Experience the Best African Safari in These 14 Mesmerising Parks
Updated On: May 27, 2023
The world is laden with magnificent wonders to observe and enchanting places to be, appealing to all sorts of adventurous travellers. If you wish for an innovative way to spend your vacation, you shouldn’t miss the thrill of an authentic African safari. Africa is a beautiful continent with several enthralling secrets to unearth, yet safari remains the unique feature only it can offer.
Safari is a Swahili word that translates to journey or trip, yet we use it to describe a riveting expedition to observe the African wildlife in eastern Africa. It’s the natural habitat for beautiful animals that roam the spacious wilderness. An African safari may only be where you can see dangerous animals up close, free and happy in their own world.
We have gathered an exciting list of all the parks around East Africa where you can have an unforgettable African safari adventure and be one with nature.
1. Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya
Kenya is one of the best countries where you can have an ultimate African safari experience that you’ll remember for years. Masai Mara National Reserve is fascinating, stretching over a massive plain with a savannah embellishing the region. It’s unfenced, where wild animals roam freely in an awe-inspiring scene.
The region is laden with spectacular species of several wild animals. Mara River courses through the fascinating reserve and is home to crocodiles and hippos, endangering the wildlife on land. Big cats come into the picture during migration season to find plenty of meal options awaiting to be devoured.
Wildlife: Zebra, Elephants, Wildebeests, Antelopes, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Hippos, and Crocodiles.
Best Time to Visit: From July to October
2. Etosha National Park – Namibia
Etosha National Park is among the largest parks in Namibia, featuring spectacular wildlife and offering one of the best African safari experiences ever. It happens to be home to over 110 species of mammals, with the endangered black rhinoceros being its best feature. The esteemed mammal is rare to find around the world, but they are pretty abundant in this park.
Around here, you’ll also get to see giant animals, including giraffes, hyenas, zebras, elephants, leopards, and lions. Small species, like foxes, warthogs, and squirrels, also inhabit the park, yet you can spot them every now and then, for they usually hide within the densely vegetated areas. It’s always best to visit in the dry seasons when there’s no rain.
Wildlife: Black Rhinoceros, Giraffes, Elephants, Hyenas, Zebras, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Hippos, and Crocodiles. Warthogs, Squirrels, Foxes, and Black Jackal.
Best Time to Visit: From May to December
3. Hluhluwe Game Reserve – South Africa
South Africa is a splendid destination known for its cultural diversity and gloriously raw beauty of nature. It’s home to Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Africa’s oldest proclaimed nature reserve, dating back to 1895. The park is famous for game viewing of Big Five, which includes five of Africa’s most prominent mammals, leopards, elephants, African buffalo, lion, and rhino, that are hard to hunt.
The park offers an ultimate African safari experience for its exceptional Big Five and because it embraces one of the rarest antelope breeds, Nyala. The latter is a spiral-horned antelope with unique coat colours native to South Africa, drawing people from all corners of the world to observe its beauty. The best time to visit is in winter when the weather is a bit dry.
Wildlife: African Buffalo, Nyala, Giraffes, Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, and Leopards.
Best Time to Visit: May through September
4. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
If you’re looking for a unique African safari where you can spot more than dangerous wildlife, Serengeti National Park is your top pick. Located in Tanzania, the national park is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where it’s home to a wide array of large mammals. The park also shares a border with Kenya’s Masai Mara and is one of the oldest African safari parks.
Migration occurs annually when a great horde of zebras and wildebeests move to the North to find greener grazing land. Many of them die during the crossing, given the brutal attacks of crocodiles in the rivers. The park’s best feature is the abundance of birdlife, featuring rare species of beautiful flamingos and ostriches.
Wildlife: Wildebeests, Giraffes, Elephants, Crocodiles, Lions, Leopards, Gazelles, Impala, Eland, Flamingoes, Ostriches, White-backed Vulture, and African Eagles.
Best Time to Visit: January and February or from June to October
5. Central Kalahari Game Reserve – Botswana
Interestingly, a large part of central Botswana is reserved for the national park of Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This African park is the world’s second-largest wildlife, where you can experience different features that make for the best African safari. Stretching over a huge plain, the park is home to desert elephants, black-maned lions, rhinos, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, and giraffes.
The land is covered mainly with savannah and scrub, along with the most extensive stretch of sand in the world. Tourists travel here to have the best hiking experience while observing the diverse aesthetic beauty of the park. The park also encompasses many lush green lands, offering a splendid sighting to fill your vision.
Wildlife: Desert Elephants, Black-maned Lions, Rhinos, Cheetahs, Wild Dogs, Hyenas, and Giraffes.
Best Time to Visit: From November to April.
6. Mana Pools National Park – Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is home to an immensely beautiful park where you can unapologetically embark on an authentic African safari journey, known as Mana Pools National Park. Mana Pools is, like most African safari parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating biodiversity and a plethora of wildlife that roam the spacious lands.
Located in the northernmost part of Zimbabwe, it lies right on the Zambezi River, which courses through the park’s veins, adding to its raw beauty. The park is deemed quite secluded and the least developed, offering a grand adventure that’s best experienced in June through October. Besides being a great hiking spot, canoeing is a popular activity where you can float over the river while enjoying sightings of a wide array of beautiful animals.
Wildlife: Elephants, Zebras, Baboons, Waterbuck, Buffalos, and birdlife like White-backed Ducks, Marabou, Owls, and Storks.
Best Time to Visit: From June through October.
7. Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda
Founded in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park was initially known as Kazinga National Park and is one of Uganda’s best parks for African safari. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited the park two years after its foundation, after which it was renamed in her honour. The park is home to around 95 mammal species and hundreds of bird species that offer amusing sightings of incredible wildlife.
Even more, the existence of volcanic craters is one of the park’s unique features, being situated near a volcanic active region. The land is a beauty to witness on its own but to live an authentic African safari experience, you should visit through the dry seasons where animals are in plain sight.
Wildlife: African Elephants, Waterbuck, African Buffalos, chimpanzees, Lions, Warthogs, Crocodiles, Leopards, Hippos, and Hyenas.
Best Time to Visit: June to July or January to February
8. Okavango Delta – Botswana
Botswana is home to several fascinating national parks where you can have the best African safari, observing splendid elements of nature. Okavango Delta is one of the famous national parks situated in the northern part of Botswana. It embraces a spacious inland river delta and is known for its stretched-out grassy plains that get flooded on a seasonal basis. The renowned park is also known as the most extensive freshwater wetlands in southern Africa.
The inland delta offers a satisfying African safari experience. It embraces different species of animals and birds and is also home to more than 1,000 species of rare plants, fish, and reptiles. It’s rather known as “An Oasis of Biodiversity”, and it has a wide array of living creatures you’d be mesmerised to see.
Wildlife: Cheetahs, Lions, Wild Dogs, White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, African Fish Eagle, African Green Pigeon, Pels Fishing Owl, and River-bred Tiger Fish.
Best Time to Visit: June to August and September to October
9. Ngorongoro Crater – Tanzania
Given its unprecedented beauty and extensive greenery landscapes embellished with African wildlife, Tanzania is one of the most visited African countries. It’s one of the best countries to offer the best African safari ever. This natural wonder lies in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, where the largest inactive volcanic caldera in the world is. It was enlisted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ngorongoro Crater won the title of “The Garden of Eden” for its exquisite beauty and abundance of unique animals. Besides enjoying a great African safari adventure, you can explore the history around here because it’s one of the world’s most significant prehistoric sites. Although it’s a top tourist destination in Tanzania, the government still manages the number of visitors each season in order to keep the natural environment intact and protect it from damage.
Wildlife: Cheetahs, Lions, Wildebeests, Leopards, Impalas, Hyenas, Hippos, Black Rhinoceros, Zebras, Tawny Eagle, Black-headed Heron, Ostriches, Flamingoes, Woodpeckers, White Pelicans, Storks, and Bee Eaters.
Best Time to Visit: April to May
10. Hell’s Gate National Park – Kenya
If you’re looking for an African safari where you can do more than game viewing and birdwatching, Hell’s Gate National Park is the destination for you. Located in Nairobi, the park welcomes more than a few activities that will keep you entertained and occupied. It’s an ideal hiking spot, a great place for cycling, and offers rock climbing adventures too.
Fun fact: this park was the inspiration for the resting place of Mufasa at Pride Rock in Disney’s The Lion King. So, while you’re already enjoying an exceptional African safari and a unique animal paradise, you can witness your favourite cartoon come alive at this hypnotising national park. It’s best to visit during the dry seasons, so you won’t have rain soaking you and hindering your cycling and hiking activities.
Wildlife: Cheetah, Lions, Wildebeests, Baboons, Hartebeests Hyenas, Hippos, Black Rhinoceros, Zebras, Leopards, African Buffalo, Klipspringer Antelope, and Chanler’s Mountain Reedbuck.
Best Time to Visit: June to February
11. Mala Mala Game Reserve – South Africa
South Africa is pure and exquisite, that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. Even more, it’s home to the most prominent Big Five game reserves, stretching for over 33,000 acres, and rather known as Mala Mala. It holds a wide array of wildlife, featuring the animals most sought after for the best big five games.
Malamala is deemed part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem of the Kruger National Park, another huge national park known for African Safari in South Africa. This allows for an authentic game-viewing experience and observing a wide array of mammals up close. The gardens are also best known for being a photographic paradise where you can take the best pictures of your lifetime.
Wildlife: Cheetah, Sparta Lions, Cape Hunting Dogs, Spotted Hyenas, Hippos, Black Rhinoceros, Zebras, Tjololo Leopards, and African Buffalo.
Best Time to Visit: May to September
12. Lower Zambezi National Park – Zambia
In the southern part of Zambia lies the renowned National Park of Lower Zambezi, right where the Zambezi River courses to nourish the green lands. The park also encompasses the Zambezi River Valley, an extraordinary land where a myriad of wildlife coexists in a beautiful animal paradise, unconsciously offering visitors the best African safari experience.
Lower Zambezi National Park also embraces Mupata Gorge, a fascinating red-coloured cliff through which the river passes, creating a whimsical scene. The river is deemed the park’s top attraction, where it offers several activities, including fishing, canoeing, drifting, and boating, all while beholding the beautiful endless plains of greenery.
Wildlife: African Elephant, Impala, Waterbuck, Zebra, Lion, Cape buffalo, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, and Leopard.
Best Time to Visit: June to September
13. Nyerere National Park – Tanzania
Another scenic Tanzanian destination for an ultimate African safari and the best game viewing is the Nyerere National Park. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site, with plenty of picturesque scenes and adventurous activities. This park is also Tanzania’s oldest and largest protected nature reserve, so we really mean it when we say you don’t want to miss it.
Rufiji River is one of the park’s prominent features, offering an up-close observation of the wildlife while safely tucked in a boat, sailing between the beauty of nature. As a matter of fact, boat safari is the most common activity around here, yet it’s not the only one. Hiking and cycling are also pretty standard. If you’re searching for a place to stay, don’t miss the renowned Beho Beho Safari Lodge in the south.
Wildlife: African Elephant, Impala, Waterbuck, Zebra, Lion, Cape buffalo, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, and Leopard.
Best Time to Visit: Late June to October
14. Laikipia Plateau – Northern Kenya
Northern Kenya encompasses some of the world’s most picturesque views, including icy mountains, rugged hills, ancient trails, and widely parched plains suitable for plenty of wildlife which can all be found in the Laikipia Plateau. All these elements make for the perfect and most delightful African safari one can have in a lifetime.
The park is situated North of Mount Kenya and South of Laikipia. It is also home to rare species only found in northern Africa, including Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, and Jackson’s hartebeest. It’s a privately owned land by the affluent Craig family, yet it’s open for visitors worldwide to visit.
Wildlife: African Elephant, Waterbuck, Grevy’s Zebra, Lion, Cape buffalo, the Reticulated Giraffe, Cheetah, and Leopard.
Best Time to Visit: July to September or January to March.
While there are plenty of activities to engage in with your friends and family, embarking on an African safari journey is one that you’ll remember for years to come. It’s an excellent opportunity to unravel the natural beauty of Africa and behold its scenic landscapes and wondrous wilderness. You’ll also get to learn about the lesser-known culture of the African tribes and unravel historical tales that you may never know existed.