Where to go for your next safari？
Every avid tourist and keen traveller hopes to tick ‘safari adventure’ off their bucket list at some point - but with so many destinations, locations, and operators saturating the market, knowing where to go to get the best experience can feel overwhelming.
Here at Safarigo, we explore and share the world of safaris in Africa so that you don’t have to - pinpointing the best places to go, the top national parks to visit, and the memorable wildlife to look out for in every corner of the vast, continent. Armed with our country guides and comprehensive explorations of each safari destination and experience, we aim to give tourists all the information they need to plan the adventure of a lifetime.
And as you might expect from a safari site like ours, much of our focus revolves around what you can see and where.
Without further ado, it’s time to start planning your next safari with the help of this quick-look guide to some of the top safari destinations in Africa. And whether it’s the major wildlife players you’re looking for, or something a little unique and different, we’ve got it all covered.
What makes a great safari destination?
A great safari destination is one where visitors and tourists can benefit from a wide selection of activities, not merely related to the safari itself but exploring the other cultural and traditional sites and attractions that the country has to offer. When you travel to Africa, you become immersed in and surrounded by cultural norms and ancient traditions which, for many of us, are well outside our everyday experiences. From the Maasai Warrior’s ritualistic dance to a tour of the tea plantations, taking the time to explore the country in full is an opportunity not to be missed.
As we breakdown some of the top safari destinations, look out for alternative experiences and other ways that visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the traditions of the country.
Finally, safety and security is another selling point for a great safari destination, as well as the comfort of the experience and accommodation options, the travel and transportation options, and the relative cost of the trip. For more information on the safety and security of each destination that we work with, visit the individual country pages.
The top safari destinations for: The Big Five (and more)
A good safari is, for many travellers, only as good as the wildlife that they can see. That’s why the Big Five (the exact animals of which vary according to what you read and where you visit) make up a big part of the checklist for many safari-goers, with the following all great destinations for those seeking a photograph of the main safari animals.
Wildlife Includes… African Elephant, Lions, Leopards, Cape Buffalo, Rhinos, Zebra, Wildebeest, Cheetahs, Hippos, Leopards, Crocodiles.
Kenya is arguably most famous for the Masai Mara reserve, which is one of the top nature and wildlife parks in the whole of Africa and boasts year-round access to some of the best safari ventures in the world. In fact it is the Masai Mara where you have the best chance of witnessing the annual Wildebeest migration, which is so iconic that it is commonly termed the seventh wonder of the world.
Aside from the Masai Mara, Kenya’s land is given to a further 60 nature reserves, with the varied and diverse climate meaning that Kenya boasts a mix of snow-capped mountains, expansive deserts, dense forests and rivers.
Tea plantations, beaches, and Mount Kilimanjaro are among the other sites to see in Kenya.
Wildlife Includes… Lions, Elephants, Buffalo, Rhino, Leopards, Gazelles, Giraffes, Cheetahs, Zebra, Flamingos, Hippo, Crocodile
Tanzania is home to a number of wildlife parks and conservation areas, as well as a range of activities outside of the core safari landscape. Some of the main parks to visit for a great safari experience include the Ruaha National Park (the largest in Tanzania), Selous Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park - all of which boast access to the assortment of wildlife listed above.
For those considering a safari trip to Tanzania, the best time to travel is during the dry season when the weather is more predictable for day trips, and when the animals are more likely to be gathered around water sources and reservoirs. Outside of safari experiences, Tanzania has incredible coastlines and a range of inland community experiences including the red-cloaked Maasai warriors and dance rituals.
Wildlife Includes… Elephants, Black Rhinos, Lions, Giraffe, White Rhino, Leopard, Crocodile, Hyena,
Arguably home to one of the most famous safari destinations in the whole of Africa, one of reasons why Namibia has made it so high up on our list of top destinations is because of the Etosha National Park - which is where tourists from all over the world come to see the famous black rhino population. Namibia’s other main park is the Namib-Naukluft National Park which is the fourth largest National Park in the world, with a large portion of the rest of the country given over and dedicated to the conservation of land quality and wildlife.
Outside of safari experiences, Namibia offers a series of alternative memorable experiences and locations such as the Sossusvlei dunes and the Damaraland - with visitors tending to lean towards Namibia as a less visited destination compared to some of the others on this list.
Wildlife Includes… Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopard, Buffalo, Chimpanzee, Buffalo
There are 10 major National Parks and 60 protected areas of land within the border of Uganda, with some of the top parks including Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park.
When it comes to safari experiences, Uganda is renowned for its population of mountain gorillas, with the country home to over half of the world’s population of the great creatures. Because of this, Uganda is perfect for gorilla trekking experiences with many of the top safari providers and companies offering these treks as an add-on for a trip or holiday experience.
Beyond that, Uganda stretches the notorious “Big Five” into the Big Seven thanks to its assortment of wildlife, with the pleasant year-round conditions making it popular with tourists and travellers who want to enjoy the landscape and surroundings.
Ugandans are considered very friendly and hospitable people, with the country largely considered a safe place to visit.
Wildlife Includes… African elephants (the world’s largest herd), Lions, Antelopes, Zebra, Hyena, Giraffe, Ostriches, Gazelles, Wild Dogs, Hippos
An expansive collection of wildlife, including over 500 bird species, makes Botswana a location where the circle of life controls much of the country - both within and outside of its main National Parks and conservation areas which include Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi Pans, Kalahari Desert.
In fact, conservation is so important to the country of Botswana that 17% of the total land mass is reserved for conservation reserves and natural parks - supporting the wildlife and the tourism which comes as part and parcel of that offering. And a big part of that comes in the form of renowned events such as the annual zebra migration - cited as the second largest mass movement of animals in the world - and the presence of alternative safari experiences and adventures which allows tourists to explore the county on bikes or on horseback.
Outside of the safari realm, Botswana is home to the world’s biggest diamond mine with the high investment in tourism meaning that visitors benefit from luxurious facilities. The experience in Botswana is all about immersing visitors in the natural, rural, and wild landscape of a truly conservation-focussed country.
The top safari destinations for: Something Different
From unique safari experiences and transportation options to an array of wildlife outside of the main safari bucket list, the following destinations all offer something a bit different for those travellers who want to move away from the well beaten track and immerse themselves in something out of the ordinary.
Wildlife Includes… Gelada Monkeys, Ethiopian Wolf, Hippos, Hyenas, Crocodiles, Walia Ibex, Leopards and Lions (rare)
Ethiopia is not a safari where you sit in a buggy and get transported around the country to see the wildlife. The experience is more immersive and unique, with more community involvement from the 88 cultural tribes who live in the diverse environment - offering a range of experiences across the three main safari parks - Gambella National Park, Simien Mountains, and the Bale Mountains.
As you will notice from the animal list, visiting Ethiopia is a chance to witness rare and endangered species in their natural habitat, with the country home to at least 31 known endemic species - meaning that they cannot be seen anywhere else in the wild.
Wildlife Includes… Rhodesian Giraffe, Antelope, Lions, Elephants, Zebra, Waterbuck, Hippos, Buffalo, Monkeys
30% of Zambia is dedicated to National Parks, with the main sites including Kafue National Park, North Luangwa National Park, and the Zambezi River - in which endless species of fish and water creatures exist.
Because of this incredible mass of natural areas and National Parks, Zambia is a country where a safari can be undertaken on foot, by vehicle, or on water - with the canoe safaris particularly popular with those seeking a different and more adventurous experience. Aside from the standard safari must-sees and experiences, Zambia is home to Victoria Falls and is considered one of the safest places in the world to visit, which puts it high up on the list for many families seeking their next wildlife adventure.
Wildlife Includes… Mountain Gorilla, Elephants, Giraffe, Eastern Black Rhinos, Zebra, Antelope, Leopard, Baboon, Warthog, Waterbuck
There are three main national parks and safari destinations inside the border of Rwanda, however it is the population of mountain gorillas which brings most tourists to Rwanda for their safari adventure - as the country is home to the largest population in the world. Across the Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest, and Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda has also hosted a series of reintroduction projects - namely allowing species such as lions and Eastern Black Rhinos to be reintroduced to the natural landscape and protected from poachers.
As a result of the continued focus on conservation and the protection of natural species, poaching is at an all-time low in the country, with continued funding driving the tourist economy skywards in Rwanda. And that’s not the only growth the country is seeing, with Rwanda also fast becoming a go-to for small business start-ups and tech companies that are looking to scale effectively and quickly.
How to select your perfect safari adventure
Before deciding on your ideal safari adventure, you need to consider the whole experience from start to finish - encompassing not just the wildlife you will see but the means by which you will travel around each national park and location, and how you can and will be immersed in the environment,
Time of year is a big factor in ensuring that you see everything you want to see, with the dry season typically offering travellers a chance to see multiple species collecting around waterholes and reservoirs, while some of the major wildlife migrations occur on the cusp of the dry and wet seasons.
On our blog page you will see detailed explorations of all the top National Parks and safari reserves across Africa, letting you know the best time to visit, what you are likely to see, and the pros and cons of each location. These guides can help you to plan your trip once you’ve selected your country of choice.
For more advice, you can also contact our team to discuss your ideal safari adventure, using our resources to map out your trip from start to finish.