Regarded as one of Kenya’s top parks to visit for both first-time and avid safari-goers, the Aberdare National Park is a fairly small national park located in Kenya’s cool central highlands along the Great Rift Valley. Aberdare National Park boasts two unique landscapes; a moorland plateau and areas of dense rainforest and lush mountainous regions of valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and forests.

The Aberdare National Park offers a totally different safari experience to the better-known, open savannah parks of Kenya. When you visit the Aberdare on safari, you’ll not only enjoy unique and spectacular scenery, you’ll also experience excellent game viewing.

The Aberdare National Park is well located and easy to get to, making it a great addition to your Kenyan safari itinerary.

With so much to see, do, explore, and experience, here are some of the top reasons why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya.

Highlights of visiting Aberdare National Park in Kenya

  • Home to the Big 5
  • Has the second largest black rhino population
  • In Kenya’s Central Highlands, it has a unique range of moors and tropical forests
  • Much cooler and more pleasant climate than many of the other parks
  • Chance to see rare forest animals like the bongo antelope, Colobus monkey, black leopard
  • Photographic hides close to salt licks and waterholes get you close to big game
  • Year-round safari destination with excellent game viewing

Abundant Wildlife & Rare Game

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

Naturally, wildlife viewing is one of the primary reasons to plan an African safari adventure. Aberdare National Park boasts a vast diversity and robust population of wildlife. Avid wildlife enthusiasts will have the pleasure of seeing every member of the renowned African Big 5, elephants, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino in their natural habitat, with sightings of elephant and buffalo almost guaranteed. Aberdare National Park also has the second largest black rhino population.

In addition to the Big 5, Aberdare National Park is home to a distinct variety of remarkable and extremely rare wildlife species and forest-dwelling game. Some of the rare species you may be lucky enough to see include, the black serval, the black leopard, the black-and-white Colobus monkey, skyes monkey, golden cat, giant forest hog, the nocturnal greater galago, Harvey’s red duiker, and the eastern bongo, the country’s most elusive antelope that lives in the bamboo forests.

If you time your trip to Kenya’s Aberdare National Park to coincide with the dry season, you’ll be able to witness the bountiful abundance of wildlife congregating at the waterholes, as well as the rare black leopard and black rhinos if you’re lucky.

Exceptional Bird Watching

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

Undoubtedly one of the top reasons why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya is its prolific birdlife and bird watching opportunities. The moorlands and forests of Aberdare National Park are home to over 290 species of birds. Some of the less common bird species avid birders can look forward to spotting at Aberdare include, the rare scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, Hartlaub’s turaco, Red necked Spurfowls, and the Aberdare cisticola, which is entirely endemic to the region.

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

Two Red necked Spurfowls (Pternistis afer) in the Aberdare Mountains in Kenya

As many of these remarkable bird species can be found at higher altitudes like mountain peaks, be sure to pack some powerful binoculars for a satisfying bird watching experience.

Softer Climate

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

One of the many great things about Aberdare National Park is the fact that it is considered to be more of a year-round safari destination compared to other national parks and reserves in Kenya. This is due to its mountainous area which can experience both mist and rain all year long.

While it is possible to enjoy an exceptional and exciting safari experience at the Aberdare National Park throughout the year, the drier months of January and February and June to September are typically the best times to visit, especially when it comes to game viewing. The dry season is also the perfect time for those looking to explore the park more extensively, such as avid hikers.

Dry season highlights include (June – September):

  • It is mostly sunny and there is less rain
  • Large herds of animals congregate around the waterholes allowing for exceptional wildlife sightings
  • It is the best time for hiking and exploring the moorland zone at higher altitude
  • Driving around the park is easier

Wet season highlights include (October – May):

  • Bird watching is excellent and migratory birds are present
  • Park, hotels, reserves, and lodges are less crowded
  • Low season rates apply

Downfalls to visiting Aberdare National Park during the wet season:

  • Heavy rainfall can be a hinderance to wildlife sightings
  • Wildlife visibility is low due to misty, rainy conditions
  • Rainfall can interfere with game drives, hiking, bushwalks, and other safari experiences

Incredible Scenery

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

Along with the exciting prospect of enjoying close encounters with wildlife and spotting rare and endemic birdlife, Aberdare National Park’s stunning scenery has captured the hearts of many. Boasting endless miles of woodlands, forests, swamps, and anthill-dotted plains, exploring Aberdare’s beautiful panoramic backdrops and unique landscapes are an adventure in itself.

Whether you’re walking or driving through the undulating savannah plains and picture-perfect African landscapes of Aberdare National Park, the vast range of scenic natural wonders and remarkable wildlife will provide you with endless photo opportunities to capture your experience.

Aberdares Mountains & Mount Kenya

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

Rising to 5,199m / 17,057ft high, Mount Kenya is the largest mountain in Kenya and the second tallest in Africa, topped only by the famous Kilimanjaro. Linked to the more westerly 3,999m Aberdare Mountain Range by an elevated grassy saddle, these two massifs represent extremes of geological antiquity. Both Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Mountains are protected within a national park.

The two mountains collectively support most of the country’s surviving Afro-montane forest and Afro-alpine moorland and share many ecological affinities. The Aberdares Mountains and Mount Kenya are host to an exceptional diversity of fauna, as well as all the iconic members of the African Big 5, alongside more localised forest species such as Sykes monkey, black‑and‑white colobus, Harvey’s red duiker, mountain antelope, and giant forest hogs.

Space, Privacy & Exclusivity

Why you should visit Aberdare National Park in Kenya

If you’re eager to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy a more exclusive safari experience in Kenya, Aberdare National Park is the ideal safari destination. As Aberdare does not see as many visitors compared to Kenya’s larger and more popular parks like the Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park, a trip to Aberdare National Park means you get to enjoy more space and privacy.

Positioned to provide true away-from-it-all indulgence, it will feel like you’ve escaped to your own piece of unspoiled African wilderness. The only ‘interruptions’ you’ll encounter are wandering elephants, curios giraffes, lions roaring at twilight, laughing hyenas, high-pitched bird calls, and, if you’re lucky, a leopard basking in the midday sun. This makes for an intimate and unforgettable one-on-one encounter with nature and a more fulfilling African safari experience.

Colonial History

Aberdare National Park is one of Kenya’s more historic wildlife parks with a profound colonial history. Well established lodges like Treetops and The Ark are not only regarded as two of the top safari lodges for first-time and avid safari-goers visiting Aberdare, but continues to boast about their illustrious guest lists from days gone by.

These historic treetop lodges gained overnight fame in 1952 when it hosted the young Princess Elizabeth on the very night that her father King George VI died, and she became the uncrowned Queen of the United Kingdom.

Kenya is regarded as one of the world’s most pristine African safari destinations. Home to some of the best – if not the best – parks, conservancies and game reserves in Africa, people travel to Kenya from all around the globe to experience one of the most unique African adventures.

To ensure you have the ultimate African safari experience when visiting Kenya, have a look at our ‘Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Kenya‘ blog for all the best places to go on your trip.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya

Kenya is regarded as one of the world’s most pristine African safari destinations. Home to some of the best – if not the best – parks, conservancies and game reserves in Africa, people travel to Kenya from all around the globe to experience one of the most unique African adventures. Kenya is known for its unspoiled and varied landscapes, remarkable conservation initiatives, high concentration of game, exceptional sightings, and a sensational diversity of wildlife. From the renowned African Big 5 to wildlife species that can only be found in this part of the world, it’s no surprise Kenya has been dubbed one of Africa’s top wildlife and safari destinations.

Boasting and endless variety of things to do and experience, here are the top 10 tourist attractions in Kenya.

#1 Masai Mara National Reserve

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Masai Mara National park

The world-renowned Masai Mara National Reserve is undoubtedly one of Kenya’s most remarkable reserves and safari destinations as well as the country’s most sought-after tourist attraction. The Masai Mara is a northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti, and is the site of the annual Great Wildebeest Migration which takes place from late July through to early October during which millions of wildebeest and thousands of zebra migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Masai Mara’s Great Migration is regarded as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles and natural wonders to witness first-hand. By far the most anticipated part of this journey is the dramatic Mara River crossings that occur between July and September as the animals enter Kenya.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Masai Mara National park

Along with millions of wildebeest and huge herds of zebra, antelopes and other grazers, this jaw-dropping spectacle is a magnet for predators. There is no better place to witness lion, leopard, and cheetah in double-quick time, helped by the open terrain and the cats’ ease around vehicles. The Masai Mara National Reserve is therefore one of the best places in Africa for big cat sightings.

#2 Amboseli National Park

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Kenya. Located close to the Tanzania border at the northern base of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park is renowned for being the best place in Africa to get up-close to one of Africa’s largest members of the Big 5, elephants.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Amboseli National Park

While Amboseli is considered relatively small, especially when compared to some of Kenya’s other reserves and parks such as the famous Masai Mara National Park, it remains a long-standing highlight of Kenya’s safari circuit. Well known for its high density of elephants, the Amboseli National Park forms the unfenced core of an 8,000 km2 ecosystem that includes large tracts of Maasai community land both in Kenya and across the border in Tanzania.

#3 Mount Kenya and Aberdares Mountains

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Mount Kenya

Elephants drinking water with Mount Kenya in the background

Rising to 5,199m / 17,057ft high, Mount Kenya is the largest mountain in Kenya and the second tallest in Africa, topped only by the famous Kilimanjaro. Linked to the more westerly 3,999m Aberdare Range by an elevated grassy saddle, these two massifs represent extremes of geological antiquity. Both Mount Kenya and the Aberdares are protected within a national park. The two mountains collectively support most of the country’s surviving Afro-montane forest and Afro-alpine moorland and share many ecological affinities. These two iconic Kenyan attractions are host to an exceptional diversity of fauna, as well as all the beloved members of the African Big 5, alongside more localised forest species such as Sykes monkey, black‑and‑white colobus, Harvey’s red duiker, mountain antelope, and giant forest hogs.

Top 10 sights to see in kenya - Aberdares Mountains

African Buffalo in the Aberdare Mountains in Kenya

Mount Kenya is essentially an extinct stratovolcano that erupted into existence approximately three million years ago when the East African Rift (part of the Great Rift Valley) opened up. Today Mount Kenya’s upper slopes are dominated by glaciers and rugged snowy peaks, and its lower slopes are covered in African rosewood trees and stunning forests of bamboo. The mountain runoff also provides water to millions of people in and around the area. Mount Kenya is therefore not only one of the top tourist attractions in Kenya, but one of the most beautiful places to visit too.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya’s upper slopes are dominated by glaciers and rugged snowy peaks

Keen travellers and avid adventurers eagerly hoping to summit Mount Kenya can either hike to Point Lenana, one of the three peaks, by taking the world’s highest via ferrata route, or opt to climb Batian Peak, the highest point on the mountain – however, this route requires skill and experience of technical climbing.

#4 Samburu National Reserve

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Samburu National Reserve

Located in northern Kenya, Samburu National Reserve is regarded as one of the best wildlife and safari destinations in the country. Due to the Uaso Nyiro River that runs through it and the mixture of forest and grassland vegetation, Samburu National Reserve is known to attract a prolific and vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife. Within the reserve you’ll encounter lion, cheetah, leopard, elephants, buffalo, hippos, and countless other wildlife species, as well as over 450 species of birds. If you’re lucky, you may be fortunate enough to spot some of Kenya and Samburu National Park’s rare and remarkable sub-species such as the Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, East African oryx, packs of endangered wild dogs, and the gerenuk (long-necked antelope). Not to mention large numbers of Nile crocodile that call the Uaso Nyiro River their home.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Samburu National Reserve

This region of Kenya is also home to the Samburu people, distinctive tribes people famed for their many strands of brightly colored beaded jewellery.

#5 Lake Nakuru National Park

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is not only one of Kenya’s top tourist attractions to see and destinations to visit, but a true bird lover’s paradise. It is home to a vast number of bird species, most notably huge flocks of flamingos, with more than a million pink flamingos flocking to the shores of Lake Nakuru. Often called the greatest bird spectacle on earth, the flamingos are undoubtedly one of Kenya’s top attractions. Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes, and the vast diversity of birds are attracted to the high levels of algae in the water. In addition to millions of flamingos, the beautiful African fish eagle, Verreaux’s eagle, pelicans, cormorants, the Goliath heron and hammerkops can frequently be spotted around the lake.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Lake Nakuru National Park

Along with Lake Nakuru’s prolific birdlife, Lake Nakuru National Park is known for its incredible sightings of white and black rhinos, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, giraffes, zebra, hippos, ostriches, and other wildlife species throughout the park.

#6 Tsavo National Park

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo National Park is divided into Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together, Tsavo’s two national parks make up the largest national park and protected wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. Located approximately10 hours’ drive from Nairobi, Tsavo National Park is more remote than Kenya’s other safari parks. This makes Tsavo perfect for those looking to experience a slightly off-the-beaten-track African safari adventure.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East National Park

Extending over 21,812 km2, Tsavo National Park boasts a vast diversity of landscapes to explore as Tsavo West and Tsavo East are quite different in character. Tsavo West is known for its spectacular scenery with a rolling volcanic landscape, jagged black outcrops, solidified lava flows and tangled acacia woodlands overshadowed by Kilimanjaro on the southwest horizon. The larger and less developed Tsavo East has more open savannah than its western counterpart. The red-earth plains of Tsavo East also have stronger affiliations with the semi-arid badlands of northern Kenya, despite being alleviated by the presence of the perennial Galana River.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Tsavo National Park

Being the largest conservation area and protected wildlife sanctuaries in Kenya, Tsavo National Park protects significant populations of wildlife and the African Big 5. Both parks boast an unrestricted wilderness atmosphere that will appeal to both first-time and repeat safari-goers. Tsavo National Park is home to a remarkable diversity of wildlife and birdlife. From all the members of the renowned Big 5, elephants, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo, to incredible sightings of giraffe, cheetah, serval cat species, oryx, gazelle, antelope, stripped hyena, impala, and over 500 species of birds – Tsavo will definitely not disappoint.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Tsavo National Park

The sight of elephants spraying the blue waters of the Galana River on themselves is one Tsavo National Park highlight you’ll cherish forever. Tsavo East is also home to two iconic trees, the baobab and the doum palm.

#7 Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate National Park is undoubtedly one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Kenya. Once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley, Hell’s Gate National Park is a tiny park named after a narrow break in the cliffs. Regarded as one of Kenya’s hidden gems, Hell’s Gate National Park is known for its steep cliffs, dramatic scenery, gorges, and basalt columns.

While it may be one of Kenya’s smaller national parks, it is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including lion, leopards, cheetahs and so much more. Besides Hell’s Gate National Park’s vast scenery, landscapes, and wildlife, it is unique among Kenya’s wildlife parks and safari destinations as you are allowed to walk or cycle through the park without a guide present – This gives you the opportunity to tick a thrilling adventure off your African safari bucket-list.

#8 Rift Valley Lakes

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Rift Valley Lakes

Kenya’s Rift Valley is located northwest of Nairobi. It boasts sheer basaltic cliffs, and a classic East African landscape of open savannah, studded with jagged volcanic outcrops and surrounded with beautiful lakes.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru in Kenya

The Rift Valley and its surrounding lakes (Rift Valley Lakes) are world-renowned for its vast and prolific birdlife. The most sought-after attraction and main attention-grabber for birding enthusiasts from across the world are undoubtedly the million-strong flocks of flamingos that frequently amass at saline lakes Nakuru and Bogoria. In addition to the lakes of Nakuru and Bogoria, the freshwater lakes of Naivasha and Baringo are not only two of the most beautiful lakes and must-visit spots for sensational bird sightings, but top contenders for the title and accolade of ‘top general birding hotspot outside the national park system’.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Lake Bogoria

Flocks of flamingos at Lake Bogoria in Kenya

While large mammals are less abundant in Kenya’s Rift Valley than the likes of larger national parks such as the Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park, it still offers visitors incredible wildlife sightings. In addition to marvelling at the millions of magnificent flamingos that frequently amass at Lake Bogoria and Lake Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National Park is regarded as one of the best places and safari destinations in East Africa to find both black and white rhino.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Nakuru National Park

To top it off, Hell’s Gate National Park, Crescent Island, and Green Crater Lake Sanctuary offers visitors, and avid safari and wildlife lovers the exciting opportunity to see large wildlife species on foot in their natural habitat.

#9 Nairobi National Park

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is regarded as one of the attractions in Kenya. Located a mere 10 minutes’ drive from the center of Nairobi, Nairobi National Park is undoubtedly one of Kenya’s most accessible and popular national parks to visit, with only a fence separating the park’s prolific wildlife from the metropolis. Despite being relatively smaller than some of Kenya’s other sought-after and sizeable national parks, Nairobi National Park boasts a vast and varied wildlife population, promising spectacular wildlife sightings and encounters.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Nairobi National Park

To add some extra anticipation and excitement to your Nairobi National Park wildlife experience, thousands of migrating wildebeest and zebra can be seen gathering in the park during the dry season. The Nairobi National Park is also one of Kenya’s most successful rhino sanctuaries.

#10 Laikipia Plateau & Conservancy

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Laikipia

Once dominated by livestock ranches in the colonial era, the immense Laikipia Plateau has since been transformed into one of East Africa’s finest and most exclusive wildlife destinations. Overseen by the non-profit Laikipia Wildlife Foundation, the several dozen private and community-owned sanctuaries of the vast Laikipia Plateau now function as Kenya’s second largest wildlife sanctuary and conservancy, encompassing 9,500km2 in total, after Tsavo National Park.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Laikipia

In addition to its exclusivity, remarkable conservation status and size, the Laikipia Plateau is home to an incredibly diverse wildlife population. As the plateau is transitional to the central highlands and northern deserts, it provides an important stronghold for wildlife rarities such as the endangered African wild dog, Grevy’s zebra, and black rhino. It also supports various dry-country wildlife species such as the greater and lesser kudu, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, and Beisa oryx, along with substantial populations of leopard, lion, and cheetah.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Laikipia

Lioness in the plains of Ol Pejeta Conservancy

There are a number of extraordinary sanctuaries and conservancies located within Laikipia Plateau. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a Big Five conservancy found in the foothills of Mount Kenya, is one of the prime sanctuaries of Laikipia Plateau. Ol Pejeta Conservancy is renowned for its exceptional conservation initiatives. Its highlights include the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa; a population of southern white rhino; a refuge for the last two northern white rhinos left in the world (Ol Pejeta Conservancy is where the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died in 2018; the last females of the sub-species still live at Ol Pejeta and are protected around the clock). The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary can also be found in the Laikipia Conservancy.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - Laikipia

Baby Black rhino in Ol Pejeta Conservancy kenya

The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary houses orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees as well as chimpanzees rescued from the black market.

Top 10 sights to see in Kenya - The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy Kenya

Visiting Laikipia Plateau and its incredible sanctuaries and conservancies, especially Ol Pejeta Conservancy, is not only one of the top 10 things to do in Kenya, as well as one of Kenya’s top attractions, but a great destination to learn more about the relationship between people and wildlife and the various challenges faced in the conservation industry.

Visitors and wildlife lovers will also have the opportunity to enjoy a range of exciting experiences such as lion tracking, exhilarating bush walks, and thrilling night drives and safaris.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana

Botswana is not only regarded as one of the most exclusive safari destinations in Africa, but one of the most remarkable wilderness areas on earth. Boasting vast areas of protected wilderness, pristine landscapes, and a rich diversity of wildlife, as a safari destination, Botswana is hard to top.

The south and east of Botswana consist of the jaw-dropping Kalahari Desert and lunar-like pans at Nxai and Makgadikgadi. The north and west, on the other hand, comprise the dazzling water worlds of the Okavango Delta and Chobe River ecosystem. The sheer diversity of Botswana’s terrain lends itself to an endless array of things to do, see, and explore.

Whether it’s your first trip to Botswana or your 10th, there is always something unique and exciting to experience when visiting one of Africa’s most extraordinary safari destinations.

Here are the top 10 tourist attractions in Botswana on your next trip.

#1 The Okavango Delta

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Okavango Delta

One of the largest inland deltas, the vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland that is the Okavango Delta is deemed one of the world’s premier wilderness areas. The Delta is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013.

The Delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River. The Okavango River cuts through the center of the Kalahari Desert, creating a unique inland water system that gives life to a vast diversity of birdlife and wildlife as well as the Okavango Delta’s dynamic ecosystem.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Okavango Delta

Unlike most river deltas the Okavango River empties onto open land, flooding the savanna and creating a unique and ever-changing inland delta. The Okavango Delta is affected by seasonal flooding, with the delta floods covering over 6,175 square miles/ 16,000 square kilometers every year. The Delta’s peak flood season takes place during May – October (with water levels being at its highest during June – August). The Delta’s peak flood season coincides with Botswana’s dry season, which in turn coincides with great migrations of plains game from the dry hinterland. During the Okavango Delta’s dry season, around 260,000 mammals are estimated to congregate around the delta, resulting in pristine wildlife sightings and encounters. The Delta is also known as a world-famous stronghold for predators and an exceptional birding site, home to approximately 530 bird species.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Botswana Safari Mokoro Trip

Besides enjoying an authentic African safari, by far one of the top things to do in Botswana is mokoro through the Okavango Delta. A mokoro is a traditional dug-out canoe which is used to traverse and explore the waterways and channels of the Okavango Delta. Enjoying a mokoro journey through the Delta is not only a unique bucket-list worthy safari experience, but gives you the opportunity to see and explore hidden gems, secret spots, rare sightings, and smaller things you’d miss on a traditional game drive.

#2 Chobe National Park

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Chobe National Park

The renowned Chobe National Park lies within Botswana’s Okavango Delta and covers four distinct eco-systems. Chobe National Park is home to over 120,000 African elephants, making it one of the top places on the planet to see these huge mammals in their natural environment. The best time of year to enjoy spectacular sightings of these gentle giants of the African bushveld is during Botswana’s cooler, winter months (dry season) between May and September when enormous herds congregate on the banks of the Chobe River.

The unspoilt wilderness of Chobe National Park not only supports the world’s largest concentration of African elephants, but a multitude of buffalo and a remarkable and vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife. The Savuti Marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa all year round.

The Chobe National Park is also home to the beloved endangered African wild dogs, jackals, leopards, and various predators, to mention a few. The Savuti region of the Chobe National Park is notoriously known for brutal clashes between lions and hyenas as well as where powerful prides famously take down Africa’s biggest game like buffalo, giraffe and even elephants.

You can self-drive in Chobe National Park, which makes it a great park to visit for those on a road trip or on an African wildlife adventure. You can also easily do a daytrip from Zimbabwe or Zambia. Alternatively there is a wide variety of accommodation options available.

#3 Tuli Block

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Tuli Block

Bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, the Tuli Block is a beautiful wildlife rich area located in eastern Botswana. Boasting dramatic rocky scenery, towering baobab trees and thick riverine forests, it is a magnificent corner of Botswana that’s unlike the rest of the country. The Tuli Block was once an area of private farms, but a few decades ago the land was transformed into a well-managed conservation area and wildlife sanctuary. Now the Tuli Block encompasses several reserves, including Mashatu Game Reserve and the Northern Tuli Game Reserve – One of the largest privately owned game reserves in Southern Africa.

Besides offering wildlife and nature lovers an exclusive African safari experience, one of the Tuli Block’s greatest allures is its prolific wildlife, with incredible sightings guaranteed year-round. There are large herds of elephant, several species of antelope, plenty of lion, leopard, wildebeest, and even cheetah. The Tuli Block is also one of Southern Africa’s bird watching hot spots with at least 350 species recorded.

Due to it being private land, thrilling guided walking safaris and night drives can be enjoyed when visiting the Tuli Block. It also boasts several excellent and exclusive lodges and camps to stay at

#4 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Zebra Migration

One of the largest salt pans in the world, Makgadikgadi was once a lake covering a vast 10,000 square kilometers of north-eastern Botswana. While the cracked and dry Makgadikgadi Salt Pans may not look like the type of environment that would attract a large population of wildlife, people will be pleasantly surprised when visiting this unique part of Botswana.

During summer, the desolate dry expanses of Makgadikgadi come to life with thriving grasslands, attracting a vast diversity of wildlife, including springbok, wildebeest and zebra followed closely by lion and cheetah. Shallow waters begin to flood over seemingly endless pans, drawing thousands of flamingos.

By far one of the top highlights of visiting the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans during Botswanan’s wet season is seeing Southern Africa’s largest zebra migration from the Boteti River. During the annual zebra migration visitors will have the opportunity to witness thousands of zebras move through Botswana’s Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks. The annual zebra migration is the second largest migration of wildlife in Africa.

#5 Tsodilo Hills

The Tsodilo Hills is undoubtedly one of the top tourist attractions in Botswana. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Tsodilo Hills is famed for its religious significance and is comprised of rock paintings, shelters, depressions, and caves. Often referred to as a spiritual outdoor art gallery, Tsodilo Hills showcases more than 4,000 ancient San Bushmen rock paintings, with over 4,500 cave drawings being found throughout the site. You will also find around 400 sites depicting hunting scenes, ritual dances, and typical safari animals.

It is said that some rock art dates back more than 20,000 years and archaeologists have ascertained that people lived in this area as far back as 100,000 years ago. The San Bushmen further believed this sacred area to be the site of the first creation of man and a resting place for spirits of the dead.

When visiting the Tsodilo Hills in Botswana, you can expect to hike the three main hills (especially if you’re looking to experience the full Tsodilo Hills exploration journey), with the assistance of local guides. There is a basic campsite and a small but informative museum on site.

#6 Nxai Pan National Park

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Nxai Pan National Park

Technically part of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Nxai Pan was created as an extension to expand the conservation area. Situated within Nxai Pan you’ll find the magnificent and highly sought-after wilderness and safari destination, the Nxai Pan National Park. While the spectacular scenery and vast landscapes is one of the area’s main draws, boasting remarkable sand dunes, towering baobab trees, and of course the salt pans themselves, Nxai Pan and Nxai Pan National Park has so much to offer.

During Botswana’s rainy season (from November to April), the lakebed becomes beautifully lush and green, playing host to an incredible variety of wildlife that migrate through the area. When flooded, the pans also offer exceptional birding and vast game-viewing opportunities. Another wet season highlight is the great annual zebra migration which sees thousands of zebras move through Botswana’s Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks. Although the Great Migration in the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is the most famous and biggest land migration in the world, Botswana’s zebra migration is actually the longest migration as well as the second largest migration of wildlife in Africa.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Zebra Migration

While Nxai Pan and Nxai Pain National Park is open to visitors and wildlife lovers all year round, the rainy (wet season – November to April) is undoubtedly the best time to visit this majestic part of Botswana. In addition to the annual zebra migration, visitors are more likely to witness vast herds and a wide range of wildlife during this time of year, including lions, giraffes, kudu, springbok, impala, wildebeest, ostriches, jackals, bat-eared foxes, to mention merely a few of its wildlife highlights. Not to mention the incredible variety of birdlife you’ll encounter.

As the Nxai Pan National Park is located in the north-eastern part of Botswana, you can easily combine your visit with a trip to the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, which reaches into the park.

#7 Moremi Game Reserve

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Moremi Game Reserve

Covering one third of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, bordering on the Chobe National Park, the Moremi Game Reserve, also known as the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, is a small reserve which is home to a dense concentration and vast diversity of African wildlife. This undoubtedly makes the Moremi Game Reserve one of the top tourist attractions in Botswana for any wildlife enthusiast.

Known for its exceptional and abundant wildlife, Moremi Game Reserve and adjoining private land concessions in the Okavango provide the perfect environment in which to see endangered Wild Dogs and other rare wildlife species in their natural habitat. Some of these rare species include, the Black-maned Kalahari Lion, Sitatunga, Puku and Red Lechwe antelope, Brown Hyena, the African Skimmer and Aardvark.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Moremi Game Reserve African Wild Dog

The Moremi Game Reserve is also regarded as one of the best reserves to spot the renowned African Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) thanks to the recent re-introduction of both black and white rhino into the area. If you’re an avid bird lover, you are in for quite a treat as Moremi Game Reserve’s birdlife is truly unrivalled with over 500 species to admire.

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Moremi Game Reserve Birdlife

July through to October is the best time to visit this amazing part of Botswana, with 4×4 safaris combined with water-based traditional mokoro trips being the best and most unique way to see the abundant wildlife and birdlife the Moremi Game Reserve has to offer.

#8 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 

Boasting sand dunes, salt pans, and a thriving diversity of wildlife, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the best parks to visit in Botswana during the rainy summer months (November – April). Regarded as one of the largest parks in Botswana, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park covers an estimated area of 14,670 square miles/ 38,000 square kilometers. Its size is largely due to the fact that it encompasses two previously separate parks: The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana.

While you won’t find the entire African Big 5 here, migrating herds of wildebeest and other antelope attract large numbers of predators and raptors – resulting in some pretty spectacular sightings. The protected area that makes up the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is unfenced, which allows the wildlife to follow their ancient migration routes.

If you’re a keen adventurer and wildlife enthusiast looking to experience an off-the-beaten-path African adventure, visiting the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park should undoubtedly be on your safari bucket-list. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is not easy to get to, especially from the Botswana side. You’ll need a 4×4 and the ability to camp self-sufficiently if you’re eager to explore and experience this majestic piece of Botswana wilderness.

#9 The Kalahari

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Kalahari

Botswana’s three Kalahari parks, namely Nxai Pan National Park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, are a far cry from the common image of a sandy wasteland many might be expecting. Instead, the Kalahari boasts beautiful, wooded grasslands and seasonally flooded pans which are home to an astonishing diversity of wildlife. As the Kalahari and its vivid landscapes are vastly different to Botswana’s more popular destinations, it is the ideal destination for seasoned travelers looking for a unique and authentic African safari experience.

Besides classic Kalahari wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest, oryx, eland, springbok and giraffe, Botswana’s three renowned Kalahari parks have a reputation for its vast predator activity. When visiting the Kalahari, wildlife lovers are likely to encounter black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetah, black-backed jackal, brown and spotted hyena, leopard, and rare and endangered wild dog sightings. A Kalahari safari also gives you the opportunity to see several of Africa’s smaller and more elusive animals such as the wild cat, porcupine, aardwolf, meerkat, and honey badgers.

Birdlife in the Kalahari is surprisingly exceptional, especially during Botswana’s rainy summer months between December and April. Avid birders can enjoy incredible sightings of flamingos, secretary birds, martial eagles, great white pelicans, and giant eagle owls.

#10 Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Top 10 Sights To See In Botswana - Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Established in 1992, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary was set-up in an effort to help save Botswana’s endangered rhinos from extinction as well as to re-introduce wildlife into the area so that the local community could benefit from tourism. To this day the Khama Rhino Sanctuary plays a vital role in the conservation of one of the most endangered species in the world. Both white and black rhino can be found at the Rhino Sanctuary. In addition to rhinos, the sanctuary is home to several endangered and rare species as well as a variety of wildlife, including the beloved Wild Dog, caracal, aardvark, leopard, cheetah, elephant and more.

The 4,300-hectare reserve is located about 25km outside of Serowe and is heavily patrolled by the Botswana Defence Force to ensure the rhinos remain protected at all times. The sanctuary is centered around the Serwe Pan – a large grass-covered depression with several natural water holes in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana.

If you are self-driving to Botswana’s northern game reserves, it’s a great idea to stop at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary and witness these magnificent and critically endangered species first-hand. While you’re in the park you can also opt to enjoy a walking safari, game drive, or track a rhino on foot with a guide.

 

To find out everything you need to know about Botswana, planning your trip, and when the best time is to go – Check out our ‘Best Time to go to Botswana‘ blog for the ultimate guide. For more information on one of Botswana’s crown jewels, the Okavango Delta, have a look at our ‘Best Time to go to the Okavango Delta‘ blog.

What is Heritage Day and why its Important in South Africa

Heritage Day is an important South African public holiday which is celebrated on the 24th of September each year. It is a day on which all South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people. As the self-proclaimed ‘Rainbow Nation’, boasting a vibrant cultural diversity, eleven official languages, a rich and intricate history and a variety of traditions, Heritage Day is recognized and celebrated in many different ways in South Africa.

History of Heritage Day

What is Heritage Day and why its Important in South Africa

Photo credit: Retlaw Snellac Photography (Flickr)

While many South Africans are aware of Heritage Day, how many know the history behind it, the true reason we celebrate this momentous holiday, and its connection to various cultures and traditions?

Heritage Day was initially known as ‘Shaka Day’ or ‘Shaka’s Day’, a day dedicated to commemorating the legendary King Shaka Zulu on the presumed date of his death in 1828. Shaka Zulu played an important role in uniting different Zulu clans into one cohesive Zulu nation in Kwa-Zulu Natal. To this day, thousands of people gather at the King Shaka Memorial on the 24th of September each year to pay tribute to the great Zulu King.

What is Heritage Day and why its Important in South Africa

Photo credit: Jay Calvin (Flickr) | Shaka kaSenzangakhona (1780s -1828) Bronze Statue – ‘Long March to Freedom’ Monument

When the bill presented to the new post-Apartheid Parliament of South Africa in 1996 omitted Shaka Day from the proposed Public Holidays Bill, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, strongly objected to the bill. Eventually, a compromise was reached between the Parliament and the ANC (African National Congress), and it was decided that a national holiday would be created where South Africans of all cultures and creeds could come together and celebrate their diverse cultural heritage – Giving rise to Heritage Day!

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

– Late former President Nelson Mandela in an address marking Heritage Day in 1996

In recent years, Heritage Day has further evolved and become synonymous with National Braai Day. Some call it Shisa Nyama or Ukosa, while others call it a braai. Regardless of what term you use, the intention remains the same – Gathering around a fire, enjoying good food, good company and celebrating your culture and heritage with friends, family, and the ones you love.

Why is Heritage Day Important in South Africa

What is Heritage Day and why its Important in South Africa

South Africa ranks among the 10 most culturally diverse countries in the world. A county’s relative diversity is determined based on several factors and high-level considerations, including: Level of ethnic diversity; Number of immigrants; Number of spoken languages; Number of religious beliefs; Number of political parties; Level of religious freedom; LGBT rights and freedom; and Level of personal liberty. Each of these categories are further divided into sub-categories, to ultimately determine the level of cultural diversity in any given country.

In addition to being one of the most culturally diverse countries, the population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world. It is because of this intricate and vast diversity that Heritage Day is so important in South Africa and should be celebrated by all its people. National Heritage Day is dedicated to recognizing the cultural wealth of our nation in its entirety. By acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating our various cultures, traditions, and heritage against the background of our unique diversity, we build pride in ourselves, our fellow South Africans, and our nation as we remember the difficulties and hardships of the past, share in the victories of the present, and raise hope for the future.

One of the most important aspects of Heritage Day is the fact that it exposes us as South Africans to different people, cultures, traditions, beliefs, and religions we may never have been exposed to or encountered otherwise. It encourages us to step outside of our own ‘cultural bubble’, and urges us to learn, grow, explore, and experience the vibrant and diverse range of cultures that exists within our glorious rainbow nation. And, in turn, allow us to understand, appreciate, recognize, and respect each culture and everything it embodies.

At the end of the day, we are ALL South Africans, and our ability to grow and learn from each other is not only endless, but a gift. This will further allow us to grow as individuals and contribute to a more unified South Africa.

Heritage Day therefore provides a great opportunity for all South Africans to put their differences in politics, perspectives, and opinions aside, to unite and come together in a single shared purpose and objective – To celebrate South Africa’s profound history and heritage TOGETHER AS ONE NATION!

Living Heritage

Another important aspect of South Africa’s heritage that should not be forgotten is living heritage. In essence, living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. The various aspects of living heritage include: Cultural tradition; rituals; oral history; popular memory; performance; indigenous knowledge systems; techniques and skills; and the holistic approach to nature, society, and social relationships. In South Africa, the term ‘living heritage’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

Why is living heritage important and what role does it play? Living heritage plays a vital role in promoting cultural diversity, reconciliation, social cohesion, economic development, and peace. In every South African community, there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. It is important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage in order to promote and accelerate its use in addressing the various challenges communities are facing today.

South African Cultures

South Africa is the Rainbow Nation, a title that captures the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity. As mentioned, the population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world.

South Africa’s black population is divided into four major ethnic groups; namely Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, and Swazi), Sotho, Shangaan-Tsonga, and Venda. There are numerous subgroups within these main ethnic groups of which the Zulu and Xhosa (two subgroups of the Nguni group) are the largest.

The majority of South Africa’s white population (about 60%) is of Afrikaans descent, with many of the remaining 40% being of British or European descent. South Africa’s coloured population have a mixed lineage, which often comprises the indigenous Khoisan genes combined with African slaves that were brought here from all over the continent, and white settlers.

Languages in South Africa

South Africa has eleven official languages:

  • English (9.6%)
  • Afrikaans (13.5%)
  • Ndebele (2.1%)
  • Sepedi (9.1%)
  • Xhosa (16%)
  • Venda (2.4%)
  • Tswana (8%)
  • Southern Sotho (7.6%)
  • Zulu (22.7%)
  • Swazi or SiSwati (2.5%)
  • Tsonga (4.5%)

In addition to its eleven official languages, many other languages from all over the world are frequently spoken in South Africa, some of which include:  Portuguese, Greek, Italian, French, Chinese etc.

Conclusion

What is Heritage Day and why its Important in South Africa

Heritage Day is one of the most important National Holidays in South Africa. It is vital to both the nation as a whole and its people that it continues to be recognized, commemorated, and celebrated.

Despite the many differences that exist amongst the various South African cultures, South Africa’s strong sense of unity around longstanding traditions has always remained integral. When needed, our rainbow nation always comes together as a force to be reckoned with.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park and is home to some of the most famous luxury safari lodges in Africa.

With the global pandemic restricting world wide travel a number of Kruger National Park Game Lodges have announced and continue to run some amazing South African resident deals.

The Kruger National park is South Africa’s most beautiful and exciting African Safari destination. This South African National Park is also one of the largest game reserves in Africa.

Are you looking to plan the ultimate safari trip to Africa, but you’re not sure when the best time is to go? When planning your trip, it is vital to do the necessary research on the best time to go to Africa for the experience you desire.

When we were approached by one of our guests to help him book and plan a romantic proposal in the heart of the African bushveld, we jumped at the opportunity to make it a memorable and magical experience neither of them will forget.

Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

Visit the Kruger National Park during SANParks Free Access Week 2020! The annual South African National Parks Week is an initiative aimed at giving all South African citizens the opportunity to experience the incredible variety of National Parks our country has to offer. This year SANParks will celebrate its 15th annual South African National Parks Week from the 16th – 20th of November 2020, granting free access to day visitors to most of its National Parks across the country, including the renowned Kruger National Park (KNP).

The week-long campaign will be applicable to all the National Parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Namaqua National Park, the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway in Table Mountain National Park.

Total South Africa and First National Bank (FNB) are official partners, helping SANParks achieve its vision to create a sustainable National Park System that connects society. The purpose of this amazing initiative is to familiarise and create awareness of the National Parks that exist in South Africa and foster a greater understanding of environmental conservation amongst South African citizens as well as cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.

“It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of our National Parks.” – SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni

The SANParks Free Access Week celebration usually takes place during September (tourism month) but due to the global COVID-19 pandemic this year, SANParks moved the event to a later date with the hope that the country would have moved to a lower level of lockdown allowing freer movement of people who ordinarily could not afford to visit the Kruger National Park as well as its other National Parks.

The Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park Gareth Coleman reiterated his excitement to welcome South African citizens to the Kruger National Park, while highlighting the importance of adhering to COVID-19 protocols and regulations in his statement: “The country is on Alert Level 1 of the lockdown in November; we are happy to give access to our people for them to come and enjoy their natural heritage, even if under unusual circumstances. We are still under lockdown and the virus is still with us; therefore we would like to request the public to continue to observe all the COVID-19 protocols including sanitising, wearing of face masks, and observing social distancing.”

Conditions for free entry into Kruger National Park

  • All South Africans must produce a valid SA ID to enter for free during South African National Parks Week. No electronic copies of IDs will be accepted.
  • Only children below the age of 16 gain entry without proof of identity.
  • Groups regarded as commercial ventures: private open safari vehicles operators, tourists who come to the Park on tour buses and overnight visitors are not included in this free access arrangement.
  • It should be noted that free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.
  • All members of the public visiting the Kruger National Park and other National Parks are requested to adhere to all the COVID-19 protocols and regulations including sanitising, wearing of face masks, and observing social distancing.
  • Due to COVID-19, all the parks will be operating under capacity constraints, and a first come – first serve basis principle will apply. To find out more regarding the capacity constraints and daily quotas allowed per National Park, visit the SANParks website.

Kruger National Park Gate Quotas

Gate 0 – 2 hours
after gate opens
2 – 4 hours
after gate opens
4+ hours
after gate opens
Crocodile Bridge Gate 320 192 192
Kruger Gate 192 128 192
Malelane Gate 192 128 192
Numbi Gate 192 128 192
Orpen Gate 192 128 128
Phabeni Gate 256 128 128
Pafuri Gate 128 128 128
Phalaborwa Gate 192 128 192
Punda Maria Gate 128 128 192

Reference: SANParks

Top attractions & experiences

Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

  • The Big Five: Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino.
  • The Little Five: Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
  • Birding Big Six: Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet- faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork.
  • Five Trees: Baobab, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn, Marula, Mopane.
  • Natural/Cultural Features: Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Albasini Ruins, Masorini Ruins, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, Thulamela.

Available activities

Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

  • Self-drives & game drives
  • Wilderness trails
  • Guided Walks
  • 4×4 Trails
  • Mountain biking
  • Eco Trails
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Bird watching

“SANParks and their employees proudly look after National Parks for the people of our country and the world. During SA National Parks Week we encourage all South Africans; in particular those from communities that border the Park and may never have an opportunity to visit to make a turn and come and see for themselves. This is why during the SA National Parks Week we offer free access to all the citizens of South Africa. We would like to make the public aware however that entries are limited. Because we are a conservation area we must observe the normal daily quota for visitors at the gates so people must arrive early. Quotas still apply during that week and entry will be given on a first come first served basis.” – Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park Gareth Coleman

Visit the SANParks website for more information.

Issued by:
South African National Parks – Kruger National Park

To find out more about the Kruger National Park and all the reasons why you should go on a Kruger Park Safari check out our blog!

 

National Parks included in SANParks Week