Many people have the notion that all the wild animals we’ve seen since childhood only in Kipling’s books and The Lion King walk around in Africa right down the street, bowing politely to passersby.
In reality, everything is different: civilization has covered Africa so much that animals aren’t seen on the street here. To meet them face to face, you need to know the right places. These are the best safari destinations for different tastes and wallets.
Tanzania: For Those Who Like All-inclusive Options
If you’re wondering where to go on safari, Tanzania is likely to be the first country that comes to your mind. It’s the most hyped tourist destination in Africa.
Tanzania is home to the Serengeti National Park, which, according to all ratings, is one of the top 5 best national parks in the world and consistently ranks number one as the best safari park.
The speciality of the Serengeti, firstly, is its gigantic size, thanks to which you can travel around the park for over a week, constantly discovering new places. Secondly, the savannah landscape and the extreme concentration of animals per square kilometre, allow you to see scenes from “The Lion King” exactly as you remember them from childhood.
But the main attraction of the Serengeti is the famous great wildebeest migration. Huge herds of zebra and gnu antelope move through the park throughout the year in search of water, pursued by predators of all sorts, from noble lions and leopards to hyenas and jackals.
A particularly impressive sight is the Mara River crossing, during which you can witness a veritable crocodile feast: hundreds of zebras and antelopes trying to cross the rushing river find themselves in the teeth of the green predators.
Planning everything yourself, and contacting a guide, a hotel, or a driver, is even harder than hitting the jackpot at virtual betting. That’s why the most popular business in Tanzania is travel agencies that help organize safaris.
Namibia: For Independent Travelers
If you don’t like organized tours and want to explore the national park and observe wildlife at your own pace, the best option for you is to go to Namibia, rent a car and drive to Etosha National Park in the very north of the country. Etosha Park is famous primarily for its huge population of rhinos, including black rhinos, of which there are only about 7,000 left in the world.
If you want to observe these humble giants, Etosha is the best place to do it: in other parks, it’s a big chance to meet a rhino, but here you can see five in a day. Besides rhinos, you’ll find a full range of wild animals – giraffes, lions, elephants, antelopes of all sizes and colours, and if you’re lucky, cheetahs and leopards.
Unlike Tanzania, Namibia is geared more towards independent travellers. You can freely enter the park in your car, take a map and gradually drive kilometre by kilometre, looking for a lion in the bush. At the same time, admission for the day costs only 10 dollars.
Botswana: For Those Who Don’t Want to Pay National Park Entrance Fees
Those who have ever heard anything about Botswana will be surprised by this characterization: it’s known as the country with the most expensive safaris in the world. Yet, you don’t have to pay for them at all.
The fact is that Botswana is a country with low population density, most of which is concentrated in two or three major cities. The rest of this not-insignificant country is given either to pastures for cows or to the legal owners of this territory, wild animals.
In some places, it seems as if people are caged here, while animals walk free: residents of towns and villages located inside or near national parks prefer not to go beyond the fence, so as not to take any unnecessary risks.
If you enter Botswana from the Zambian side – from the north, where several national parks are located – you will immediately feel its wild spirit. Antelopes graze just beyond the border, wild boars run wild and herds of elephants roam.
Moving further south along the highway, you’ll take a completely free safari: just keep your eyes peeled. Elephants, giraffes, ostriches and antelopes are sure to be spotted, and if you’re very lucky, you’ll even see rhinos.
Zimbabwe: For Those Who Want to Tickle Nerves
In other parks, it’s strictly forbidden to get out of your car except in designated areas. Some parks offer walking safaris, but these are organized so safely that you may be more likely to enjoy views of the savannah than actual wildlife sightings. But there is one unique park in Zimbabwe, Mana Pools, where hiking is officially allowed.
Such walks, unlike comfortable and safe safaris by car, help you feel your fragility and unsuitability for life in the wild. You can feel yourself in a jungle book, suddenly noticing a resting lion or the intense eyes of a crocodile five meters away from you.
Doing this without a guide, an experienced person armed with a tranquillizer gun just in case is certainly not worth it. And in the Mana Pools area, you can easily find companies that can help you have this experience.