There are few, if any, experiences more thrilling than going on a safari through the vast African wilderness and immersing oneself in a splendid variety of landscapes populated by a broad, dazzling array of wildlife. National parks and game preserves throughout Africa allow travelers to admire marvelous creatures such as lions, giraffes, elephants and rhinos, among others, in their natural habitats. Although there are plenty of awe-inspiring safari destinations, here are the four best safari locations all travelers should visit in their lifetimes.
1. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Encompassing a vast area more than twice the size of Rhode Island, South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia is truly a sight to behold. Several species within the park, including the Thornicroft giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest, are endemic to the region and cannot be encountered anywhere else on the planet. Visitors should also keep their eyes open for herds of elephant and Cape buffalo roaming the savanna, as well as hippos gathered along the banks of the scenic Luangwa River. Since one day is far from enough time to fully experience this picturesque wilderness, the park offers overnight accommodations ranging from simple safari camps to luxurious lodges with plenty of creature comforts. With that being said, South Luangwa National Park is definitely a must-see.
© Joachim Huber
2. Chobe National Park, Botswana
Situated near the Okavango River delta, Chobe National Park in Botswana is home to dense concentrations of wildlife and is therefore considered a prime safari destination. Travelers should keep a lookout for vast herds of African elephants, not to mention lions, giraffes, impalas, wild dogs, and the occasional cheetah. Additionally, Chobe is a rewarding destination for birdwatchers, many of whom come from around the globe to admire magnificent avian species such as the rufous-bellied heron, black-winged pratincole, and Meyer’s parrot. In short, Chobe National Park is not to be missed.
© Tim Copeland
3. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Named for the five volcanoes situated within its borders, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is one of the most spectacular safari destinations anywhere. The park is only one of a few places worldwide where tourists can admire mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Although visitors must trek to altitudes between 7,000 and 9,000 feet to observe these magnificent creatures, it is worth every additional ounce of effort as well as the US$500 it costs for a permit necessary to see the gorillas up close and personal. Volcanoes National Park also plays host to golden monkeys, whose treetop acrobatics are popular with park visitors. It is quite the experience.
© John Cooke
4. Mantadia National Park, Madagascar
Although mainland Africa is home to plenty of amazing wildlife, the island nation of Madagascar is a true haven for biodiversity, largely because 80 percent of its fauna are endemic and can be found nowhere else on Earth. Situated along the Indian Ocean coastline in eastern Madagascar, Mantadia National Park is home to one of the country’s most immaculately preserved swaths of rainforest. Visitors to the park will definitely enjoy the opportunity to admire several lemur species – among them the giant indri, diademed sifaka, and black-and-white ruffed lemur – in their natural habitat. Mantadia is also an ideal destination for birdwatching, as the park is home to countless endemic bird species such as the Madagascar serpent eagle. It is a destination not to be overlooked.
© Laika A.C.
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Cover photo © Marion Bobst