
Victoria Falls offers a wide range of accommodation, from four star luxury to five star luxury lodges. It is available at the heart of the falls, or further up the river where you can enjoy a more tranquil remote luxurious experience.
The average stay at Victoria Falls is two to three nights. Accommodation is on an either fully inclusive basis or a bed-and-breakfast basis.
5. Cape Town South Africa
Located on the southern tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet, Cape Town is the number one City in the world for tourists to visit. It is usually your first stop on an African safari.
Cape Town boasts of spectacular beaches, scenery wineries and ocean adventure.
One thing you can’t miss is the iconic table mountain which forms a backdrop of what is known as the mother city.
The cape also presents you with several of the world’s leading top 50 restaurants.
Best time to visit
The period between March and April is the best time to visit Cape Town. You will get to experience the best weather and no rain.
June to November offers great winter specials and some of the best whale watching anywhere on earth.
The best way to see and experience Cape Town and its attractions is by taking a privately guided tour across the city, where you will enjoy the amazing beaches and the surrounding cape winelands.
Safari Costs and Packages
But What Is The Cost Of An African Safari? On average, an African safari will cost you starting from $3000 all depending on the class of accommodation and the number of activities you want to do.
Now you’ve got a few ideas on some safari destinations and what they have to offer. To break it down briefly, here’s my guide on the pricing to help you budget efficiently and plan an extraordinary trip.
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Tips for a great safari experience:
Here are some tips to help you when planning your safari and also during the safari;
a) Do not yell.
There will be moments of excitement, say when you see an extraordinary animal while on a game drive. It is important that you do not yell as this will in most cases startle these creatures and some could even attack you.
b) Dress appropriately.
When packing clothes to wear on your safari, try to choose those appropriate for the safari bush.
Take for instance, for walks, you’ll need clothes that aren’t shinny or odd colored, boots to keep your feet comfortable during hikes and bush walks.
Also consider carrying light clothes because the heat will tend to be quite a lot.
I’d recommend a couple pairs of shorts to wear during the day, and good warm trousers for night time.
c) Be an early riser.
Animals will always be out early in the morning and late in the evening. Many animals will tend to go into hiding during the peak of the day so as to seek shelter from the sun’s heat. So always try to have good time management.
d) Have the right gear for the safari.
When on safari, it is so important to make sure you have the right gear, materials and equipment in order for you to have the best experience with ease.
Here are some of those essentials listed down below;
This bag is what you will most definitely hold all your travel documents, clothes and all that you are carrying with you.
In many cases, you will be walking on sand, rocks or dirt and wheeling your bags will not be possible.
This is where an easily movable bag will come in handy.
Also, be sure to choose a dark color for the smaller bags you’ll be carrying around with you, as you could end up resting them on the floor of the tour vehicle when you get up to view the animals and they will get dirt on them.
Other bags you want to carry with you are;
- A small bag (ideally a hip bag) to carry your phone, sunglasses and some sunscreen maybe.
- A small or large padded camera bag if you’re going to be carrying a camera and camera equipment.
Binoculars are a must-have piece of equipment for safaris.
On occasions where you are not able to capture photos of animals with your phone or eyes, these will definitely do the job just perfectly.
3. Camera and Camera lenses.
On your game drives, there are instances where you will get to see the animals up close, either walking by close to the vehicle or sleeping under a shade next to the road, of course we all want that.
It’s important to have good camera gear to capture your photos especially if you’re a photographer.
If you don’t have a camera, you may also take photos using phone.
Most of the time, you will need to use a lens to capture the best photos of those animals and birds you cannot get close to.
In this case, I suggest you use the 100-400 G Master telephoto zoom lens.
It will give your camera good reach and allow you to take great photos.
4. Sunscreen and a hat.
During the summer, temperatures are usually high and it will be essential that you have some sunscreen with you to help keep your skin from burning up.
Carry a hat with you as well to help with the vibrant sunshine and heat.
5. Insect Repellant.
Many a time, this is one item that lots of people forget to travel with when going on a safari.
In Africa, mainly within the tropics, you will come across quite many bugs and these can make your life miserable.
6. Be sure to carry a book, or magazines with you on your safari.
Most safari destinations are located in remote areas and you may not be able to access the internet. Some camping lodges and accommodations may however have Wi-Fi access on their packages.
7. Ask questions whenever you can.
Some questions may seem obvious to ask but my advice is that you utilize your tour guides. Your tour guides spend a vast amount of time with these animals, and will therefore answer all your questions.
8. Remember to tip your guide (10-15$ per person per day)
As I mentioned earlier, the tour guides are very experienced, nice and really polite people, who do their best to keep you safe while giving you the best experience they can on your tours.
Many people would argue that they’ve already spent lots of money paying for their safari but just like you would tip a really nice and polite waiter at a restaurant, I highly recommend tipping the tour guides as well.
Tipping lies within the range of 10-15$ per person per day.