Safari adventures are very popular in Africa and that is because of the continent’s vast natural areas and wild animals.
The Western idea that Africa is an unexplored wild wilderness has prevailed over time, but it’s far from the truth.
Africa is a civilized and beautiful continent that just so happens to be blessed with abundant wildlife.
The quintessential image of Africa is wild, and that cannot be argued. Just think about the image of wildebeest kicking up dust on endless savannahs or giraffes stretching their necks to the tops of thorn trees.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it looks like that all over the African continent, but it doesn’t. However, these images are very common in many parts of Africa and that is what this article will cover.
African safaris are the best way to explore the wilder parts of the continent and see some animals. On safari, you can see nature at its best and see wild animals in their natural habitat.
I have rounded up twelve of the most epic African safari adventures currently available. And because safaris are all about wildlife, I’ve made it easy to pick your favorite by categorizing them by the animal.
12 Epic African Safari Adventures
I have decided on twelve of the very best African safari adventures to explore. These include some of the most popular safaris available and some interesting and unusual safari options. Choose your favorite based on the animals you’d most like to get close to.
1. Catch the Mara, Crater, and Serengeti Migration of Wildebeest in East Africa
This is probably the most popular safari adventure experience in Africa and is ideal as a safari vacation or honeymoon. This tour will cover four of the very best game reserves in Kenya and Tanzania.
As the name suggests, the safari adventure covers the Maasai Mara, the impressive Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti grasslands.
If you’ve never been on safari or even if you’ve been on hundreds, this one should definitely top your list. It offers some of the most spectacular game viewing experiences on the African continent.
Although you’ll see lots of different game species on this type of safari, you will see an abundance of wildebeest. The wildebeest is sure to be the highlight, and it is due to a very natural process, migration.
The migration is from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the grasslands of the Maasai Mara.
If you time it right, you will see thousands of wildebeests migrate across Kenya in search of food. The seemingly endless herd may be accompanied by zebra and antelope and even followed by predators. You will see wildebeest mate, give birth, and lead their babies to food.
The climax of this safari experience is the final crossing of the Mara River, which is infested with crocodiles. The wildebeest dash across the dangerous waters to get to the food on the other side and engage in a life-or-death battle with the crocs.
Watch them leave predators behind as they head for greener pastures on the other side of the river.
Game Viewing: Wildebeest, antelope, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard, crocodile
Best Time to Go: July, when the herd crosses the Mara River
2. The Buck Stops in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana and Namibia
The Kalahari Desert may not be a real desert because it gets too much rain to be classified as such. But it is a fantastic destination for safari adventures and it certainly does look like a desert.
The red sand greedily drinks every drop of water that falls in this magnificent expanse. The area spans approximately 347 492m² in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana.
It is a very hot and dry area regardless of the annual rainfall, and it is perfect for the safari experience. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is your best bet for a unique and captivating safari tour.
I do suggest booking a guided safari because it’s not advised or safe to travel by yourself in the reserve. You need someone who understands the reserve and the animals and knows the area.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second-largest reserve in the world and is very flat. Because of the wide expanses and flat areas, it can be difficult to see a lot of wildlife.
However, you are guaranteed some antelope and other bucks for sure. Buck and antelope are known to graze and dart around the plains or to strut their stuff in the red desert sand.
Game Viewing: Springbok, oryx, black-maned lions
Best Time to Go: December – March for best game viewing in Deception Valley
3. Pop in for a Hippopotamus in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
We’ve just talked about a desert, so let’s talk about the other side of the coin, the wetland. The Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site in Botswana. It is very large and relatively untouched and is a freshwater wetland in the dry Kalahari Desert.
Many antelope call the Okavango Delta home and it’s worth a visit even if only for the natural beauty. If you go on a safari adventure in the Okavango Delta expect to see a very unusual or rather interesting antelope.
These species can include the sitatunga, red lechwe, and puku. However, that is not all that you will see or experience.
A visit to the Okavango Delta will be fascinating because you will see the impressive hippopotamus up close. Because the Okavango Delta is a wetland, you can go on a safari in a “mokoro” or motorboat.
This will bring you up close and personal to the hippos swimming in the wetland waters.
The hippo is an elusive and impressive animal. They are very dangerous and yet they are very cute flicking their little ears when emerging from the water.
I recommend an afternoon or evening safari to catch the hippos as they come out to forage for food.
Game Viewing: Hippopotamus, puku, red lechwe, sitatunga, birds
Best Time to Go: May to September
4. Prowl with the Big Cats in the Chobe National Park, Botswana
The Chobe National Park is one of the very best places to enjoy a safari adventure in Botswana. The biggest benefit of the Chobe National Park is that you can stay in the park itself while on safari.
There are multiple safari adventures to choose from when it comes to this park, so you’re spoiled for choice. It is also one of the best places for a luxury safari if that is what you are interested in.
The Chobe National Park is ideal if you’re on the lookout to see some big cats, especially the elusive leopard. You can expect to see some lions and cheetahs too on a good safari day. Other predators also call the park home and these include wild dogs and hyenas.
The park is also the home of approximately 100 000 elephants and you’re sure to see a few on your safari. The dry season is when the elephants are most abundant, but you’ll see big cats any time of the year.
Game Viewing: Lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, wild dog, elephant, giraffe, Cape buffalo, zebra
Best Time to Go: June – September, the dry season
5. Pass Time with the Predators in the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
The Selous Game Reserve is a World Heritage Site largely due to the abundance of wildlife and natural beauty. It is off the beaten track and boasts undisturbed wilderness.
You will see many animals in the confines of the reserve, and this reserve has one very distinct feature. It is one of only a handful of big game reserves in Africa that allow visitors to explore on foot. This means that you can generally get much closer to the animals and have a much more intimate experience.
The reserve is also known as the Nyerere National Park and it is in Tanzania. There are many animal species that roam around the reserve, but visitors tend to come here for the predators.
I was fascinated by the fact that this reserve has 4000 lions alone and approximately 40 000 hippos. There are also large numbers of hyenas, crocodiles, and leopards, so you’re bound to see some teeth.
Wild dogs also hunt in the reserve, so be sure to keep an eye out for their packs. If you’re truly looking for predator-based safari adventures, I highly recommend the Selous Game Reserve.
Game Viewing: Lion, leopard, hyena, wild dog, crocodile, hippo, puku, wildebeest, sable, eland
Best Time to Go: June – October
6. Revel in the Endangered Rhino in the Kruger National Park, South Africa
It is fairly common knowledge that the rhino, one of Africa’s famous Big 5, is an endangered species. This is due to poaching and illegal hunting and is a very sad state of affairs for the wild continent.
However, measures are being taken every day on the continent of Africa to keep these animals from going extinct. Parks and reserves have anti-poaching teams and try and protect rhinos as best they can.
It is important for the general public and tourists to understand the crisis that the rhinos of Africa are facing. Tourism can help raise the funds needed to protect endangered species.
The Kruger National Park is in South Africa and it is one of Africa’s biggest game reserves. It has an incredibly high density of wildlife including the Big 5, which is why it is so popular. It is estimated that Kruger Park is home to between 3000 – 4000 rhinos in highly protected areas.
Because these animals are so endangered, this is a good way to get to see them and support their protection.
Game Viewing: White Rhino, Black Rhino, Big 5, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, birds, antelope
Best Time to Go: June – September
7. See the King of Cats in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
I have already spoken about a few of the big cats and other predators, but lions seem to be very popular. So, I have decided to dedicate one of these listings solely to the lion.
The Hwange National Park is in Zimbabwe and it is home to the Big 5 and approximately 100 other mammals. The park is the size of Belgium and visitors regularly get to catch glimpses of the big cats particularly.
The best thing about this park is its accessibility and the surroundings. It is very close to Victoria Falls which means that you can fly there and drive into the park. The park also has very good roads which means that you can drive it in any regular 2×4 vehicle.
Additionally, there are many accommodation options inside and outside the park that range from budget to luxury.
Lions are exceptionally easy to come by in the park, especially in the dry months. If you want to see the king of big cats, this is the place to be. They lounge about in trees and on rocks and you are sure to see at least one, if not an entire pride.
I also highly suggest taking advantage of their horseback safari adventures during which you can explore the park on horseback. This will usually allow you to get closer to the animals you want to see and it’s a special experience.
Game Viewing: Lion, elephant, cheetah, wild dog
Best Time to Go: April – October
8. Play with the Pachyderms at Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
The pachyderm, or elephant, is one of Africa’s most spectacular creatures. Elephants are massive and impressive mammals and they are some of the most sought-after creatures on safari. Mana Pools National Park is also a World Heritage Site and it boasts abundant wildlife and untamed wilderness.
If you head to Mana Pools, you’re likely to encounter elephants because the park has about 12 000 of them. Tourists and travelers from all over flock to Mana Pools because it is so remote and incredibly beautiful. You can also walk here without a guide, but it is better with a guide or on an accompanied tour.
I suggest staying at one of the many camps inside the Mana Pools National Park and going on guided safaris. This will allow you to get the best sightings of animals and also to have the most comfortable experience.
Although elephants are abundant, you will also see many other animals and a magnificent collection of acacia trees.
Game Viewing: Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog
Best Time to Go: June – October
9. Camp with Crocodiles in Matusadona National Park, Northern Zimbabwe
The Matusadona National Park is perhaps one of the more remote and less well-known parks in Africa. It is more difficult to get to than some of the others, perhaps, and is very rugged. Despite its outlying quality, the park is beautiful and boasts rivers and lakes, and plenty of animals.
The area was declared a National Park in 1975 and used to be a stronghold for the black rhino and African elephant. Unfortunately, due to poaching, the animal count in the park has been diminished and tourism suffered.
In 2019, the Park signed a 20-year agreement to restore and revitalize the park. It is now, once again, a viable tourist destination and a must for safari lovers.
Lake Kariba is the famous lake in the Matusadona National Park and I highly suggest stopping here on safari. Although the elephants and other mammals have been reduced in number, one animal remains strong.
Fearsome and massive Nile crocodiles are abundant in Lake Kariba and this is the main attraction. They sun themselves on the lakeshore and on fallen trees or in the shade of dead ones. It is truly a sight to see, and I highly suggest going if only for this view at sunset.
Game Viewing: Nile crocodile, hippo, fish eagle, cormorant, buffalo, antelope
Best Time to Go: May – October
10. Go on a Luxury Safari for the Birding Opportunities and Viewing of Prey Animals
I’ve mentioned various animals and various parks, and I’ve spoken a lot about predators. Although many travelers want to see predators on safari and are looking for big cats specifically, they aren’t the only attraction in Africa.
Prey animals and birds are abundant in Africa and make for some of the best photography on the continent.
If you’re interested in taking beautiful photos and being comfortable while on safari, I highly suggest a luxury safari experience. The Zambezi River is the best place for one of the best luxury safari adventures in Africa.
The Victoria Falls River Lodge is one of the best places if you’re looking for ultimate luxury.
Here you can relax in beautiful luxury tents or island treehouses fitted with every comfort and facility imaginable. Fine dining and nights under the starry African sky are the order of the day here, and, of course, a view of the Falls.
During the day you can go on a safari to explore the area and see some wildlife.
The safaris offered by the Victoria Falls River Lodge include walking safaris and guided safaris in a safari vehicle. These usually take place in either the morning or at sunset. You are guaranteed to get some good photos and will see a multitude of prey animals and magnificent birds.
Game Viewing: Elephant, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, sable, kudu, impala
Best Time to Go: February – May
11. Glimpse the Mountain Gorillas in the Mist, Rwanda
The best place in Africa to go trekking for mountain gorillas is undoubtedly Rwanda. The best place in Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas would be the Volcanoes National Park.
Actually, the well-known film Gorillas in the Mist was based on the work done by Dian Fossey right here on the bamboo-covered slopes of this area of Rwanda.
Now, you too can trek through the rainforest in search of these impressive creatures. The Volcanoes National Park is green and very hilly and the ideal location for primates. Therefore, if you’re on a safari in this area, you’re likely to encounter not only gorillas but also other primates like chimpanzees.
I highly suggest visiting Lake Kivu because that is the best place for hiking and boating and trekking for gorillas. This is your chance to get to see these primates up close and understand their world a little better.
Game Viewing: Mountain Gorilla, chimpanzees, birdlife
Best Time to Go: Mid-May – Mid-October
12. Go on a Marine Safari to Explore the Marine Big 5
Everyone knows that Africa is well-known for its Big 5 including the elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and Cape buffalo. However, Africa is also home to what is known as the Marine Big 5.
Africa’s oceans have been named the Serengeti of the Seas. And that is because of the prolific marine life that can be viewed in seas right around the continent.
The Marine Big 5 includes the seal, southern right whale, African penguin, great white shark, and bottlenose dolphin. A marine safari is an ideal way to explore the oceans of Africa and catch sight of the Marine Big 5.
I highly suggest booking a marine safari and venturing out by boat to see Cape fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks, penguins nesting on the shore, and whales and dolphins circling your boat.
You can even go on a shark cage diving experience which will bring you up close and personal with one of the most fearsome predators of the ocean.
A marine safari is an adventure like no other and I highly suggest incorporating it into your African safari adventures holiday.
Game Viewing: Cape fur seal, southern right whale, African penguin, great white shark, bottlenose dolphin
Best Time to Go: April – June or September – November
Plan Your Wild Safari
Africa is known as the wild continent and it is the ideal place for a fantastic safari adventures holiday. If you’ve never been on a safari in Africa, I highly suggest picking one of the places on this list.
There are so many guided safaris and tours on offer in the National Parks and World Heritage Sites that you can’t go wrong.
You are guaranteed to see wildlife, and you’ll be treated to a guide that knows how to track the animals. This is a fantastic experience for anyone and will get you closer to nature than you could have ever believed.
If you do go or plan to go on safari adventures , I recommend taking a backpack, sunhat, sunglasses, reusable water bottle, first-aid kit, and sunscreen as the bare minimum.
You will also need some cool and airy clothes because the best time to view game in Africa is during the hot and dry summer months. Be sure to hydrate, and take lots of pictures!
Hope you enjoyed reading my list of 12 epic African Safari adventures. Once you are finished with all the adventures Africa has to offer and you want something a little more relaxing, be sure you check all the other amazing places you can visit on our website Travel Croc.