Best Countries In Africa for First Time Safaris
Where should I go on my first safari?
An amazing bucket-list worthy adventure awaits you in Africa!
Are you thinking about going on your first safari in Africa? If so, we couldn’t be more excited for you!
African safaris are high up on countless travellers’ bucket-lists. And why shouldn’t they be? From the untamed beauty of the African wilderness, magnificent wildlife sightings, diverse landscapes, and thrilling safari experiences – what’s not to love?
If you’ve never been to Africa before, you have so much to look forward to. Home to some of the most exclusive safari destinations and premier National Parks, game reserves, and conservation areas in the world, Africa truly offers wildlife and nature lovers a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience. With so much to offer, deciding where to go on your first safari in Afrca can be an intimidating experience.
There is no clear-cut answer to the question of ‘Where should I go on my first safari?’, as every African safari destination has something unique to offer its visitors. So, where do you start? First you need to decide which area of Africa you would most like to visit. Africa is a massive continent with numerous exceptional safari experiences that vary greatly by country, region and season. From the 54 countries that make up Africa, 9 of them are renowned for their world-class safari experiences and wildlife destinations. These countries include South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, and Rwanda. Depending on the type of safari you’re looking to experience, you need to choose the country and safari destination you would most like to visit very carefully.
Here are some of the best countries in Africa to enjoy an unforgettable first-time safari experience.
“South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.” – Nelson Mandela
Are you ready for the safari experience of a lifetime? We bet you are! Beyond South Africa’s top safari status as the most popular and highly acclaimed safari destination in Africa amongst wildlife enthusiasts and avid safari-goers around the world, South Africa has also been deemed the country / safari destination of choice for first time safari goers and visitors to Africa thanks to its sheer abundance of incredible safari lodges, National Parks, game reserves, conservation areas, and exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities. Not to mention its vast diversity of contrasting landscapes and wilderness destinations – there’s nothing quite like it!
While South Africa may well be the first choice among first-time safari goers – and with good reason too – you might be wondering if it is the BEST choice? For first time safari-goers, the answer is absolutely YES! South Africa offers the best introductory safari experience and is a great starting point to explore Africa and everything it has to offer. As an extra bonus, did you know that South Africa provides the most developed / advanced safari industry in all of Africa? This means you can rest assured that your South African safari experience / adventure promises to be nothing short of unbelievable!
In addition to all of the above South African safari praise, one of its biggest draws as one of the top & most highly sought-after wildlife and safari destinations is its vast diversity of National Parks, game reserves, nature and wildlife conservation areas, and top-tier safari destinations it has to offer. Home to more than 600 parks and game reserves, South Africa gives wildlife lovers and eager safari-goers – irrespective if you’re a safari first-timer or a self-proclaimed African safari aficionado – the incredible opportunity to explore and experience some of Africa’s (as well as the world’s) most pristine safari and wildlife parks, reserves, destinations, and national treasures first-hand – Trust us, it’s an unbelievable once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget!
South Africa is one of world’s finest Big 5 and wildlife safari destinations. In fact, it is one of the very few places in the world where you are able to see every member of the African Big 5, elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, and leopard, in one place in their natural habitat. South Africa’s pristine Big 5 safari status is largely owed to its outstanding conservation areas and national parks, some of which include the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, and Phinda Private Game Reserve, to mention merely a few.
The renowned Kruger National Park is without a doubt South Africa’s most iconic game-viewing destination for a Big 5 safari – hands sown! Deemed one of the greatest National Parks in the world, the Kruger National Park is not only the second largest park in Africa, but South Africa’s flagship National Park. The pristine wilderness within the Kruger Park is spread across an impressive 2 million hectares of unspoiled African bushveld. As the oldest, largest, and most established park, the Kruger National Park is home to the highest population density of Big 5 in South Africa. The Kruger National Park’s superior Big 5 status has undoubtedly made it a staple destination on any safari-goer’s bucket-list, whether they’re a beginner or a seasoned traveller to Africa.
Besides the highly sought-after African Big 5, the Kruger National Park is also known for its vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife species as well as its spectacular sightings of several endangered or ‘rarely seen’ wildlife, including the sable, roan antelope, cheetah, and African wild dog. In fact, the Kruger Park’s African wild dogs are one of the few populations of this endangered species left in the world. Its unfenced neighbour, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, shares the park’s prolific abundance of wildlife as well as a 50km/30mi unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, allowing animals to roam freely between the reserves. This ensures an unforgettable and unmatched African safari and wildlife experience. Its no wonder South Africa is the destination of choice amongst both local and global safari-goers looking to experience the best of the best!
Boasting one of the richest game populations in the country, Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to some of the most diverse and unique wildlife species in Africa. While the remarkable Sabi Sands is regarded as one of the top reserves to witness up-close sightings of the renowned African Big 5 in their natural habitat, it isn’t deemed the most extraordinary ‘Leopard-Rich Lands’ in Africa for nothing. One could say its claim to Big 5 fame, drawing wildlife enthusiasts from all around the world, is the fact that the iconic Sabi Sands Game Reserve not only boasts the most magnificent leopard sightings and encounters in the country, but is home to the highest concentration of leopards in both South Africa and Africa as a whole. Famously known as the most elusive member of the African Big 5, lucky for you, in this revered Greater Kruger National Park reserve, you’ll find that they are not all that elusive at all – in fact, they are seemingly everywhere and are often seen in plain view and have even been known to hunt in the presence of safari vehicles – even jumping right on top of these vehicles from time to time. It truly has to be seen to be believed! Besides its world-renowned leopard sightings as well as enjoying glorious up-close encounters of the iconic African Big 5, safari-goers can also look forward to seeing a vast diversity of other game when exploring the varied landscapes of the Sabi Sands.
Despite its obvious appeal, you’d be remiss for thinking the Greater Kruger Area is the only place to enjoy a Big 5 safari in South Africa. From a low-yield cattle farm to a flourishing conservation area, Madikwe Game Reserve is a land of wild unapologetic natural beauty, bushveld, grassland, sloping mountains, and rocky outcrops. Brushing against Botswana’s border and the tip of the Kalahari Desert, Madikwe Game Reserve boasts an extensive wildlife population with sightings of the iconic African Big5 almost assured on any visit. In addition, the reserve not only provides a haven for all wildlife species, including the Big5, but it has also been a fierce proponent of community upliftment initiatives.
Then of course you have your lesser-known reserves, all of which are equally as impressive and absolutely deserve a prime spot on your South African safari bucket list. Phinda Private Game Reserve is a great choice for animal conservationists, or travelers wishing to contribute more to South Africa’s vast array of conservation efforts and initiatives.
There are of course many more destinations within South Africa to discover, explore, and experience, and we’d be lying if we didn’t say Cape Town is a huge drawcard for this destination! Although it is a city, many travelers add a stopover in Cape Town to their South African safari adventure – with great reason too! If you’re planning to include a stop-over in Cape Town to your bucket-list worthy South African safari getaway, ensure to allow for at least a few days in the city, plus a few days in the Cape Winelands if you’re not short on time. Boasting such a glorious diversity of beautiful and vibrant destinations to discover, sights to see, landmarks to marvel at, natural wonders to explore, beaches to visit, sunsets to admire, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures to experience, no amount of time in Cape Town is long enough – You just wait & see! Not to mention, in addition to baring witness to some of the most spectacular sightings of Africa’s iconic Big 5 while on safari in South Africa, a trip to Cape Town will give you the extraordinary opportunity of seeing the renowned Marine Big 5, namely, Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins, Southern Right Whales, Mola Mola Sunfish, and dolphins along its vast and glorious coastlines.
Top parks & reserves in South Africa for first-time safari goers:
South Africa boasts an endless array of some of the most highly renowned & top National Parks, games reserves, and wildlife and conservation areas in Africa (perhaps even the world). Here you will find the most famous, remarkable, and not-to-be-missed parks and reserves in South Africa by province:
Besides boasting the crowning jewel of South Africa’s National Parks, the renowned Kruger National Park, the province of Limpopo gives all avid safari-goers the opportunity to discover, explore, and experience the wild side of South Africa in the best possible way. Thanks to its magnificent bushveld and vast diversity of landscapes and wilderness regions, it gives you the opportunity to experience some of the top parks and reserves in both South Africa and Africa, such as:
- Kruger National Park
- Marakele National Park
- Thornybush Game Reserve
- Mapungubwe National Park: go find the incredible sandstone formations
- Entabeni Game Reserve
A series of private game reserves boarding the western side of the famed Kruger National Park. There are no fences between these parks and game reserves and the Kruger National Park. Here are some of the best parks and reserves to spot the Big 5:
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- MalaMala game reserve
- Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
- Mjejane Private gam reserve
#North West Province:
- Madikwe Game Reserve
- Pilanesberg National Park
- Magaliesberg biosphere Reserve
- Barberspan bird Sanctuary
- Mafikent Game Reserve
In KwaZulu Natal you will find some of the best game parks and reserves in South Africa. As it is a coastal region, you can easily combine your wildlife safari with some exciting coastal * ocean adventures such as surfing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and so much more. Here are two of the best parks in KwaZulu Natal:
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park
- Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park has the largest population of white rhino’s
- Phinda Private Game Reserve
You can find the iconic African Big 5, along with a vast diversity of other wildlife and birdlife species, in most, if not all, of Eastern Cape’s top parks and game reserves. If you’re eager to embark on a South African safari adventure near Cape Town, these reserves and parks are a great choice:
- Addo Elephant Park: Perfect for first-timers | Easy to navigate roads and malaria-free.
- Mountain Zebra National Park
- Camdeboo National Park
- Shamwari Game Reserve
- Amakhala Game Reserve
Thanks to the unique climate of the Northern Cape, wildlife enthusiasts and eager safari-goers will not only have the opportunity to explore some pristine game reserves and parks, but also have the added bonus of discovering truly unique flora and fauna present in this area. Plus, if you’re looking for something quite thrilling and unexpected to do on your trip to the Northern Cape, you can even opt to combine your safari adventure with some diamond digging – we did say unexpected! Here are some of the best parks and reserves to visit in the Northern Cape of South Africa:
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: situated in the Kalahari Desert
- Augrabies Falls National Park | Combine a safari with a roadtrip along South Africa’s West Coast and discover picturesque fishing villages and enjoy the best restaurants in the world in Paternoster
- Mokala National Park: Great park to spot rhino’s
- Richtersveld National Park
You haven’t been to South Africa without visiting one of South Africa’s most highly sought-after travel destinations – AKA: The beautiful and vibrant Cape Town – and the amazing national parks and reserves surrounding this magnificent city, including:
- Table Mountain National Park: this includes Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, The Boulders.
- West Coast National Park: Small wildlife, waterbirds, and scenic views over the ocean.
- Agulhas National Park
- Karoo National Park
These game parks and reserves in South Africa can easily be combined with your roadtrip along the stunning Garden Route. Most of these reserves and parks are malaria free and great if you’re looking to go on a safari near Cape Town.
- Gondwana Private Game Reserve: find the big fee and stay in luxury lodges
- Garden Route Game Reserve
- Robberg Nature Reserve: See great white sharks in the wild
- Birds of Eden
Here you will find wide open spaces and the raw untamed beauty of the South African bushveld. You can choose to stay in the capital city of Bloemfontein and visit the parks from there or opt to stay in one of many lodges – it’s up to you.
- Golden Gate Highlands National Park: You won’t find the Big 5 here, but you might see caracal, silver fox, or other wild African cats.
- Gariep Dam Nature Reserve
- Sterkfontein Dam Reserve
- Maria Moroka Game Reserve: This game park is perfect for hikers as they have many hiking trails.
- Lion and Rhino Park
- De Wildt Cheetah Research Station
- Hartbeespoort Dam
- Tswaing Nature Reserve: Go to the immense crater, caused by the impact of a meteor
- Dinokeng Game Reserve
- The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Augrabies Falls National Park
- Witsand Nature Reserve
- Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
Best Time to travel to South Africa:
The South African climate is pleasant throughout the year, making it an incredible year-round wildlife and safari destination. However, the best time to travel to South Africa is during the months of May to September, particularly in the Kruger National Park. As these months are especially dry (the dry season), a high concentration of wildlife will gather at the various waterholes and array of water sources in large numbers. Thereby providing visitors & safari-goers with some incredible and rewarding game viewing opportunities & beyond spectacular wildlife and Big 5 sightings and encounters. This period is therefore regarded as the best time to travel to South Africa.
Botswana is an exceptional destination for first-time safari goers. Known as one of Africa’s premier wildlife-watching and safari destinations, Botswana deserves to be on every safari enthusiast’s bucket-list. In Botswana, the landscapes are equally as diverse and prolific as the wildlife itself. The evergreen jewel of the Okavango Delta is at the heart of Botswana’s safari attractions, flanked in the east by the rolling savannah of the Savute and the sought-after elephant paradise of the Chobe National Park. South of the Delta you will find the far-flung stretches of the Makgadikgadi saltpans and the semi-desert grasslands of the Kalahari. Boasting such a vast diversity of landscapes and destinations to discover, explore, and experience, Botswana is undoubtedly one of the best countries for wildlife lovers who are eager to go on their first safari experience in Africa.
Besides its vast wilderness, Botswana’s commitment to safeguarding its wildlife heritage is truly unparalleled in Africa. It is blessed with some of the most dramatic wilderness areas, largely consisting of national parks and wildlife reserves, with approximately 40% of Botswana’s landscape falling within a wildlife-protected area. These protected areas act as sanctuaries for Botswana’s glorious diversity of wildlife, birdlife, and other animal species as well as the world’s largest concentration of African Elephants, with the highest concentration found in the Chobe National Park. It also creates a natural stronghold for other endangered large mammals such as the black rhinoceros, African wild dog, and cheetah.
Home to some of the most prolific wildlife on the African continent, very few countries can compare to Botswana’s sheer diversity and abundance of wildlife species, not to mention its extraordinary up-close sightings of the magnificent Big5. In fact, a visit to the premium wildlife destination of Botswana will almost guarantee sightings of these famous African mammals. Here is a quick guide for the best chance of spotting the Big Five in Botswana:
- Chobe National Park for the highest concentration of elephants.
- Savuti region for excellent lion sightings and encounters.
- Northern Okavango to see the large Cape buffalo.
- Moremi Game Reserve will offer excellent rhino sightings.
- Mashatu Game Reserve plays host to the elusive leopard.
Beyond being one of Africa’s most premier and highly sought-after African safari and wildlife destinations, Botswana offers travellers, tourists, and avid nature and wildlife enthusiasts the very best combination of unapologetic natural beauty, adventure, and exclusivity, paired with phenomenal game viewing, vast unspoiled landscapes, an endless array of exceptional destinations, attractions, game reserves, conservancies, and National Parks to discover and explore, as well as several unforgettable safari experiences and adventures you won’t find anywhere else than right here in the glorious African safari destination that is Botswana.
The Okavango Delta is at the top of most safari goers’ bucket list – and with good reason too! Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the glorious Okavango Delta is by far one of Africa’s most fascinating and captivating regions and destinations to discover and explore. The Delta is not only deemed to be one of the world’s premier wilderness areas, but largest inland deltas on the planet, boasting one of the most unique, intricate, and intriguing ecosystems to ever exist. This vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland area fed by the Okavango River, is an astonishing and endless oasis characterized by a complex network of channels, islands, floodplains, riverine woodlands, marshlands, and lagoons that offer travelers, wildlife and nature enthusiasts, avid adventurers, and globe trotters a truly immersive experience and out-of-this-world perspective into a world of thriving waterways and vast flourishing wetlands teeming with wildlife, birdlife, luscious vegetation, magnificent landscapes, breathtaking surroundings, and so much more – you simply have to see it to believe it!
The Okavango Delta truly is a water wonderland in every way – this undoubtedly makes exploring the Delta by traditional Mokoro safari the very best way to discover and experience everything it has to offer. Going on a Mokoro safari is an absolute MUST-DO experience for anyone and everyone who travels to the Okavango Delta.
**Quick insight: A Mokoro is essentially a traditional dug-out canoe which is used to traverse and explore the narrow waterways and complex, yet thriving, channels of the Okavango Delta, as well as discover hidden islands that are inaccessible throughout the rest of the year.
Enjoying a Mokoro safari journey through the Delta is not only a unique safari adventure that is entirely exclusive to the Okavango Delta, it is also one of the top and most exciting things you can only do in Africa. Going on a traditional Mokoro safari in the glorious Okavango Delta gives you the opportunity to see, discover, encounter, and explore hidden gems, secret spots, as well as witness diverse and rare wildlife and birdlife sightings you might not otherwise have spotted or seen on a traditional game drive. Nowhere else in the world can you experience the sublime serenity of being poled along in a traditional dugout canoe as birds like jacanas and herons walk among the lilies, elephants arrive to feed on the soft grass, and sitatunga antelope retreat shyly into the reeds.
Botswana offers wildlife enthusiasts and safari goers a more rugged and real wildlife and safari experience compared to other countries. So, if gong off the beaten track and seeing as much wildlife as possible sounds like the perfect first safari, then Botswana is the perfect safari destination for you! Botswana’s wild unapologetic natural beauty and pristine unfenced surroundings further allows for a truly authentic and immersive African wilderness experience. It’s no surprise that Botswana is known to attract adventurous travellers from around the world who are passionate about nature and wildlife.
Top parks & reserves in Botswana for safari goers:
Botswana has a total of 14 different wildlife parks and reserves. The top safari destinations to visit include:
- Okavango Delta
- Moremi Game Reserve
- Chobe National Park
- Central Kalahari Game Reserve
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Makgadikgadi Pan National Park & The Nxai Pan National Park
- The Linyanti
Best Time to travel to Botswana:
If you’re looking to experience a wild Botswana safari adventure that’ll make your heart sing, then the best time to visit this extraordinary and exciting African safari destination is during its dry winter season which takes place from June to October.
By far one of the top reasons why the dry season is deemed as the prime time to visit Botswana, including the untouched freshwater wetland of the Okavango Delta, rolling savannah of the Savuti, Africa’s elephant paradise of Chobe National Park, the Makgadikgadi saltpans and the semi-desert grasslands of the Kalahari, is because of the sheer abundance and glorious diversity of birdlife and wildlife present during this period. This is when the animals truly come out to play, putting on a show that will without a doubt leave you wanting more – This is what return visits are for!
**To find out everything you need to know about Botswana check out our ‘Why travel to Botswana’ blog, ‘Chobe National Park: Botswana’s Elephant Paradise’ blog, ‘Botswana: 5 must-explore National Parks and game reserves’ blog, ‘Top 10 tourist attractions in Botswana’ blog, & ‘Best time to go to Botswana’ blog.
Tanzania in East Africa has long been a sought-after safari destination for both first time safari goers and safari connoisseurs. Regarded as one of the most captivating and diverse safari destinations in Africa, Tanzania boasts one of the highest concentrations of game as well as a remarkable array of Africa’s top National Parks and game reserves, ranging from the expansive and world-renowned Serengeti National Park to the wild and secluded hidden wilderness gem of Katavi National Park – Tanzania has it all. In fact, few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania’s sheer diversity and abundance of wildlife and vast and varied landscapes. From the classic savannah destinations of the Serengeti, Tarangire, and Ngorongoro Crater to the stunning beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar, a Tanzanian safari offers travellers an endless variety of destinations to explore, safari adventures to experience, and wildlife species to see.
The Serengeti National Park is arguably one of the finest National Parks in Africa. Home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife and vast open grasslands, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s flagship conservation area and a must-do for first-time and returning safari goers alike. Meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, the Serengeti National Park is considered one of the most celebrated wilderness areas in the world. Besides being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also Tanzania’s oldest game reserve. It boasts one of the oldest ecosystems on earth with a thriving vegetation that has remained largely untouched for millions of years. The Serengeti National Park covers an immense 14 800 km² (5 700 square miles) on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya, encompassing up to 50% of the wider Serengeti–Mara ecosystem – Making the Serengeti the most famous protected wilderness area in all of Africa.
While the Serengeti is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife and superb year-round game viewing, it is best known as the site of the Annual Great Wildebeest Migration. The Great Wildebeest Migration in Africa – also known as the Gnu Migration, Serengeti Migration and Masai Mara Migration – is one of the last mass terrestrial wildlife movements left on the planet. Regarded as the ‘Seventh New Wonder of the World’, the Annual Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most breathtaking and extraordinary wildlife spectacles in all of Africa. Deemed to be one of the most remarkable wildlife and natural phenomena to ever exist in the natural world, getting the unbelievable opportunity to witness and experience Africa’s Annual Great Wildebeest Migration up-close, in action, and first-hand is the chief reason why so many travelers, tourists, and avid nature and wildlife enthusiasts venture to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.
The Great Migration is a never-ending movement which includes millions of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and impala – migrate to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. Described as one of the most magnificent spectacles in the natural world, the migration follows the seasonal rains, spending the dry season in the woodlands of north western Kenya and the wet season on the south eastern plains of Tanzania. Predictably, this large concentration of wildlife attracts huge numbers of predators, and the whole spectacle is considered to be one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
Deemed one of the most sought-after and wildly diverse safari and wildlife destinations in Africa, people travel from all corners of the globe to experience Tanzania’s extraordinary wildlife sightings and encounters firsthand. Renowned for its exceptional year-round game-viewing, superb Big5 sightings, which are easily spotted and highly prevalent, and famous Great Wildebeest Migration, Tanzania, along with the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem and its neighbours, offer some of the country’s best wildlife encounters and opportunities. In addition to its big game and being a stronghold for predators, Tanzania is renowned for its vast and wonderful variety of endangered and rarely seen wildlife species, some of which include the critically endangered African wild dog, black rhino, chimpanzees, African white-bellied Pangolin, Lesser Kudu, and Thomson’s Gazelle, to mention a few.
The critically endangered East African black rhinos of Ngorongoro and Mkomazi, giant elephant tuskers of Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania, and abundant flamingos that visit Lake Manyara seasonally round out a wildlife experience in Tanzania unlike any other.
Tanzania has three main safari circuits: The popular Northern Safari Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire); The Southern Safari Circuit (Ruaha and Selous Game Reserve); The Western Safari Circut (Mahale Mountains National Park which is home to some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa and the Katavi National Park where safari goers have the opportunity to see the rare roan and sable antelope species).
In addition to enjoying sensational wildlife sightings & witnessing the world-renowned Annual Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania is also home to the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro which is a major draw for avid adventurers and active travelers wishing to seek out their adrenaline fix on the mountain. Regarded as one of the most phenomenal natural wonders and breathtaking mountains in all of Africa, the famed and wildly acclaimed Mount Kilimanjaro is also the highest mountain in Africa, standing tall at a staggering +/- 5,895 meters / 19,341 feet above sea level. Mount Kilimanjaro is also the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world. This means that Kilimanjaro does not form part of a mountain range, but instead, stands entirely alone. There is absolutely no denying that the breathtaking natural beauty of the one and only Mount Kilimanjaro along with its snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and sweeping views are simply unparalleled. There truly is nothing quite like it – and we dare you to prove us otherwise!
**Interesting Fact: In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment. The park was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1987. The area surrounding the mountain is also home various wildlife, including the blue monkey, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards (to mention merely a few).
If you want to complement your first safari with endless natural wonders, Tanzania is hard to beat. This country is paradise for adventurous travellers who might want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or meet chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, in addition to seeing spectacular wildlife and witnessing the famous river crossings of the Great Migration.
Tanzania also features several incredible off-the-beaten-path destinations where tourist numbers are lower and encounters with game are more exclusive – This is great for safari goers who are eager to break away from the large crowds.
**Added Bonus: Situated a short way away from amazing Zanzibar, Tanzania is the perfect place to combine the bush with the beach.
Another favorite choice for our clients is to stay a couple of nights at the ethereal Ngorongoro Crater, an ancient caldera. The landscape in this part of Tanzania is unlike anything else you will see across Africa.
Top parks & reserves in Tanzania for safari goers:
Tanzania has a total of 13 different wildlife parks and reserves. The top safari destinations include:
- Serengeti National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater
- Ruaha National Park
- Katavi National Park
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Tarangire National Park
- Selous Game Reserve
- Gombe National Park
- Mahale Mountains National Park
Best Time to travel to Tanzania:
Most safari areas in Tanzania enjoy a relatively constant year-round tropical climate. However, as Tanzania is made up of such a large diversity of landscapes, each one vastly different from the next, you can expect an equally diverse climate from every distinct landscape or wilderness area.
Despite many safari areas within Tanzania enjoying a wonderful year-round tropical climate, other regions do not share the same fortune. Temperatures are known to drop far below freezing on the famous Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, whereas, in complete contrast, Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast and lakeside regions are notorious for their exceptionally hot and humid conditions.
Essentially, Tanzania has two distinct seasons:
- Dry Season (Winter): June to October
- Wet Season (Summer): November to May | Tanzania’s wet / rainy season can be further divided into two categories, the ‘long rainy season (long rains)’ which takes place from April to May, and the ‘short rainy season (short rains)’ during November and December.
Generally, Tanzania’s main rainy season (the long rains) produces tropical downpours in the afternoons and many safari camps and lodges close down as a result. The short rainy season on the other hand is known for its occasional brief showers, allowing several safari camps and lodges to stay open. Not to mention the game viewing is absolutely incredible during this time.
Despite Tanzania being one of the top, and undoubtedly the most thrilling, year-round African safari and wilderness destinations, each season offers visitors, travelers, and enthusiastic explorers something unique, extraordinary, and exciting to experience.
That begs the question, when exactly is the best time to go to Tanzania?
The answer is largely dependent on what you’re most eager to experience on your bucket-list trip to Tanzania.
With that being said, the best time to go to Tanzania and embark on an exhilarating Tanzanian safari depends on where in Tanzania you would like to go, what you’d like to explore, experience, and discover while you’re there, as well as what adventures, safari activities, and off-the-beaten-track pursuits you’d like to enjoy on your trip.
**Tip: For first-time safari goers, the best time to go to Tanzania is typically during its dry season, June – October, as wildlife are far easier to track and spot, resulting in exceptional wildlife sightings and encounters.
Reasons To Visit Tanzania During The Dry Season:
- Prime time for wildlife sightings as game viewing is at its peak.
- June & July are the prime months & heart of the Serengeti Great Wildebeest Migration in the Western Corridor | The BEST months to see the magnificent wildebeest migration.
- Optimal visibility for wildlife sightings due to sparse vegetation.
- Wildlife are far easier to spot as they congregate around water sources, waterholes, and rivers.
- Clear skies with mild-moderate day-time temperatures & minimal rain.
- August & September are the best months to see the spectacular wildebeest river crossings in the northern Serengeti.
- Fewer mosquitos due to the low rainfall & the risk of malaria is at its lowest.
- The Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti National Park is at its best during the dry season.
Reasons To Visit Tanzania During The Wet Season:
- Lush greenery & surrounding scenery due to high rainfall.
- Tanzania & its surrounding parks & national reserves are filled with new-born wildlife.
- Bird watching is at its best as migrant birds are present & in breeding.
- Prime time for predator action & sightings due to the wildebeest calving & abundance of new-born wildlife.
- Despite wildlife being easier to spot in the dry season, Tanzania’s wet season boasts equally remarkable wildlife sightings, especially in the northern circuit parks.
- Tanzania’s wet season coincides with its low season, meaning lower rates all around and less crowded parks, resulting in optimal crowd-free wildlife and birdlife sightings.
- January & February is the best time to see the wildebeest calving in the Southern Serengeti, making it a very special time & a truly remarkable sight to see.
- Except for March, April & May, rains are mostly short afternoon showers & seldom interfere with your trip and safari experiences.
Kenya has earned itself the reputation as one of the best safari destinations in Africa. This makes it a top contender for your first safari experience. Known for its high concentration of game and exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, pristine and diverse selection of parks and reserves, spectacular landscapes and remarkable conservation initiatives, its no surprise Kenya has been dubbed one of Africa’s must-visit safari hotspots.
By far one of Kenya’s most sought-after reserves is the renowned Masai Mara National Reserve. The Masai Mara is a northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti, and is the site of the Great Wildebeest Migration which takes place from late July through to early October. This is without a doubt one of the greatest wildlife spectacles and natural wonders to witness first-hand. Along with millions of wildebeest and huge herds of other grazers, this jaw-dropping spectacle is a magnet for predators. There is no better place to notch up lion and cheetah in double-quick time, helped by the open terrain and the cats’ ease around vehicles.
Aside from the Great Wildebeest Migration, Kenya boasts a huge concentration of wildlife and exceptional sightings year-round. It is also known as one of the best places to see the African Big 5 in their natural habitat. Other draw-cards include elephant, hippo, giraffe and rare black rhino sightings. Several safari favourites and endangered species like the wild dog can be found in many of Kenya’s parks and reserves as well.
The big appeal for a lot of safari first-timers is how well-developed Kenya’s safari industry is. It not only boasts first-class infrastructure, it is easily accessible and accommodation options are plentiful and diverse. Visitors and safari-goers can choose from hundreds of incredible lodges and tented camps, ensuring a memorable safari experience at any budget. As Kenya focusses more on a mass-market approach to wildlife tourism, it is typically one of the busiest safari destinations in Africa. However, there are a variety of privately operated reserves and conservancies (much like in Botswana) that offer low-density tourism options for a more exclusive and personalized experience.
Top parks & reserves in Kenya for safari goers:
Kenya has a total of 26 different wildlife parks and reserves. The top safari destinations include:
- Masai Mara National Reserve
- Amboseli National Park
- Lake Nakuru National Park
- Tsavo National Park
- Samburu National Park
- Buffalo Springs National Reserve
- Aberdare National Park
- Ol Pejeta Conservancy (Laikipia)
- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Laikipia)
- Mount Kenya & Aberdares Mountains
- Hell’s Gate National Park
- Rift Valley Lakes
- Nairobi National Park
- Laikipia Plateau & Conservancy
Best Time to travel to Kenya:
Kenya is a top-rated year-round beach getaway and African safari destination, boasting superb game viewing, wildlife encounters, and safari experiences 365 days of the year, Irrespective of its diverse geography and variable climate.
Despite being one of the most pristine, must-visit, year-round destinations in Africa, Kenya has two distinct seasons:
- Dry Season (Winter): June to October
- Wet Season (Summer): November to May
Regarded by many as the ultimate safari destination, home to some of the best national parks, and wildlife reserves in Africa, a vast range of thriving, complex, and diverse landscapes, and one of the most remarkable and distinct wildlife populations, visiting Kenya any time of the year promises to be an exceptional and exciting experience all-around. However, each season in Kenya offers visitors an entirely unique experience as it pertains to wildlife and birdlife sightings, overall climate, park conditions, surrounding scenery and vegetation, seasonal highlights, and wildlife spectacles.
As most people (both local and international) travel to Kenya to witness its incredible diversity of wildlife and experience the bucket-list worthy wildlife spectacle and phenomenon – The Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration – in full force and in all its wilderness glory, Kenya’s dry season (from June – October) is considered the best time to visit Kenya.
The adventurous choice! Home to some of the greatest guides in Africa as well as the continent’s best walking safaris, night safaris and seriously good boating/canoe trips, Zambia is the perfect destination for thrill seekers and those with an adventurous spirit who would like to avoid overly commercialized destinations.
Home to some of Southern Africa’s wildest and most remote destinations, Zambia is the perfect destination if you’re looking to experience a slightly off-the-beaten-path safari adventure. While a safari trip to Zambia gives visitors and safari-goers the opportunity to experience Africa’s wild side, you’ll be far from roughing it – unless that’s your thing of course, then go right ahead! A Zambia safari combines excellent and exciting big game viewing with luxurious lodges and some of the best guides in Africa. Although the unapologetic and untamed natural beauty of Zambia’s vast reserves has long made them a favourite for both safari first-timers and seasoned safari connoisseurs, one of the perks of going on a safari getaway to Zambia is the fact that it has remained relatively undiscovered and untouched by the masses. This means it doesn’t attract the same large crowds and masses of wildlife enthusiast’s that cluster around sightings as some of Africa’s more well-known parks and reserves. In fact, the only real hustle and bustle you’re likely to find when visiting Zambia is at the country’s most popular attraction: the spectacular Victoria Falls.
Zambia has a total of 14 different wildlife parks and reserves, each of which offers safari-goers a unique safari experience all together. Go on guided walking safaris through the South Luangwa, famous for its incredible diversity of wildlife; Enjoy jaw-dropping sightings of crocodiles and yawning hippos as you paddle along the river on a canoe safari in the beautiful Lower Zambezi; Or enjoy exciting and adventure-filled game drives and horseback safaris in the untamed Kafue National Park – its wide open floodplains are home to large herds of antelope as well as plenty of predators on the prowl. Your Zambian safari adventure, your choice! While each destination is vastly different from the next, it is a great idea to combine 2 or 3 different destinations for a complete Zambia safari experience.
Besides exciting safari experiences and adventures, Zambia is known for its incredible and diverse wildlife. Here you’ll find lots of safari favourites like lion, leopards (the South Luangwa National Park is one of the best parks in Africa to see leopards in their natural habitat), elephant, zebra, hippo, and buffalo. Zambia is also home to the geographically isolated and rare Rhodesian giraffe (aka Thornicroft’s giraffe), of which only 550 are estimated to live in the wild.
Top parks & reserves in Zambia for safari goers:
Zambia has a total of 14 different wildlife parks and reserves. The top safari destinations include:
- South Luangwa National Park
- Kafue National Park
- Lower Zambezi National Park
- Luambe National Park
- North Luangwa
- Victoria Falls
- Lake Kashiba
- Kasanka National Park
- Lake Kariba
- Blue Lagoon National Park
- Liuwa Plain National Park
- Sioma Ngwezi & Ngonye Falls National Park
Best Time to Travel to Zambia:
There is really no right or wrong time to visit this beautiful country. The best time to go on a Tanzania safari depends entirely on what you want to see and experience: The major national parks like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire deliver superb year-round game viewing, but visitor numbers peak from about June to October when the country is at its driest. This period also coincides with the migration river crossings; however, all the parks offer amazing wildlife sightings at this time as vegetation is less dense.
If you are looking for a tropical beach getaway to Tanzania’s coast, Zanzibar and other islands, the best time to visit is between June and March.
While the Victoria Falls is one of Zimbabwe’s top attractions, Zimbabwe has so much more to offer. In fact, it is one of Southern Africa’s most rewarding big game safari destinations for safari enthusiasts from around the world. Zimbabwe is also regarded as one of the top safari destinations for adventure travellers looking to enjoy an off-the-beaten track safari experience. Besides an exciting variety of bucket-list worthy safari adventures, Zimbabwe is home to several sought-after national parks and reserves, rugged landscapes and superb game viewing and wildlife sightings.
Zimbabwe’s flagship reserve is Hwange National Park which is located just a short distance from Victoria Falls. Home to an abundant and thriving wildlife population, visitors will have the opportunity to spot several of their wildlife favourites from lions, leopards, and hyenas to big herds of elephant and buffalo, antelope, giraffe, zebra and so much more. That’s merely scratching the surface of what this premier safari destination has to offer. Mana Pools National Park, another one of Zimbabwe’s pristine national parks, is where you’ll find the magnificent Zambezi River. The Zambezi River is home to some of Africa’s most remarkable wildlife species including hippos, crocodiles and shy water buck. Besides enjoying incredible sightings of these animals in their natural habitat, this part of Zimbabwe is known for its exhilarating canoe safaris, game drives and walking safaris.
Beside these two top national parks, Zimbabwe’s lesser known safari destinations offer several unique experiences, making them well worth the effort of getting there. Set on the shores of Lake Kariba, Matusadona National Park is a haven for elephants and rhinos as well as boasts a thriving lion population. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and wander off-the-beaten path, the far flung wilderness of neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park and Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is hard to beat. Home to a thriving wildlife population including big-tusker elephants, all the big cats and nearly 400 bird species, to mention just a few, this remote African wilderness escape makes for an adventurous and rewarding safari experience.
Top parks & reserves in Zimbabwe for safari goers:
Zimbabwe has a total of 8 different wildlife parks and reserves. The top safari destinations include:
- Hwange National Park
- Mana Pools National Park
- Matusadona National Park
- Gonarezhou National Park
- Matobo National Park
- Victoria Falls
- Nyanga National Park
- South Gonarezhou National Park
- Lake Kariba
- Chimanimani National Park
- Chinhoyi Caves
- Matusadona National Park
- Great Zimbabwe National Monument & Masvingo
Best Time to travel to Zimbabwe:
One of the best things about Zimbabwe is the fact that it is a great year-round safari and wilderness destination, with every season offering something unique, rewarding, and exciting. As Zimbabwe is one of the best year-round destinations in Africa, the best time to go on your unforgettable safari holiday to Zimbabwe is highly dependent on the type of experience you wish to have and what you would most like to do, see, explore, discover, and experience on your trip.
Victoria Falls: Tumbling down 100-metre-high cliffs surrounded by lush forests, Victoria Falls is the largest sheet of falling water in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Regarded as one of Africa’s most astounding natural wonders as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the magnificent Victoria Falls reigns supreme as not only one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions, but one of Africa’s most exceptional sights to behold. If you’re looking to witness this marvel in all its glory, the best time to plan your trip to Zimbabwe is between April and June, at the end of the rainy season, when the Falls are in full flow
**BONUS: The mighty Victoria Falls offers several thrilling activities and experiences for all the adrenaline-junkies, such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and helicopter flights over colossal cascading waters.
Game viewing: For the ultimate game-viewing experience and best wildlife sightings and encounters, travelling to Zimbabwe during its dry winter season, which takes place from May to October, is definitely the way to go. In addition to sensational wildlife sightings, Zimbabwe’s dry season boasts a mild climate, with the weather being more temperate during this time, plus the risk of malaria is much lower.
Adventure: Now, if you’re seeking the thrill of white-water rafting on the mighty Zambezi River, then listen up! The best time to take the plunge is from August to December when the river water levels are lower.
Often referred to as ‘Africa for Beginners’, Namibia is one of the best places to go on your first African safari. While Namibia may not be your typical safari destination, there is so much more to this southern African country than people would expect. Famous for its majestic dessert landscape, gigantic sand dunes, and dramatic scenery, Namibia is unlike anything you’ve seen or experienced before.
Besides the sand dunes that dominate the 55-million-year-old Namib Desert, Namibia is home to an incredible diversity of landscapes and destinations. Besides these diverse destinations, safari-goers will also have the opportunity to enjoy some of the most exceptional game lodges and safari destinations tucked away in the most remote regions, offering intrepid travellers with havens of serenity and comfort.
When it comes to wildlife, Namibia certainly doesn’t disappoint! Did you know that Namibia is home to 40% of Africa’s free-roaming cheetah population? Or that between 100 000 and 210 000 Cape fur seals reside at Cape Cross? And that’s merely scratching the surface of what this premier African wildlife destination has to offer. The renowned Etosha National Park, one of Namibia’s top national parks, not only offers wildlife lovers excellent game-viewing opportunities, but is famous for its animal-packed waterholes and abundant predators sightings. Namibia’s wildly untamed and well-watered answer to the Okavango Delta – the Caprivi Strip (newly renamed as the Zambezi Region) on the other hand boasts incredible bird watching opportunities as well as diverse wildlife reserves which is home to an incredible population of wildlife.
A Namibian safari holiday is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts as well as first-time safari goers. Besides offering an incredible diversity of destinations, national parks and nature reserves to explore, its easy-to-access destinations makes it easy to embark on self-drive safari adventures as well as guided safari experiences. Plus, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as experiencing a one-of-a-kind game drive and safari adventure in this sandy oasis.
Top parks & reserves in Namibia for safari goers:
- Namib Desert & Sossusvlei
- Etosha National Park
- Skeleton Coast
- Hoanib Valley
#Uganda & Rwanda
Uganda and Rwanda are world-famous for being two of only three destinations world-wide where you can see endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. If you’re a head-over-heels adventure seeker that has gorilla trekking right at the top of your adventure safari bucket-list, visiting these two African countries is an absolute must.
Being one of only two of Africa’s most accessible gorilla trekking destinations is undoubtedly the main draw card of a Rwandan safari. While Kigali is Rwanda’s capital city, the legendary Volcanoes National Park (which is only a few hour’s drive away), is where you will find the habituated, but still wild gorilla families that call Rwanda their home. Besides exploring the unique and diverse landscapes of Rwanda, small groups of privileged visitors have the remarkable opportunity to experience one of the most memorable wildlife encounters on earth – gorilla trekking through the pristine Virungas rainforest. This is one exceptional and exhilarating experience that should undoubtedly be at the top of every adventurer’s bucket-list.
Besides being one of the top African countries for gorilla trekking, there is so much more to this incredible African country than meets the eye. Rwanda is also home to the primate-filled Nyungwe Forest National Park which boasts incredible bird-watching opportunities as well as ample chimpanzees. On the other hand, Akagera National Park, another one of Rwanda’s pristine national parks, boasts exceptional big game viewing opportunities in a diverse savannah setting. In addition to these exceptional wildlife destinations, Rwanda boasts a variety of must-see landscapes and parks, including Lake Kivu and so much more. Making a safari trip to Rwanda well worth it in every way.
If seeing and getting up-close-and-personal with mountain gorillas in their natural rainforest habitat is on your African safari bucket-list, then going on an African safari in Uganda is right up your alley! Boasting a 90% success rate at finding habituated gorilla family groups in the extraordinary Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, gorilla trekking in Uganda has become one of Africa’s most sought-after safari experiences among locals and travellers alike.
But don’t you dare for a minute think that a Uganda safari is only about gorillas in rainforests – as that is far from the truth! Uganda is not only home to an exceptional variety of diverse national parks, it is also a strong contender for one of the world’s best bird watching destinations.
If you’re incredibly keen to experience Uganda’s classic big game viewing, sought-after chimpanzee and gorilla trekking and river cruises, be sure to head to Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park.