The world is continuing to become smaller and smaller with every new advancement. With every new click of the mouse we all are becoming increasingly interconnected; we’ve become so engulfed with our various array of media-filled screens. So, where does that leave the truly extraordinary? Where does the world still remain truly untouched by man? And finally, will catching a glimpse of such a rare location change your life?
There are locations that answer these questions, but Africa, with all its natural beauty is perhaps the largest. Unique in its own right, and in a multitude of ways, the continent has over 3,000 protected areas, including 198 Marine protected areas, 50 biosphere reserves, 129 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 80 RAMSAR ‘Wetlands of International Importance”. It has twenty-five percent of the world’s bird species, the world’s largest wildlife migration on Earth (750,000 zebras and 1.2 million wildebeest), the world’s largest living land animal (the African Elephant), 85% of the world’s elephants, and over 99% of the remaining lions, with many more eye-popping, wildlife facts too numerous to count.
Photo courtesy | Diana Robinson
Very few destinations grab hold of the traveler like Africa. The Dark Continent remains mysterious, and enchanting despite the rest of the world’s progress into the modern era. From the Swahili term for ‘long journey’, a safari is a trip that everyone should plan for at least once in his or her life.
Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking nature, Africa has several national parks prime for a safari trip. Each park’s strengths vary depending on the type of trip, but each remain breathtaking in their own right. Are you looking to see the big five (African Lion, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, African Leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros)? Parks like Kruger National Park, Mala Mala Game Reserve and Masai Mara National Reserve are perfect locations to find them all.
On the other hand there are parks like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve, a UNESECO World Heritage Site, home to half the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Or maybe you want something completely different like Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, a place where you can mountain bike, canoe or hike through a volcano conservation area that stretches across three countries. Then there’s always Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, home to more than fifty coral islands filled with marine life, offering adventure travelers world-class diving and snorkeling. Finally, saving the best for last, deemed the best park for African safaris in 2015, is Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Home to the annual great migration, as well as an excellent park to see great wildlife year round, this is a surefire bet.
Photo courtesy | Colin J. McMechan
In the end it all depends on what kind of trip you as a traveler are looking to have and why you’re traveling in the first place. The continent offers walking safaris, photographic safaris, luxury mobile safaris, fly-in safaris, whale watching, diving vacations, spa vacations, golfing, food and wine experiences, or gorilla and chimp trekking — all with the vastness of the savannah right outside your door. The good thing, it doesn’t matter if you want just one, or all of them. Many of these parks offer, a variety of packages that allow a traveler to plan for everything whether you’re travelling solo, with a family, or on your honeymoon. Tailor your vacation to suit the person you are and the experience you’re looking to have and without a doubt you will come back home a changed person.
“I have never known of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy”, it’s a quote to pack your bags to, and one to think of when a herd of the world’s finest wanders past your door. Ernest Hemingway saw what this haven had to offer and you should too.