One of the most frequently asked questions by both local and international wildlife and nature enthusiasts is – What is the difference between the Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger Park? Despite the fact that the Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger are used interchangeably, with many assuming there is no distinction between the two, there are several obvious and distinct differences between the Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger Park.
Set within the Greater Kruger National Park, the renowned Thornybush Game Reserve, also known as Thornybush Nature Reserve, is a pristine 14,000-hectare private game reserve. Beyond being one of the most sought-after game reserves in Africa, it is every bit as wild and untamed as its famous neighboring national park, the Kruger National Park, with the added bonus of sharing an unfenced border with Timbavati Nature Reserve and the Kruger Park.
Regarded as one of the best safari destinations and premier private game reserve in South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve should be on every wildlife and nature enthusiast’s African safari bucket-list. Boasting 65,000 hectares of vast untamed wilderness, the notorious Sabi Sand Game Reserve shares an unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, allowing animals to roam freely between the reserves.
South African tourism has a secret weapon – the Kruger National Park! Regarded as one of the greatest national parks in the world, the renowned Kruger National Park is South Africa’s flagship national park. Deemed the third largest national park worldwide and one of the largest in Africa, the pristine wilderness within the Kruger Park consists of nearly 2.2 million hectares of unspoiled African bushveld.
The Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the greatest wildlife destination and national parks on earth. Home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife and vast open grasslands, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s flagship conservation area and a must-do for first-time and returning safari goers alike.
Located in Botswana, Moremi Game Reserve is situated in one of the largest inland deltas and premier wilderness areas in the world, the vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland of the Okavango Delta. Covering most of its eastern sector, the reserve stretches across several thousand square kilometers.
Tanzania is one of the most diverse and captivating African travel safari destinations. Boasting a vast and unique array of national parks and game reserves, ranging from the world-renowned Serengeti National Park to the wild and secluded hidden wilderness gem of Katavi National Park, Tanzania has a safari and wildlife destination to suite every type of traveler and wilderness enthusiast.
Offering an endless variety of places to explore, wildlife and birdlife to see, and safari adventures to experience, here are the top 10 tourist attractions in Tanzania, all of which should be on your African travel and safari bucket-list.
#1 The Serengeti National Park
Tanzania’s flagship conservation area, the Serengeti National Park is one of the finest national parks and top tourist attractions in Tanzania. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti is regarded as one of the most celebrated wilderness areas in the world.
Stretching along a vast plateau between the eastern arm of the rugged Rift Valley and the huge expanse of Lake Victoria, the Serengeti National Park covers an immense 14 800 km² (5 700 square miles) on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya. Making up 50% of the wider Serengeti–Mara ecosystem, the Serengeti is the most famous protected wilderness area in all of Africa. As Tanzania’s oldest game reserve, the Serengeti National Park boasts one of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on earth with a thriving vegetation that has remained largely untouched for millions of years.
Beyond its diverse landscapes, vast grasslands, golden savannah, thriving ecosystems, and wild and unspoiled natural beauty, it boasts one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, and certainly one of the most diverse. In fact, one of the best things about the Serengeti is its superb year-round game viewing.
Just about every large animal in East Africa can be regularly seen in the Serengeti National Park or its wider ecosystem. Known for its remarkable African Big 5 and predator sightings (especially lions, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs), as well as plenty of elephants favoring the western woodlands of Grumeti, the Serengeti dazzles even the most hardened safari critics. The Serengeti ecosystem is also a renowned bird-watching destination, with over 500 species recorded to date.
The world-renowned Serengeti National Park Great Migration is a wildlife phenomenon and spectacle that will exceed all expectations. The Serengeti Great Migration sees millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle traversing the open plains of the park in search of fresh grass from seasonal rains, moving northwards into the neighboring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and then returning south to the Serengeti again. It is estimated that 1.5 million wildebeest, 300,000 zebra and 400,000 gazelles take part on the annual Serengeti Great Migration.
The dramatic scenes of huge herds on the move, crossing rivers and vast plains, pursued by predators looking for their next kill, are the stuff nature documentaries are made of. Experiencing the annual Serengeti National Park Great Migration is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event that most safari travelers and wildlife enthusiasts have at the top of their bucket list.
#2 Ngorongoro Crater
The iconic Ngorongoro Crater is regarded by many as Africa’s lost world filled with dramatic and jaw-dropping scenery and blessed with tons of prolific and extremely well-habituated wildlife. The iconic Ngorongoro Crater located in Northern Tanzania, which was once a gigantic volcano, is the largest intact caldera in the world, surrounded by towering volcanic walls on every side. Some would go as far as to say that before it erupted, it would have been higher than the famous Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest peak in Africa. This undoubtedly makes the Ngorongoro Crater one of the most sought-after destinations to visit and top tourist attraction in Tanzania, if not Africa.
Today, long since having collapsed and eroded, it is an extensive highland area with the famous 600m deep Ngorongoro Crater as its focal point. However, despite being nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera shelters are still regarded as one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth.
The steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wildlife. In fact, it is presently one of the most likely areas in Africa to see the endangered Black Rhino.
Adjoining the southeast of the renowned Serengeti National Park, you’ll find the extensive Ngorongoro Conservation Area. While most visitors just visit the area to see the crater in all its gory, the more curious and adventurous leave the safari hordes behind to explore the wider conservation area that is a mixed-use area for wildlife and Maasai pastoralists. Within this protected area, the vast Oldupai Gorge (originally misnamed Olduvai) is an archaeological site made famous by the Leakey family for being home to some of the continent’s most important hominid fossils.
Provided you visit outside of the peak safari season months (June–September), you will fall in love with Ngorongoro Crater packed full of a wild, vast, and diverse array of wildlife and mesmerizing scenery.
#3 Selous Game Reserve
Intersected by the crocodile-infested Rufiji River and home to the world-renowned Stiegler’s Gorge, the 50,000km2/19,305mi2 Selous Game Reserve is an iconic East African safari destination and one of the top tourist attractions in Tanzania. Thanks to the efforts and stringent regulations implemented by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Selous Game Reserve boasts the greatest concentration of savanna animals than any other African game reserve.
Despite its ongoing poaching and the fact that illegal hunting ravaged the enormous elephant herds of years gone by, the Selous Game Reserve continues to support approximately 16,000 magnificent elephants by means of several incredible wildlife, conservation, and anti-poaching initiatives. Selous is also home to a thriving population of endangered African wild dogs – A rare and remarkable sighting when visiting any African game reserve or national park.
The infamous Rufiji River is an important feature of the reserve as it supports and gives life to a broad range of both water-based and non-water-based wildlife. A vast diversity of wildlife can be spotted in and around the Rufiji River, including hippos, rhino, buffalo, antelope, giraffe, elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, wildebeest, warthog and so much more. Selous Game Reserve also boasts a glorious array of birdlife with over 350 recorded species, making it any avid birder’s paradise.
#4 Mount Kilimanjaro
Dubbed the highest peak on the African continent at 5895 metres (19,340 feet) above sea level, visiting and climbing the tallest freestanding mountain on earth, Mount Kilimanjaro, is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Tanzania. An inactive volcano, this majestic mountain can be found inside the Kilimanjaro National Park in north-eastern Tanzania, positioned virtually on the equator. Unlike other national parks in northern Tanzania, wildlife is not the main attraction for those visiting Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, but rather to witness and stand in awe of this tall-standing natural wonder and, for many, to climb to the summit.
Famous for its snow-capped peak looming over the stunning plains of the savannah, Mount Kilimanjaro has established itself as one of Africa’s top tourist attractions among keen travelers, nature enthusiasts, avid mountaineers, and trekkers from around the world – and with good reason too!
Standing vigil over Tanzania’s untamed landscapes, Mount Kilimanjaro, which is also a World Heritage Site, boasts an array of beautiful and diverse habitats and ecosystems. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain has been converted to farmland. Once inside the park, thick, lush lowland forest and rainforests covers the lower slopes giving way to alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape becomes harsh and barren with lunar landscapes, rocks, and sparkling vistas of ice and snow which are the predominant features as you approach the snowy summit of Africa atop Uhuru Peak on Kibo – The highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro (as well as the highest point on the African continent), which is also regarded as one of the Seven Summits of the world.
The slopes of rainforest are home to several buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, elephants, and eland. The alpine meadow region on the other hand is where avid bird watchers will find an incredible array of birds of prey.
If that isn’t enough, few mountains can claim the grandeur and the scintillating views over the Great Rift Valley and Amboseli National Park in neighbouring Kenya that belongs to Mount Kilimanjaro.
For many eager travellers, thrill seekers, and mountaineers, hiking to the ‘roof of Africa’ – the highest point on the African continent – is the adventure of a lifetime and the highlight of their Tanzanian experience, especially because the routes to the summit are not as technical as many may think and are thus accessible to almost any reasonably fit and healthy. Everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time hiking enthusiasts can successfully tackle and scale the snowy summit provided they climb slowly, acclimatize properly, are adequately equipped for the wind and biting cold, and have a certain level of fitness, as the main challenge is posed by the altitude.
#5 Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is located in the Arusha Region and Manyara Region of Tanzania. Offering a thrilling wilderness experience and diverse habitats, from its Rift Valley soda lake, forests, and vast grasslands to swamps, dense woodlands and steep mountainsides, Lake Manyara National Park is both a sought-after safari destination and top tourist attraction in Tanzania.
Apart from its spectacular and diverse setting and surroundings, Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its unusual tree-climbing lions, huge elephant herds, and large population of hippos, all of which can be admired at a much closer range than in other parks.
As two-thirds of the park is covered by water, it is renowned for attracting a vibrant and abundant bird life, as well as a copious number of flamingos. During Tanzania’s wet season, Lake Manyara is home to more than 400 species of birds, many of them waterfowl or migrants, as well as thousands of flamingos – Providing visitors and birding enthusiasts with truly sensational sightings.
During the dry season, alkaline mud-flats take the place of the glorious lake waters. The dry season is the best time to see large mammals such as huge herds of buffalo, hippos, cheetah, Masai giraffe, wildebeest, and impala, to mention merely a few, roam the lake shores and the forested valley slopes – Resulting in remarkable wildlife sightings!
If you’re eager to go on a Lake Manyara safari, you can look forward to a unique and fascinating experience as the park also features a ground-water forest, acacia tortilis woodland and hot springs called Maji Moto.
As Lake Manyara National Park is said to host the largest concentration of baboons in the world, you can expect to see troops of several hundred olive baboons alongside Sykes monkey and short-eared galago. Cape clawless otters, Egyptian mongoose, hippos, and the iconic African klipspringer are other prominent park residents you’ll have the opportunity to spot on your Lake Manyara safari adventure.
#6 Katavi National Park
Wild and remote Katavi National Park is an unspoiled and untouched wildlife and wilderness paradise situated in the western area of Tanzania. The 4,471km2/1,726mi2 national park boasts a rich diversity of wildlife along with a wonderful array of habitats, ranging from flood plains of thick reeds and dense waterways that teem with hippo and crocodile to woodlands, open grasslands, forests, and pristine seasonal lakes. This makes exploring the untamed and majestic Katavi National Park a bucket-list worthy and thrilling wilderness experience.
Katavi’s enormous flood plain, split by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes, is one of its most prevalent features. The park’s array of seasonal lakes is home to a glorious abundance of crocodiles, hippos, and over 400 bird species. One of Katavi National Park’s greatest wildlife spectacles is witnessing over 200 hippos squeeze into a single pool of water at the end of the region’s dry season. Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Katavi during this time will have the amazing opportunity to see a whole lot of action as the rivalry between the male hippos heats up, causing intense territorial fights.
Katavi National Park’s dry season brings the whole park to life as its renowned for its remarkable and abundant wildlife sightings and encounters. Visitors can look forward to seeing large herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras, giraffes, and so much more at the remaining pools and streams. As Katavi is said to be home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet as well as a huge population of elephants, thousands of buffaloes and elephants can be spotted converging when the flood waters in the park retreat.
Due to Katavi National Park’s remote location, it is regarded as one of Tanzania’s most magnificent hidden wilderness gems. It is also more difficult to access compared to some of Tanzania’s other popular game reserves and national parks. Where the famous Serengeti National Park might see approximately 125,000 (or likely more) visitors in a year, the wild and secluded Katavi sees no more than a few hundred brave adventurers, avid wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts, and thrill-seeking wilderness travelers by comparison.
Katavi National Park truly is the epitome of wild Africa at its finest – and if you have the opportunity to visit and explore this pristine Tanzanian National Park, it will undoubtedly exceed all your expectations.
#7 Ruaha National Park
Located in the heart of Tanzania, Ruaha National Park is one of the largest national parks in East Africa and one of Tanzania’s most notorious wilderness areas. The Great Ruaha River is one of the main features of Ruaha National Park. Attracting an abundance of wildlife, it provides visitors with ample magnificent up-close wildlife viewing opportunities on the riverbanks. In addition to the Great Ruaha River, the park boasts vast wild landscapes filled with rocky escarpments, baobab studded hills, and spectacular gorges.
Boasting a vast diversity of remarkable wildlife, it isn’t hard to understand why Ruaha National Park is at the top of almost every wildlife enthusiast’s list when visiting Tanzania. Besides hosting one of the largest concentrations of elephants in Tanzania, Ruaha National Park is home to large herds of buffalo, gazelle, wild dogs, lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, impala, bat eared foxes, and jackals, to mention merely a few. Ruaha is also where you will find an estimated 10% of the surviving wild lion population in Africa (which is undoubtedly one of Ruaha National Park’s top wildlife highlights), it also one of the only places you will see greater kudu in Tanzania.
Avid birdwatchers can look forward to sensational bird sightings as Ruaha National Park is home to over 400 species of bird that are not found in northern Tanzania.
Due to the park’s relatively remote location, visitors can look forward to incredible and exciting wildlife and birdlife sightings without the large crowds of people and tons of cars and game vehicles around.
#8 Mahale Mountains National Park
Nestled on the Lake Tanganyikan shoreline (in western Tanzania) and set among the spectacular, forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, the Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most sought-after national parks and tourist attractions in Tanzania. It is also regarded as one of Tanzania’s most beautiful national parks, boasting lush green forested mountains cascading down to the lakeshore, crystal-clear waters lapping against white sand coves, and the magnificent mist-covered peak of Mount Nkungwe which can be seen in the background.
The iconic Mahale Mountains National Park was originally created to protect the thousands of chimpanzees that inhabit the region. This has made it one of the best national parks and places in the world to witness and enjoy up-close sightings and encounters with chimpanzees.
Beyond its stunning landscapes, surrounding scenery, and vast chimpanzee population, Mahale Mountains National Park boasts a breathtaking array of habitats, which include rainforest, grasslands, alpine bamboo, and woodlands. These diverse Mahale Mountain habitats are where some 50 species of animals and other primates have been recorded, predominant among these being representatives from various monkey and ape families, including yellow baboons and the Red Colobus Monkey.
Besides its incredible array of monkey and ape families, over 90 unique species of fish can be found swimming in the clear waters of the lake.
With minimal road access and a somewhat secluded location, Mahale Mountains National Park is not only regarded as one of Tanzania’s most remote and unspoiled national parks, but one of its most enthralling and exhilarating wilderness areas and safari destinations. This makes Mahale a not-to-be-missed bucket-list wilderness destination for all avid explorers, adventurous wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts, and daring off-the-beaten-path travelers visiting Tanzania.
By far one of the top things to do in Tanzania, and certainly the most thrilling too, is exploring the wild and wonderful Mahale Mountains National Park on foot with an experienced guide. Beyond all the remarkable up-close chimpanzee sightings, and other wildlife, ape, and monkey species you will encounter, be prepared for some sweaty, steep climbs through dense vegetation – One thing is for sure though, it promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and the final reward is well worth the trials and tribulations of getting there!
#9 Tarangire National Park
Located in Northern Tanzania, Tarangire National Park is renowned for its baobab trees spread across its vast grassy landscapes, thrilling African wilderness safaris, exceptional game viewing, remarkable bird watching, and infamous elephant migration, boasting one of the largest populations of elephants in the country.
The best time to visit Tarangire is during its dry season from July to September when it’s incredible and diverse wildlife can be spotted gathering along the river – This allows for excellent game viewing opportunities and up-close wildlife sightings and encounters.
During Tarangire National Park’s dry season, visitors and wildlife lovers can expect to see large herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, leopards, cheetahs, waterbucks, giraffes, impala, elephants, gazelle, hartebeest, badgers, monkeys, mongoose, baboons, African wild dogs, and eland in and around the park’s lagoons and grassy landscapes. In addition to its amazing variety of wildlife, Tarangire’s famous tree-climbing lions are undoubtedly one of its top wildlife highlights and sought-after sightings.
Tarangire National Park is also known as a true bird lover’s paradise, as more than 550 different species of birds frequent the park.
#10 Arusha National Park
Another top tourist attraction in Tanzania is Arusha National Park. While it may be considerably smaller than many of Tanzania’s other popular national parks and game reserves, Arusha National Park boasts a unique diversity of landscapes and habitats. Some of its distinctive habitats include lush grasslands and vast greenery, the extraordinary forests of Mount Meru, the infamous Ngurdoto Crater and its verdant hillsides (situated in the southeast section of the park), and the notorious Momella Lakes, which essentially consists of seven crater lakes. The vast and varied habitats and environments found within Arusha gives rise to its remarkable and rich biodiversity between its borders.
Each of Arusha National Park’s exclusive habitats have something different to offer visitors and wildlife enthusiasts. The forested area of Mount Meru is famous for its black and white Colobus monkeys, which can easily be spotted jumping around and hanging about. The marshy floor of the Ngurdoto Crater on the other hand is dotted with herds of buffalo, zebra, rhino, warthogs, elephants, bushbucks, lions, leopards, and giraffes, allowing for some truly spectacular wildlife sightings.
The notorious Arusha Momella Lakes is home to a large selection of resident, exotic, and migrant birds, some of which include crowned eagles, woodpeckers, hornbills, egrets, guinea fowl, pelicans, geese, storks, and glorious flocks of flamingos.
While most of Tanzania’s national parks are exclusively centred around wildlife encounters and safaris, Arusha National Park offers visitors the very best of both worlds. Arusha is not only known for its incredible wildlife and birdlife sightings, but its exciting variety of outdoor recreation activities and thrilling wilderness adventures too. From exhilarating hiking and climbing expeditions, to invigorating canoe trips and action-packed walking safaris – Arusha National Park has a riveting and extraordinary experience and adventure for everyone to enjoy.
**Bonus: Another one of the top things to do in Tanzania is climb the legendary Mount Meru.
Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania as well as one of the most iconic and beautiful volcanoes in Africa. The summit of Mount Meru is reached via a narrow ridge, which features magnificent views of the volcanic cone located several thousand feet below in the crater. While the ascent to reach the Mount Meru summit is steep and rather challenging, the route to the top passes through beautiful forests, parklands, as well as a giant heather zone and moorland.
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.