Regarded as a piece of unspoiled Africa, the world-renowned Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park, is a combination of the Timbavati, Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, forming one large expanse of pristine wilderness. Located in the heart of the Lowveld region of South Africa, Timbavati Game Reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, allowing wildlife to migrate freely between the two reserves.
Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp is an intimate, exclusive, and rustic tented camp with a contemporary safari elegance situated in Botswana’s vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland of Okavango Delta. Deemed one of the world’s premier wilderness areas and largest inland deltas, the Okavango Delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River, which gives rise to the Delta’s vast and dynamic ecosystem.
A landlocked country in southern Africa, Zambia is emerging as a premier safari travel location due to its unspoiled landscapes and diversity of wildlife and birdlife. But it’s the sheer remoteness of Zambia’s many wonderful wilderness regions and national parks that makes it one of the top safari destinations for locals, tourists, and adventure travelers alike.
Offering an endless variety of things to see and experience, here are the best things to do and top 10 tourist attractions in Zambia, all of which should be on your Zambian travel and safari bucket-list.
#1 VICTORIA FALLS
Regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and one of Africa’s most astonishing sights, Victoria Falls reigns supreme as one of the top tourist attractions in Zambia. Locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, this jaw-dropping waterfall on the Zambezi River is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Stretching 1.7km wide and reaching a height of 355 feet, Victoria Falls is considered to be the world’s biggest sheet of falling water.
When the Zambezi River is in full flood, it is estimated that 500-million litres of water per minute thunders over the drop, crashing into a deep rocky gorge at the bottom, throwing a cloud of mist and rainbow-lit spray high into the air. While the Main Falls lie within the borders of Zimbabwe, the Zambian side is equally as impressive during peak flood season (February to May). By far one of the best Zambian viewpoints is the Knife-Edge Bridge, which takes you right up close to this thundering waterfall – be prepared to get soaked!
Victoria Falls is a fantastic start or end point to a Zambian safari. If you have the time, it is highly recommended that you spend a few days exploring and sampling the many thrilling activities on offer. From relaxed sightseeing on foot and scenic helicopter flights to heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing experiences like white water rafting on high-grade rapids, microlight flights and bungee jumping – there is something for everyone to enjoy!
#2 LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
Situated along the lower section of the Zambezi River, the Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s premier wildlife and safari destinations. The main draw of the national park is its remote off-the-beaten-path location and pristine wilderness. Encompassing vast and varied terrain, including forest, grassland, and floodplain, the Lower Zambezi National Park supports a fantastic diversity of wildlife. Home to plenty of big game, including elephants, lions, buffaloes, hippos, and Nile crocodiles, as well as an array of birdlife and other wildlife species, wildlife enthusiasts will definitely not be disappointed.
Wildlife viewing is best along the rivers, which border the park on three sides. The Zambezi River is the region’s main source of water as well as its top attraction, both for game and visitors.
When visiting the Lower Zambezi National Park you can go on a safari or game drive and explore all the wonders the park has to offer or enjoy an adventure-filled nature walk. By far one of the major highlights is going on a canoe safari along the Zambezi River! It is both peaceful and undeniably thrilling paddling and drifting past the twitching ears and snorts of submerged hippos and knobbly Nile crocodiles basking on the riverbanks. The guides are utterly attuned to the animals’ habits and behaviour and are completely at ease predicting their next moves – So you can rest assured you are in safe hands!
#3 SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
South Luangwa National Park is arguably the greatest wildlife-viewing destination and top tourist attraction in Zambia. Boasting among the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Africa, the park is regarded as one of the very best places to see large herds of buffalo, elephants, and giraffes.
South Luangwa is home a number of rare and endemic species including Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra, along with plenty of leopard, lion, and hippo. In late October, just before the start of the rain, thousands of hippos gather in the Luangwa River’s deeper pools – It is a remarkable spectacle to witness as they jostle and fight for space.
The best time to visit South Luangwa National Park for pristine wildlife sightings is during the dry season when the area’s wildlife flock to the banks of the river. This also gives you the opportunity to see predators such as leopards and lions in action!
South Luangwa is famous for their walking safaris, which are led by expert guides through some of Africa’s best game viewing territory. Another major attraction is boat safaris, especially during the park’s rainy season. As the Luangwa River breaks its banks, shallow-draft vessels can navigate into the flooded riverine groves – this is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s most unique and exciting safari highlights!
#4 KAFUE NATIONAL PARK
Kafue National Park is the largest national park and wildlife reserve in Zambia and the second-biggest park in all of Africa. It covers more than 22000km² (2500km2 more than South Africa’s Kruger National Park), with the terrain varying significantly from north to south. Despite being one of Africa’s largest parks, Kafue is the least visited of Zambia’s three major national parks. Located well off-the-beaten-track, Kafue National Park is still very, very wild and regarded as somewhat of a Zambian hidden gem.
Rivers, seasonal floodplains, and far-reaching, wildlife-rich wetlands dominate northern Kafue. The extreme north of Kafue National Park is also where you’ll find the Busanga Plains, one of Zambia’s most significant wetland resources and the best region of the park for game viewing. Huge herds of red lechwe, puku, stately roan antelope, blue wildebeests, and zebras graze these grassy floodplains. Their large numbers attract plenty of predators, including lion prides, lone cheetahs, packs of wild dogs, and leopards. The Kafue River – the namesake of the park – is home to plenty of hippos as well as some of the largest crocodiles in southern Africa.
Birders will delight in the extreme northwest of the Kafue National Park where the Busanga Swamps, an official Ramsar site, attracts close to 500 birdlife species, including large flocks of herons, egrets, and endangered wattle cranes.
Southern Kafue boasts large sections of Kalahari wood- and grassland, making it the ideal location for ever-growing populations of plains game as well as the park’s largest population of elephant and buffalo.
Along with game drives, you can spend your days in Kafue National Park on walking safaris and boat rides/safaris on either the Kafue River or Lunga River. Walking safaris are best during winter, while boat safaris are available along the Kafue River during the wet summer months.
#5 LAKE KASHIBA
Lake Kashiba is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s best hidden gems. As the surface level of the water is 30 feet below the floor of the surrounding forest, Lake Kashiba is often referred to as a ‘sunken lake’. While the surface area of the lake is small, it is incredibly deep with a depth of 330 feet around its sides. The depth of the centre of Lake Kashiba is however unknown, which has given rise to several mystical tales and legends of monsters below the surface.
Despite the air of mystery that surrounds it, the bluish-green water of the lake is extremely welcoming, and it has become a popular destination for activities like fishing and swimming.
Lake Kashiba is located in the north of Zambia, about a 40-minute drive from the town of Mpongwe in Copperbelt Province.
#6 KASANKA NATIONAL PARK
Lying just south of the Bangweulu Wetlands, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kasanka National Park is one of the top national parks and tourist attractions in Zambia. It is Zambia’s only privately managed park.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful reserves in Zambia, it boasts wonderful papyrus marshes, swamp forests and the miombo woodlands together with several criss-crossing rivers and seasonal, swampy pools which support almost 500 species of birds.
By far one of the top attractions of Kasanka is its annual bat migration. Every year from late-November to December, the skies around Kasanka National Park come alive with around 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats. The annual Kasanka National Park bat migration is regarded as the largest mammal migration in the world! While the sheer volume of bats is nothing short of draw-dropping, it’s the atmosphere surrounding this phenomenon that’s the most thrilling part as huge birds of prey swoop through the skies and take down as many bats as possible. Small predators and scavengers can also be found waiting below, ready to pounce on any that fall.
Kasanka is home to various wildlife and several antelope species including the rare, swamp-dwelling Sitatunga antelope which is fairly common in this area and can most often be spotted grazing in the misty dambos (wetlands). Hippo and crocodile are also plentiful, while buffalo, leopard, and elephant are present, but tougher to spot.
Many visitors combine Kasanka National Park with a trip to the nearby Bangweulu Wetlands to see the renowned shoebills and endemic black lechwe.
What You Need to Know:
- Kasanka is the only place in the world where you can witness this natural phenomenon.
- The migration only takes place for about 90 days (late October to mid-December).
- We recommend flying directly to Kasanka by private charter plane (there is an airstrip inside the park).
#7 LAKE KARIBA
Lake Kariba may not be as deep as Lake Kashiba, but it holds the distinction of being the largest man-made reservoir in the world by volume, extending over 5000km2 along Zambia’s southern border. The lake spans over 140 miles/220 kilometers along the border with Zimbabwe and reaches up to 25 miles/40 kilometers in width at its widest point.
Access to the Zambian side of Lake Kariba is fairly limited, with Sinazongwe and Siavonga being the only two towns of any significance providing access to the lake. Siavonga is only a few hours’ drive from Lusaka. Regarded as a laid-back lakeside holiday village, it is the larger of the two towns and very popular among locals. As Sinazongwe is much smaller and less developed, most locals and visitors head to Siavonga as their base for exploring Lake Kariba.
The Zambian side of Lake Kariba is far less wild than the Zimbabwean side. For wildlife sightings and encounters you will have to visit one of two large islands, Chete or Chikanka. Both islands are located in the southwest and accessible from Sinazongwe. Chete is the larger of the two islands and guided game walks/walking safaris are possible. Chete is home to a small population of elephants, some leopards and plenty of hippos, crocodiles, and birds.
Chikanka is privately owned, with a single, dedicated fishing lodge. It is one of many fishing options on Lake Kariba, with tigerfish being the most sought-after catch.
Houseboating is a very popular activity on Lake Kariba, and you are likely to see countless hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and all manner of birds as you drift along. You can also opt to enjoy a private motorboat trip or canoe safari. All of these exciting expeditions and safari adventures can be arranged from Siavonga.
#8 BLUE LAGOON NATIONAL PARK
Located a mere 75 miles/120km by road from Lusaka (the capital city of Zambia), Blue Lagoon National Park is not only one of the top wilderness destinations and tourist attractions in Zambia, but one of its most accessible parks for locals and tourists alike. Besides being incredibly easy to get to, it is absolutely worth the visit.
Blue Lagoon National Park is a relatively undiscovered park that was established in 1976. However, it was closed to the public by the Ministry of Defence and became a haven for poachers. Thanks to highly dedicated and successful rehabilitation efforts, the park reopened to the public in 2003.
Today, Blue Lagoon National Park welcomes visitors and avid wildlife enthusiasts from far and wide to its stunning location and vast wilderness terrains. As it remains largely untouched by the masses and developmental efforts, it has a certain undeniable and untamed natural beauty that’s hard to deny.
The best time to visit the Blue Lagoon National Park is during its wet season when the vast floodplains fill with water, attracting thousands of birds and mammals.
#9 LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK
Located west of the upper Zambezi River, close to the border with Angola, Liuwa Plain National Park is one of Zambia’s most remote national parks. Liuwa Plain is primarily made up of vast grasslands with a smattering of pans, palms, and clumps of Kalahari woodland.
During the rainy/wet season (December – April) large areas of the park are completely flooded, as with much of northern Zambia. Even during the drier winter months, Liuwa Plain National Park is difficult to reach. This only heightens its appeal among eager adventurers, thrill seekers and dedicated nature and wildlife enthusiasts. The lucky ones who reach this Zambian wilderness hidden gem, will feel like they have the entire national park to themselves – and perhaps they even do!
Boasting jaw-dropping panoramic views and unapologetic natural beauty, genuinely low visitor numbers (due to its remote location), and an abundant and diverse wildlife population, Liuwa Plain National Park is the ultimate African wilderness and safari destination.
Liuwa Plain’s biggest single wildlife attraction is its annual blue wildebeest migration when an estimated 40000 animals or more migrate as the rising water levels force the herds southeast in search of fresh grazing. This remarkable spectacle takes place in November each year and is the second largest of its kind in the world.
Liuwa Plain’s birdlife is another major draw, with some of its pans holding water year-round. Attracting a large variety of species, including spoonbills, marabou and saddle-billed storks, herons, and a noteworthy bird rarely found in groups elsewhere, the Slaty egret – it is a true bird lover’s paradise! Another notable wildlife highlight is Liuwa Plain National Park’s thriving hyena population. Estimated at around 600, they take the top spot as Liuwa’s apex predator.
#10 SIOMA NGWEZI AND NGONYE FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Covering 5,000km² of Kalahari woodland, Sioma Ngwezi is Zambia’s third-largest national park. Bordered by the Kwando River to the west (which also forms Zambia’s border with Angola) and Namibia to the south, Sioma Ngwezi is tucked away in the southwestern corner of Zambia. Combined with the impressive Ngonye Falls National Park located further north, it has become one of Zambia’s top up-and-coming regions to visit with its diverse wildlife attracting avid adventure travelers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Sioma Ngwezi National Park has a history of excellent giraffe sightings and visitors can look forward to seeing various wildlife species, including lion, leopard, and spotted hyena when visiting the park. As water is scarce in this region of Zambia, the best time for wildlife viewing is just after the summer rains when animals congregate in large numbers around the drying pools.
While Zambia’s 25 metre high Ngonye Falls may not be as grand as the renowned Victoria Falls, what it lacks in stature it more than makes up in volume. Besides admiring its beauty, visitors can enjoy various exhilarating adventure experiences, including kayaking, white water rafting, swimming, and fishing.
Travelling to Botswana is an experience like no other which is only enhanced by its range of unique and delicious traditional dishes. In many countries around the world, Botswana’s cuisine is known as the Rainbow’s Gastronomy, which is heavily influenced by Botswana’s ethnic wealth and vibrant culture.
To ensure you fully immerse yourself in Botswana’s authentic culinary culture, here are the top 8 foods to eat in Botswana on any trip.
Regarded as the national dish of Botswana, Seswaa is a traditional meat dish. Undoubtedly making it one of the top 8 foods to eat in Botswana. Seswaa consists of beef, goat, chicken, or lamb that is cooked slowly over a long period until it is completely tender and soft. The fatty meat is generally boiled together with onion and pepper and “just enough salt” – according to the people of Botswana. Like every good stew in southern Africa, Seswaa is cooked low and slow in a traditional three-legged cast iron pot over an open fire.
Once the meat is soft enough it is either served as is, or it can be shredded or pounded and served on a bed of pap (maize meal), with polenta, sorghum meal porridge, beans, or rice, or as a filling in a sandwich or any other type of bread.
As per Botswana’s customs, the men are typically put in charge of spearheading the making of this traditional Botswana dish as the pounding of the meat once it is cooked requires some muscle and power. Seswaa is most often served at important or special events.
If you consider yourself to be a less-adventurous eater, Morogo is the ideal dish for you when visiting Botswana. Morogo is a nutrient-dense wild spinach dish, traditionally served as a side dish with pap. It combines at least three different dark green leafy vegetables, most often including pumpkin leaves. Morogo is also known as wild or African spinach and is slightly more bitter than ordinary spinach in taste. It is traditionally served and enjoyed plain or paired with a combination of tomatoes, onions, and lots of butter.
Combined with pap, Morogo is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium. and iron. This not only makes Morogo a delicious dish to try and one of the top foods to eat when visiting Botswana, but it’s jam-packed with tons of nutrients and goodness too.
Dikgobe is one of the most traditional Botswanan dishes. It consists of peas and beans which is cooked over low heat, often together with a savory sauce. It is customarily eaten with traditional maize meal. sorghum, or samp. Dikgobe can be enjoyed as a main meal or side dish and is a great option for vegetarians.
Corn and lamb can also be added for more flavor and meat if so desired. As with traditional Dikgobe, the bean mixture is cooked over low heat, and when it is almost ready, the lamb is roasted. Once done, everything is mixed together in a single dish, which is served with sprigs of parsley.
To prepare this traditional Botswanan dish, sorghum, corn, or millet flour is placed in boiling water and slowly cooked until it becomes a soft porridge. A variant of ingredients can be added to Bogobe for extra flavor and spice, creating a unique and nourishing meal.
Corn or sorghum is often fermented, and sugar and milk are added. This dish is called Ting. Instead of milk and sugar, it is sometimes eaten with meat or vegetables for lunch or dinner.
Adding sour milk and melon to make lerotse is another way to make bogobe. This dish is referred to as tofu by the Kalanga tribe.
Matemekwane is one of Botswana’s most popular bread dishes. Similar to dumplings, Matemekwane is made from corn starch or corn flour. Despite Botswana not actually producing its own bread flavor, these little Botswanan dumplings have undoubtedly become an essential and delicious part of the country’s staple diet.
As Matemekwane is a seasoned dumpling, they are often stuffed with an array of vegetables and meat to add some authentic flavor. They are traditionally served with a bowl of hot soup or a dip and are deliciously crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
#6 Mopane Worms
Calling all adventurous eaters! What would the ultimate top 8 foods to eat in Botswana list be without Mopane Worms?! If you’re eager to fully immerse yourself into Botswana’s cultural culinary scene, trying Mopane Worms should definitely be on your bucket-list. While you may find it hard to believe, in Botswana, Mopane Worms truly are a local delicacy.
These caterpillars are usually served in a tomato stew or peanut sauce and are regarded as pretty tasty by those who have tried it. If you’re on a health kick, even better! Mopane Worms are a great healthy food option as they are rich in both protein and calcium.
Don’t bash it until you try it, who knows, you may just love it!
Ditloo, also known as nyimo beans, jubo beans, Bambara ground nuts or tindluwa is an African legume that is most often included in African dishes using beans. Not only is Ditloo delicious, they are a great source of nutrition and have been a staple of African culinary culture for generations. The traditional preparation process involves soaking them overnight to remove their gas, which causes flatulence. First soaking the Ditloo also makes them easier and quicker to cook. Once all the steps have been completed and the Ditloo is ready to be served, it can be enjoyed as either a main meal or a tasty snack. The dry beans are also often ground into a fine powder and added to porridge.
This traditional Botswanan dish is prepared with tripe – another primary staple of African food culture. Tripe is the edible stomach lining of beef, pork, or lamb and is regarded as a popular and highly sought-after delicacy in most African countries. Undoubtedly making it one of the top foods to try on your trip to Botswana.
Mogodu consists of a flavorful stew that is customarily prepared with sliced tripe and served with potatoes and peas as an accompaniment. Mogodu is traditionally flavored with ginger, garlic, and chili. Be sure to give it a try, it is absolutely delicious!
**BONUS DISH: Pap
Made from local maize meal (ground maize), pap is a staple food for many African cultures. There are different types of pap, including phutu pap (dry and crumbly), stywe pap (thick consistency), or slap pap (soft and smooth). Pap is often combined with vegetables for more nutrition, eaten as a breakfast food mixed with milk, butter and sugar or with Maas (fermented milk), or served with a traditional sauce which includes tomatoes and onions, accompanied by meat. As a staple dish, pap is definitely one of the top foods to eat in Botswana or when visiting any African country.
Zimbabwe is a country endowed with so much natural beauty, profound history, vast and remarkable landscapes, and an incredible diversity of wildlife, birdlife, national parks, and reserves to explore. Zimbabwe boasts a range of diverse habitats, from the forested valleys of Matobo Hills National Park, and the watery wilderness of Lake Kariba, to the floodplains of Mana Pools National Park, and the mopane woodlands and savannas of Hwange National Park.
Beyond its astounding landscapes and habitats, Zimbabwe is home to an astounding 500 species of birds, 199 mammal species, 130 species of fish and several rare and endemic species such as the sable antelope.
What sets Zimbabwe apart from its fellow southern African neighbors is the fact that it offers tourists and travelers alike the chance to experience superb game viewing and unforgettable safari adventures without the large crowds – Undoubtedly making it one of the best safari destinations to visit in Africa.
Offering an endless variety of things to see and experience, here are the best things to do and top 10 tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, all of which should be on your Zimbabwean bucket-list.
#1 Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s top national parks. Covering a vast expanse of around 5,655 square miles/14,650 square kilometers, it is both the largest and oldest of Zimbabwe’s game reserves.
Hwange National Park is undoubtedly one of the top tourist attractions for wildlife enthusiasts as the park has the biggest diversity of mammals out of the world’s national parks. Home to over 100 species of mammals, including the renowned African Big 5, lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and buffalo, Hwange National Park’s game viewing and sightings are unparalleled. In addition to its exceptional diversity of wildlife, this world-renowned national park is famous for its profound population of elephants, boasting over 50 000 elephants. The Hwange elephant population is thought to be one of the largest in the world.
The park is also known for regular sightings of some of Africa’s rarest safari animals, such as the brown hyena, the critically endangered black rhino, roan, sable, and the endangered wild dog – Hwange National Park is said to be home to one of Africa’s largest populations of the endangered wild dog. Visiting Hwange during the dry winter months of July to October guarantees spectacular wildlife sightings, as animals gather around the man-made waterholes in the park to drink. Birdlife is also abundant at Hwange National Park, with over 500 species recorded within the park.
What makes Hwange so special is the fact that it is easily accessible as well as its lack of crowds. For all of its biodiversity, huge herds of elephants and ease of sightings in the winter months, the park never gets crowded, which means you have the space and the quiet to soak up the magic of the bush.
#2 Lake Kariba
Situated in the north of Zimbabwe, northeast of Victoria Falls and sharing a border with Zambia, Lake Kariba is landlocked Zimbabwe’s answer to the seaside: a massive manmade lake that provides a wonderful combination of water and wildlife. Stretching for over 140 miles/220 kilometers in length, and measures 25 miles/40 kilometers across at its widest point, it is the world’s largest man-made lake in terms of volume. The traditional and by far the best way to explore the wonders of Lake Kariba is on a houseboat. Kariba is renowned as one of the best places in the world to catch tiger fish, a ferocious freshwater species, as well as for its remarkable sightings of hippos, crocodiles, elephants and vast birdlife.
The lake’s islands also offer ample opportunities for game viewing. Perhaps the most rewarding wildlife area is Matusadona National Park, located on Kariba’s southern shore.
#3 Mana Pools National Park
Regarded as being both Zimbabwe’s best park and one of the finest wilderness areas in Africa, Mana Pools National Park is a superb safari destination. Situated at the northern most point of Zimbabwe straddling the Zambian border, Mana Pools is renowned for its untamed natural beauty: a riverine wilderness on the Zambezi River of pools, floodplains, baobab trees and forests that feels totally remote and never gets crowded.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its incredible and diverse concentration of wildlife, Mana Pools National Park is undoubtedly one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe for wildlife lovers from around the world. The park is famous for its huge elephant herds, as well as exceptional sightings of cheetahs and the entire African Big 5. It is also known as one of the top places in Africa to spot the endangered African wild dog.
Mana Pools is a haven for water-based wildlife, with large populations of hippo and Nile crocodile. They live in the four pools that give the park its name, each one created by the Zambezi River before it altered its course to flow northward. The largest pool is approximately 3.7 miles/6 kilometers long, and acts as a valuable water source, especially in the height of the dry season. The abundance of water present in this area makes it a prime spot for birders.
The appeal of the park is not just its wildlife – it’s how you get to experience the bush in immersive ways: staying in unfenced campsites in the midst of the wilderness and going on walking and canoeing safaris to see its profound and diverse wildlife and birdlife is where the true magic and adventure lies. Mana Pools National Park is also one of the only parks in Africa where you can walk and explore without a guide. It is however advised that you have a lot of bush knowledge and experience before going off on your own.
#4 Victoria Falls
Tumbling down 100-metre-high cliffs surrounded by lush forests, Victoria Falls is the biggest sheet of falling water on the planet. Regarded as one of Africa’s most astounding sights as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls reigns supreme as one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions.
During peak flood season (February – March), the spray thrown up by the plunging Victoria Falls water can be seen from approximately 50 kilometers away. This spectacular natural spectacle which has people travelling from around the world to witness and experience first-hand, gives the falls its indigenous name — Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders”.
Stretching 1.7 kilometers wide, the falls span across both Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are pathways on each side of the border that lead you to the edge of cliffs. On the Zimbabwean side, the path winds its way along the edge of the gorge with viewpoints offering breathtaking panoramas of the plummeting water and the renowned rainbows that hang suspended above the chasm. While the sound is known to be somewhat overwhelming, and you’re bound to get soaking wet from the famous falls’ spray (a bucket-list worthy experience in itself), the magnificent spectacle you get to witness is one you’ll never forget.
As the town of Victoria Falls sits right by the falls themselves on the Zimbabwean side, it is famous for its vast variety of thrilling adrenaline sports and incredible safari activities. Some of these experiences include bungee jumping, abseiling, white-water rafting, and wildlife spotting from horseback.
#5 Matobo National Park
Regarded as the spiritual home of Zimbabwe, Matobo National Park boasts some of the world’s most impressive granite scenery. The fascinating granite rock formations and lunar landscape of balancing rocks, known as kopjes – giant boulders stacked on top of each other, as if they’re about to topple over – is not only a remarkable sight and one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, but a stunning natural spectacle and work of art. This site has an intriguing history, tracing back some 2000 million years ago when molten rock erupted across the landscape.
Several of the rocks are marked with ancient rock art created by the San bushmen about 2000 years ago. In fact, the recreational section of Matobo National Park has Southern Africa’s highest concentration of ancient rock art with 3500 sites dating back 13,000 years. To this day the Matobo Hills are considered incredibly important to the local community as they are used as sacred sanctuaries and shrines.
Matobo National Park is an exceptional wildlife and safari destination. The game park section of Matobo National Park is not only home to Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of white and black rhinos, it has one of the largest leopard populations in Southern Africa and is a great place to spot Verreaux’s eagles, in addition to other wildlife and birdlife species.
**Interesting Fact: Cecil Rhodes, a controversial 19th-century imperialist, businessman, and politician, was buried here. His remains are marked by a brass plaque perched atop World’s View, the park’s most iconic viewpoint.
#6 Chimanimani National Park
Located on the eastern border with Mozambique, the mountainous Chimanimani National Park is known for its unapologetic natural beauty. Famous for its plunging gorges, lush valleys, mountain landscapes, and soaring peaks, with the highest summits reaching over 7,990 feet/2,400 meters, Chimanimani National Park has become a top destination among adventure seekers, keen hikers, campers, and those looking to immerse themselves in nature.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you certainly won’t be disappointed when visiting this top Zimbabwe tourist attraction and natural oasis. As the lower reaches of the park are covered by dense virgin forest, it is known to attract and provide shelter to several obscure wildlife species including eland, sable, and the blue duiker antelope. It is also one of the best parks in Zimbabwe to spot the elusive leopard as they roam free in the Chimanimani mountains, as well as enjoy incredible sightings of Southern Africa’s smaller cat species such as Serval, the African Wildcat, Caracal, the mysterious Sand Cat, Jungle Cat, Black-Footed Cat, and the African Golden Cat. If you’re an avid birder, you can look forward to some spectacular birdlife sightings when visiting Chimanimani National Park and the Chimanimani mountains.
Amenities in the park include unpaved hiking trails, communal huts and a campsite with basic cooking and ablution facilities. Wild camping is also allowed throughout the park.
#7 Nyanga National Park
Regarded as the home of the Highveld, Nyanga National Park is a wild and wonderful place to visit on any trip to Zimbabwe. Located more than 1,800 meters above sea level, it is said to be perched on the very roof of Zimbabwe, formed by hulking hills of dolomite rock and suspended boulders – Making it quite a unique sight to behold.
Besides being the home of the Zimbabwean Highveld, Nyanga National Park boasts a fascinating and incredible landscape which is dressed in groves of msasa trees and cypresses which are considerably rare to these regions. Due to the vastly unique landscapes of the park, the unique habitats that exist within Nyanga National Park can host a truly otherworldly array of creatures and a remarkable diversity of wildlife species.
Several of the species in the park are entirely endemic to the region, such as the Old World Samango monkeys with their white-brushed throats that can only be found in these parts of the world. The Nyanga National Park is also home to a number of leopards, lions, and other wildlife species, ensuring you get to enjoy the full authentic African safari and wildlife experience.
#8 Chinhoyi Caves
Located in north central Zimbabwe, the mysterious Chinhoyi Caves is not only one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, but a place of geological interest too. Made up of a subterranean system of limestone and dolomite caverns and tunnels, the caves are protected as part of the Chinhoyi Caves National Park. The caves have a mystical appeal about them as local elders believe they are sacred. Due to several artifacts found and uncovered in the caves (such as pottery, drawings, and human remains), it is suggested that the caves have been inhabited since at least the 1st century. Most famously, the Chinhoyi Caves provided a refuge from raiding tribes for Mashona chief Chinhoyi and his people.
Undoubtedly the main attraction of the Chinhoyi Caves is the ‘Wonder Hole’. This deep blue natural pool is a collapsed cavern with sheer walls that drops straight down into what is known as the crystalline Sleeping Pool. Besides a bucket-list worthy experience, the glacial blue color of the lake’s water provides the perfect backdrop for the most incredible photographs. It is also the site where visitors can enter the illuminated Dark Cave.
A visit to Chinhoyi Caves is a great opportunity to hear and learn about the historical significance of the caves as well as the folklore that surrounds this mysterious place. Chinhoyi is a popular destination for technical scuba divers.
#9 The Great Zimbabwe National Monument & Masvingo
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument is located approximately a four-hour drive south of Harare or east of Bulawayo (two of Zimbabwe’s largest towns). Regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument protects the remains of Great Zimbabwe, the capital of the historic Kingdom of Zimbabwe and the most important stone ruins south of the Sahara. Built between the 11th and 15th centuries, these 700-year-old ruins crumble and crack under the sun, revealing tales of grave history and the nation’s old Shona-speaking folk.
The ruins cover a vast area, including a hilltop acropolis which once housed kings and chiefs. Making it quite an enthralling historical landmark to visit and explore on your trip to Zimbabwe. The valley surrounding the Great Zimbabwe National Monument is scattered with the ruins of more humble dwellings, all of which were built using perfectly cut granite blocks. As various artifacts such as porcelain from China and Arab coins from the East African coast have been discovered at this very site, it suggests that Great Zimbabwe was once a powerful and wealthy center of trade.
Some 20 kilometers away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Great Zimbabwe is where you’ll find Masvingo. Situated neatly on the edge of the Mutirikwi National Park, Masvingo is the ultimate destination for keen adventure travelers and thrill seekers looking to explore and discover as it has plenty in the way of outdoor exploration up its sleeve. It is also regarded as one of the prime drop off points, welcoming VIP tourists and travelers to the deeper reaches of Zimbabwe, as they make their way through to the southern edge of the country.
#10 Matusadona National Park
A relic of the former state of Rhodesia, Matusadona National Park clings to the southern banks of Lake Kariba, on the Zimbabwean side of the great water body. After becoming subsumed by Zimbabwe following the various upheavals, the area retained its protected status and established itself as one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe.
One of Matusadona National Park’s main allures is that the whole region is beautifully untouched and untrodden. This makes it the perfect African wilderness escape for those seeking an off-the-beaten-track safari adventure. In addition to its vast diversity of wildlife, the majestic Cape buffalo and African elephant are by far the two most popular wildlife species you can look forward to seeing when visiting Matusadona National Park.
The nearby water of Kariba provides ample grazing lands which has only flourished since the creation of the Kariba Dam. This allows ungulates such as giraffes, hippos, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest, aardvark, and an incredible array of antelope (to mention merely a few), and predators alike to thrive along its fringes.
Kariba is also known as one of the best places in the world to catch tiger fish, as well as for its remarkable sightings of hippos, crocodiles, and vast birdlife. The lake’s islands offer ample opportunities for game viewing with the most rewarding wildlife area being none other than Matusadona National Park.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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’.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary houses orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees as well as chimpanzees rescued from the black market.
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.
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 to visit on your next trip.
#1 The 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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.