The world is a large place, and the sheer variety and volume of flora and fauna on our planet is overwhelming! While you can learn about most of the smaller species at the natural museum, on the internet or on National Geographic, nothing beats watching the larger denizens in the flesh, doing their own thing in their natural habitat! And the best way to experience that is to go on a safari. Well, a safari is not something you get off to on a weekend at a moment’s notice – you need to plan, do a whole lot of pre-work, and a whole lot of other things. And what we can do is help you with this list of the top 10 best safari destinations in the world. So happy “hunting!”
Botswana has a very wide variety of wildlife adventure to suit every palate and wallet. Walking safaris for the intrepid, mokoro trips, guided game tours and jeep safaris will take you right to where the action is: right up close to the most exotic avian life, the most fearsome wild beasts, or some of the most fierce reptilian and aquatic creatures. Botswana, being one of the few African countries that enjoy political stability and economic prosperity, is one of the world’s favorite safari destinations. The sheer beauty of Chobe National Park, renowned for its hordes of elephants, or the incredible biodiversity of the Okavango Delta right in the middle of the Kalahari desert are some of the outstanding hallmarks of Botswana safaris.
India is an aberration on this list – every other destination is in Africa! Here, you can enjoy wild life in their natural habitat from a variety of “vehicles”: elephant back, horseback, camel back, or the traditional “jeep” safari, which is currently the most favored option. There’s tiger in Sariska, lions in Ranthambore, rhinos in Kaziranga, exotic birds in Keoladeo Ghana bird sanctuary and the Bharatpur National Park. Not to mention ghariyals, river and estuarine crocodiles, great many species of deer, Himalayan snow leopards, an enormous variety of monkeys, antelopes, turtles and other countless aquatic species. And where else can you find such an unbelievable variety of cuisine, culture and heritage, apart from the amazing diversity in geography, from the snow clad Himalayas in the north to the confluence of three seas in the south?
Remember those 19th century sepia prints of the “white” hunter standing rifle in hand, one leg on a dead lion or a fallen elephant? Chances are it’s from Kenya: here’s where it all began. Home to the world renowned Masai Mara, the Great Rift Valley, and some fantastic water bodies, Kenya offers a very African, and yet a very different, unique experience as far as safaris go – walking, jeep, or on horse back, Kenya’s incredibly amazing diversity of landscape, flora and fauna will make for an unforgettable safari experience.
A little lesser known, but increasingly popular safari destination is this little African country of amazing contrasts. Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, Malawi boasts fantastic natural vistas, a warm and hospitable people, and some magnificent water bodies, the largest of which is Lake Malawi. Here, white sand beaches extend the safari experience to another level. Add to this the considerable variety in flora and fauna, and no wonder Malawi is often described as the “Warm Heart of Africa”.
Namibia is another very popular safari destination – and has been so for ages. Home to the well known – and well stocked – Etosha National Park, Namibia boasts an incredible variety of wildlife in a land that has stood still in time for millennia. This is a land where the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean meet, a rare place to enjoy the thrill of a safari, as well as a fantastic seaside experience. The sheer number of species of wildlife is mind numbing, including some highly endangered ones such as the black rhino, some species of antelope, and the cheetah. The best way to go around is the 4×4 – anything else could bog you down. This is a great place for a safari, or a honeymoon – or both!
South Africa has always been known for its blend of contrasts. A very modern, progressive nation, it also has some of the wildest, most beautiful and exciting places in the world. Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwe Imfolozi are home to an immense variety of flora and fauna, including the big five. And when you see all there’s to see in the reserves, you can spend your time discovering the wonders of Cape Town and the surrounding coastal villages. Or, pump up your adrenalin throwing yourself off the world’s highest bungee jumping spot: the Blourkans Bridge!
Yet another African country that seems to have it all – stunning landscapes, incredible diversity of wildlife, a very hospitable people and some of the best safaris in the world! Home to Mount Kilimandjaro, Tanzania also boasts three truly incredible game reserves: Lake Manyara national park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. In these parks, you can find almost all the big game that Africa is famous for: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo, apart from an incredible number of other animal species, birds and water animals. And of course, there’s always the challenge of climbing the Kilimandjaro. Game?
Looking for chimpanzees and gorillas? Head for Uganda, a land of high mountains, magnificent lakes, raging rivers, scenic waterfalls and wild islands. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Lake Victoria’s Ssese Islands are another spot for wild adventure. But there’s more: you can go bird watching, white water river rafting, mountain climbing, or do some culture safari – just plain mixing with Uganda’s extremely friendly people.
Zambia is probably the best walking safari destination, with awesome geographical diversity, unspoiled natural beauty, an amazing variety of wildlife, and a great people. You can also go for a canoe expedition on the Lower Zambezi River, but that would only be after you’ve been through South Luangwa National Park, Kafue and Lochinvar National Park, which together hold a staggering variety of animal, avian and aquatic species.
At the end of the list is this arguably the most beautiful country in Africa. Typical of Africa, here, time has stood still for millions of years – apart from all the natural changes that evolution brings about – you can forget the world out there and revel in the really primeval. Zimbabwe abounds in wildlife in some of the wildest places on earth – its many wildlife reserves include the Hwange National Park, Matusadona National Park, and the Matobo Hills, each home to a rare and unique set of wildlife. Safaris include foot, jeep, horse, and even boat. Zimbabwe’s geography is truly awe inspiring – a visit to the mighty Victoria Falls reaffirms your belief in the sheer power of nature.
That’s our list of the top 10 best safari destinations in the world. Take your pick or mix – but wherever you go, it’s guaranteed to be an experience you’ll remember all your life, and your stories will liven up the evenings at your favorite watering hole.