If you dream of meeting the big five of the African jungle: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino, these are the safaris that you cannot miss out.
The Word Safari comes from the Arabic word Safara which was later adopted by the Swahili language and became Safari which means, Travel, Excursion, etc. Africa is the Eden of the most fascinating animals in the wild. Only here you will be able to observe, in their natural habitat, the “big five” or Big 5: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros; in addition to other fascinating species, such as giraffes, antelopes, jackals, crocodiles, zebras, impalas, wildebeest, wild boar, hyenas, wild dogs, and much more.
To be able to be very close to them, it is necessary to make a safari through the different national parks of Africa, either by van, helicopter, or even by hot air balloon. Even if you have the option of visiting some national parks in your own car, the experience of making a “game drive” is incomparable, since you will have great experts in wildlife (rangers and trackers) accompanying you on the route and guiding you so that you get to see and learn everything about the Big 5.
Each national park has a particular ecosystem and very interesting characteristics, depending on its location. Many of them stand out for the amount of population of a specific species, such as the Maasai Mara that has the largest population of lions or the Chobe National Park that stands out for its elephant population.
You should also consider that doing a safari requires strict security measures, so it is important to inform yourself enough to know where and with whom to do it. Our years of experience allow us to recommend the best routes in the African jungle.
Where to go on a safari in Africa?
Here we detail the 6 most famous and recognized national parks for a safari in Africa.
1. Safari in the Maasai Mara
This safari takes place in Kenya, in the Maasai Mara National Park, named after the most famous tribe in Africa, the Maasai, and for the river that crosses this area, the Mara River. This is the most representative safari in Africa, with a great diversity of species, where you will also find “the big five”: lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant and leopard.
If your dream is to meet the king of the jungle face to face, this is the perfect place, since approximately 3,600 lions live here. In fact, the cartoonists from the 1994 blockbuster movie “The Lion King” traveled to Kenya, specifically the Masai Mara, to inspire their illustrations, since much of this place is an African savanna.
On the other hand, one of the most impressive attractions of this safari is to see the Great Migration, a time when zebras, wildebeests, and antelopes desperately cross the Mara River. The stampede produces an impressive sound and the sight of these animals jumping over the precipices and crossing the river, is privileged.
Here you can find a wide variety of lodges that offer safaris in a van on foot or even in a hot air balloon.
The best season to do the Masai Mara safari is between July and October, since that is when migration occurs.
2. Safari in the Serengeti
In the Serengeti National Park, in northern Tanzania, you can go on this safari, one of the most recommended in Africa. It is a great plain, that’s why it is known as “the endless plain”. Although it seems deserted at first glance, it is totally full of life.
Like the Maasai Mara, it has a complete diversity of species, “the big five”, a large number of lions and, of course, you will also be able to see the wildebeest and zebra migration, found here before they start. his annual trip to the Maasai Mara.
One of the striking features of this place is its granite rock formations in the middle of the vegetation, called kopje, which become perfect places for lions to rest and observe their territory.
The ideal, in all safari, is to stay in the lodges that are inside the park, so you can rest listening to the sounds of the animals and when you wake up, watch the sunrise from the savanna, an unforgettable view.
Another attraction that you can visit in Tanzania is the Tarangire National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, an old extinct volcano with a crater of more than 20km, and with lakes inside, which have been taken by African fauna.
3. Safari in the Chobe National Park
This safari can be done in Botswana, southern Africa, where you can find the Chobe National Park and the Moremi Game Reserve. If you are looking to see elephants, this place has no loss, since here is the largest concentration of elephants in Africa, with 120 thousand of them.
Chobe elephants are migratory, they move for up to 200 km in the Chobe and Linyanti rivers during the dry season, to the depressions in the southeast of the park, in the rainy season.
You will start this tour navigating the Chobe River, heading towards Namibia. This route will be incredible because you will be able to observe the elephants approaching to drink water, you will also see hippos, antelopes, a great variety of birds, giraffes, lions, and the inevitable crocodiles.
The best season to see the elephants and other animals in Chobe Park is in the dry season, from May to October.
4. Safari in the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is located in the northwest of South Africa. It is the largest wildlife reserve in southern Africa and is known as the King of National Parks.
This is the park par excellence to be able to see “the big five” since in this safari you will be able to see them with less difficulty and ensure a good photo of some of these fantastic animals. It also has 801 different species of wild animals.
The Kruger Park has two different areas: the part that is open to the public, which is less expensive, where you can access with your own car and camp inside, but you will not be able to get away from the roads, making it more difficult to find “The big five”. On the other hand, there are the private areas, with a higher cost, where the routes have greater freedom of movement and it is easier to see leopards, rhinos, lions, elephants, and buffalo.
You can visit the Kruger Park throughout the year, but the autumn-winter season is ideal to see the animals at a greater distance, since the pastures are lower, in addition, the animals are concentrated in many rivers and permanent sources or lakes, to drink.
5. Gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda
Going trekking to see gorillas is a type of tourism that you cannot miss if you travel to Africa. This is one of those unforgettable experiences, as you will be able to walk in the lush forest and come face to face with a mountain gorilla and watch them as they move about in their natural habitat.
These safaris can be done in places like the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park in Uganda and the Volcanoes Park in Rwanda. Both have their own characteristics and different types of gorilla families. For example, in Bwindi the vegetation is thicker, but it houses the largest population of mountain gorillas, and in the Parque de Los Volcanes the roads are less steep, less dense, and shorter, but the cost of entry permits is more expensive than in Uganda.
You can visit them all year round, but consider that the rainy months (March to May and October to November) make walking through the forest more difficult. And if you prefer a season with fewer visitors, you can take advantage of the months of February and September.
On the other hand, Uganda also has several national parks for safaris, such as Queen Elizabeth National Park that is known for tree-climbing lions, unique in the world and that can only be seen there (if we are lucky), but it also has an area in the north of the country where you can see the Big 5. Kidepo National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.
You can find more details in our article on Tips to see Gorillas in Africa.
6. Safari in the Ngorongoro
The Ngorongoro Crater is located in Tanzania, and is an extinct volcano, at 2000 meters above sea level and with a crater with a diameter of 20 kilometers.
Almost all the African wild fauna managed to colonize this crater and now they inhabit this place, with the exception of the giraffe which is difficult to access through the slopes of the crater. Here the animals have everything they need, with a lake and wetlands that provide them with water and do not need to migrate.
In the Ngorongoro safari, the most valued species are rhinos, of which only 24 remain, as they have been attacked by poaching.
The most recommended is to travel in the low season, between May and June, since in high season it is very crowded and there are crowds of tourists.
Meet other national parks in our list of The 5 least known, but impressive African safaris
If you want to go on a safari in one of these national parks, do not hesitate to contact us to organize your trip in the most personalized way possible and make sure that you meet the Big 5. Send us a WhatsApp at +27767687708 or an email to [email protected] and we will reply to you shortly.
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