When people think of a safari, Africa is usually the first thing that comes to mind. The Big 5, exquisite birdlife, wild and rustic bushveld, and some of the best sunsets and night skies in the world.
We chatted to Shaun Wheeler, General Manager of Radisson Blu Mosi-Oa-Tunya, Livingstone Resort on why Africa is such an incredible safari destination, and why Zambia is one of the top ones – and got their recommendations on where else on the continent you should choose to experience a safari in Africa.
“Africa has vast spaces and unspoiled land”, notes Wheeler. “Not only that, but many of the world’s most magnificent creatures reside here. It’s no surprise that people from around the world flock to our continent to experience it all”.
“For me, Zambia is, of course, at the top of my list, but there are many other places that I am happy to recommend”.
Zambia: Embracing The Smoke That Thunders
The world-renowned Victoria Falls lie on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and are the largest “curtain” of falling water in the world. One of the five UNESCO heritage sites across these two countries, Victoria Falls offers a treasure trove of safari experiences, especially for the adventure safari enthusiast – in fact, it is known as being the Adventure Capital of Africa.
“At the Falls, travel adventurers can include zip-lining, bungee jumping, or abseiling on their adventure safari, or try hydrospeeding at the base of the falls,” says Wheeler . “You can also explore the area on some of the beautiful horse trails, walk with lions or cheetahs, or take a swim in Devil’s Pool. The Resort can help you to create custom tours and safaris into and around Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, including Victoria Falls,” he adds, “This ensures that you get the best experience of the Falls and its surrounds”.
Zambia has 20 national parks which offer safari-goers everything from exceptional bird sightings to boating experiences and water safaris on one of the many rivers and dams.
Tanzania: The home of the Great Migration
Every safari enthusiast will have the Great Migration on their bucket list. This awe-inspiring move of around 1.5 million wildebeest, zebras, gazelle and eland begins in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The nearly 15,000-hectare Serengeti National Park is home to over 4,000 lions, 1,000 leopards, 550 cheetahs, and over 500 bird species. This promises safaris filled with incredible wildlife sightings.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania is another incredible area to experience. It hosts the world’s largest inactive volcano in the world, the Ngorongoro Crater, which is home to a broad diversity of wildlife, offering incredible safari experiences such as Big 5 game drives on the floor of the crater, birdwatching safaris, and cultural safaris where you can interact with the local Maasai tribe.
South Africa: Africa’s safari hub
The first safari destination that comes to mind when you think of South Africa has got to be Mpumalanga’s Kruger National Park. Recognised as the biggest natural wildlife park in the world, the 20,000-square-kilometer national park is a melting pot of wildlife for safari-goers to see. With the largest wild rhino population on the planet, the Park is also home to the rest of the Big 5, the elusive African Painted Dog, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest and giraffe, and myriad other animals. “And the Kruger National Park is only a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, so it’s easy to escape to this beautiful environment for a weekend,” says Wheeler. “We have a sister hotel opening closeby soon in the area of Hoedspruit which not only gives you access to the Kruger, but also the stunning Blyde River Canyon.”
In addition to these gems, if you travel towards the North West and Limpopo provinces, you will find Welgevonden Nature Reserve, Dinokeng Game Reserve, Plumari Game Reserve, Pilanesberg National Park, and other sanctuaries. “There is an incredible array of wildlife across these areas,” says Wheeler, “Ranging from klipspringers and sable antelope, to leopards and brown hyena”.
Kenya: Home of the Masai Mara
Kenya is known for delivering sightings of the Big 5, as well as the Great Migration. The Masai Mara National Reserve borders Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, being part of the channel along which the Migration takes place. This makes it a great destination to incorporate into a Great Migration safari.
Being the origin of the Maasai Mara people, the Reserve is home to the Maasai Village, which travellers can experience as part of a cultural tour.Or expand your cultural safari to include the enigmatic city of Nairobi.
Taking to the skies, travellers can experience a hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara plains, seeing the rich grasslands – and experiencing wildlife from a different perspective.
Safari through more of Africa
These cover just some of the safari destinations that Africa has to offer. Visitors to Uganda can experience forest safaris with sightings of gorillas – an experience that can also be enjoyed in Rwanda, which is known for the Volcanoes National Park – where groups of safari-trekkers can visit some of the 10 habituated gorilla families. Namibia, on the other hand, is a destination for desert safaris with the incredible sunsets that they are known for, as well as one of the country’s biggest appeals: the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. And Zimbabwe is home to the walking-and-canoeing paradise of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park.
Wheeler concludes: “Africa has so much to offer every type of safari enthusiast. These are destinations that should be on everyone’s bucket lists”.