Here is a list of the most popular African safari tour destinations 2017. The list has been compiled based on traveler reviews, ratings from lonely planet, TripAdvisor and so much more.
Serengeti National park
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Tanzania and a big game safari destination in Africa, Serengeti National Park is most renowned for its annual wildlife migration of zebra and wildebeest. To enjoy a spectacular wild game show, it is best you visit the park in May when the grass becomes dry as well as the wildebeests and zebra being in huge numbers.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Formed over two to three million years ago as a result of volcano erupting which collapsed thereby forming a crater, Ngorongoro has become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of African safari wild animals carefully adorned inside the steep sides of this African safari crater. This is one of the few places in Africa that you can see the endangered black rhinos.
At 5,892 meters above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is an inactive volcano in the north east of Tanzania. It is the world’s highest free standing mountain and Africa’s highest peak positioned close to the equator. It is popular for its snow capped peak looming over the savannah plains. It has become a major African safari tourist destination for trekkers and mountaineers world over.
Tarangire national park
Although the park is smaller than Ruaha, it is a paradise for avid lovers who love to watch birds as over 550 species usually frequent the park. Tarangire national park is also well known for harbouring a large number of elephants, tree climbing lions and baobab trees. Don’t be surprised to find gigantic termite moulds all over the park.
Once part of the great British Empire, Zanzibar has for centuries been an important trading place, say a melting pot of African, Arab and Indian influences. The major African safari tourist attraction in Zanzibar is the Stone town which is full of white washed coral rag houses as well as the beautiful white sandy beaches.
Over 300 different species of migratory birds including thousands of flamingos make Lake Manyara home during the wet season and in the dry season, alkaline mud flats take the place of the waters. Probably the best time to see all the large mammals like elephants, hippos, giraffe and wildebeests. You will be able to get day or night safaris from a number of African safari lodges around.
Like Zanzibar island, Mafia island is also part of the spice islands although a little smaller than Pemba. The island has a population of about 40,000 people. It derives its name from the Swahili ‘ mahali pa afya” which literally means ‘a healthy dwelling-place’ or from the Arabic “morfiyeh” literally meaning ‘archipelago’. This island specifically attracts game fishermen, scuba divers as well as people who enjoy relaxing on the island’s white sandy beaches.
Selous Game Reserve
This is where you will find a large number of savanna animals than in any other African game reserve. Credit goes to the rigorous regulations set by the wildlife division of the Ministry of natural resources and tourism of Tanzania. Many tourists who visit Selous Game Reserve experience walking tours, African safari game drives as well as river trips.
Volcanoes national park, Ruhengeri
This park is a forest surrounded park in the Virunga mountains. The mountain marks as a border of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Mountain gorillas are the main source of attraction in this park where people come for gorilla trekking. A great zoologist also dedicated her life to studying about these animals which later claimed her life as she fought to protect the lives of these adorable animals. A film Gorillas in the Mist” was played showcasing her work. Over 75 mammals including buffalos, elephants name it can be found here on your African safari tours.
Akagera National Park
This is a safari park along the eastern border located in Kigali. Compared to other East African reserves, the park is a little small but this does not make it short of an incredible safari experience. It is home to most of the mammals of Africa including buffalo, elephant, giraffe and hippos. Minimal numbers of leopards and lions can be found here as well as many species of birds (530) including shoebills and red-faced barbets.
Mountaineers and trekkers will enjoy it here as this is the best place in Rwanda to trek. Mount Karisimbi is the highest point of the mountain at 4507m. Mount Viscos is another point to trek at 3711m high with a beautiful lake passing through it. This will take about 6-7 hours only.
Nyungwe Forest, Musanze
Experience the biodiversity of Rwanda in Nyungwe forest. It covers over 1000 sqkm in the southwest of Rwanda. A total of 13 primates have been identified in this forest including chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, silver monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys and owl faced monkeys. Avid lovers too will enjoy about 270 species of African safari birds that fly here.
Nyamata Church, Kigali
A center for the brutal mass killing of the 1994 genocide of Rwanda, it is now a genonicide memorial now which has been preserved since that time. Blood stained clothes of the victims are still piled on the pews of the church and every year people flock here to see for themselves the actual happenings and also to pay respect to the people who lost their lives.
Lake Kivu, Gisenyi
It is considered one of the best natural views all over Rwanda running a long way of about 100km along the western border of Congo and Rwanda. It is also the highest lake in the whole of Africa flowing at about 1460m from the ground. Rubavu is one of the ports of Lake Kivu and this port has lake beaches that give off stunning views of the most developed city of Rwanda, Virunga.
Ntamara Church, Kigali
This is another memorial ground for the genocide shoeing a solemn mark in respect for the people who suffered at the hands of ruthless individuals. Clothes, bones and other belongings are displayed for tourists to see.
Inema art centre Kigali
It was founded in 2012 by self taught artists and brothers Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza. It was founded to hold the economical, social and personal creativity before the world. It is home to 10 artists who with time have learnt to explore their hidden talent and African art.
Amboseli National park
It is from this park that you get the opportunity to have the best views of Africa’s majestic highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m high) across the border in Tanzania. You will be able to come close to the largest tuskers in Africa, the elephants at Amboseli national park. These great animals coupled with the snow capped Kilimanjaro in the background gives off such a signature image of the ultimate African safari.
Masai Mara national reserve
The rich grasslands of Masai Mara are arguably the greatest wildlife show on earth especially from mid June to October annually. The reserve in the southwest of the country draws zebra, wildebeests and other iconic herbivores as they battle for survival with Africa’s Kenya safari predators. This brings intense drama as cheetahs accelerate across the fields, lions stalking hungrily through the grass as the crocodiles lie in wait in the shallows waiting for the wildebeest to venture into their territory.
Lake Nakuru national park
Sitting in the heart of Kenya’s rift valley, this impeccable park surrounds the saltwater lake beloved by mammoth flocks of pink hued flamingos and pearl-white pelicans. Black and white rhinos share the park with prowling troops of baboons, endangered Rothschild giraffes, prides of lounging lions and the elusive leopards. Dense stands of greenery, waterfalls and sheer cliffs add to the diversity of Lake Nakuru national park making it one of the must go to destinations in Kenya.
Tsavo national parks
Tsavo West and Tsavo East national parks are Kenya’s largest protected areas. These scream with epic landscapes and excellent wilderness areas that harbour the major species of African safari experience. This is one of the few places in the world you will get to see the “big five” (elephant, leopard, lion, rhino and buffalo) all in a single day. An African safari here is rich in historical resonance as you encounter the highly endangered rhinos that managed to survive poaching, red soil bathed elephant families and the descendants of Tsavo’s famous man eating lions.
Meru national park
This park lays in the shadows of Africa’s second highest mountain as well as one of the rift valley’s shapelier peaks, Mt Kenya. The park has unfathomable beauty given off by its landscapes (green hills, riverine forests, palm and baobab trees) as well as wildlife.
Aberdare national park
Found in southern Kenya the park is a counterpoint to the vast congregations. This is where the landscape of Alpine moorlands and dense rainforest appear to triumph over their wild inhabitants. It is a familiar sight here to see elephants crash out the undergrowth of a tree just meters from a vehicle or black leopards and spy bongo antelopes creeping around in the shadows of the forest. There is an overflow of wildlife which offers an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the true questing spirit of the African safari.
Nairobi national park
It is only in Kenya in the whole continent that you will find surreal safari experience near the city. The sight of this from skyscrapers of downtown Nairobi is unbelievable. The three big cats, rhino, buffalo and giraffe can be found in this park. Regardless its small size compared to other park’s in the country, it is home to over 400 bird species.
Marsabit national park
This park is found in the extreme north of Kenya which seems like an evocation of some remote island oasis amid the at times dispiriting desert. Elephants, leopards and lions inhabit here in one Kenya’s most spectacular forests. Walking safaris are guaranteed here as a way of sharpening senses and this experience is like no other.
⦁ Kruger national park
This is Africa’s largest game reserve and one of the biggest tourist attractions in South Africa. The park is home to the big five, giraffes, cheetahs and so much more; and unlike other African safari parks, Kruger national park is a self drive destination having splendid infrastructure, lots of places on the inside to stay as well as tented camps and luxury lodges.
⦁ Sun city resort
This is a luxury spot and resort situated about 2 hours’ drive away from Johannesburg. It is at times known as Africa’s kingdom of pleasure. It is compased of 2 championship golf courses, 4 hotels, an atmospheric South African cultural village and a crocodile sanctuary with more than 7000 crocodiles.
⦁ Cape winelands
These are fertile valley lands surrounded by magnificent mountains, brilliant monuments, sleepy villages, rich fruitful orchards and some of the most amazing scenery in South Africa. To visit the country’s finest winemakers, visitors can follow the wine routes of the Cape. Their wine is famous for their fine flavours and savory palatability.
⦁ Blyde River canyon
This is the second largest canyon in Africa after Fish River canyon. However it is much greener due to its flourishing subtropical foliage. Walking through the rich diversity of flora and fauna offers astonishing views of magnificent waterfalls, escarpments as well as ancient geological phenomenon. You will encounter all the five primates of South Africa here and also crocodiles and hippos near the wetlands of Swadini dam.
⦁ Hluhluwe-Umfolozi game reserve
This is the only park under a formal conservation effort where you will get an opportunity to see the big five ( lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos). If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you will enjoy the vast expanses of native animals and plants during walking guided treks, game drives or boat safaris along the Hluhluwe dam.
⦁ Durban beaches
These beaches provide an energetic atmosphere and are often compared to the Miami beaches. With a balmy weather all year round and a genuine beach culture, Durban beaches are lively areas with remarkable safety and tidiness.
⦁ Table mountain
Peaking at 3,563 ft, Table Mountain is situated within a national park and reaching the pinnacle is such a thrilling encounter offering phenomenal birds-eye views over the city of Cape Town, Atlantic seaboard to the south and west and Robben Island to the north.
⦁ Amphitheatre, Drakensburg
This is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa rising up to 3,482 meters. Its name is derived from the Dutch which literally means “Dragon Mountain”. It is also one of the geographical features of the northern Drakensberg and one of the world’s most impressive cliff faces.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Located in south western Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable national park is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE; a park with one of the richest ecosystems in the world with a mixture of different species of mammals and birds. The park has a total of about 350 species of birds, 120 different species of mammals, over 200 different species of butterflies as well as many more endangered species. Gorilla tracking is one of the major tourist attractions for Uganda safaris here which is done all year round.
Rwenzori mountains national park
This park is situated in southwest Uganda in the Rwenzori Mountains. This UNESCO world heritage site is popular for its amazing plant life that is dotted with many small lakes, glaciers and waterfalls. In the recent past, eco-tourism has been rapidly increasing in the park.
Murchison falls national park
Also known as Kabarega national park, it is found in the north western part of Uganda. Despite the fact that for long the park has suffered at the hands of poachers, it has amazing wildlife and is home to four of the big fives; Elephants, buffalos, leopards and lions. Rhinos became extinct in this park during the 60s and 70s however these are being bred to be reintroduced in the park. You will find other animals present say antelopes, Oribi, Hartebeest, giraffes, African safari Kob and hippopotamus.
This is the burial site of 4 of the cultural leaders of Buganda. These tombs are a centre for cultural history and the kingdom has done their best to preserve their culture despite destruction in 2010. Enthusiasts for history and culture will enjoy it here.
This is Africa’s largest lake, world’s largest tropical lake 70,000sqkm and also the source of Africa’s longest river; River Nile. It is second to North America’s Lake Superior as the world’s largest fresh water lake. Although the lake falls in the territory of 3 countries, nearly 45% of its area is under the control of Uganda making it a tourist magnet.
Ssese islands are a collection of eighty four islands in Lake Victoria located in the north-western side of Lake Victoria. The islands are divided into two visible groups namely Bugala and Koome group. Tourism has and is rapidly growing on these islands as more infrastructures are being developed.
Lake Mburo national park
Located in Kiruhura district in the western part of the country, the park is home to over 300 species of birds and a vast variety of animals such as buffalos, zebras and Impala.
Queen Elizabeth national park
This is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda. It covers an area of 1,978 sqkm in the western part of the country. It also spreads into 4 districts; Rukungiri, Bushenyo, Kasese and Kamwenge. It derived its named from Queen Eizabeth II OF England who officially opened it to tourists in 1954. The park harbours more than 500 species of birds and 95 different species of mammals.
Okavango delta Botswana
This is the world’s largest delta and arguably one of the most beautiful places in Africa. It has an oasis of islands, lush green vegetation and wildlife giving an astonishing contrast to the unforgiving Kalahari desert. Enjoy a unique safari tour and get the opportunity to spot African safari wildlife in the safety of the traditional canoe known as a “mokoro” crowning it all with a camp overnight.
Linyanti wildlife reserve
The reserve covers over 308,000 acres of land and is one of the most exclusive safari destinations in the whole of Africa for the well heeled adventurous traveller. Located in the North East of the county, it is fed by Kwando River thus availing plentiful wildlife spotting opportunities. It is most famous for its vast lion prides and Botswana’s largest elephant populations.
Khama Rhino sanctuary
This is a community based wildlife project established in 1992 to protect and restore the vanishing rhinocerous. There is an onsite chalet and champing facility to enjoy this peaceful sanctuary where sustainable tourism is encouraged. The 8585 hectare sanctuary offers protection for both the black and white rhino in addition to other 230 bird species and 30 animal species.
This is one of the most astonishing places to visit in Botswana. It is a dry granite rock island which is engulfed by a white sea of salt in the Makgadikgai pan. It is protected jealously as a national monument and all proceeds from the visits to helping the local community.
This river runs along the border of Chobe national park and is an integral part of the Botswana safari experience. A river safari is one of the best options one can opt for to explore this area. Abundance of wildlife flourishes here but it is wiser to visit during the dry season (April-October) where the concentrations are highest.
This desert is part of the huge sand basin that runs from the Orange River to Angola. These vast expanses of sand masses were a result of erosion of soft stone formations. The wind has shaped the terracotta dunes giving off such a surreal worldly beauty.
Nxai Pan national park
Nxai Pan is one of Makgadikgadi Pan flats characterised by huge salt pans, sand dunes and the famous Baines baobab trees. This place is such an adorable place to see plenty of wildlife and birds. It is found in the north east of Botswana.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier national park
Covering over 3.6 million hectares, this park is a sprawling conversation area renowned for its red sand dunes and dry riverbeds. Lying on the border between South Africa and Botswana, it is a perfect place for wildlife spotting. Prepare yourself to see lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, wildebeests, migratory herds of springbok and over 200 species of birds, eagles and vultures inclusive.
First timers and safari enthusiasts alike will enjoy Zambia which offers an off beaten track experience with some of the most exquisite game viewing options on the continent coupled with some of the most unique activities. Following are the 8 top African safari destinations in Zambia for which to make the most of your time;
Zambia and the Luangwa valley in particular is known as the home of the walking safari and it the ideal place to get out on foot. Walking can be as big or small a part of your trip basing on the mixture of lodge based walks and the available longer walking trails. This is one activity that ought not to be missed once on a safari in Zambia. At the very least, one should at least do some game viewing on foot. Note that there is always something to suit everyone as they focus on observing and seeking their surroundings and finding out the smaller aspects of the bush. One should expect to cover about 3-8km in a morning.
The Victoria falls
These falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. “The smoke that thunders” is another name that is given to the Victoria Falls and you cannot afford to miss seeing them. Microflights over the falls to the river cruises or the adrenaline filled bungee jumping are some of the activities one can participate in here. This is the ideal way to relax pre or post safari with the string of romantic lodges along the Zambezi.
In addition to the outstanding game viewing that Lower Zambezi National park offers amongst its plethora of activities like boating, walking and canoeing, it is also one of the best places for fresh water fishing in the world. In addition to the famous tigers here, you will find Barbel, Chessa, Vundu, Nkupe and Bream. A fishing guide is allocated to each camp so whether you are a novice or an avid angler, they got you covered.
Liuwa National park
In the far west of Zambia lies Liuwa national park where Africa’s second largest wildebeest migration occurs. A healthy population of wild dog and an unusual predator hierarchy sees over 50 hyenas of a similar clan acting as the apex predator. Very much a niche product in itself, Liuwa plains offer a safari experience to one of the rarely visited and most untouched parts of Zambia. This is the most ideal way to enjoy the African bush at its most bona fide and to get off the beaten track.
A night out in the Zambian bush
Probably one of the must dos while on a Zambian safari is a bush sleep out. This is the perfect wilderness experience where you will spend a night with just a mosquito net separating you and the star-strewn sky. There is no better experience that falling asleep to the sound of roaring lions and awakening to the dawn chorus.
This is an English manor house located in the heart of Africa offering a truly inimitable place to stay. Boat trips, horse riding, game drives as well as a visit to Livingstone’s memorial for committed walkers are some of the activities to enjoy while here.
Balloon safari over the Busanga plains
This is the best way to explore the vast Kafue National park which has an impressive population of tree climbing lions. You should note however this can be accessed between August and October alone which is the height of the dry season and also the best time of the year for exceptional game viewing. To enjoy this, you may need to consider that time of the year.
Tsika Island canoe safari
Located in the Lower Zambezi, Tshika island canoe safari offers a unique experience with an opportunity to enjoy authentic cultural engagement. The trip ranges from 2 to 5 days where you will paddle upstream from Chongwe river camp for 35km to Tsika island bush camp moving past spectacular surroundings.
This is located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. In the past, mighty storms, dense fogs and violent surf caused many water vessels to run aground along the skeleton coast and the deserted coastline has since become known as the world’s biggest ship graveyard. People who were shipwrecked and had managed to swim through the heavy surf to the coast, had to face the hostile waterless coastal desert. Terrace bay in the coastal north dominated by high sand dunes is the most attractive stretch.
This is a narrow strip of land between Angola, Botswana on the south, Namibia’s Okavango region to the west and Zambia to the north. Capirivi is the wettest region in Namibia with a number of major rivers like Zambezi, Okavango and Kwando as well as high rainfall. This has attracted and sustained a vast number of safari animals including elephants. These animals are kept in 4 reserves that have no fences so the animals freely cross borders.
This is a group of bald granite peaks in the Namib desert and it was nicknamed the “Matterhorn of Namibia.” Above the flat desert floor, its highest peak stands at about 2,300 ft. This granite bald massif was a result of collapse of a huge volcano 100 million years back and the subsequent erosion exposed the volcanic rock. The several San (Bushman) paintings and bizarre rock formations are the main attractions here.
This is Namibia’s largest coastal town as well as a reknown beach resort for Namibians or visitors on holiday. German old yet beautiful colonial buildings throughout the city indicate the German origins making a stark contrast at the edge of the town with the Namib desert. An array of activities can be done including horse riding, sand boarding and quad biking at the nearby sand dunes while the beaches will provide plenty of sand and surf.
Cape cross is located 120km north of Swakopmud and is home to one of the gigantic colonies of cape fur seals in the world. In 1968 the area surrounding was proclaimed a reserve so as to protect the biggest and best known of the cape fur seals, 23 in total that breed along the coast of Namibia and South Africa. Seals are a big attraction here in their breeding season which is during November-December where over 150,000 seals gather at the cape cross. It derives its name from the large stone cross that was erected by the Portugese explorers in the 15th century.
This is an enormous clay pan surrounded by huge red sand dunes located in the Namib desert. Tsauchab river flows the desert which waters the vegetation thus surviving in the clay soil. The ever changing colours of the sand dunes during sunrise and sunset offer an opportunity to take beautiful pictures. The desert has an ever changing landscape as the fierce desert winds continually altering the shape and texture of the dunes.
Fish River Canyon
In Southern Namibia is where you find the Fish River Canyon which is second only in grandeur to the grand canyon found in Arizona. In its immensity is gives off such a magnificent and breathtaking sight. It features a huge ravine which is 27km wide, 160km long and 550 meters deep. However the fish river contains a small amount of running water and is being dammed.
Etosha national park
This park is located in the vast Etosha salt pan which is dry most of the time only filling with water briefly in the summer. This in turn is enough to stimulate the growth of blue-green algae that attracts thousands of flamingos. Around the waterholes that border the pan you will see most of the wildlife including wildebeest, herds of zebra and antelopes.