One thing safari lovers have in common is their quest to holiday at the best safari parks in the world. This makes perfect sense especially when you consider the nature of safari expeditions. It is impossible to have a memorable safari in an outdated and insecure park. For some visitors, the attractions are the amazing wildlife, the breathtaking scenery, the sandy tropical beaches and of course, the challenging mountain hikes. Quite naturally, every adventure-seeker strives to get the best out of every safari. From this list, three out of the top 10 parks, are based in Tanzania making it the ideal country to visit if you are looking for a remarkable safari.
Most tour experts agree that safari parks differ. African safaris, for instance, are judged by certain standards. The best parks feature opportunities to witness the Great Migration of millions of animals, to hike up some of the tallest mountains in the world and to traverse the wilderness and the lush, tropical beaches.
With so many countries and parks to choose from, it can be confusing and challenging to know where to go. And that’s what we’ll be exploring in this article. To make your job easier, we have listed the best 10 wildlife parks for African safaris. Let’s explore each one and see what they have to offer.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Most safari lovers rank the Serengeti National Park as the No. 1 wildlife park they’ve ever visited. With its scenic landscape and the spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities, Serengeti is always full of memorable moments. Photography enthusiasts are more likely to leave with countless Instagram-able pictures.
If you are interested in watching the world’s largest animals in their natural habitat, Serengeti is the park to visit. Here are some other interesting safari ideas you can consider exploring while at the Serengeti National Park:
Enjoy the best of wildebeest calving in South Serengeti. Best time to experiencing this is from January to February.
Observe zebras and gazelles during childbirth, visit from December to April.
Sail through the Grumeti River Crossing in Western Serengeti. Best time for this activity is from May to June.
Witness giraffes traipsing around the North Serengeti Lobo River Valley.
Experience the Mara River Crossing in Northern Serengeti. Best time to do this between June through November.
The Great Northward Migration and Wildebeest Rut in Central Serengeti. Best time to observe this is from April to May.
Observing swimming hippos at Central Serengeti’s Retina Hippo Pool.
The Great Southward Migration also in the Central part of the Serengeti National Park. Best time to observe this is from November to December. This is when the wildebeests migrate to the scenic plains.
Watching cheetahs racing after the migratory Thomson’s gazelles in the Southern Serengeti Plains.
Weaving around elephants in Western Serengeti‘s Lower Grumeti Woodlands.
Viewing and photographing spotted leopards around the Seronera River, Central Serengeti.
Rhino watching at Central Serengeti’s Moru Kopjes.
Ngorongoro Crater National Park, Tanzania
Serious safari enthusiasts rank the Ngorongoro Crater as the most important wildlife park in Tanzania. With its mind-blowing volcanic craters and a wide variety of wildlife, adventure seekers can’t get enough of this park.
What’s more, the Ngorongoro crater hosts the highest population of The Big 5 animals. Yes, you name it. Rhinoceros, lion, elephant, cape buffalo and spotted leopard. The Crater is home to the world’s fiercest predators.
Again, the Ngorongoro crater houses an aviary where you can find approximately four hundred species of birds. Amazing right? Plus, birdwatchers are often pleased to find gorgeous ostriches and flamingoes.
If photographic wildlife safari is your thing, you will definitely enjoy a safari in this scenic park.
Below is a list of exciting safari activities to consider while you’re there.
Game viewing drives
Photographing the scenic landscape
Traversing the wilderness and the volcanic craters.
Masai Mara National Park, Kenya
When tour experts talk about tourism in Kenya, they are often referring to a safari in Masai Mara. Some argue that Masai Mara is the Holy Grail for safaris and it is easy to see why.
First of all, the Masai Mara national park is home to the Great Migration. Tourists who visit Kenya from July through October are likely to witness this spectacular event. Imagine the breathtaking scenery with millions of wildebeests (or other nomadic animals) migrating across the plains. This is often the highlight for most photography enthusiasts.
For a more exciting safari, you can track these migrating animals as they dodge (or fall prey) to crocodiles and other hungry predators. It’s the kind of 3D reality show that leaves everyone in awe.
Beyond the nature watching and the game viewing, there are other interesting things you can do while on a safari in the Masai Mara national park. Some of these activities include but aren’t limited to:
Bird-watching (there are over 570 species of birds)
Bask in the vibrant café culture
Explore the unbridled nightlife
Visit the National Museum and the Karen Blixen Museum
Take a trip to the lion and buffalo urban game reserve.
Okavango Delta National Park, Botswana
Popular for its pristine drinkable waters, the Okavango River attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
You’re probably wondering what’s special about this park. Well, a lot. It’s on our list of 10 best safari parks for a good reason.
The Okavango Delta is the biggest inland Delta in the world. What’s more, the Okavango River flows directly into the dry and arid Kalahari Desert. Lovers of water safaris will be thrilled after their adventure in the Delta.
And oh, lest I forget, The Delta is a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. This Botswana paradise made the highly selective list in 2014. Beyond water safaris, there are other exciting activities adventurers can key into. Below is a list of safari ideas you should definitely consider while in the Okavango Delta.
Game viewing around the wilderness and lagoons.
Opportunities for photographic safaris. There is a huge population of buffalo, leopards, African wild dogs, lions, elephant, cheetah, hippos and antelope.
Dugout canoeing (also called traditional mokoro).
If you’re looking for an exclusive (and private) wildlife experience, the Okavango Delta is a good option.
Ongava National Park, Namibia
The Ongava National Park is a perfect safari destination for visitors who prefer private game reserves. Situated on the southern border of the Etosha National Park, Ongava park is near the top of a hill. Visitors have the advantage of taking in the scenic waterhole and the plains on either side of the Ondundozonanandana range.
What makes this park exceptional is its luxury accommodation, its sumptuous meals and its five-star service.
Below are some exciting safari ideas for visitors while in the Ongava National Park.
Game viewing drives in the Etosha National Park
Bush treks in the reserve
Extensive nature drives around the plains and wilderness.
Watching the resident white and black rhinoceros, as well as the black-faced impala.
Memorable Etosha Salt Pan scenery
Wildlife viewing at the concentrated waterholes
Opportunity to see thepopular ‘white’ elephants
Truly, Ongava is definitely one of the best parks in Africa, not only because of its excellent road networks but because it offers visitors exclusive safari experiences.
Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania
As the name implies, this beautiful park is home to the phenomenal Lake Manyara. Most tour experts suggest that the best place to begin one’s Tanzanian (or African) safari is the Lake Manyara National Park.
Why is this park spoken so highly of?
The first reason is that it is near the local and international airports. Again, the Lake Manyara Park is on the route to both the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s easy to make a quick stop before continuing on to the aforementioned bigger parks.
The Lake Manyara national park is home to a huge variety of wildlife.
Below is a list of activities to consider while you’re in the Lake Manyara National Park
Night-time and daytime game viewing drives in the Lake Manyara National Park.
Bush treks in the Lake Manyara National Park.
Witness elephants having mud baths.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of the most exciting wildlife parks in Africa. Situated in South Africa, this natural game reserve contains a wide variety of animals (over five hundred species).
Adventure seekers and athletes will thoroughly enjoy hiking up the granite hills. Its breathtaking landscape is unique and picturesque. Again, the Kruger National Park has the most sophisticated road networks in the continent. This South African park ranks No. 1 in the list of most accessible wildlife parks.
However, this park is hugely popular among safari holidaymakers. This explains why the park is often swarming with tourists. If you’re averse to crowded places, perhaps you should consider the other private game reserves on our list. The Ongava National Park in Namibia is a good example.
Below is a list of ideas to consider while you’re on a safari at the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
If the CNN ranks a park as the third best national park in the world, you pay attention. After an extensive visit and some intensive research, we agree with CNN’s verdict. The Kidepo Valley National Park is well known for its scenic savanna landscapes and its lush and rocky mountains. It’s especially popular with wildlife and nature photographers.
If you enjoy rarely explored, remote wildlife safaris, then the Kidepo Valley will appeal to you. This scenic park has the least number of visitors per day. With an average of six visitors daily, one can literally enjoy the privacy and serenity the ambience exudes. Explore the hills and valleys, while observing the world’s largest animals in their natural habitats.
Here are some safari ideas you might want to explore:
Game viewing around the north and west of Kidepo Valley National Park. There is a wide variety of wildlife such as giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, buffalos and leopards.
Swim in the crystal-clear waters of the natural swimming pool. You can actually watch wildlife interactions while you’re taking a dip in the pool.
Sleep to the nighttime howls and growls of hyenas and lions.
Excite your taste buds with the local and intercontinental meals and drinks.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
With its picturesque savannas and it’s authentic woodlands, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is definitely one of Africa’s best safari parks. Not only can you find the five largest land animals in the world, but you can also witness the interactions of hundred species of wildlife.
Large as the whole of Belgium, the Hwange National park hosts approximately fifty thousand (50 000) elephants. What’s more, it’s the best park for anyone who appreciates regular wildlife sightings during safaris. Cheetahs, lions and leopards are in abundance. And if you’re lucky, you might sight rare animals like the African wild dog, sables and roans.
There’s something for bird lovers too, With an aviary of approximately 500 species, visitors are certain to have the time of their lives.
Below are some ideas to consider during your safari at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Extensive game viewing
Exploring the diverse habitats and vegetation categories.
Watch and explore the breathtaking Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls is close to Hwange. Your tour operator can arrange a trip for you during the course of your safari.
Explore the large herds of elephants in their natural habitat.
Enjoy bird watching.
Photograph endangered species such as the rhinos, wild dogs, sables and roans.
Kalahari Desert, Botswana
Yes, you can actually have an exciting safari in the partly arid savannas of the Kalahari Desert. This famous desert resides in three countries: Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. But to enjoy an exciting safari holiday in the Kalahari desert, you’ll have to plan a trip to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana and or the Gemshok Game Reserve in Botswana.
The Kalahari is a unique semi-arid desert; not just for its large expanse of sand dunes, but for its wide variety of vegetation and its grassy savanna. There are a couple of river valleys and picturesque salt pans around the park. Vegetation and plants? In a desert? How come? Well, the Kalahari enjoys an annual rainfall. The rains encourage the flourishing of 400 plant varieties.
Visitors can witness the interactions of desert animals with their unique semi-arid habitat. In the Kalahari, there are caracals, springbok, eland, Kalahari lions, large African antelopes, cheetahs, meerkats, leopards and gemsboks. Bird-watchers will be pleased to witness large flocks of weaver-birds constructing sophisticated nests on tree branches.
Highlights of a safari in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana include, but aren’t limited to the following:
Game viewing of a huge population of desert animals.
Bird watching. There are over 215 species of birds in the Gemshok game reserve in Botswana.
Cultural interactions with the Bushmen of the Kalahari
Final thoughts on the best 10 safari parks:
African safaris have come a long way since their inception. Parks are often being expanded and upgraded to meet the growing demands of tourists. This means that our list might change next season. But for now, these 10 parks are the best by our estimation.