You can leave Africa, but it never leaves you. The magnificent landscapes, diverse wildlife, vibrant people, and off-the-charts experiences will leave you wanting more. Some people say that their time in Africa truly changed their lives.
Safaris come to mind when you think of a vacation in Africa and, while that is not all the continent has to offer, that is the focus of this article. Countries that offer great safari opportunities include Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. I’ll provide an overview of four top safari countries and why you should visit.
Botswana is a terrific country to visit for its Chobe National Park, Moremi National Park and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Botswana is home to diverse landscapes that range from the sandy plains of the Kalahari Desert to the lush Okavango Delta. It is also home to the majority of the world’s bushman population.
Fun fact: The card game of bridge is very popular – in the ‘80s, it was taught in most schools.
Photo Op: Aerial shot of the Okavango Delta, pink flamingos, herds of elephants drinking from the river
This is the country to visit for the classic safari and where it all began. Don’t miss the Masai Mara Game Reserve where you will have the best game viewing opportunity. Witness the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros elephant, and Cape buffalo) or even the great migration pouring into Kenya. You can view Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro from Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.
Fun fact: Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, is also called the Jade Sea. As the sun and winds shift, algae particles move causing the color of the water to change from various shades of blue to a beautiful jade green.
Photo Op: Mt. Kilimanjaro, the great migration, one or all of the Big Five
Tanzania may be the ultimate country for a safari. There are an estimated four million wild animals, including lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, rhino, hippo, cheetah, African wild dog, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, you will find the chimpanzees made famous by Jane Goodall. Visit the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire.
Fun fact: A Maasai tribesman discovered a blue crystal, tanzanite, in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1967. The tanzanite is a rare gem that is mined only in Tanzania and sold throughout the world.
Photo Op: The great migration, lions in the wild, close-up of Maasai people in traditional dress
For an experience that is authentically wild and untamed, visit Zambia. A large area of land is under protection which includes 20 national parks and 32 game management areas. You can experience a safari with small bush camps that retain a rustic charm and offer the comfort and pampering of a luxury experience. Zambia is home to Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Fun fact: The country’s name Zambia was taken from the name of the Zambezi River.
Photo Op: Rainbows in the mist of Victoria Falls, leopards in South Luangwa National Park
There are many tour operators and as many safari styles. Depending on your tour operator, number of days, luxury level, group/private, time of year, country and other variables, you may find that an African safari is quite reasonable. Prices can range from $5,000 to $12,000+ per person, double occupancy. When you do your research, some tour operators you may want to check out include Kensington Tours, Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck Tours, & Beyond, Micato Safaris, Natural Habitat Adventures, African Travel, Swain Tours, International Expeditions, G Adventures, among others.
Africa has a way of stealing your heart with its vast and dramatic landscapes, diverse and fascinating cultures, extraordinary animals, and welcoming people. It offers some of the most amazing travel experiences in the world. You will find that it is not just a destination, but a feeling that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Helen Jordan is the owner of Jordan Luxury Travel, an independent affiliate of Brownell Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.