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Into the wild

7 Best African Safari Detinations

Clive Wedderburn September 21, 2016

So – you want to go on safari. You want to see the Big 5 and discover some of the greatest scenery on the planet – but Africa is a continent so vast you’ve no idea where to begin.  We’ve hand-picked six amazing destinations to inspire your next African adventure.

1) Kenya

Widely regarded as the ‘safari capital of the world’ Kenya also benefits from a glorious Indian Ocean coastline. Consider an Exclusive Fly-In Safari and stay at The Little Governors' Camp and experience some of the country’s most magical views of the Masai Mara for Big 5 spotting and luxury tents overlooking open plains and watering holes that teem with life.

To complement your safari adventure consider relaxing on white sands, watching dhows set sail across the Indian Ocean on Diani beach. Here you’ll find idyllic resorts including Baobab Beach Resort and Spa, set in ancient coastal forests, world-class dive sites, offering an opportunity to go on safari – this time beneath the waves.

Insider’s tip: Discover the true story of Elsa the Lioness from the wildlife film Born Free when you stay at Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park in Kenya. The luxury safari lodge is perched high above the savannah on a rocky outcrop where Elsa liked to relax.

2) Tanzania and Zanzibar

Luxury safari lodges and amazing game viewing combine in Tanzania to bring you Africa just as you imagined it.  There are three national parks to encounter lions and rhinos as well as the opportunity to witness Serengeti’s annual migration if timed right. The best time to see the wildebeest crossing of the Grumeti River is between June – July. (Call our Destination Specialists for details).

For an amazing experience fly direct onto the Serengeti National Park airstrip by light aircraft to discover the wildebeest migration before dining under the stars at the Serengeti Serena Lodge.

The chill after the thrill must be when you retreat to the spice Island of Zanzibar to stunning resorts including the Karafuu Beach Resort & Spa. Head to the floating restaurant 200 metres from shore, dive below the waves to go scuba diving in azure waters or simply relax in with a cocktail at the swim-up bar.

Insider’s tip: Upgrade your safari with a champagne breakfast in either the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Masai Mara in Kenya – suspended high above the Great Annual Migration in a hot air balloon. 

3) South Africa

For the perfect safari, city and beach combination South Africa is hard to beat. There are so many different experiences you can build into one amazing holiday. Explore vibrant Cape Town before embarking on a self-drive along the Garden Route onwards to Kruger National Park where the Big Five await in one of the best wildlife encounters on the continent.

But if you don’t feel like driving then enlist the services of the Blue Train which runs luxury services between Cape Town and Pretoria, perfect for gourmet dinners, elegant lounges and club cars and stunning views as the train trundles through the vast scenery of the Karoo and the Hex River Valley. After your wildlife encounters fly to exotic Mauritius for culture, breathtaking mountains and golf courses, plus sand, sea and sunshine. 

4) Botswana

Experience what it’s like to get away from it all on Botswana’s floodplains. Albeit it in a plush lodge accommodation with a 20 metre swimming pool, with traditional meals overlooking wide open nature reserves and spa facilities from your very own deck.

Experience Victoria Falls, Chobe and the Okavango Delta to enjoy the country’s best water-based game viewing and birdlife. Cruise on the mighty Zambezi River or go on a canoe safari in the Okavango Delta for some game-viewing along some of the world’s most legendary waterways.

There are a number of cosy boutique safari lodges to choose from including the Khwai River Lodge in Moremi Wildlife Reserve or the Savute Elephant Lodge, home to herds of elephants, where you can fully appreciate nature with no distractions.

5) Zimbabwe

Animal lovers will love the safari experience of a holiday in Hwange National Park which offers great diversity and good overall game viewing.  Dressed head to toe in safari gear, you’ll be in your element sitting by a watering hole watching herds of elephants and other animals come down to drink. Share stories around the camp fire and listen to the sound of elephants and lions close by. 

Zimbabwe’s amazing attractions draw in visitors in their droves to see the Victoria Falls, and the Falls Rainforest which supports a rich variety of wildlife, including animals and birds. Zimbabwe’s hidden secret is Mana Pools National Park, an off the beaten track, vast reserve where lions, elephants and aquatic wildlife enjoy the unrivalled wilderness. An excellent destination which you can explore by 4x4, on foot or by canoe.  

6) Exploring Namibia

There’s a reason Namibia was recently voted Conde Nast traveller’s top place to visit in 2015. With its mix of savannah plains and sweeping sand dunes Namibia is often described as the ‘Beauty Queen’ of Africa. The country is starkly unpopulated so you won’t be jostling with tourists to see the Big 5, including herds of desert-adapted elephants.

Discover the stunning landscapes of the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei, where some of the highest sand dunes on earth tower over the desert plains. See the Big 5 at Etosha National Park, the ghost towns and rusting hulks of the Skeleton Coast and the coastal town of Swakopmund. This land of contrasts may be off the beaten track, but the golden sunshine illuminating an ocean of sand dunes at sunrise and sunset will be a sight that you will never forget.  

7) Mozambique

Beautiful landscapes, a colourful capital city, vast forests and exotic beaches possessing miles of white sand as well as some of the world’s best dive spots; Mozambique is the hidden gem of southern Africa. Your trip will allow you to discover how the Great Rift Valley created the unique ecosystems which have made Mozambique an astounding safari destination.

The ‘Serengeti of the South’ is Gorongosa National Park. Explore floodplains teeming with wildlife including crocodiles and waterbuck, and lush savannahs where lions and elephants quench their thirst at waterholes. Qualified guides will escort you through this spectacular region of biodiversity, home to everything from majestic primates and birdlife to the smallest of creatures that scurry around your feet; spiders, lizards and frogs as well as unique species such as the brown leaf chameleon.

Experience the beach front luxury of amazing island resorts such as Azura Benguerra, with its PADI dive centre and spa; a short helicopter ride away from the mainland on stunning Benguerra Island in the Indian Ocean. Here you’ll find a relaxed and inviting atmosphere that still offers  wildlife encounters from horse-riding on the beach to dolphin-spotting off shore.

From the shores of Lake Urema and the heights of Mount Gorongosa, to vibrant Maputo with its fascinating Portuguese heritage, Mozambique will surpass your dreams for the perfect beach and safari holiday.

Still undecided which safari holiday is best for you? Visit our safari holiday pages for more inspiration.