“Some people…find they need animals to look at and to learn from. They have discovered that men, not beasts, are uncivilized.”-Cynthia Nolan
Any discussion about Africa is incomplete without addressing its extensive wildlife. Nature-lovers and animal enthusiasts alike can agree that the continent uniquely offers a level of nature that is unlike any other place on earth. So, how does one choose how to go on a safari? To ensure that you have the best experience possible, let’s run down some important considerations when planning your safari.
Best Countries to Experience Safaris
Contrary to media portrayal, Africa has a diverse ecosystem, climate, and wildlife. Generally, eastern and southern Africa are the best regions to find safaris.
- East Africa – Oftentimes, safaris will span across Kenya and Tanzania (located in East Africa) as the Serengeti migration routes also cross the border of both countries. Safaris are also offered in Uganda.
- Southern Africa – Safaris are offered in the countries of Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.
The ‘Big 5’ Animals
What kind of animals can you expect to see on a safari? The ‘Big 5’ animals are considered the standard safari animals, although it is really a matter of personal preference. The term ‘Big 5’ was coined by early game hunters to identify the animals most difficult to hunt on foot which made them big prizes. However, it now represents the most sought-after safari sighting. The ‘Big 5’ animals consist of elephants, lions, leopards, black & white rhinos, and the Cape Buffalo.
- Cape Buffalo
- South Africa (Kruger National Park)
- Botswana (Chobe National Park)
- Black & White Rhino
- Namibia (Etosha National Park)
- Kenya (Lewa Wildlife Conservancy)
When to go on Safaris
The best time of year to go on an African safari will vary depending on the country due to weather and migration patterns:
- Tanzania (January – February): As mentioned before, many safaris in Tanzania will cross through the border to Kenya from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara. However, the exact timing depends on the rainfall of that particular year. To observe the ‘Great Migration of Wildebeasts’ and the mass birthing of the calves, keep January-March as an option as it will depend upon the weather patterns of that year. To view lions in Tanzania, simply follow the patterns of the wildebeasts as the lions follow them for hunting opportunities. Safari-goers will also have a chance to see cheetahs, wild dogs & hyenas.
- South Africa (March – April): At the Kruger National Park guests have the opportunity to view the ‘Big 5’. In addition to being a great destination for safaris, South Africa also offers good weather and a variety of historical, political, and cultural attractions for the traveler.
- Namibia (March-April): Unlike South Africa, Namibia’s climate is more desert-like in that it is not a coastal country. However, in March, the climate is more humid and rainy. In April, the weather begins to become more dry.
- Zimbabwe (May-June): Beginning in May the climate transitions into having both wet and dry elements. During this time, travelers have the opportunity to view leopards, lions, rhinos, zebras, elephants, and more.
- Botswana (July-August): During this time period the country experiences their winter/dry season and has moderate temperatures. As there is less vegetation, animals travel to the waterholes to drink which is when travelers have the opportunity to view animals. Parks to view animals include the Okavongo Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, and Chobe National Park.
- Kenya (September-October): Kenya has been considered a safari “dreamland” as it boasts over 40 national parks and reserves. This country offers year-round tourism with September and October being the most optimal periods. A few of the most popular reserves are Mt. Kenya National Park, Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara National Park.
- Uganda (November-December): The peak period for safaris are June – September with clearer skies, less rain, and more sun. November is considered the low season/off season and offers better park permit rates.
Safari accommodations can range from very basic to more upscale.
- Resorts/Hotels – These are generally the more upscale type of safari accommodations.
- Tented Camps – These accommodations offer a unique experience to camp in a safari experience.
- Bush Houses – Generally like as private villas that offer a colonial design with African flare.
- Game Lodges/Safari Lodge – Usually located in or near a national park, these accommodations can range from basic to luxury.
Thanks for Reading!
Hi there-this is Aisha, I am a blogger and travel advisor with Dreamy Tropical Travel. We are passionate about culture, history, and landmarks across Africa and the Caribbean. Join us as we explore unique destinations and cultures!
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