A vast continent with diverse landscape ranging from grassy plains to hilly terrain, dry desert to humid tropical forest; Africa is the ideal shelter for the most diverse flora and fauna on our planet. For too long, the African continent has been in news for all the wrong reasons. Often a bleak picture of a dark continent with no hopes and sheer desolation has been presented to the world, but if you are willing to peel away the notions surrounding the continent, you will witness the true beauty of Africa.
The continent is the richest in terms of natural resources and the densest in terms of wildlife, having the largest numbers of national parks (355 till 2014). If you are fascinated by the wildlife shows on the National Geographic and Discovery channels, make it a point to visit the stunning continent.
Rest assured, like several other travellers, you will have your own special memories, enough to be your lifetime companions. So, don’t wait for long, book your flights and don’t forget to bring your cameras along to capture the stunning sights of Africa. If you are wondering where to start your wildlife sojourn, check out the must visit game reserves of Africa.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Located in Narok County, Maasai Mara National Reserve is named after the local Mara tribe renowned for its hospitality and effort to conserve the beautiful land and its precious wildlife. Maasai Mara is the densest of all the game reserves of Africa and is renowned for its annual phenomena known as the Great Migration. Millions of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras migrate to and from the nearby Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Predators including lions, cheetahs, and leopards stalk the herds and attack the weakest link in the chains, often providing a sensational experience to the travellers.
Best Time to Visit: July to October, Great Migration.
What to See: Lions, Wildebeest Zebras, Gazelles, Leopards and many more.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti shares a contiguous border with Maasai Mara and is considered as one of the least disturbed eco systems of the continent. Its large expanse of grassland filled with rocky outcrops, rivers and woods, makes it ideal for game drives and is one of the best places to witness the unique hunting by the Big Cats of the jungle. The park is the starting point of the annual phenomenon of the Great Migration where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles march to the adjacent Maasai Mara in Kenya providing ample hunting opportunities for hyenas, cheetahs, lions and leopards chasing the pack.
Best Time to Visit: June to October, Great Migration.
What to see: Giraffes, Zebras, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Wildebeest and many more.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park renowned for its “Big Five” (namely lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffaloes) is one of the largest National Parks in the world and has the highest concentration of these animals in the continent. The park is highly well-maintained, allowing travellers to enjoy self-drive game safaris with ease. Apart from the usual Big Five, travellers can also spot crocodiles, cheetahs, gorillas, giraffes, zebras and many more precious wildlife. This immense national park has nine designated gates allowing visitors to enter different camps and wilderness trails.
Best Time to Visit: May to October.
What to See: Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffalos and many more.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Impenetrable it is indeed, as the Bwindi National Park is only accessible by foot! The amazing national park in Eastern Uganda has one of the richest eco systems in the world, harbouring diverse species of wildlife. Bwindi is also renowned for its endangered species of mountain gorillas, monkeys and birds. The national park also has several species of plants and trees which are only specific to the region, sustaining endemic species of wildlife. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a challenging game for even the seasoned trekkers but the rewards are plenty.
Best Time to Visit: June to August and December to February
What to See: Endangered species of gorillas and birds.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best place to understand the life sustaining properties of water on our planet. Okavango River which flows through the Kalahari Desert, sustains the life of the region through its seasonal flooding, creating a vast inland chain of deltas, ravines and water channels. It is one of the most unique game reserves where you can admire wildlife from land as well as water and has among the largest concentration of wildlife spread all across the delta. Okavango Delta is a delight for wildlife lovers and photographers.
Best Time to Visit: April to October
What to See: Zebras, Hippopotamus, Lions, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Impala and many more.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park is renowned for its massive elephant population (approx. 50,000 elephants.) This vast national park is located in the north-west of Botswana near the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The game reserve has the highest concentration of elephants in the continent and most of it is concentrated along the Chobe River, Linyati River and the surrounding marshlands. The region is inhabited by the native San Bushmen, a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers who are being studied by several ethnographic researchers.
Best Time to Visit: May to October
What to See: Elephants, Zebras, Lions, Buffaloes, Impalas, Leopards and many more.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania and derives its name from the large volcanic caldera known as Ngorongoro. One of the oldest inhabited areas of our planet, the Olduvai Gorge is the place where the remains of one of the earliest human beings “Nutcracker Man” was unearthed from. Vast stretches of endless grassland and rims of the craters seems to be unaffected by the flow of time and is mystifying as it harbours several questions related to the origin of the mankind.
Best Time to Visit: All-round the year. Ngorongoro enjoys superb game viewing conditions.
What to See: The remains of the earliest human beings, Lions, Giraffes, Black Rhino, Zebra and many more.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Namibia’s top wildlife destination, Etosha National Park has a good network of roads highly suitable for self-drive experiences. Etosha is renowned for its population of the tallest elephants of Africa and endangered species of black rhinos among others. The game reserve doesn’t have a schedule game drive except the self-drive safaris and has good selection of lodges and camps to compliment the experience. Its water bodies are often frequented by seasoned photographers to get amazing wildlife clicks.
Best Time to Visit: May to October
What to See: Tallest elephants of Africa, Black Rhino, Giraffes, Zebras and many more.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is filled with plenty of wildlife including giraffes, elephants, and lions among others. It also boasts of having the largest concentration of wild dogs in Africa. Recently, the game reserve was also in the news due to the dastardly killing of the famous lion, Cecil by an American dentist in an illegal manner (Read more about it here). This vast national park houses over 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds apart from precious grassland vegetation.
Best Time to Visit: May to October
What to See: Lions, Elephants Wild Dogs and many more.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is the world’s second largest national park encompassing an area twice the size of American state of Massachusetts. This vast land is semi-arid in nature and encompasses the dry desert of Kalahari and is filled with dried up riverbeds, small bushes and grasses across a flat area. The land is traditionally inhabited by Bushmen, a tribe of hunter-gatherer in nature and the only human group capable in surviving in such harsh terrain using unique indigenous techniques.
Best Time to Visit: November to March is the rainy season and wildlife spotting is much easier.
What to See: Warthogs, Wildebeest, lions, Leopards and many more.