Africa. Safaris. For many travelers, the two go hand in hand: Africa’s safaris – the promise of being close to nature, of experiencing true wilderness, of encountering wild animals whose exoticism has been tinged with the color of myth – are an integral part of the imagined “African experience.” And while this vast and varied continent has much to offer travelers, from dynamic cities to tranquil seaside resorts, it is the promise of the safari that drives so many of Africa’s visitors, year after year, to seek out adventure.
But not all safaris – or the National Parks they’re set in – are created equal. The popularity of safaris has sparked a tourism boom, and many operators are eager to get in on the action: offering safaris of varying quality for anything from 2700 to 4000 GBP. If you’re going to spend what amounts to a sizeable chunk of change on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’ll want to be sure that your expediture is worthwhile. Luckily, the National Parks listed here offer exactly that: experiences of natural grandeur and majesty so extraordinary it’s impossible to put a price tag on them. Be aware – not all “safaris”, even among the best Africa has to offer, are alike. Each of these locations – ranging from Botswana to Madagascar – offers a different atmosphere and varied flora and fauna. Browse our list to see which National Park best suits your needs.
FOR SHEER SIZE, CHOOSE…
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
One of a number of conservation areas within the Serengeti area of East Africa, Serengeti National Park is one of Africa’s most iconic tourist destinations. Serengeti derives from the term for “endless plains” in Maasai, and that’s absolutely what you’ll find here: untrammeled nature on an epic and spectacular scale. Many travelers are drawn to Serengeti by its famous migrations: each autumn, during the short rain season, almost one million wildebeest, along with 200,000 zebras, migrate from the hills to the north to the southern plains, heading onwards west and north during the spring months when the longer rains begin. Coming to Serengeti at one of these times holds the promise of witnessing this odyssey in action.
IF YOU LIKE LIONS, CHOOSE…
Rumour has it that the lions in Botswana are the largest in Africa. The prides of Duba – known as the Skimmer and Tsaro prides – are certainly evidence to support that theory. These long-running prides are famous for hunting during the day, rather than at night, making it possible for visitors to uba to witness the ecosystem in action as lion and buffalo struggle against one another. Spend an afternoon witnessing nature as you’ve never seen it before: from stalking to feeding. The documentary film Relentless Enemies, made by National Geographic filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, was made here.
IF YOU WANT TO SEE GORILLAS, CHOOSE…
Rwanda’s legacy in recent years has been one of bloodshed and tragedy: the horrors of genoscide are still fresh in the popular imagination. But newly stable, Rwanda is seeking to rebolster its economy through tourism, and would-be visitors can experience some truly astounding sights by taking advantage of the country’s revitalized tourism infrastrucutre. Hire a guide to lead you into the wild in order to experience the sight of gorilla families – from babies to fully-grown males – at “home”, their domestic life as startling and complex as any soap opera. The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is an ideal vantage point from which to explore these astounding creatures.
IF YOU WANT OPTIONS, CHOOSE..
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar
This balmy island is the perfect place for a flexible vacation – you can combine safaris, hiking and wildlife-tracking with more laid-back pleasures on Madagascar’s tranquil coastline. The Mantadia national park is famous for its stunning orchids, which bloom throughout the forest, as well as for the grandeur of its spectacular waterfalls. The distinctive Indri species of lemur, which live on the Analamazoatra reserve (aka Andasibe National Park) are another highlight of this Madagascar reserve.