Top 10 Safari Experiences in Africa
If you’re looking for the ULTIMATE African travel bucket list, look no further than our top 10 safari experiences in Africa!
Declared one of the top safari destinations in the world, Africa offers some of the most astonishing safari, wildlife, travel opportunities, and adventures on the planet. With more luxury, privacy, world-class wildlife sightings, and once-in-a-lifetime safari experiences than anywhere else on earth, you’re bound to fall head-over-heels in love with not only the sheer unmatched natural beauty of Africa in its purest form, but the wild, vivid, and untamed African bushveld and everything it has to offer.
We’ve scoured our magnificent, vast, and diverse continent to find the most unforgettable wildlife and safari experiences Africa has to offer. So, if you’re looking to transform your dream trip to Africa from incredible to utterly life-changing, you better keep reading!
#1 Spectacular Leopard Sightings in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve | South Africa
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. In addition to boasting 65,000 hectares of vast untamed wilderness, the notorious Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve shares a 50km/30mi unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park (South Africa’s flagship national park), allowing wildlife to freely roam and wander between the reserves. This ensures an unforgettable and unmatched African safari and wildlife experience.
Boasting one of the richest game populations in the country and home to the most diverse wildlife species in Africa, several rare and endangered animals, as well as the entire African Big 5 – Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is by far one of the top must-visit safari destinations and game reserves in Africa for local and global wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Now for the exciting part! Known to have one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, it certainly comes as no surprise that the sensational Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is most famous for its spectacular leopard sightings and encounters. However, as solitary, and highly elusive members of the African Big 5, spotting these pristine predators in their natural habitat is not as easy as you may think – despite Sabi Sands boasting among the highest densities of leopards on the planet. This makes spotting these magnificent and mysterious members of the African Big 5 all the more magical and memorable – and you better consider yourself extremely lucky if you do manage to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve leopards in all their wilderness glory!
While they may be the most elusive members of the Big 5, you will definitely be pleasantly surprised when it comes to how many leopards you can see on a single game drive in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Featuring an extensive range of luxury lodges in these exclusive private game reserves, visitors to Sabi Sand have the incredible and thrilling opportunity of witnessing up-close sightings and encounters of the iconic African Big 5, including the elusive Sabi Sand leopard, and several other birdlife and wildlife species as you explore and venture off-road / off-the-beaten-path routes as your expert safari guide leads the way. Trust us, you have the very best seat in the entire African wilderness!
Hold on, that’s not all! As Private Reserves are governed by very strict rules, especially pertaining to the number of safari vehicles that are allowed to be in the same area at the same time (only a limited number of vehicles are allowed in the same area), you are free to enjoy the remarkable wildlife sightings and encounters as well as the magnificent views and stunning surroundings without the distraction of a convoy of other vehicles and spectators – How incredible is that?! Choosing a private game reserve for your African safari also means that you get to partake in exciting and immersive walking safaris as well as enjoy exhilarating night game drives.
#2 Enjoy Whitewater Rafting on the Zambezi River | Victoria Falls | Zambia
Calling all die-hard thrill-seekers, adrenaline junkies, and daring adventurers – this one is for you!
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. While the Main Falls lie within the borders of Zimbabwe, the Zambian side is equally as impressive during peak flood season (February to May).
If you’re looking to tick one of the most thrilling and adrenaline-inducing adventure experiences off your bucket list on your trip to Zambia – look no further! The renowned Zambezi River in Victoria Falls is deemed one of the world’s best destinations for whitewater rafting on high-grade rapids. Overflowing and very deep, you can expect class 3-5 rapids – which will undoubtedly have your heart racing and your adrenaline levels at an all time high. The Zambezi River is said to boast 24 thrilling rapids, right and ready for you to conquer. Right after the falls lies an intense stretch of the river with a channel of high-volume water – It truly is an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience in every way!
It is important to note that the Zambezi’s water levels change throughout the year. This means that if you’re keen to go whitewater rafting and conquer the mighty Zambezi River rapids, its crucial that you plan and book your trip to Zambia at the right time to avoid missing out.
**While you’re there, Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool set right on the edge of the Victoria Falls is absolutely worth a visit!
#3 Experience a Traditional Mokoro Safari in the Okavango Delta | Botswana
Located in Botswana the Okavango Delta is not only one of Africa’s most fascinating and captivating regions to discover, it is also one of the most unique ecosystems, as well as one of the world’s premier wilderness areas and largest inland deltas in the world. It is a vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland area fed by the Okavango River. The delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
There is absolutely no denying that the glorious Okavango Delta is an oasis characterized by a complex network of channels, islands, and lagoons that offer travelers, wildlife and nature enthusiasts, globe trotters, and absolutely everyone in between a true immersion into a world of wetland island and waterways, teeming with wildlife, birdlife, luscious vegetation, magnificent landscapes and so much more – you simply have to see it to believe it.
The Delta is as complex as it is beautiful. Surrounded by desert, it’s completely sustained by seasonal rains. Seasonal flooding swells replenishes this verdant oasis, attracting huge numbers of iconic wildlife that move between fertile plains, marshlands, and huddles of shaded islands. When the floodwater recedes, the Delta shrinks, concentrating animal numbers, making for some of the very best game viewing in the world.
Unlike nearly all deltas around the world, which are generally places where rivers and other bodies of water empty into an ocean or sea, the Okavango Delta is a unique and ever-changing inland delta. About 2.5 trillion gallons of water carried by the Okavango River, and other permanent and ephemeral rivers, empty into a dusty plain hundreds of miles from the nearest coast. The delta is therefore responsible for transforming an otherwise bone-dry landscape into a lush, green, bustling and thriving hub of activity. The Okavango Delta truly is a water wonderland in every way – this undoubtedly makes exploring the Delta by boat / river safari the very best way to discover and experience everything it has to offer.
The Okavango Delta is by far the best destination in Africa to go on a thrilling water-based safari – AKA a traditional Mokoro Safari.
What is a Mokoro: 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, as well as witness diverse and rare wildlife and birdlife sightings you might miss on a traditional game drive.
Nowhere else in the world can you experience the sublime serenity of being poled along in a traditional dugout canoe as birds like jacanas and herons walk among the lilies, elephants arrive to feed on the soft grass, and sitatunga antelope retreat shyly into the reeds. Leaving / trading in the 4×4 game-vehicle for an authentic and exciting Mokoro safari opens up the world’s most unspoiled wetland of Botswana’s Okavango Delta to be fully explored, discovered, and experienced from a whole new perspective.
Its no surprise that embarking on a sightseeing Mokoro safari adventure has fast become one of the top reasons to visit the Okavango Delta. Gliding on the surface of the water, exploring the labyrinth of waterways created by the river, searching for wildlife while surrounded by water lilies and papyrus – there truly is nothing like it!
- Seasonal water levels will be for mokoro rides and boating activities.
- Look out for tiny painted reed frogs and dazzling dragonflies.
- Unusually tall termite mounds and baobabs that escape the floodwaters.
- A unique activity available nowhere else in Africa for a select number of guests.
#4 Take to the skies & go Hot Air Ballooning in the Serengeti National Park | Tanzania
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. Meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, the Serengeti National Park is one of the most celebrated wilderness areas in the world.
Spanning northern Tanzania, the world-renowned Serengeti National Park is not only Tanzania’s flagship conservation area, but one of the greatest national parks in Africa, if not the world. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti is regarded as one of the most celebrated global wilderness areas. The Serengeti National Park covers an immense 14 800 km² (5 700 square miles) on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya, encompassing up to 50% of the wider Serengeti–Mara ecosystem – Making the Serengeti the most famous protected wilderness area in all of Africa.
While the Serengeti National Park is notorious for its vastly diverse and abundant wildlife, it is best known as the iconic site of the world-renowned Annual Great Wildebeest Migration. The Great Wildebeest Migration – Regarded as the ‘Seventh New Wonder of the World’, one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles & natural phenomenon to ever exist in the natural world, as well as declared the ‘The greatest show on earth’ – is undoubtedly one of the top (if not THE top) wildlife spectacles in Africa.
Witnessing The annual Great Migration, also known as the Gnu Migration, Serengeti Migration and Masai Mara Migration, up-close, in action, and first-hand is the chief reasons why so many travelers’ tourists, globe trotters, and avid nature and wildlife enthusiast venture to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. There are few things that can compare to witnessing one of the greatest and grandest wildlife gatherings and spectacles in its full all-mighty force – It’s an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience to say the least!
The Great Migration is a never-ending movement which includes millions of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and impala circling and venturing across the vast Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in Tanzania and Kenya, chasing the rains in a constant search for food, moving from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya by crossing the great Mara River.
*Interesting Fact: The Mara River crossing of The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most thrilling and equally daunting endeavours to witness and experience – often referred to as “the greatest show on earth”. The great Mara River is both surrounded by and filled with Africa’s top predators, making it an INCREDIBLY risky journey for all of the wildlife species taking part in the Annual Great Migration. However, despite the great danger that awaits these animals – the Mara River crossing cannot be avoided and is a vital component of the Great Migration cycle / movement.
Nile crocodiles and other predators are patiently waiting for the right moment to strike and make the wildebeest their prey. Not to mention the legendary Serengeti lions – some 3,000 of them – who lie in wait, along with leopards, cheetahs, and countless hungry hyenas all jumping at the bid to get in on the action.
There is absolutely no denying that witnessing and experiencing the Masai Mara / Serengeti Great Migration should be on everyone’s African safari travel bucket-list!
Hold on, the excitement isn’t over yet, not by a long shot! Imagine if you could witness this glorious wildlife spectacle along with the sensational wilderness wonder that is the Serengeti National Park all while floating over the Serengeti plains on a hot air balloon safari?! Well, it’s time to turn your dream into a reality, and trust us, this is one magical and magnificent safari experience you’ll never forget!
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon safari adventure as you float over the spectacular Serengeti National Park at sunrise for a bird’s eye view of Mother Nature’s greatest show. Breathe in the fresh air while you sip your morning coffee or savour your afternoon sundowner. This is without a doubt one of the best and most riveting ways to start or end a day in Africa!
#5 Go on a Walking Safari in South Luangwa | Zambia
South Luangwa National Park is one of the great remaining unspoiled regions of Africa.
South Luangwa National Park is by far the greatest highlight of eastern Zambia. Known by locals as simply ‘the South Park’, this impressive National Park covers an extensive area of approximately 9050 square kilometres of the Luangwa Valley floor. With its western and northwestern edge bounded by the Muchinga Escarpment, and the southern border lined with the meandering Luangwa River, there is no shortage of dramatic and fascinating topography and landscapes to explore in this stunning game-rich park. In fact, very few destinations in Africa can offer the unique combination of South Luangwa National Park’s open, grassy plains and mature, mesmerizing woodlands, crowned with the breathtaking Luangwa River.
One of South Luangwa National Park’s main allures, as well as what sets it apart from other pristine National Parks, game reserves, wilderness and conservation areas, and safari destinations in Africa, is that despite Zambia’s growing reputation as a spectacular and must-visit safari destination, South Luangwa National Park has retained its essence of true wilderness, remaining relatively untouched, and is therefore uniquely able to provide an unpredictable and exhilarating safari experience to any that visits this rare and remarkable wilderness gem.
Beyond its untouched wilderness landscapes and sheer unapologetic natural beauty, Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is known to draw wildlife enthusiasts and safari connoisseurs from all corners of the globe. Accompanying its reputation for offering extremely high-quality expert guiding, South Luangwa’s concentration of wildlife is some of the most dense in all of Africa – and by far the best, with some going as far as to say the only, way to truly immerse yourself in the wild and untamed surroundings of the South Luangwa National Park, its diverse wildlife, and absolutely everything it has to offer is by going on an incredible walking safari!
In fact, did you know that South Luangwa National Park in Zambia has loudly and proudly claimed the title as ‘The Home of the Walking Safari’? Considered the birthplace of walking safaris, going on an exhilarating walking safari in the renowned South Luangwa National Park promises to exceed all your expectations – Because a walking safari in South Luangwa National Park is not only regarded as a thrilling wilderness experience / adventure / activity, but rather a way of life.
If you decide / have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of going on a walking safari adventure on your visit to this iconic National Park you’ll have the additional privilege of traversing the untamed landscapes of South Luangwa National Park on foot while being guided by an exceptional, highly experienced, and incredibly knowledgeable wildlife guide or ranger.
Beyond the obvious thrill, going on a walking safari gives you the opportunity to experience South Luangwa National Park from an entirely different perspective, as well as see and hear the small things that may have gone unnoticed, or you may have overlooked / might’ve missed otherwise. Not to mention, getting to go on an unforgettable and adventure-filled walking safari in one of Africa’s most remote and unspoilt locations truly is a bucket list worthy African safari adventure experience in itself.
Beyond its prestigious title as ‘The Home of the Walking Safari’, South Luangwa National Park is arguably one of the greatest wildlife-viewing destinations in Africa. Boasting among the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Africa, this sought-after Zambian National Park is regarded as one of the very best places to see large herds of buffalo, elephants, giraffes, African wild dogs, leopards, lions, and hippos in their natural habitat, to mention merely a few.
South Luangwa is also home to a number of rare and endemic species including the Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest, and Crawshay’s zebra. Another one of South Luangwa National Park’s wildlife highlights takes place in late October, just before the start of the rain, when thousands of hippos gather in the Luangwa River’s deeper pools – It truly is a remarkable spectacle to witness as they jostle and fight for space. Boasting such a vast diversity and incredible abundance of wildlife your South Luangwa walking safari will undoubtedly be filled with the most magnificent up-close wildlife sightings and encounters.
**BONUS: You don’t have to share space with many other people either. Zambia is off the beaten track without the hordes of crowds you can expect in popular safari destinations, promising a more exclusive safari experience.
#6 Embark on a Gorilla Trekking Adventure in Rwanda
Africa is widely renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on the cover of travel magazines or at the very top of avid traveler’s bucket lists of must-do once-in-a-lifetime adventure experiences) as Rwanda where avid wildlife enthusiasts and thrill-seeking adventurers from across the globe have the incredible opportunity of witnessing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.
It therefore comes as no surprise that Rwanda is deemed the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most enriching, exhilarating, and powerful wildlife experiences, sought-after safari adventures, and thrilling wildlife encounters – tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains. It’s here, in the Virunga Massifs, where you’ll find Volcanoes National Park – home to the largest mountain gorilla population in the world.
As Rwanda is one of only three places in the world where you can see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, visiting this extraordinary African country and embarking on an exhilarating gorilla trekking expedition is so much more than a tick off the bucket list – it truly is a humbling, emotional, enriching, and powerful experience that you’ll undoubtedly remember and cherish for the rest of your life.
Depending on where exactly you decide to go, you can also see other primates, including the chimpanzee, golden monkey, Ruwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, and many more.
#7 Sleep Out in the Makgadikgadi Pans | Botswana
Botswana is not only regarded as one of the most exclusive and widely acclaimed safari destinations in Africa, but one of the most remarkable wilderness areas on earth too. Boasting vast stretches of protected wilderness, pristine landscapes, premier National Parks, luxury safari lodges, incredible game reserves, and a glorious diversity of wildlife, as a safari destination, Botswana is hard to top.
The north and west of Botswana include the dazzling water worlds of the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River ecosystem whereas the south and east of Botswana consist of the jaw-dropping Kalahari Desert and lunar-like pans at Nxai and Makgadikgadi.
One of the largest salt pans in the world, Makgadikgadi was once a lake covering 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 and / or birdlife, you’d be pleasantly surprised when visiting this unique part of Botswana. There is far more to the Makgadikgadi Pans than what meets the eye!
During its summer season, the desolate dry expanses of Makgadikgadi comes 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.
Besides being the largest salt flat in the world, the Makgadikgadi Pans is one of Botswana’s more remote locations and somewhat of a hidden gem that many are yet to discover. This makes it the perfect destination for this particular memorable and magical safari experience in Africa – Enjoying a glorious night under the milky way and falling asleep with nothing but the beautiful starlit night sky and magical hue of the moonlight providing a slight shimmer of light. It sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Only now you can make it a reality – How incredibly lucky are you?
To add a bit more magic to this already unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’ll have the pleasure of relishing in every single second of pure peaceful silence and serenity as you gaze up at the spectacular, sweep-you-right-off-your-feet starlit night sky. It is not only the epitome of star gazing, it is star gazing like you’ve never seen before, and probably never will again. It truly is out of this world!
#8 Go on an Aerial Cableway Ride to the top of Table Mountain | Cape Town | South Africa
Standing tall at a staggering 1,086 meters above sea level, Table Mountain is deemed the all-mighty giant of the Cape Town skyline. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is so much more than one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks and sought-after attractions – It is by far one of the most magnificent natural wonders as well as the ultimate mecca for nature lovers, avid hikers, and adventure seekers! Not to mention, Table Mountain is without a doubt our local Cape Town pride and joy too!
While admiring the world-renowned Table Mountain from below (from any of its countless vantage and look-out points scattered across the city) is every bit as beautiful, nothing compares to the breathtaking panoramic view you’ll get to witness when standing on the summit of Table Mountain – it truly is unmatched! From the glorious Atlantic Ocean, striking Signal Hill, prominent Lions Head, the stunning beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton (regarded as two of the most beautiful beaches in the world), the vibrant Mother City and beyond, the view from the top of this globally acclaimed flat-topped mountain will undoubtedly exceed all your expectations.
Going on an exciting Aerial Cable Way ride to the top of Table Mountain is not only one of the top, not-to-be-missed year-round experiences for locals, tourists, travelers, families, holiday-goers, avid adventurers, and nature enthusiasts alike, but by far one of the most sought-after things to do on any trip to Cape Town. Plus, it will be thoroughly enjoyed by absolutely EVERYONE (all ages are welcome).
It goes without saying that taking an Aerial Cableway ride to the Table Mountain summit is not only an exhilarating experience that should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket list, but something every person who travels to Cape Town should experience at least once in their lives, if not multiple times!
The Aerial Cableway trip itself will only take you roughly five minutes up and five minutes down, but you can spend as much time as you want soaking up the picturesque views and stunning surroundings while you’re at the top. While we may be slightly biased, we whole-heartedly believe that the view from the Table Mountain summit is by far, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt, no-ifs-ands-or-buts the best view in the entire world!
What are you waiting for? Book your Table Mountain Aerial Cableway ticket right now via WebTickets.
#9 Witness & Walk with the largest concentration of elephants in Africa | Chobe National Park | Botswana
Nicknamed ‘The Land of the Gentle Giants’, Botswana’s Chobe National Park is where elephants reign supreme, and the powerful pulse of the great Chobe River breathes life into the endless stretch of unspoiled wilderness that makes up one of Botswana’s most glorious wildlife and safari gems.
Exactly how many elephants reside in Africa’s elephant paradise you ask? Chobe National Park boasts an impressive and exceptional population of African elephants, which is said to exceed 120,000 – Undoubtedly making it one of the top places, if not THE top place, on the planet to witness these remarkable gentle giants of the African bushveld in their natural environment. It’s no surprise avid travellers, wildlife enthusiasts, and tourists flock from all across the globe for the opportunity to see these mighty and magnificent mammals and largest member of the African Big 5 in action and to experience breathless face-to-face encounters with these never-ending herds of the largest living land animal on earth.
During Botswana’s dry season, from about June to October, an inconceivable number of these gentle giants can be seen crowding the banks of the Chobe River. So, if you really, REALLY want to see as many wild African elephants as you possibly can on your Chobe safari trip, it’s hard to think of a better destination than the iconic Chobe River at the end of Botswana’s enervating dry season.
Botswana’s virtually rainless winter begins in May and by late August the rest of the park has practically dried out completely; The bone-dry surroundings, due to the extreme lack of rain, means that ponds, streams, puddles, and smaller water sources around the park dry up. This forces animals to essentially congregate around the remaining large water source / sources – AKA the Chobe River – resulting in enormous concentrations of wildlife, including Chobe’s huge herds of elephants, on the riverfront where they can be seen drinking, wallowing, and lazing about, grazing, and, most exciting of it all, taking dust baths – A truly breathtaking sight!
In the heat of September and October, thousands of elephants arrive cheek-by-jowl with enormous buffalo herds, trailed by prides of sleek lions. Game drives and boat cruises take you right into the center of the action, providing you with seriously spectacular up-close sightings and encounters that are bound to leave you gob-smacked and utterly amazed.
**BONUS Wildlife in Chobe National Park: Occupying a great woodland wilderness between the eponymous Chobe River and the fringes of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Chobe National Park is one of Africa’s heavyweight reserves and a sanctuary for some of the continent’s healthiest populations of elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe, zebra, leopard, jackals, and the widely beloved and endangered African wild dog, to mention merely a few. Chobe is also one of the best places in Africa to witness the most dramatic predator action – its Savuti region is where lions regularly clash with hyenas and powerful prides famously take down Africa’s biggest game like buffalo, giraffe and even elephants.
- Best time to visit Chobe National Park: June – October | Botswana’s Dry Season
#10 See millions of bats during the Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration | Zambia
While The Annual Great Migration of Wildebeest in Tanzania and Kenya may well win both the attention and the fancy name, did you know that, despite popular belief, the largest mammal migration in the world as well as Africa’s largest wildlife migration doesn’t take place on the grass plains and savannas of the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve – but rather the skies over the Congo and Kasanka National Park in Zambia? We’re talking about The Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration!
This means that while Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia may well be one of the smaller and ‘lesser-known’ game reserves in Africa – occupying only about 4000ha²/400km² – it is in no way stopping it from making some NOT-TO-BE-AVOIDED global African wildlife spectacle noise – attracting people from far and wide to see what it’s all about – and let’s not forget, to witness the largest mammal migration in the world!
Every year, from late-October to December, the skies around this tiny African jewel – Kasanka National Park in Zambia – come alive with around 10 million straw-colored fruit bats. These African straw-colored bats are said to migrate from the Congo Basin and arrive from all over central Africa to feed on the fruiting trees of the evergreen swamp forest in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park. This remarkable migration and spectacle tend to coincide with the start of the rains.
The scale of this migration is not only immense, but utterly extraordinary – with bats dispersing and flying about as far as the eye can see! Seeing these millions of straw-colored fruit bats fly out every evening from their roosts to feed is both an exhilarating and spectacular spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!
To maximize your bat safari experience, Kasanka National Park has a few custom-built bat hides where there are two bat-specific viewing times. You can see the bats in the evening when they set out to feed as well as in the morning when they return to roost with up to twice their body weight full of fruit. It is quite something to listen to the sound of branches straining and cracking under the increasing weight and burden of tired and stuffed bats. This truly is the very best and most memorable way to fully immerse yourself in this annual phenomenon.
While the sheer volume of bats is nothing short of jaw-dropping and is bound to render you speechless, the atmosphere surrounding this phenomenon is equally thrilling and captivating. You will see countless huge birds of prey swoop through the skies in an effort to take down as many bats as possible. That’s not all! Several small predators and scavengers can also be found waiting below, ready to pounce on any bats that may fall or become injured during their battle for survival.
*Interesting Fact: Conservationists think that these African straw-colored fruit bats are not only responsible for pollination, but up to 60% of forest seed dispersal. Making this event not only spectacular in every way possible but also ecologically crucial.
- Best time to see the Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration: Late October – mid-December