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  • The Road Less Travelled: Africa's Most Unique Safaris

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The Kruger National Park , Serengeti and Masai Mara , some of Africa's most iconic destinations, have long delighted their visitors. But if you're the kind of person who likes to do things a little differently and prefer your wildlife encounters  without  the crowds, then maybe it's time to take the road less travelled in Africa.

Suitable for second-time-around safari travellers or first-timers with an adventurous spirit, there are plenty of virtually unvisited destinations that not only deliver game viewing as good (if not better) than more familiar places but are home to unique wildlife experiences - several of which are barely known outside the safari world.

There's amazing accommodation available in many of Africa's most remote regions and you can choose from safari lodges and tented camps that range from family-friendly to honeymoon-perfect. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite unique safari experiences in Africa, broken down by destination.

1. Tanzania: Wild & Remote

Many first-time visitors to Tanzania travel to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater for excellent game viewing. The Serengeti is particularly famous for being home to part of the Wildebeest Migration – nature’s greatest spectacle. But if this is your second time around visiting the country or you’re an adventurous spirit that prefers the road less travelled, there are plenty of hidden gems to explore:

Ruaha National Park

Buffalo are spotted on a game drive in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania.

At 12, 226 square kilometres (7,467 miles), the pristine and untouched Ruaha National Park is a true hidden gem. This remote wilderness derives its name from the Great Ruaha River, a majestic body of water that flows along the southeastern margin of the park and is the focus for prime game viewing. Along the river, you’ll often find massive herds of elephants, buffalo, hippos, and crocodile, as well as impalas, waterbucks, lions, leopards and wild dogs.

Ruaha National Park is known as Tanzania’s best kept secret and one of the least busy places to visit, making it the perfect off-the-beaten-track destination for those seeking unique safari experiences. It is also easily combined with a Serengeti safari or a Zanzibar beach break.

Jabali Ridge

From $875 per person sharing

Activities travellers enjoyed:

  • Bird watching
  • Bush dining
  • Dinner under the stars
  • Fine dining experience
  • Full-day safaris
  • Game drives
  • Guided walking safaris
  • Guided walks
  • Night drives
  • Photographic safaris (additional cost)
  • Private game-drives (additional cost)
  • Private guide (additional cost)
  • Private vehicle with driver (additional cost)
  • Spa treatments
  • Specialist guides
  • Star gazing
  • Walking safaris (seasonal)

Jabali Private House

From $730 per person sharing

  • Private game-drives
  • Private guide
  • Private vehicle with driver

Usangu Expedition Camp

  • Boat-based safaris
  • Researcher interaction
  • Sleep-out experience available

Nyerere National Park

Sunset cruise on Rufiji River in Nyere National Park, Tanzania.

Spread over a whopping 30,893 square kilometers (11,928 miles), Nyerere National Park is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania. Formerly known as Selous Game Reserve , Nyerere has never been touched or altered by humans, and remains in its most natural wild state – making for some of the most stunning scenery and picturesque landscapes.

Beyond the beautiful views you’re sure to see, it’s Nyerere’s diverse and abundant wildlife that really steals the show. The number of animals that take up residence in the area is unprecedentedly high, and includes large populations of elephant, buffalo, lion, hippo, and crocodile, as well as some of the last remaining black rhinos in Tanzania. It’s also home to the endangered African Wild Dog, a rare safari sighting.

You can witness the majestic inhabitants of Nyerere through a range of unique safari experiences: traditional game drives in a 4X4 vehicle throughout the park, adventurous boat safaris on the Rufiji River, and on foot as part of a walking safari. A true highlight is an immersive fly camping adventure, where you spend a private night under the stars – just you and the surrounding wilds of Africa.

Secret Chimpanzees in Mahale and Rubondo Island

africa unique safaris

Uganda, Congo and Rwanda might be the chimpanzee trekking capitals of Africa, but they’re not the only countries where you can experience traversing through the winding forest paths and thick vegetation to witness these great apes in their natural habitat. A little-known fact is that this immensely rewarding adventure is also a unique safari experience in Tanzania – you just need to know where to go.

Mahale Mountains National Park and Rubondo Island are two of the few places on the entire continent where you have the rare opportunity to track chimpanzees in the wild. When visiting either of these destinations, you’ll get to spend an adventure-filled morning trekking the forested slopes of Mahale Mountain or navigating the forests of Rubondo Island in search of these boisterous creatures.

Chimpanzees can be difficult to spot at times, their movements depend on the season and availability of food and group dynamics. It’s important to know that chimp trekking can be a strenuous exercise that could require hours of hiking through rough terrain – but if you’re up to the challenge, this is truly one of the most unique safari experiences in Tanzania.

Tree-Climbing Lions at Tarangire

Tree climbing lions lying across a branch in Tarangire, Tanzania.

Tarangire National Park sits on Tanzania’s northern safari circuit with the world-famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and is a good choice for travellers wanting to encounter more animals and less tourists while on safari – an exclusive safari feel. The park is one of the country’s lesser-known destinations but rivals the Serengeti with its great number and diversity of wildlife.

In addition to the excellent year-round game viewing, Tarangire is famous for its tree-climbing lions. Some believe that these big cats climb trees as a behavioural adaptation to protect themselves from the constant irritation of insect bites that they are prone to when lazing on the ground. Others believe that they do it to escape the sweltering heat, as well as making it easier to spot prey.

You can spend your days embarking on walking safaris, marvelling at ancient baobabs, discover hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo, and tracking some of Africa’s big cats from the comfort of a game vehicle. This national park is also well known for being a wonderful birding destination with over 500 species, some endemic to Tanzania.

Eco-Travel at Fanjove Private Island

Aerial view of Fanjove Island in Tanzania

Just south of Dar es Salaam sits a unique safari experience in Tanzania – Fanjove Private Island. Fanjove may receive less crowds than many of Africa’s other islands, but it will satisfy all your barefoot beach luxury desires. This slice of paradise is a little-known secret that offers everything you could want from a private island – luxury accommodation, pristine beaches and exquisite views that go on for miles.

This secluded and exclusive gem is the ideal location for a marine safari. With 11 kilometers (7 miles) of perfectly intact preserved coral reef, you can enjoy a day of snorkelling, diving, or boating in calm, azure waters as you search for nesting green turtles, bottle-nosed dolphins, adorable puffer fish, and occasional migrating humpback whales. In addition, there are plenty of water-based activities like kitesurfing, swimming, and stand-up paddling (SUP) to keep you entertained throughout your stay.

The cherry on top is that Fanjove Private Island leaves a featherlight footprint on the landscape, opting for eco-friendly practices such as solar power, sustainable building materials, and rain-harvested and desalinated water. It’s the ideal eco-friendly beach escape.

Mwiba Lodge

From $1,485 per person sharing

  • Cultural Visits

Fanjove Private Island

From $800 per person sharing

  • Boat excursions
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Whale watching

Oliver's Camp

From $435 per person sharing

  • Hot-air ballooning (additional cost)
  • Night drives (additional cost)

2. Botswana: Unique Water& Land Experiences

Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta are iconic safari destinations that offer fantastic game viewing and unique safari experiences in Botswana. But if you’ve already been fortunate enough to tick these off your bucket list and want adventures in destinations that are not as well known, then Botswana has a few other gems to offer:

Exclusive Safaris in Selinda & Linyanti

People on game drive spot African Wild Dogs in Selinda Game Reserve, Botswana.

The Selinda Spillway and Linyanti Wetlands offer unique safari experiences in Botswana that are perfect if you’re wanting a more intimate getaway. Selinda and Linyanti Game Reserves offer all the luxury accommodation, fantastic game viewing, and water-based adventures of their more famous counterparts without the crowds.

What makes the Selinda Spillway so unique is that this waterway was bone-dry for decades before unexpectedly springing back to life. Since then, whenever water flows through the spillway, it attracts an unmatched game density that is hard to beat.

The Linyanti river system connects to the Selinda Spillway, with its surrounding region of splendid grasslands, riverine forest and meandering lagoons remaining wonderfully underused, despite its high concentration of game. Only a handful of guests are allowed on the reserve at one time, giving you exclusive access to exhilarating viewings of this hidden gem region’s elephants, cheetah, wild dogs, leopards and prides of lions.

Exciting Activities on the Salt Pans

Two people sit by a campfire during a sleepout in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari, Botswana.

Covering much of Botswana and stretching into parts of Namibia and South Africa, the Kalahari Desert is a mammoth sandy savanna that takes up 900,000 square kilometers (350,000 miles) of space. But more than just a semi-arid landscape, this region is also well-known safari destination that boasts exceptional game viewing and one-of-a-kind activities and experiences.

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans offers unique safari experiences in the Kalahari. One of the world’s largest salt pans, this part of the Kalahari is so remote that both sound and light pollution are nonexistent. It is truly a fascinating place that will have you begging to explore its untouched terrain.

One of the best ways to experience this beautiful area is through Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pan Sleepout. This activity is an immersive and unique safari experience in the Kalahari that can be experienced when staying at some of the lodges in the region, such as the luxurious Leroo La Tau. This exhilarating excursion, available from July to October, will see you spending a night under a dazzling sky of stars with nothing but a bed between you and this vast, tranquil expanse.

In addition, accommodations like Jack’s Camp offer unique safari experiences in the Kalahari that includes quad biking through this vast, beautiful landscape. But the fun doesn’t end there, you’ll also get to enjoy horse rides and meerkat encounters to better experience this Kalahari legend.

Leroo La Tau

From $600 per person sharing

Jack's Camp

From $1,700 per person sharing

  • Quad-biking
  • Fly camping
  • Horse riding

Selinda Camp

From $2,150 per person sharing

  • Photographic safaris
  • Sunset cruises

3. Unique Safari Experiences in Kenya

The Masai Mara is a legendary African safari destination that attracts at least 300,000 visitors each year. It offers front row seats to nature’s grandest show – the Great Wildebeest Migration – as well as fantastic year-round game viewing. Every year, visitors flock from every corner of the globe to see the world’s largest animal migration in the world, where more than 2 million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle and 20,000 other plains game migrate in a clockwise direction across the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya in search of fresh water and abundant grazing pastures. Pair this life-changing adventure with a few other unique safari experiences in Kenya:

A Nairobi Sojourn

Nairobi city in the background of zebra grazing in Nairobi National Park, Kenya.

Kenya’s capital city is more than a beautiful urban landscape – it’s also an undercover safari destination. Nairobi National Park , also known as ‘the world’s only wildlife capital’, is a large game reserve on the border of the city, situated just a short drive out of Nairobi’s central business district.

Towering skyscrapers and city skylines are a scenic backdrop to the wide-open grass plains, scattered acacia bushes and variety of wildlife that call the park their home. Nairobi National Park is best known for breeding endangered black rhinos, as well as being home to giraffes, zebras, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes and lions. And with game drives, camping, hiking and picnics available, this little-known urban national park makes for the perfect add-on to your itinerary.

Community Experiences in Amboseli

A child interacts with a Maasai tribe in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

The natural beauty of the wide, open spaces and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters are the soul of Africa, but the heart lies with its people. The continent comprises approximately 3,000 tribes and 2,000 languages and dialects, leaving it brimming with natural diversity. One of the more well-known ethnic groups are the Maasai people, an indigenous ethnic group from Kenya and northern Tanzania. But it’s in Amboseli where you’ll really get to interact with these semi-nomadic pastoralists, who are famous for their incredible reputations as warriors and cattle herders, as well as their lithe, graceful physiques, and unique garb and body ornamentation.

When visiting Amboseli National Park, you’ll have the special opportunity to have deep, meaningful experiences by interacting with the Maasai community in a variety of ways, including walks with traditional Maasai warriors, observing their customs, learning how to use an authentic bow and arrow and more.

Off the Beaten Track in Laikipia & Lewa

Elephants walk along the river in Laikipia Platau, Kenya.

Laikipia and Lewa might not have the same household name as the Masai Mara or Amboseli, but these two gems offer unique safari experiences in Kenya that are off-the-beaten-track without compromising on the wildlife, comfort and luxury accommodation associated with their more famous counterparts.

The Laikipia Plateau is an idyllic and lesser-visited safari destination that is often referred to as the gateway to northern Kenya. This untouched ecosystem of wilderness terrain covers 2 million acres, and comprises unique and varied habitats, scenic landscapes, and excellent Big 5 sightings.

Also known as Kenya’s Golden Child, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy acts as a haven for the rare and majestic wildlife of the region – the game viewing in Lewa is incredible – while simultaneously offering exclusive safari experiences in East Africa. The highlight of your visit, however, will be the picturesque views that accompany your adventure, comprising the breathtaking visual contrast between the lush montane forests at the base of Kenya’s tallest mountain, Mount Kenya, and the arid grasslands and sparse woodlands.

Porini Amboseli Camp

From $475 per person sharing

  • Local village visits

Ololo Safari Lodge

From $265 per person sharing

Nairobi Tented Camp

From $120 per person sharing

4. Exciting Activities in Uganda, Rwanda & Congo

Uganda , Congo and Rwanda offer unique safari experiences and destinations that were once reserved only for old-school ‘explorers’, and nearly inaccessible to tourists. However, thanks to improved infrastructure and regional stability, these amazing destinations can now easily be included in fly-in or fly/drive itineraries:

Gorilla Trekking in Africa’s Jungles

Person encountering gorillas during a gorilla trek at Sabinyo Silberback Lodge in Rwanda.

Fly to Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda for the awe-inspiring experience for an hour with a mountain gorilla family. It's a tough hiking country but these are the only places in Africa that you can visit these critically endangered animals safely. There are very few wildlife encounters on the continent that come close to the incredible experience of spending time face-to-face with these majestic great apes.

To participate in a gorilla trek, you’ll need to be fairly fit, equipped for the humid, muddy conditions of a rainforest hike, and in good health, as gorillas are susceptible to human illnesses but do not possess our immunities. This means something as mild as a common cold can be deadly to a whole family of gorillas. You’ll be led through thick vegetation by a professional guide and tracker through the forest’s secret paths, following the clues that end in witnessing these majestic great apes in their natural habitat for about an hour.

But don't think that the adventure stops there: each country offers many other exciting activities - like boating on ancient soda lakes, chimpanzee trekking and even classic big game safaris – leaving you with a nearly endless list of attractions.

Lemala Wildwaters Lodge

  • Horse riding safaris
  • River rafting

Magashi Camp

From $610 per person sharing

One & Only Nyungwe House

  • Chimp tracking

5. Unique Safari Experiences in Zambia

Zambia is home to half of Victoria Falls – one of the most popular tourist destinations in not only the country but the whole of Africa. Africa’s adventure capital is a wonderland for the adventurous traveller. The Zambian side of the Falls offers exceptional game viewing in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, romantic riverside lodges, exceptionally close-up views of the waterfall, swimming in Devil’s Pool during low-water season, and visiting Livingstone Island when water levels permit. The good news is that no matter which side you’re on, you can easily cross the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe to explore what the other side has to offer:

Walking Safaris in South Luangwa

People spot elephants on a walking safari in South Luangwa, Zambia.

South Luangwa National Park is a wild and remote region of Zambia and is packed with big game, making it the country’s premier wildlife destination. The luxurious camps and lodges in South Luangwa are dotted along the banks of the meandering Luangwa River, offering picturesque views of the untamed natural landscape and wildlife that visit the body of water to quench their thirst. The rest of the reserve remains largely unexplored, giving South Luangwa a distinctively raw edge – making it a top choice for authentic safari experiences on the road less travelled.

But what really makes this national park so special is that it’s one of the few places in Africa that offer walking safaris – an adventurous activity where you embark on a slow-paced, guided safari on foot. South Luangwa is regarded as the birthplace of the guided walking safari and remains as the best place in Africa to experience the unique adventure of walking through big game country. Here, you’ll encounter large herds of elephant, buffalo, lion, hippo, crocodiles, giraffe, gazelles and antelopes on foot.

Unusual Safari Experiences in Kafue

Boat safari on the river in Kafue National Park, Zambia.

Kafue National Park as Zambia’s largest conservation areas and one of the largest national parks in the whole of Africa. It’s one of country’s best-kept secrets despite its mammoth size and prominent location just outside Livingstone. Kafue remains largely unexplored and untouched, making it the ideal safari destination for those seeking an intimate big game viewing with little to no other vehicles in sight.

However, what makes Kafue National Park so unique is that its grassy seasonal floodplains are the grazing grounds for huge numbers of red lechwe and puku antelopes, as well as herds of buffalo and wildebeest - all of which are preyed on by cheetah, wild dog, spotted hyena and lion.   You can explore this beautiful location on traditional game drives in a 4X4 vehicle, boat cruises, hot-air balloon safaris, nature walks, and canoeing trips.

Chikoko Tree Camp

From $535 per person sharing

Kafue River Lodge

  • Cycling safaris

Busanga Bush Camp

From $1,090 per person sharing

6. Zimbabwe’s Unique Safari Experiences

Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park are always top of the list for travellers visiting Zimbabwe , due to the wonderful game viewing opportunities and stunning, undisturbed natural landscapes. For instance, travellers flock in high numbers to Hwange National Park to see the 30,000-string elephant population, while Mana Pools offer an array of safari experiences to explore the floodplains of the park, including traditional game drives, kayaking, boating, fly camping and nature walks. After visiting Zimbabwe’s more popular safari destinations, enjoy a more intimate and exclusive experience in the country’s less-visited locations:

A Water-Based Safari in Matusadona

People see an elephant in the water on a boat safari in Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.

Lying on the border of Lake Kariba, Matusadona National Park is one of Zimbabwe’s lesser-known safari destinations, making it the perfect place for those seeking a more private and exclusive experience. Grassy floodplains and rugged, rolling hills make up this beautiful landscape that is home to a large concentration of wildlife, including some of Zimbabwe’s biggest elephant and buffalo herds.

Another highlight of this destination is Lake Kariba, the fourth largest man-made lake in the world and the second largest in Africa, with 2,000 kilometres (1,243 miles) of shoreline. This body of water is a truly impressive feat that is amazing to explore, especially by boat. The lake draws in healthy populations of hippos and crocodiles. While further inland, you may see elephants, buffalo, antelope, leopards and lions.

Epic Safaris in Gonarezhou & Malilangwe

Picturesque landscape in Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe.

The little-known destinations of Gonarezhou National Park and Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve are the ideal for the avid safari-goer who wants to experience a more intimate experience in the wild.

Gonarezhou stands as Zimbabwe’s second largest national park, sitting on over 5,000 square kilometres (1,931 miles) of pristine wilderness. Translating to ‘The Place of Elephants’, Gonarezhou is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes in Southern Africa, including the iconic Chilojo Cliffs. It has over 11,500 gentle giants, 89 large mammal species, over 450 bird species and 61 small mammals.

Malilangwe, on the other hand, is renowned for towering red cliffs, massive baobab trees, mopane forests, unique sandstone outcrops, and over 100 rock art sites that are over 2,000 years old. Beyond the beautiful natural scenery, the game sightings in Malilangwe are superb, where you might spot the high concentration of black and white rhino, large breeding herds of elephants, wild dogs and rare white lions.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

From $555 per person sharing

  • Animal tracking experience

Singita Pamushana Lodge

  • Historical tours

Matusadona Luxury Lake Safari Cruiser

  • River cruises

7. Desert-Based Unique Safari Experiences in Namibia

Namibia is home to iconic and richly rewarding safari destination, single-handedly providing some of the most unique safari experiences in Africa. This hauntingly beautiful arid landscape comprises popular destinations like the Namib Desert , Sossusvlei , Swakopmund and Etosha , that offer superb game viewing, dramatic scenery and incomparable adventures:

Feel the Sand Between Your Toes on the Dunes

Three men running down a sand dune in Namibia.

The Southern African country’s huge, rolling sand dunes are the stars of the show. Dune 45 is one of Namibia’s biggest attractions, supplying a relatively ‘easy’ climb up to the top of the 170-metre-high mammoth landmark. The best time to kick off your shoes and start hiking up is early in the morning so you can watch the sun rise over the vlei from the top of the dune, as well as taking in the incredible panoramic view of Dune Valley.

After tackling Dune 45, next is Big Daddy – the tallest and most well-known dune in the Sossusvlei area. Standing at 325 metres, Big Daddy is a climb only for the brave and adventurous. Hiking to the summit of this landmark might be a bit of a challenge, but the reward is well worth it. The top awards breathtaking views, stretching as far as the Atlantic coastline. After conquering Big Daddy, you can descend into Deadvlei, a haunting salt pan that provides the perfect backdrop photographic opportunities.

Learning the Way of the Himba People

Himba Tribe member in Kaokoland, Namibia.

The Himba are an indigenous people that inhabit northern Namibia, with an estimated population of about 50,000 people, and are best known for colouring their hair and bodies with a red colour paste called ‘ochre’. After surviving over a century of change in the world and preserving their way of life, the Himba people are a resilient group with so much to share and teach.

Few people get the opportunity to take part in and learn the Himba’s culture, customs, and traditions, so be sure that you seize the opportunity when in the country. When staying at certain luxury properties, especially in the Kaokoland regions, you’ll have the honour of meeting and interacting with one of the world’s last remaining nomadic tribes.

Adventurous Activities in the Desert

Quad biking through the desert in Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Namibia’s rolling desertscape and mountainous sand dunes make the ideal playground for the adventurous at heart. Spend your mornings taking to the sky to get a birds-eye view of the Namib Desert. Enjoy scenic plane flights to the Diamond Coast or Sossusvlei to enjoy guided safaris along the coast or on rugged terrain. Kick off your shoes and hike up the famous Dune 45, or if you love a challenge, take on the mighty Big Daddy, to get a breathtaking view from the top of Namibia’s highest sand dunes. Or experience the desert in a new way by quad biking through the sandy landscape before enjoying a thrilling sandboarding ride down a dune. Whatever your idea of fun, Namibia has unique safari experiences for every type of adventurer.

Serra Cafema Camp

From $725 per person sharing

  • Dune walks & drives
  • Nature drives

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

From $400 per person sharing

  • Scenic drives

Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

From $405 per person sharing

  • Elephant interactive experience
  • Rhino tracking

8. Oceanside Fun on Africa’s Islands & Beaches

Tropical islands and pristine beaches may not be your first associations with Africa, but the continent has some of the best oceanside destinations in the world. From the Blue Flag beaches of Cape Town to the island paradise that is Zanzibar and Seychelles , there are fantastic adventures to be had on these beautiful shorelines:

Denis, Seychelles

Woman standing on the beach in Denis, Seychelles.

Denis is one of the Seychelles lesser-visited islands but offers all the same unique safari experiences and beachside adventures of its well-known counterparts, like Mahe and Praslin Island . The 375-acre coral island is set amid the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and is covered with lush tropical foliage and edged with powdery white beaches. The luxury private villas are just metres away from the beach, while the island offers an array of unique safari experiences, including diving lessons at PADI dive centres, diving excursions in the tropical water to witness marine wildlife, deep-sea fishing, water sports, and hiking along scenic trails.

Nosy Be, Madagascar

Beach view at Nosy Be, Madagascar.

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world yet remains a little-known secret, even among the more seasoned travellers. The island sees less than 30,000 visitors annually, which means its untouched landscape keeps its timeless quality and makes it a fascinating adventure for those who love to go off-the-beaten-track – especially the idyllic archipelago of Nosy Be.

Lying off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be is a volcanic island that boasts luxury accommodation, soft white sand, turquoise waters, year-round tropical weather, and fresh seafood. In addition, Nosy Be is also a water-lovers paradise, offering an array of aquatic activities that include diving, swimming, snorkelling, sailing, fishing, and excursions to the surrounding islands.

And if you want a break from the seascape, the little-explored hinterland offers rolling landscapes that include the brilliant Parc National Lokobe, ylang-ylang and vanilla plantations, crater lakes and waterfalls, and miles of dirt tracks accessible only by foot or quad bike.

Lake Malawi, Malawi

Boating on the tranquil waters of Lake Malawi, Malawi.

Malawi might be one of Africa’s smallest countries, but it has a huge personality with unmatched beauty. Lake Malawi is the highlight of this stunning destination – a massive freshwater body that perfectly emulates a palm-fringed, sandy beach with sapphire water stretching as far as the eye can see. Naturally, this lakeside getaway is the perfect playground for water-based activities, such as suntanning, swimming, fishing, kayaking, sailing, boating, snorkelling, scuba diving, and water skiing.

Here, you’ll get the best of both worlds – a pristine beach without the choppy waves and tides of the ocean. This lakeside paradise is wonderfully untouched by mass tourism, providing the ultimate privacy, luxury and exclusivity – no queues and no crowds, just a stress-free beach holiday in a unique environment.

South Luangwa & Lake Malawi

From $5,485 per person sharing

Destinations visited:

  • Lake Malawi
  • South Luangwa National Park

Northern Madagascar's Diego Suarez & Nosy Be

Seychelles private island.

  • Private Islands

9. Private Island Experience on São Tomé and Príncipe, Gulf of Guinea

São Tomé and Príncipe are the ideal destinations for those seeking an authentic, luxury vacation that’s off-the-beaten-track. This stunning region provides you with a true exploration of jungle trekking and island lifestyle immersion:

Unique Experiences in a Hidden Gem

Aerial view of Principe Island, Sao Tome and Principe.

While São Tomé is the larger of the two islands, Príncipe holds its own by being the dream destination for every travelling escapist seeking a spot that has yet to be discovered by mass tourism. This hidden African island is a protected UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserve that remains virtually undiscovered and undisturbed.

While here, you can enjoy unique experiences that include watching whales frolic off the deserted beaches, exploring untamed jungles with professional guides, canoeing down secluded mangrove rivers, beach picnics, snorkelling from boats in the bay, swimming in crystal-clear rock pools sheltered from waves, and adventuring through crumbling cocoa plantations.

The 10 Best Beaches in Africa

Why a são tomé and príncipe vacation should be on your bucket list, how to compare african island beach holidays, 10. unique safari experiences in south africa.

One of the most-visited countries on the continent, South Africa is filled with an endless number of unique safari experiences – many of which are widely known by those that visit the country. If you’ve already experienced the top destinations of Cape Town and the Kruger National Park, then these destinations will tick all the right boxes:

Everything Nocturnal at Tswalu

Horse back safari through the Kalahari, South Africa.

Tswalu Private Game Reserve, the country’s largest privately owned reserve, sits on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in a remote corner of northern South Africa. Comprising two luxury lodges – The Motse, Tarkuni – a stay at Tswalu is all about experiencing the wonders of the Kalahari in luxury and comfort. During your stay here, you enjoy fascinating bush walks, stargazing trips, sleepouts, birdwatching, guided walks across the dunes, game drives in open-air safari vehicles, hot-air ballooning, horse-back safaris and trips to Bushmen rock engraving sites.

Take a Self-Drive Holiday Up the Garden Route

Overhead view of Mossel Bay along the Garden Route, South Africa.

If you’re keen to have a safari adventure where you’re in the driver’s seat (literally!), then the Garden Route might be the ideal holiday destination for you. Located just a few hours outside Cape Town, South Africa’s world-famous Garden Route comprises a fantastic mix of scenic coastline, sunny weather, immaculate beaches, untouched forests, tranquil lagoons, and buzzing seaside towns.

The Garden Route is a perfect self-drive, family-friendly trip that takes you from the beautiful small harbour town of Mossel Bay through the attraction- and activity-laden Knysna and ending in Storms River in the east.

Nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will have a great time ticking off adventures, including forest canopy tours, monkey and bird sanctuaries, classic bucket-and-spade fun on the beach, going out to spot dolphins and whales (in season), play a round of golf on the country’s best courses, and enjoying an authentic Big 5 safari in one of the Eastern Cape’s many malaria-free reserves.

Romantic Cape, Whale Coast & Kalahari

From $2,050 per person sharing

  • Cape Winelands
  • Franschhoek
  • South Africa
  • Whale Coast

South Africa's Cape Town, Kruger & Kalahari

Ready to plan your unique safari in africa.

It’s time to get off the beaten track and start planning your next African getaway. Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help craft a holiday itinerary that’s right for you:

Kirsten Delcie

africa unique safaris

Rwanda is sovereign state in east and central Africa. Located a few degrees south of the equator and geography dominated by mountains in the west, savannah in the east, and numerous lakes throughout the country, whose green mountainous landscapes have earned it the nickname “Land of a Thousand Hills”.

africa unique safaris

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes endangered Gorillas, Chimpanzees and rare birds.

africa unique safaris

Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas and World Heritage listed sites. Home to Serengeti National Park populated by the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), Kilimanjaro National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater, and tropical islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Marine Park.

africa unique safaris

Located in Central Africa and known as DR Congo, DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, it’s home to Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzee, and the world’s largest lava lake, beautiful Mt Nyiragongo.

African Unique Safaris and Tours is an expert ground safari and tour operator for Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. We lay claim to being the Gorilla Experts and can take you too Mountain Gorillas, Eastern Lowland Gorillas and Western Lowland Gorillas. We organise and operate tours for Ultra Luxury - Luxury - Premium and Mid Range clients and treat everyone like our favorite relative.

90% of the pictures you see on this homepage have been taken by either African Unique Safaris and Tours staff or kindly donated by our loving clients. We will help you take the best pictures possible and create emotional memories like these that will last long after you leave.

We are different to other operators who are simply expensive taxi services from the airport to the Gorillas and to your hotel. We show you the extra activities and cultural experiences along the way to take your safari from great to WOW!!!

Starting in June 2018, Rwandair will fly direct from Cape Town to Kigali. Perfect for a combined Garden Route, Gorilla and Savannah Tour. See our combined tours:

We also have like minded best in class partners in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa to fulfill all your African tour needs on one place.

On your birthday in Rwanda, your friends will pour a bottle of water over your head as they sing you “happy birthday” in Kinyarwanda! You may learn this the hard way.

You can see Tree climbing Lions in Uganda, lazily hanging out in their tree of choice, the Fig Tree.

If visiting Rwanda, it's a good idea to learn some terms in Kinyarwanda. A simple “Mwaramutse” in the morning (or “Mwiriwe” in the afternoon) will make people smile and open up to you!

africa unique safaris

Safari Mecca, Culture and History, Freedom Struggles, Marine Parks, Whale Watching, Shark Diving, Table Top Mountain and Cape Town. Be Inspired by South Africa, it’s diversity and beauty.

africa unique safaris

Zimbabwe neighbours South Africa to the East and has such UNESCO wonders as the mighty Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park Africa’s third largest National Park and the UNESCO listed Mana Pools and much much more.  Great value and 100% open for business.

africa unique safaris

Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, north of South Africa. Botswana occupies an area of 581,730 square kilometers (224,610 sq mi), of which 566,730 km2 (218,820 sq mi) is land. Botswana has land boundaries of combined length 4,347.15 kilometers (2,701.19 mi), of which the constituent boundaries are shared with Namibia, for 1,544 km (959 mi), Much of the population of Botswana is concentrated in the eastern part of the country. Botswana is one of Africa’s great game destinations. More than 17% of this country is devoted to National Parks or Game Reserves..

africa unique safaris

Home to the UNESCO protected  Dzanga-Sangha Natinoal Park.  This could possibly be the best place in the world to get up close and personal with Western Lowland Gorillas.  This untouched and mysterious rainforest region gives you amazing access also to Ba’aka Pygmy tribes theirs rituals and hunting traditions.  The rich mineral waters of the Dzanga Bai provide Africa’s best viewing of jungle elephants and a managery of other bird and wildlife. This ones for the true adventurers and people who like to go where the crowds aren’t.  We have wonderful partners in Central African Republic who give you incredible hospitality and expertise.

africa unique safaris

Kenya is one of the big 5 African destinations.  With incredible game, famous wildebeast migration, legendary Masai Mara, stunning coastline and all the big 5 animals Kenya is both Magical and Romantic.

africa unique safaris

Republic of Congo is sovereign state in Central Africa on the west coast.  Often confused with it’s neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo this country affords a much better reputation around safety and accessibility.  Located on the equator it has incredible Western Lowland Gorilla viewing in Odzala National Park and also has access to the might Congo River.”

africa unique safaris

Officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, in the south-central part of Zambia.. Zambia is a very politically stable good country for tourism on leisure and rich in various activities that makes anybody feel home away from home, such as rivers, Vast lakes, water falls, more than 12 National parks, monuments and historical sites, to mention but a few.

africa unique safaris

Africa is a safari mecca, and in parks such as Serengeti National Park, you might just see the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino) all in one day.

In summary I can say that my trip was a “value for money” . The porters were really handy in carrying our luggage's as we penetrated the Bwindi forest for the amazing encounter with the endangered Mountain Gorillas. Thank you African Unique Safaris & Tours for the life experience.

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Handcrafted African Safaris

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Dr. Quinton Martins

Partner, Safari Advisor and Expert Guide

Quinton is a passionate conservationist from South Africa who has dedicated over 25 years to wildlife, as a professional safari guide in Africa and a scientist specialising in big cat research. He is True Wild’s safari advisor and one of our expert guides.

  •     +1+1 707 721 6560

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Liz Martins

Managing Partner and Family Safari Guide

Liz is a passionate environmental educator with a background in Waldorf teaching in South Africa. She loves bringing people into better connection with nature. A True Wild partner, she manages the business and does specialist guiding for family groups.

  •     +1+1 707 695 1190

Neil Martin

Partner and Marketing

Neil, electrical engineer by training, was a director at Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies and Keysight Technologies. He has over 30 years experience in sales, business management and marketing which he brings to True Wild as its marketing and business partner.

Testimonial

"Imagine camping near the farthest out watering hole where herds of African Buffalo, elephants and other big game cluster, fishing the crocodile filled Lower Zambezi River for Tigerfish, visiting local villages and schools, staying in high end lodges or more primitive bush camps where you sleep with the sounds of lions, hippos, and exotic birds... Wow!! Quinton Martins recently arranged this African trip for my wife and me. We were impressed with his knowledge of lodging and dining, camps and guides, photography and local cultures, and the experience itself far exceeded our every expectation. Thank you, Quinton, for this trip of a lifetime, our first to Africa, but certainly not our last!" Alan and Gail Ross, Kenwood CA

africa unique safaris

WILD GIFTS - IAN McCALLUM

Mkadi mkadi.

Here in this sacred house of silence I can lose myself - the sky is as endless as it is containing and here the water teases land Here in the nearness of where I stand there is always distance - a space, an in-between and here I am alone, but I belong. Here in this great crucible of dreams the scattered feathers and the dried out prints of hoof and pad stand as sacred signatures... an ancient contract. Here in this vast and visible in-between is the birth place of fire urging flight into footprints and wings out of scales. Here silence becomes free

Special Themed Safaris

Special Themed Safaris

Mostly we arrange safaris on request, however we also create special themed safaris led by Californian biologists who can help connect your experiences in the African wilderness with your life back home. Find out more about our current Special Themed Safaris with set dates by looking through the attached descriptions.

Specialist Group Leaders

Specialist Group Leaders

We have a fascinating selection of group leaders. We will recommend one based on your interests to lead your trip while sharing much of their own special interests and expertise. All are experts in their field - ornithologists, biologists, wildlife photographers, environmental educators, authors, naturalists.

Safari Camps

Safari Camps

We are very selective when it comes to the Safari Camps we choose as they are the crux of your experience. We choose camps in superb locations, which provide the best quality experiences. We prefer small camps with exclusive access so that your game-viewing and living experience is not overshadowed by crowds of tourists. Comfort and luxury are a given but not the basis of our choices. Check out our gallery for some of our favourite camps.

Activities

Most Safari Camps include a variety of activities, led by camp guides who have an intimate knowledge of the area and their wildlife. Activities may include game drives; walking safaris, with your senses fully alert and tuning in to the rhythm of the wild; boating or kayaking for excellent birding and a new perspective on wildlife; fishing; sleeping out under the stars; observing and photographing quietly from hides; and select cultural experiences.

Transfers

Transfers between camps is often in small charter planes. For shorter distances, you will have road transfers or speedboat transfers. We use the best local providers. In some cases it is worth considering getting your own private charter plane, which gives you more freedom with timing and detours en route.

Pricing

As each trip is unique, we will only be able to provide a quote after consultation. Here are a few guidelines on what to expect when it comes to pricing:

Would you like to talk to us about a safari?

  My True Wild trip was my third African safari, it was also the best. I came back with so much more than myriad animal sightings. Time was given to learn animal behaviors, ecology and habitat maintenance. Starting with an active dig sight was so informative and perfect planning. The accommodations provided plenty of attention to comfort, food and beverage for reasonable prices. The guides and staff were genuinely interested in sharing their culture with us as well as learning about ours. It was a super opportunity…plus Quinton and Liz were really fun! Thank you for taking me along, can I come again?   Deborah Jones
  I have dreamt of returning to Africa since my trip to Kenya in 1997. That was such a magical trip that I was sure it couldn’t be topped. I was so wrong! True Wild, aka Quinton & Liz Martins, topped that trip and provided so much more. I knew I would see wildlife on my safari but I never imagined seeing 208 birds species, all of which Dr. Martins knew, lions on the hunt in the dark of night with hungry cubs to feed back at the den, or a leopard stalk a water buck across the grasslands. I watched a warthog with her babies trot underneath my tent platform. We stopped to watch dung beetles, little tiny red velvet mites, elephants and wild dogs cooling themselves in watering holes. These creatures gave us a glimpse into the complicated and fragile ecosystem that is southern Africa. Each magical day was filled with magnificent game viewing, appreciating the big and small creatures that make up these amazing ecosystems, beautiful sunsets, and learning about conservation efforts in South Africa and Botswana. True Wild knows so much about the individual safari camps and selected just the right places for the season we visited. Their attention to detail, passion for the animals and the people, and sincerely caring about my experience made this ‘wild’ trip ‘truly’ perfect.   Linda Sheppard
  A safari with True Wild and Quinton can be a deep experience of the soul. We love Africa and have made ten photographic safaris to parks in Southern and Eastern Africa. The two that True Wild organized for us in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have been among the most memorable. The founders of True Wild have the rare ability to share their deep appreciation of the African wilderness through the trips they organize and lead. Quinton has a detailed knowledge of the many regions and camps that you can visit, and an understanding of what you are likely to see in each area as the seasons change. Based on the specific animals we wanted to see, True Wild tailored a trip for us, including the month and locations for our stays. As a wildlife biologist and South African native, Quinton has an unparalleled knowledge of the animals, their habitats and the ecology of the areas. We believe he is one of the world’s experts on big cats, and certainly THE expert on leopard. It’s a treat and an education to observe him reading and interpreting the paw prints in the road to track an animal. We stayed in opulent lodges as well as rustic tent camps on bluffs over-looking rivers or in the savannah. The food was always superb, and the staff beyond wonderful. We had ample opportunities to experience a wide spectrum of wildlife, up-close and personal. And, sleeping in the bush where we can hear the night sounds of wild Africa is captivating — male lions roaring back and forth to claim their territories, whooping spotted hyenas, and elephants trumpeting. If you want an astounding African safari trip of a lifetime, have True Wild create it for you.   Craig Harrison & Marina Chang
  Quinton Martins is a superb African wildlife expert and safari tour organizer/guide — and a wonderful person to boot. In December 2019 Quinton organized a two-week adventure in southern Africa for a group of about 12 local Sonoma residents, including the two of us. His selected itinerary and choice of safari camps in South Africa and Botswana were excellent. We saw up close and personal a wide range of animals, including the “Big 5” — in a highly diverse range of settings (from riverbank to desert) and in a variety of safari camp types (from luxury to tent). Throughout the trip his knowledge of varied settings and different animals were amazing (it seems that he can recognize and name every different bird in Africa, even from a distance!). Our ability to spend time with a family of habituated meerkats in the center of the Kalahari desert was a unique experience — some of them even sat on Janet’s lap. In addition to the animals and overall safari experience, Quinton arranged for our group to have a couple of distinct and wonderfully unusual visits. For one we spent time with leading cultural anthropologists who are currently investigating a cave site for ancient man outside of Johannesburg — with remains deemed even older than those found by Leaky in east Africa. We spent quality time visiting the “dig” and speaking with the scientists. Later in the trip we visited a locale in Kruger Park where a top ecologist manages a 20-year field trial demonstrating the importance of grasslands to mitigate against the impacts of climate change. Again we had time to speak with this professor as well as visit his field trial area. Janet and I asked Quinton to arrange a further two-week safari experience for us after the rest of the group returned to the US. He used his personal connections to set us up in an area in southern Tanzania that we had never previously visited: the Selous and the Ruaha. His selection of several camps for us here was great, giving us never before experiences with wild dogs in particular. In sum, one cannot do better than to work with Quinton Martins and the entire True Wild team.   David Morell and Janet Bruno
  Sally and I had a life changing experience in Africa with True Wild, led by Quinton and Liz Martins. It will probably be the only time we will get to go on safari, but the experience was well worth the effort and cost. Quinton’s experience and knowledge of the area made all the difference; every step of the way from navigating airport check-ins, keeping track of all the luggage, and the many ground transportation and camp arrangements flowed smoothly. Each camp was chosen for the unique features it offered, and the total experience, from tracking a pride of lions on the hunt, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, the dozens of different antelope, elephant and even following a pack of African wild dogs on the lookout for a near-by leopard. Then there were all the strange birds, my favorite being the Red Crested Korhaan. It is also called the “suicide bird” as it has a unique mating ritual in which, after a vocalizing ascending call on the ground, he then flies vertically up in the sky. On reaching a certain height, the korhaan merely folds his wings and plummets back down toward the ground-body seemingly prone as if he had been shot in mid-air. Shortly before hitting the ground, it opens its wings for a safe, elegant landing. Very impressive, as was all the wildlife.   Mike and Sally Gale
  My Safari with True Wild was much more than a trip. We wandered, we adventured, and we were amazed. I hadn’t considered a safari but knowing Quinton and Liz and other like-minded people (nature nuts) through volunteering at Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen, CA., I decided to leap into the unknown. The motivation to go was curiosity, but the gifts received were exploring a totally unknown environment, observing the care shown for nature through the guides/staff at various camps, making new friends through our common bond of stewardship of planet Earth and learning about living in Botswana and South Africa. The vibrant sunsets, the campfires, the laughter, the wild night ride following the lion pack – well, they were just the icing on the cake!   Bobbie Jenkins, Sonoma CA

Quinton Martins, PhD

Specialties: Big Cats; animal behaviour; conservation; ecology; scorpions; birds; photography

Specialties: Safaris with children; nature-inspired art; self-development through nature-connection

Jeff Sikich

Specialties: Large carnivores, human-wildlife interaction, animal behavior, urban wildlife, conservation

Jeanne Wirka

Specialties: botany, plant and animal interactions, nature writing, fire ecology, habitat conservation

Carolyn Whitesell, PhD

Specialties: large carnivores, human-wildlife interactions, animal space use, conservation, urban wildlife

Jake Harvey

Specialties: large carnivores, spatial ecology, human-wildlife conflict, urban wildlife, feeding ecology, interacting with people

Ayla Martins

Assistant Group Leader: Specialities: Excellent game spotter and tracker; mountain lion research assistant; personal travel assistant.

  • Camps & Places
  • 13875 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA, USA
  •   +1-() 707-721-6560  -  Quinton Martins
  •   [email protected]
  •   Varied, mostly weekdays 8:30am-3pm. Contact us to arrange an appointment.
  •     [email protected]
  •   13875 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA, USA

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13 of the best safaris in Africa

africa unique safaris

Heather Richardson

Tuesday May 23 2023, 07:53am

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to deciding where to go on safari. If you’re keen to see the Big Five — lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos —  South Africa is a solid choice, with options for all budgets, good tourism infrastructure and family-friendly properties in malaria-free areas. If you’re more seasoned or just keen to avoid the busier spots, you might be tempted by walking safaris in Zambia or southern Tanzania . Timing is a factor, too — most safari areas are at their driest between June and September, but the wet season can be great for birding, it’s cheaper, and those lush landscapes are ideal for photographers. With all that in mind, read on for the best African safaris.

Main photo: Giraffes in Ngorongoro, Tanzania (Getty Images)

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An elephant in the Okavango Delta, Botswan is one of the best safaris in Africa

1. Okavango Delta, Botswana

This inland delta is one of the most beautiful and wildlife-rich areas in Africa. Located in northern Botswana, it is fed by floodwaters from neighbouring Angola between May and October. This is the time when visitors can explore the reed-lined waterways by mokoro — a traditional canoe — which is a particularly special experience. There are a number of reserves in the delta and tourism is controlled so it feels wild and remote; it’s also the most expensive place to go on safari. But the wildlife viewing is exceptional — think buffalo-hunting lions, wild dogs sprinting through the bush, hippos cooling off in the water, elephants browsing acacias. And it’s a great birding destination.

Best base camp Vumbura Plains is one of the fanciest camps in the delta and in a really good spot for wildlife sightings, particularly big cats.

go2africa.com/accommodation/vumbura-plains

Best safari camps and lodges in Botswana

Okavango Delta guide: when to go and where to stay

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya is one of the best safaris in Africa

2. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

The Masai Mara in southwest Kenya is famous for the beauty of its rolling savanna grasslands, the density of its wildlife populations, and, between July and October, the great wildebeest herds that thunder across the Mara River. Big cats — lions, cheetahs and leopards — are prolific. Wildlife is habituated and easy to find. The key to enjoying your time in the Mara is avoiding the crowds — that means finding a great guide or paying a little extra to stay in one of the private community-run conservancies around the edges of the national park.

Best base camp The high-end Cottar’s 1920s Camp is in a private conservancy – great for uncrowded wildlife sightings – and is one of the most long-established camps in the Mara.

yellowzebrasafaris.com/kenya/accommodation/lodges/cottars-camp

The best time to visit Kenya

africa unique safaris

3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

This inactive, ancient caldera is — at 2,000 feet deep and 100 square miles in area — one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes for viewing wildlife. There are elephants, critically endangered black rhinos, lions and flocks of flamingos. It’s not just safaris that you can do in and around the crater, but also hikes and visits to nearby Masai villages. The crater does get crowded, especially at the peak of the dry season from June to September. Wetter weather during the low season means smaller crowds and better rates, though of course conditions are not as favourable.

Best base camp Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge is a smart, comfortable hotel with 20 cottages, a pool and a spa — and it’s just five minutes away from the entrance gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

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The best safari camps in Tanzania

A lion resting in a tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, one of the best safaris in Africa

4. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

In the southwest of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is made up of savanna, forests and lakes, and it holds a diverse range of wildlife from elephants to chimpanzees. It’s perhaps best known for its lions that have an unusual penchant for climbing trees, but it’s also a great place for boat trips and birding. Given its proximity to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it’s an excellent safari partner to mountain gorilla trekking.

Best base camp With beautiful views and only a few minutes from the park entrance, Buffalo Safari Lodge is a great option for Queen Elizabeth visitors.

Up close with an African elephant at the Nehimba Safari Lodge in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, one of the best safaris in Africa

5. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park is one of Zimbabwe’s best and most popular safari destinations, with a diverse range of wildlife across its savanna and forests. Animals you might spot include lions, wild dogs, leopards and cheetahs; Hwange’s also home to one of Africa’s largest population of elephants. In private concessions, you can take walking safaris in addition to game drives. And the park benefits from Zimbabwe’s famously excellent guides (due a rigorous qualification programme). Hwange is easily combined with Victoria Falls, which is only around three hours away by road.

Best base camp In a private concession, the nine-tent, simple but comfy Davison’s Camp is set by a waterhole often visited by elephants.

Two Rhodesian Thornicroft giraffes in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia  one of the best safaris in Africa

6. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

South Luangwa’s wildlife viewing is among the best in Africa, particularly for big cats and elephants. You can spot rare subspecies unique to the area, such as Thornicroft’s giraffes, too. The park — and Zambia generally — is renowned for walking safaris. So, if you’re keen to explore the bush on foot, whether just for the day or on an epic fly-camping adventure, this is the place for you. The Luangwa River attracts large numbers of animals during the dry season, the most popular time to visit. Be aware that many lodges close for the wettest months, between December and March.

Best base camp A popular little spot just outside South Luangwa National Park, Flatdogs Camp used to be a backpackers and it retains a relaxed, friendly vibe.

Hippopotamus in Lake Manze, Nyerere National Park, Tanzania, one of the best safaris in Africa

7. Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve), Tanzania

In southern Tanzania, Nyerere is Tanzania’s largest — and newest — national park. It was the northern section of the massive Selous Game Reserve, until 2019 when the area was designated a national park. The best wildlife viewing is around the Rufiji River — leisurely boat safaris are a highlight — and the park has populations of lions, elephants, hippos, critically endangered black rhinos and wild dogs. As an added bonus, Nyerere — and the south of Tanzania generally — receives a mere fraction of the tourists who visit the northern parks.

Best base camp Serena Mivumo River Lodge sits on the banks of the Rufiji River, with just 12 elevated chalets overlooking the water.

African elephant in Kruger National Park, South Africa is one of the best safaris in Africa

8. Kruger National Park, South Africa

In the far northeast of South Africa, the Kruger is the most popular safari destination of them all. In addition to the wildlife viewing being superb — especially for leopards, which tend to be extraordinarily nonchalant around vehicles — it’s got great tourism infrastructure, including good roads for self-driving safaris. There are basic self-catering facilities or super-luxury lodges in the Kruger’s private reserves, so something for most budgets. It can be very busy, but travelling in shoulder or low seasons will help, as might venturing to the less-visited north of the park, where there are great walking trails, big baobabs, and fever tree forests.

Best base camp Amongst the sleekest luxury lodges on the continent, Singita Lebombo is for the stylish safari-goer. 15 suites overlook the bush or river. The food and wine offerings are excellent, too.

Where should I go in South Africa?

Best safaris in South Africa

Etosha National Park, Namibia is one of the best safaris in Africa

9. Etosha National Park, Namibia

While the density of its wildlife is much lower than other parts of Africa, Namibia makes up for it with its breathtaking desert landscapes. In the north of the country, Etosha National Park is its most popular safari destination. The best time to visit are the dry months when animals gather at water — there are lots of elephants, plus giraffes, lions — and it’s possible to see black rhinos, too. The Etosha Pan, the focal point of the park, is a salt flat, where mammals and birds such as flamingos gather. You can drive up from the capital Windhoek or take a scenic light aircraft flight — either option reveals some of Namibia’s huge, open landscapes.

Best base camp On the edge of Etosha National Park, Ongava Tented Camp is in a private reserve, where you can go on after-dark game drives and bush walks.

Wildebeest in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, one of the best safaris in Africa

10. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The vast plains of the Serengeti, in northern Tanzania, are featured in dozens of nature documentaries for good reason. Not only is it a striking landscape, but it’s home to incredible wildlife, most of which is extremely habituated to tourists. Watch cheetahs scan for prey from atop a termite mound or park up next to a leopard chowing its kill in a tree. The Great Migration wildebeest herds stop to graze and give birth to their young in the south of the park from November to February; from June, you can see them crossing the river as they move between the Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara on their cyclical migration.

Best base camp In the south of the park, Elewana Serengeti Pioneer Camp has glorious views across the plains. The 12 tents each have private decks and side panels that can be rolled up to take in the surroundings.

The Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, one of the best safaris in Africa

11. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

On the banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools feels wilder and quieter than most safari destinations in Southern Africa. The name means “four” in Shona, referring to the four main pools that make up the park. As well as lions and wild dogs, Mana Pools is known for elephants that have learnt to stand on their hindlegs to reach the higher branches. Explore the river by canoe, or take a bush walk during the dry season (in the wettest months, January to March, parts of the park are inaccessible and lots of properties close).

Best base camp With ten tented suites and being in a private reserve, Ruckomechi Camp gives guests a sense of exclusivity and remoteness. Don’t miss the opportunity to sleep under the stars. 

yellowzebrasafaris.com/zimbabwe/accommodation/lodges/ruckomechi-camp

Samburu tribesmen performing traditional dance at the Loisaba Wilderness Conservancy, Laikipia, Kenya, one of the best safaris in Africa

12. Laikipia, Kenya

In central Kenya, the Laikipia plateau is a less-visited alternative to the Mara, with a different appeal. The landscape is open and rolling, with views of Mount Kenya’s jagged peaks. The various reserves in this area are home to the Big Five — including many black rhinos and the last two northern white rhinos, which live in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The region also has wild dogs and rare subspecies such as the reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra.

Best base camp A mid-range option in Ol Pejeta, Sweetwaters Serena Camp is a solid choice for travellers looking for comforts but without blowing the bank.

The best Kenyan safaris

Elephants in Madikwe Reserve, South Africa, one of the best safaris in Africa

13. Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Close to the border with Botswana, Madikwe is a scenic reserve, with rolling hills and rust-orange sand. It’s home to the Big Five and other charismatic animals, such as wild dogs. Madikwe is a great option for families, as it’s malaria-free and many of the properties are geared to hosting children, with fun activities and private villas. You can also drive from Johannesburg , which cuts down on the expense of light aircraft flights. 

Best base camp Madikwe Safari Lodge is a luxury option in the reserve, with 20 rooms including family suites with bunkbeds (and special turndowns for the kids).

africa unique safaris

When is the best time to go on safari?

In most of southern and eastern Africa, the dry season runs from June to October. The advantage of the dry season is that wildlife tends to congregate around waterholes and the foliage is sparser, making animals easier to see. This is typically considered the best time to travel. But the rainy season can be better for landscape photography and birding (as migratory birds are in the south), as well as it being a quieter and generally cheaper time to travel.

What should I bring with me on safari?

Pack comfortable clothes in relatively neutral shades (very bright colours can frighten animals) and layers — mornings and evenings can be chilly enough for a hat and gloves, but by 10am, it’ll be T-shirt weather. Bring sturdy, closed-toe footwear if you’ll be walking, a hat, sunglasses and suncream. Photographers will want their longest lenses, but plenty of people do fine with their smartphones. Binoculars are very useful, although guides usually have pairs to share.

Do I need a guide on a safari?

A good guide will definitely enhance your safari experience — and in many places, you need them. Places like Kruger are great for self-driving (even without a 4×4) and the wildlife is prolific enough to find without a professional. But for walking or night driving, you will always need a qualified guide.

Take me there

Inspired to go on a safari but yet to book your trip? Here are the best options from Virgin Holidays* and Exodus Travels* . These are the best safari tours from our trusted partners* .

The ocean view form the village of Brenton near Knysna, South Africa

africa unique safaris

When is the Best Time to go on a Safari?

Safari jeep vehicle filled with guide and tourists in background watching two cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Karoo desert, Western Cape, South Africa

What vaccinations and medications are required?

Elephants in a line at sunrise in front of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park, Kenya, East Africa

What to pack?

Young man traveler and photographer taking photo of Oryx, a type of wildlife animal in African safari. Wildlife photography concept

How much should I budget for a safari?

Top safaris to visit in africa, etosha national park, namibia.

  • Best Time: Dry season (May to October)
  • Tips: Explore floodlit waterholes at night for nocturnal wildlife.
  • Landmarks: Striking salt pan, diverse wildlife.
  • Recommended Time: 3-5 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Nighttime wildlife watching at waterholes.

Petrified Forest, Deadvlei, Namibia, Africa

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

  • Tips: Engage in guided walking safaris for a deeper connection to nature.
  • Landmarks: Golden savannahs, captivating night safaris.
  • Recommended Time: 4-6 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Guided walking safaris.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

  • Best Time: May to September.
  • Tips: Opt for guided bush walks to immerse in the wilderness.
  • Landmarks: Diverse flora and fauna, legendary Big Five.
  • Recommended Time: 5-7 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Guided bush walks.

Group of African women from Samburu tribe, central Kenya, Africa. Samburu tribe is one of the biggest tribes of north-central Kenya, and they are related to the Maasai.

Laikipia, Kenya

  • Best Time: Dry seasons (July to September, January to February).
  • Tips: Experience horseback safaris and camel treks.
  • Landmarks: Vast grasslands, interaction with Samburu tribe.
  • Recommended Activity: Horseback and camel safaris, village visits.

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

  • Tips: Participate in guided bush walks and birdwatching.
  • Landmarks: Return of Big Five, conservation focus.
  • Recommended Time: 3-4 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Guided bush walks, birdwatching.

A line of seven Zebras in Tanzania enjoying the grass of the plains under a blue sky

Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa

  • Tips: Engage in photographic safaris for exceptional shots.
  • Landmarks: Exclusive safari experience, leopard sightings.
  • Recommended Activity: Photographic safaris for close encounters.

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

  • Best Time: Dry season (April to October).
  • Tips: Embark on walking safaris and canoeing along the Zambezi River.
  • Landmarks: Remote wilderness, authentic safari experiences.
  • Recommended Activity: Canoeing safaris for aquatic exploration.

Masai warriors running on beautiful african beach, demonstrating their traditional hunting methods (zanzibar, Tanzania)

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

  • Best Time: Wildebeest migration (July to October).
  • Tips: Interact with Maasai people for cultural insights.
  • Landmarks: Iconic wildebeest migration, Maasai traditions.
  • Recommended Time: 4-7 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Cultural interactions with Maasai people.

Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

  • Best Time: Dry season (July to October).
  • Tips: Explore waterways on mokoro excursions for a serene experience.
  • Landmarks: Okavango Delta, diverse habitats.
  • Recommended Activity: Mokoro excursions for tranquil exploration.

A group of Egyptian Gooses (Alopochen aegyptiacus) flying agains sun disk in a spectacular sunset over Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

  • Best Time: Dry season (June to September).
  • Tips: Discover the Maasai communities beyond the crater's rim.
  • Landmarks: Sunken volcano caldera, exceptional wildlife concentration.
  • Recommended Time: 2-3 days.
  • Recommended Activity: Interact with Maasai communities for cultural immersion.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

  • Best Time: Dry season (May to October).
  • Tips: Enjoy mokoro excursions for a unique perspective.
  • Landmarks: Meandering water channels, untouched wilderness.
  • Recommended Activity: Mokoro excursions for water-based exploration.

Elephant spraying zebras with water to keep them away from waterhole

Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve), Tanzania

  • Best Time: Dry season (June to October).
  • Tips: Engage in fishing and boat safaris along the Rufiji River.
  • Landmarks: Vast woodlands and wetlands, diverse wildlife.
  • Recommended Activity: Fishing and boat safaris for aquatic adventures.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

  • Best Time: Wildebeest migration (June to October).
  • Landmarks: Iconic wildebeest migration, timeless landscapes.
  • Recommended Activity: Hot air balloon safari for an aerial view.

Three giraffe on Kilimanjaro mount background in National park of Kenya, Africa

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

  • Tips: Engage in walking safaris for an intimate bush experience.
  • Landmarks: Untamed wilderness, captivating walking safaris.
  • Recommended Activity: Walking safaris for close wildlife encounters.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

  • Best Time: Dry seasons (December to February, June to July).
  • Tips: Explore the Kazinga Channel on a thrilling boat safari.
  • Landmarks: Diverse wildlife, boat safari on Kazinga Channel.
  • Recommended Activity: Boat safari along Kazinga Channel.

A herd of African Elephants with the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro - Kenya and Tanzanian border

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  • World's Best

The 10 Best Safari Lodges in Africa

The best safari lodges, according to Travel + Leisure readers, go beyond the traditional game drive with a wide range of cultural experiences.

africa unique safaris

Note: If you’re looking for our most recent recommendations, check out the 2023 list of our favorite safari lodges in Africa.

For Travel + Leisure readers, the best safari lodges in Africa aren't necessarily traditional safari properties — though plenty of those did make this list. Take, for example, Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge — a luxurious base for tracking mountain gorillas in the cloud forest of Rwanda. It seems that this once-in-a-lifetime experience elevated guests' memories beyond those of Big Five safaris: the word amazing appears repeatedly in Bisate reviews.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city hotel, resort, or safari lodge based on their locations and amenities.

This year's World's Best list reveals a growing interest in nontraditional safaris. In addition to Bisate at the top spot, there's another Rwandan lodge, One&Only Nyungwe House (No. 3), where the highlights are tracking chimpanzees, bird-watching, and visiting a tea plantation. "A gorgeous property in an incredible location," said one voter. And there's a second gorilla-tracking property on the list: Bwindi Lodge (No. 10), in Uganda. "How special to stay at Bwindi Lodge," wrote one guest, "and be so well cared for when setting out to see the magnificent gorillas."

At No. 2, Gibb's Farm is "the most unique lodge of any kind in East Africa," claimed one reader. Overlooking Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater, a protected area known for its incredible density of wildlife, the 17-cottage property offers activities around its coffee plantation and gardens, as well as bush walks from the property and wildlife drives in the crater. One guest loved that it was "fun for adults and kids." It's "an incredibly beautiful hotel," said another. "The food was amazing, and I loved the farm-to-table philosophy."

Classic safaris are still well represented, with guests favoring wildlife-rich areas such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya, and the South African Kruger National Park. As well as wildlife sightings and luxurious rooms, it was the people who made an impact on T+L readers. Of andBeyond Bateleur Camp (No. 6), in Kenya's Masai Mara, one reader said that "the guides are truly spectacular," while another described "warm, welcoming service."

1. Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

On the edge of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bisate Lodge has six stylish and cozy villas, each overlooking the surrounding villages, forests, and misty mountain peaks. The main activity there is trekking into the national park to spend some time watching the mountain gorillas, but there are also opportunities to see golden monkeys, go hiking in the mountains, or visit the grave of renowned primatologist Dian Fossey. The staff are "amazing," said one reader, who added the food was "delicious," especially the homegrown vegetables. Another fan said staying at Bisate was "the absolute best...experience we have ever had. The food, service, and rooms were beyond amazing."

Score: 98.29

More information: wilderness-safaris.com

2 Gibb's Farm, Karatu, Tanzania

Score: 96.63

More information: gibbsfarm.com

3. One&Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda

Score: 96.36

More information: oneandonlyresorts.com

4. andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Score: 95.80

More information: andbeyond.com

5. Angama Mara, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Score: 94.95

More information: angama.com

6. andBeyond Bateleur Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Score: 94.88

7. Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Score: 94.00

More information: fourseasons.com

8. andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park Area, South Africa

Score: 93.09

9. Lion Sands Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Score: 92.47

More information: more.co.za

10. Bwindi Lodge, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Score: 89.68

More information: volcanoessafaris.com

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africa unique safaris

Safaris in Africa

Africa – Best Safari Packages

There’s nothing like luxury African Safaris, each country is home to diverse landscapes and wildlife, creating unique safari destinations.  From the Big 5 to gorilla trekking, and witnessing endangered species, there’s something around every turn.

Africa Endeavours handcrafts luxury vacations designed around your wants, needs, timeframe and budget. To get a taste of what’s possible, check out these sample itineraries. Have a look, see what catches your eye, then chat to the team to custom-create one of your escorted journeys. Occasionally, we offer traditional “package” vacations focused on a special event. But those are the exception, not the rule. The itinerary of your trip of your lifetime will be unique to you.

Sample Vacations

africa unique safaris

Safari and Beach Package: Kenya, Tanzania, and Pemba Island

Discover adventure and luxury in East Africa’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions. Walk with the Maasai in the Chyulu Hills; witness the Great Migration; soak up views of Ngorongoro Crater from your luxury lodge; and enjoy 5 days of beach bliss on beautiful Pemba Island.

africa unique safaris

Namibia: Ultimate Romance and Luxury Package

This once-in-a-lifetime journey takes you to some of the most inaccessible, seldom-visited, and ruggedly beautiful places on earth. Explore the highlights of Namibia, including Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, Kaokoveld, and the Skeleton Coast, staying in unique luxury lodges that showcase the hidden gems of each region.

africa unique safaris

Namibia Trip Packages: Dunes, Shipwrecks, and Culture Vacation

Explore the highlights of Namibia, plus exclusive, off-the-beaten-path adventures! Visit the red dunes of Sossusvlei, meet members of the ancient Himba tribe, enjoy an exclusive stay on the remote Skeleton Coast, and much more. This journey to Namibia will take your breath away!

africa unique safaris

Okavango Delta Packages: Luxury Botswana Vacation and Elephant Interaction

Explore 3 unique areas of the famed Okavango Delta while staying in luxurious eco camps. Your last stop is an elephant sanctuary where you can interact with the resident herd and observe their behavior up close.

africa unique safaris

Tanzania Safari Tours: Ultimate Northern Circuit Package

Tour the highlights of Tanzania in luxurious style! Enjoy luxe mobile camping in the Serengeti, a relaxing retreat at an elegant farm lodge, walking safaris with Maasai warriors, Lake Manyara sundowners, and much more. Boutique properties and 5-star service ensure the utmost comfort throughout your trip.

africa unique safaris

Masai Mara Safari Packages: Great Migration and Beach Vacation

This is the ultimate East African adventure! Embark on a Great Migration safari in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti; indulge the senses at Gibb’s Farm, Ngorongoro Crater; and cap it all off with 4 nights at a luxurious island resort.

africa unique safaris

East African Safari: Kenya and Tanzania Luxury Tour

This luxurious Great Migration safari takes you to the top highlights and hidden gems of Kenya and Tanzania. Enjoy unbelievable wildlife sightings in the Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and beyond while staying in Africa’s best 5-star safari lodges!

africa unique safaris

Cape Town Explorer and Family Safari Adventure

This is the ultimate luxury adventure for multi-generational families or groups! Explore Cape Town and surrounds, followed by a well-rounded luxury safari in Londolozi (Kruger National Park) and Tswalu Kalahari. Featuring private touring and boutique 5-star accommodation throughout.

africa unique safaris

Golden Trails of Africa: Victoria Falls River Cruise and Tanzania Safari

The ultimate African safari tour! Enjoy a luxurious river cruise and safari aboard the Zambezi Queen, and witness the famous elephant herds of Chobe National Park. Then, explore the highlights of Tanzania on an epic wildlife safari, from the Ngorongoro Crater to Serengeti National Park.

africa unique safaris

Rivers & Rails: Luxury South Africa Cruises with Safari

Embark on southern Africa’s most sought-after river cruise on Chobe River, which is famed for its large elephant population. Explore Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park, then sit back and watch the beautiful scenery roll by aboard the Rovos Rail, South Africa’s premier luxury rail service.

africa unique safaris

Ultimate East Africa Safari: Kenya, Tanzania, and Gorillas

Discover some of Africa’s most famous, sought-after wildlife experiences on this bucket list East Africa safari. See rare rhinos and the Big 5 in Kenya, witness the Great Migration of wildebeest, track endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, and much more. This is a trip you’ll remember for life!

africa unique safaris

Stars of South Africa: River Cruise and Kruger Safari

Enjoy a fabulous river cruise on the one and only Zambezi Queen! You’ll also explore Cape Town and Victoria Falls, and finish up with a luxurious wildlife safari in Kruger National Park.

africa unique safaris

South Africa Safari Package: City and Safari

Get the full South African experience with a luxury safari adventure in Madikwe Game Reserve and Tswalu Kalahari, plus a trip to vibrant Cape Town!

africa unique safaris

African Safari Train Tour: Escorted Luxury Train Vacation

Enjoy the utmost luxury and enjoy breathtaking views of Africa aboard the famous Rovos Rail on this African Safari Train Tour.

africa unique safaris

Cruises South Africa: Wildlife and Victoria Falls

This AmaWaterways cruise shows you the best of southern Africa’s safari highlights! Enjoy a Chobe River boat cruise with water safari excursions, followed by 2 nights at Victoria Falls. Finish with a luxury Kruger safari to see Africa’s Big 5 and other spectacular wildlife.

africa unique safaris

Ultimate Namibia Vacation Package: Safari, Scenery, and Culture

Seeking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure where few have gone before? This Namibia vacation package takes you to incredible natural landscapes, each more breathtaking than the last. Visit Etosha National Park, Damaraland, Sossusvlei, and Wolwedans, plus enjoy a scenic flight over the desert.

africa unique safaris

South Africa Highlights Vacation

See the highlights of South Africa with this vacation package. Includes Cape Town, Kruger safari, Victoria Falls, and more.

africa unique safaris

Remote Tanzania Safari Adventure

Escape the crowds and explore Tanzania’s wild and remote safari destinations: Katavi National Park, Ruaha National Park, and Selous Game Reserve. Explore vast expanses of wilderness with no one else in sight on this authentic safari adventure!

africa unique safaris

Classic Kenya Luxury Safari Package

Witness the Great Migration; experience safaris on horseback, camelback, or in a fixed-wing plane; and enjoy authentic interactions with local Maasai guides on this luxury Kenya safari.

africa unique safaris

Luxury Great Migration Tour: Kenya and Tanzania

With this Luxury Great Migration Tour, witness the Great Migration in style. Stay in luxury lodges in Kenya and Tanzania for an unforgettable wildlife safari.

africa unique safaris

Zambia Safari: Remote Luxury Package

Enjoy a luxurious, authentic, and intimate experience with Zambia. Relax at 4 remote luxury camps and take a variety of safari excursions at your leisure.

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4 Great Countries in Africa for Your First Safari

These experiences and operators offer a range of price points and embrace sustainable tourism practices..

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If you’ve never been on safari in Africa before, rest assured that no wildlife documentary can capture the awe of experiencing the region’s vastly contrasting landscapes and cultures in person. There are the sweeping savannas of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in East Africa, home to the world’s largest migrating animal herds, while green Central Africa is a habitat for the last remaining mountain gorillas on Earth. Southern Africa is home to such famous natural wonders as the Okavango Delta and the otherworldly Kalahari Desert. And in West Africa, forthcoming infrastructure in destinations like Pendjari National Park in Benin, where West African lions roam, is opening up lesser-explored areas for wildlife viewing.

Africa is composed of 54 countries with varying experiences ranging from thriving urban scenes to sublime landscapes. The continent’s seemingly endless wilderness experiences can be especially hard to navigate for the first-time safarigoer.

With that in mind, AFAR has picked four countries to get them started. Experiences include the fenceless savannas of Kenya, where such groups as the Maasai own and manage private conservancies; South Africa, with its family-friendly, malaria-free reserves and impressive rewilding projects; the wildlife-filled rivers of Zambia, known for family-owned camps and walking safaris; and Tanzania, home to sprawling, fenceless savannas and Mount Kilimanjaro.

These countries are only scratching the surface of nature-based experiences in Africa—and the beginning of a lifetime of return trips to explore. While we won’t cover the vibrant metropolises of these countries this time, you’ll regret skipping them, so ask your outfitter to work an urban experience into your trip. Here are four of the best places to go on safari if you’ve never been before.

JABALI_Double_room_with_Baobab_forest_view_copy.jpg

Asilia Jabali Ridge

With nearly two dozen national parks , Tanzania contains some of Africa’s largest remaining unfenced wilderness areas. It’s home to wildebeest who roam together in numbers upwards of a million and make dramatic crossings through the country’s river systems. Those who want to see the river crossings should aim for July to September, but the November-to-March green season can be even more appealing—the rains are short, there are fewer crowds, and you can catch the excitement of calf birthing season.

Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem

Tanzania’s most famous park gets the lion’s share of attention for being the site of the seasonal Great Migration of wildebeest. andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge is well situated right in the path of a major river crossing area. A 2022 refurbishment transformed the camp into a design-driven retreat with sustainably sourced local hardwoods and colorful kitenge fabrics inspired by the region’s craft traditions. The camp, which now runs on 80 percent solar energy, offers plenty of ways to get outside of the safari vehicle, whether you’re tracking elephants on foot or visiting fishing communities on nearby Lake Victoria.

Sitting within the greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem on its own 350,000-acre reserve, Singita Grumeti operates five lodges and camps, each with their own approach to the safari experience. There’s the hilltop Sasakwa Lodge, with its chandeliered guest rooms featuring four-poster beds, deep soaking tubs, and plunge pools that overlook the savanna. The lodge doubles as a museum, with rare artifacts from all over Africa and photography by the likes of Peter Beard. The recently renovated Sabora Tented Camp—an AFAR favorite—offers a more intimate connection with nature, thanks to outdoor showers and canvas walls that let all the noises of the bush lull you to sleep (or keep you awake).

Ruaha National Park

Ask a seasoned safari hand what their favorite wilderness area is in Tanzania, and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you it’s Ruaha National Park. Less-visited Ruaha happens to be the country’s second largest national park, and you could spend an entire trip exploring its widely varied landscapes, which range from miombo forests to sprawling wetlands. Asilia Africa’s camps offer a variety of experiences.

Located on a boulder-filled hill near the Mwagusi River, Jabali Ridge is a prime spot for sightings of lion prides and leopards, as well as elephants who dig beneath dry riverbeds in search of water. The design-driven camp itself features eight suites with a soothing palette of grays and natural woods; a massage in the airy spa comes with a soundtrack of birdsong. For those who want a hands-on conservation experience, the new Asilia Usangu Expedition Camp in the remote Usangu Wetlands offers that. It’s located in a former hunting block that the government is now researching and monitoring; Asilia stepped in as a partner to help raise tourism funds to go toward those efforts. Guests can help monitor wildlife by setting up camera traps and studying animal behavior through thermal monocular lenses—and any data they collect supports the research work happening here.

How to book

andBeyond puts together custom trips that include andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge and other andBeyond and non-andBeyond camps. Niarra Travel can create individualized itineraries that include andBeyond, Singita, and Asilia camps.

Giraffes being watched by people in a Jeep

Safari operators like Micato send guests to community-owned conservancies, which are sustainably operated and limit visitation.

Courtesy of Micato / Giuliana Provenzano

Kenya is a mosaic of contrasting landscapes and home to more than 40 distinct tribes and communities . In the arid hills to the northeast, the Laikipia Plateau is the historical land of the Samburu and Kikuyu among others; to the south, a safari in the Tsavo and Amboseli national parks means large elephant herds, self-drive safaris, and views of Mount Kilimanjaro. The iconic savannas of the Maasai Mara National Reserve are where millions of wildebeest known as the Great Migration roam, with hungry predators like lions and cheetahs in tow.

The Maasai Mara

The Mara fills with visitors in the dry period between June and October, when there’s less green foliage to hide wildlife; in July, hundreds of vehicles line the rivers to watch epic wildebeest herd crossings. But a visit outside of high season can be even more rewarding, according to Dennis Pinto, managing director of Nairobi-based Micato Safaris . “The lushness of the landscapes throughout Kenya right after the April rains, during the off-peak green season, makes for a photographer’s paradise,” he said. “Wildebeest, zebra, and multitudes of other plains game being born make April and May such a wonderfully literal time of renewal—along with the predators looking for easy prey.”

Micato frequently sends guests to the private, community-owned conservancies adjacent to the Mara reserve that are sustainably managing wildlife on their lands—and have more restricted visitation, which translates into fewer crowds, benefiting both visitors and nature. One such camp is the well-appointed, 12-tent Mahali Mzuri , a Virgin Limited Edition camp that leases land from the Masai-owned Olare Motorogi Conservancy .

Tourism on conservancies creates jobs and supports the creation of roads, schools, scholarships, hospitals, and enterprises such as basketry, according to Vincent Oluoch, the program officer who oversees tourism for the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association , which represents 174 conservancies across Kenya. Since the height of the pandemic, “most facilities within the conservancies have started experiencing a steady increase in visitor numbers, including domestic visitors, and in turn have started generating necessary revenues,” said Oluoch.

Some conservancies operate their own tourism businesses—often at gentler prices than international lodges. Oluoch recommends a safari in the Nashulai Maasai Conservancy , which owns and manages Oldarpoi Mara Camp , a series of midrange cottages and tents with en suite bathrooms and Maasai design touches. In the Tsavo Conservation Area, he suggests the recently renovated Kivuko Eco Camp , composed of a family house and camp accommodations run by the Taita Wildlife Conservancy.

Nairobi-based luxury outfitter Micato Safaris , owned and run by a Kenyan family, can arrange a custom-designed itinerary in Kenya that takes travelers to such private conservancies as Olare Motorogi and the Tsavo Conservation Area as well as the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Ask it to work in a couple of days in Nairobi, a vibrant city the company knows particularly well. Travelers can also book experiences directly through some conservancies, including Nashulai .

South Africa

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, in South Africa, is a popular—and malaria-free—spot.

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, in South Africa, is a popular—and malaria-free—spot.

Courtesy of Your Private Africa

With its winelands, grasslands, ancient forests, and windswept coasts, rural South Africa offers something for nearly everyone. Varying experiences also make it a year-round destination, with the cooler months falling between July and September.

Kruger National Park

In the country’s popular Kruger National Park, dry season falls between April and October. Green season can be a great option for those in search of better prices and fewer people. Showers are often brief, and less dust from the rain makes for beautiful light.

London-based tour operator Byron Thomas founded Niarra Travel in May 2021 to ensure that as much money travelers spend in a destination stays there—especially at smaller camps with few rooms that don’t have a lot of earning power. “Niarra’s goal is to get as much money to the destination as possible, and the best way to do this is booking directly,” said Thomas. “The second best way is to use a tour operator who has a real, vested interest in making sure they provide that service of putting together a trip that’s the right one for you as cheaply as possible for the particular destination.”

The Cape Town region

Niarra takes a 10 percent commission from companies on the ground, much lower than the industry standard, which can reach as high as 35 percent. The company also partners with responsibly run businesses with guidance from such groups as the Long Run , an organization that helps nature-based tourism businesses to drive such sustainability initiatives as community well-being and land and wildlife conservation. The 11-day Family Adventure itinerary starts with whale watching in the De Hoop Nature Reserve near Cape Town while staying at the four-bedroom Morukuru Ocean House. It continues to the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, which has sunny days for much of the year. Game drives lead to lion, leopard, and elephant sightings, and guests sleep at the three-bedroom Morukuru River House .

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

For a safari that’s both ecofriendly and stylish, Nick Bay, founder of Seattle-based tour operator Your Private Africa , recommends Cheetah Plains in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Electric, solar-powered game drive vehicles offer not just a zero-emissions game drive but also quieter encounters with wildlife. The modern-feeling villa accommodations are a sight on their own, with their minimalistic interiors decorated with the work of contemporary African artists.

The Kalahari Desert

Bay also suggests heading north to the Kalahari Desert near the border of Botswana to experience Tswalu Kalahari Reserve , another malaria-free area set on a former cluster of overgrazed farmland that South Africa’s Oppenheimer family purchased and helped to rewild. Today it’s home to brown hyena, meerkats, desert black rhino, and large predators, including cheetah. Tswalu has an on-site researcher, Wendy Panaino, who is dedicated to studying ground pangolins , the world’s most trafficked animal, which can be found on the reserve.

Tswalu’s accommodations include the Tarkuni villa, a large home perfect for families. “The villa is especially family friendly, which is an emerging trend for safaris—bringing children six and under,” said Bay.

U.K.-based Niarra Travel offers several South African itineraries including the 11-day Cape, Wine, Wildlife, and Waterfalls, which goes to Kruger National Park and the country’s famous winelands. The 11-day Family Adventure in South Africa trip visits the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve for glimpses of big cats and elephants and the coastal De Hoop Nature Reserve for whale watching. U.S.-based Your Private Africa arranges customized private safaris for a wide range of travelers and budgets from start to finish, and it can organize hands-on conservation experiences at places like Tswalu.

Consider Chiawa Camp for a family-friendly safari.

Consider Chiawa Camp for a family-friendly safari.

Courtesy of Classic Portfolio / TCunniffe

Home to the Zambezi, Kafue, and Luangwa rivers, and sharing roaring Victoria Falls with neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia offers a wide range of land- and water-based wildlife experiences. Safaris here are characterized by small, family-run camps that put guests especially close to nature through walking safaris, for which the country is famous (yet it’s still one of southern Africa’s less visited destinations). The popular dry season falls between July and November, but the April to June shoulder season, when the landscape turns green in the wake of the rains, is an especially good time to see Victoria Falls.

“Zambia is personally my ultimate safari experience,” said Suzanne Bayly-Coupe, managing director of Classic Portfolio , a collection of 53 independent lodges in 10 African countries. “It is one of the very few countries that has not been dominated by the bigger commercial safari companies.” According to Bayly-Coupe, Zambia’s water-based wildlife experiences rival those of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Lower Zambezi National Park

She recommends Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park, which offers canoe rides along the crocodile-filled Zambezi River and has a multi-room family tent for parents with kids; about 20 miles to the east at Old Mondoro , five riverside chalets all have outdoor baths. In South Luangwa National Park, also known as valley of the leopard, add on a few nights at one of the half dozen tiny camps run by the Bushcamp Company .

South Luangwa

Niarra will soon add a trip in partnership with Green Safaris , which operates camps with light footprints, including the canvas-tented Shawa Luangwa Camp in South Luangwa. “We’ve been really impressed with the aptly named Green Safaris, which are all off-grid and all electric, including vehicles, bikes, and boats, and they’re doing a lot of good work on the ground,” Thomas said.

Lower Zambezi

According to Bay, some of the newest camps in Zambia focus on energy efficiency, resource conservation, and community capacity building. They include Lolebezi Safari Lodge in the Lower Zambezi, which is powered by solar panels, has its own water treatment plant, and was built with minimal use of concrete.

Livingstone

One of his favorite lodges in Zambia is Royal Chundu Island Lodge in Livingstone, which is easy to reach because of its location near Victoria Falls and an international airport. “Aggie Maseko, one of the owners, is a hospitality maven and makes it hard to ever leave,” said Bay. “The menu is composed of local ingredients elevated to French Relais & Châteaux standards.” Take a boat transfer to Katombora Island on the Zambezi River, where four sprawling villas have their own private river-facing decks that hover 40 feet above the ground. Go on a day tour to nearby Chobe National Park in neighboring Botswana for sightings of lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and giraffes.

Book a tailored trip through southern Africa with these Classic Portfolio properties through such outfitters as Africa travel experts Explore Inc. or Your Private Africa. Niarra Travel offers a 13-day Victoria Falls, Okavango, and Cape Town itinerary that incorporates the Zambezi River and Falls into a three-country itinerary (Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa).

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Your luxury African safari begins here

The safari itineraries displayed below highlight some of the best lodges and wildlife destinations in africa. these will give you an idea of what is possible and can be further customized to suit your individual travel styles and budget. when you’re ready to begin planning, submit our online form or email us at [email protected] . our private travel designers can’t wait to show you the allure of africa, southern africa safaris.

From remote desert escapes in Namibia to boat safaris in Botswana, Southern Africa offers a range of unique and authentic safari experiences.

africa unique safaris

EAST AFRICA SAFARIS

East Africa is the setting of endless plains, lone acacia trees, thundering hooves, and captivating cultures.

africa unique safaris

NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

North Africa is infused with diverse cultures and historical sites alongside breathtaking backdrops from deserts to flower-strewn valleys.

africa unique safaris

Southern Africa Safaris

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South Africa: Wilderness & Winelands

Sample world-class wines among captivating landscapes, explore Cape Town’s vibrant atmosphere, and spot rare and unique wildlife in the Kalahari.

10 days/9 nights

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Soothing Luxury in South Africa

Spot the Big 5 in the Sabi Sands, visit Phinda for its 7 diverse ecosystems and large cheetah population, and stroll down the charming streets of Franschhoek.

11 days/10 nights

africa unique safaris

Southern Africa Beach & Bush

Witness the “Smoke That Thunders” in Victoria Falls, embark on a walking safari in the Sabi Sands, and snorkel the clear blue waters of Mozambique.

africa unique safaris

South Africa in Delightful Splendor

Savor a delicious meal at a Michelin-star restaurant in Cape Town, spot the marine Big 5 at Grootbos in Hermanus, and view wildlife in the malaria-free Madikwe.

12 days/11 nights

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Journey Through South Africa & Zambia

Admire the many sights of Cape Town from Table Mountain to the Cape Peninsula, spot the Big 5 in the Sabi Sands, and take in the spectacular view of Victoria Falls.

africa unique safaris

Luxury Safari & Seychelles

Embark on an ultra-luxurious journey through South Africa and Seychelles. Stay in a cliffside safari suite with stunning views of Kruger before flying to the Four Seasons Seychelles.

9 days/8 nights

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Passage Through Zambia & Zimbabwe

Kick off your adventure in Victoria Falls, set out on a walking safari in Hwange, and canoe down the Zambezi River in Mana Pools.

8 days/7 nights

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The Enticing Wonders Of Zambia

Venture off the beaten path into the game-rich area of South Luangwa, glide along the Zambezi River in a canoe, and marvel at the huge herds of Lechwe and Lion on the  Busanga Plains

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Zimbabwe: Unspoiled & Untamed

Embark on a helicopter excursion over Victoria Falls, sleep under the stars in Hwange, and admire cave and bushman paintings in Matobo.

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The Ultimate Namibian Safari

Journey through the desert landscapes of Sossusvlei and shipwreck strewn shores of the Skeleton Coast, and meet a traditional Himba tribe.

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Desert & Delta Safari

Glide through the Okavango Delta in a mokoro, drop a line for catch and release fishing, track black rhino in Damaraland, and spot unique wildlife in Etosha.

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Southern Africa Wilds in Style

Explore the bustling city of Cape Town, spot the Big 5 in the Sabi Sands, and capture wildlife up close from a photographic hide in Mashatu.

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Natural Marvels in Namibia

Hike up the towering dunes of Sossusvlei, search for desert-adapted wildlife in Damaraland, and stroll the seaside town of Swakopmund.

East Africa Safaris

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Tanzania Crater, Migration & Island Getaway

Descend into the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, home to the Big 5, spot predators in the Serengeti, and round out your luxurious trip with a beach stay on a private island.

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The Ultimate Tanzania Adventure

View the annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, go off the beaten path and enjoy the unspoiled landscapes of Katavi, and track wild chimpanzees in Mahale.

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Icons of Rwanda & Tanzania

Stay on a working tea plantation in Nyungwe, trek gorillas in Volcanoes, learn new cultures in Mwiba, and round out your luxurious adventure in Tarangire.

13 days/12 nights

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Rwanda's Hidden Gems

Spot elephants, giraffes, and lions in Akagera, explore Nyungwe, Africa’s oldest rainforest, and trek for gorillas and golden monkeys in Volcanoes.

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Kenya Under Canvas

View rhino in their natural habitat in Meru, for some adrenaline, explore Loisaba by mountain bike, and savor the spectacular game viewing in the Masai Mara.

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The Highlights of Tanzania

Canoe in Lake Manyara, home to an array of birdlife, visit an authentic Maasai boma in Ngorongoro, and witness the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.

africa unique safaris

Classic Kenya Safari

Embark on a traditional Kenyan safari from Ol Pejeta, home to an array of activities, to the famous Masai Mara to witness the wildebeest migration.

7 days/6 nights

africa unique safaris

Tanzania Bush & Beach

Go off the beaten path in southern Tanzania and enjoy boating safaris and traditional game drives in Ruaha and Selous. End with a relaxing beach stay in Zanzibar.

africa unique safaris

Seychelles & Kenya Getaway

During this ultimate romantic getaway, savor a traditional safari in Kenya before jetting off to Seychelles for sun, sand, and snorkel.

africa unique safaris

Enchanting Ethiopia

Explore Ethiopia’s northern region from the rock-hewn churches and ancient castles of Lalibela, Gondar and Axum, to the unique wildlife in the Semien Mountains.

africa unique safaris

Ethiopia Cultural Adventure

Explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, spot unique wildlife in the Semien Mountains, and immerse yourself in the tribal customs of the people of Omo Valley.

15 days/14 nights

africa unique safaris

Uganda: Unspoiled & Untamed

Search for chimps in Kibale, spot elephants and hippos cruising down the Kazinga Channel, look out for tree-climbing lions in Ishasha, and trek gorillas in Bwindi.

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Primates & Plains

Trek up into Bwindi’s lush green forest to encounter a gorilla family, hike along paths leading to hidden waterfalls, and experience the magic of Kenya’s Masai Mara.

North Africa & Middle East Itineraries

africa unique safaris

Magical Moroccan Journey

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, landscapes or adventure, this Moroccan itinerary ticks all the boxes from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert.

africa unique safaris

Highlights of Morocco

During this Morocco journey, explore the ancient, walled medinas of Fez and Marrakesh, and the bustling souks bursting with handmade goods.

6 days/5 nights

Protect Your Trip »

12 Top African Safari Tours

Cross this must-do activity off your bucket list.

Top African Safari elephant

(Courtesy of Micato Safaris)

Spot the big five on your safari adventure.

Safari tours in Africa are just as diverse as the continent itself, though these types of trips typically require a large sum of money. Whether you want to spend a few days gorilla trekking in Uganda or a couple weeks spotting the "big five" – lions, leopards, African elephants, rhinos and Cape buffalos – in South Africa, you'll find an array of tours to best suit your needs. To help you narrow down your options, U.S. News compiled a list of 12 can't-miss African safari tours. Read on to find your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Note: Some of the African countries in this article may require travelers to get an entry visa and certain vaccinations in order to visit. Jump to the list of visa and vaccination requirements by country at the bottom of this page for more information.

&Beyond

African Safari vacation

(Courtesy of &Beyond)

Visitors who don't want to sacrifice creature comforts while on safari will appreciate &Beyond's offerings. During the tour operator's 10-day Kings of the Jungle safari – which starts at $11,340 per person – travelers will see breathtaking natural wonders like the Ngorongoro Crater and the Maasai Mara savanna. But the highlight of this journey is its four-night stay at Tanzania's Serengeti National Park . After watching animals like wildebeest and zebras partake in the great migration while also spotting lions, giraffes and more, vacationers retreat to high-end tents and lodges with private bathrooms.

[See more of Serengeti National Park: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]

Wilderness Safaris

African Safari camp vacation

(Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris)

For some of Africa's most jaw-dropping scenery, opt for the seven-night Namibian Adventure Safari tour offered by Wilderness Safaris. This weeklong trip features visits to the Namib Desert's dune-filled Sossusvlei region (which you may recognize from the film "Mad Max: Fury Road") and the mountainous Palmwag Concession – a protected area with springboks, giraffes, black rhinos and more. The package's per person fee starts at $6,725, which covers most meals, park entrance fees, and transfers from Namibia's capital Windhoek and between the safari destinations. It also covers your stay at properties like the fully solar-powered Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and the five-star Little Kulala lodge amid the stunning desert.

Wild Rwanda Safaris

African Safari gorilla in Rwanda

(Courtesy of Wild Rwanda Safaris)

Adventurous travelers sticking to a more conservative budget should consider Wild Rwanda Safaris' Bwindi Gorilla Safari. The three-day package features a full day in southwestern Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (a haven for silverback gorillas) and an adjacent Batwa Pygmy community. Wild Rwanda Safaris allows guests to choose between midrange, luxury and super luxury accommodation, which can help keep costs down if necessary. The company's packages include the $700 permit required to visit the gorilla park. The round-trip journey by safari vehicle to and from Kigali, Rwanda, and English-speaking guide services are also covered in all rates. The tour can begin from Kampala, Uganda, as well, although you'll spend longer on the road to the park.

Nomad Tanzania

African Safari in Tanzania

(Courtesy of nomad-tanzania.com)

Sign up for Nomad Tanzania's Southern Tanzania safari and you're bound to get an up-close look at Tanzania's diverse wildlife. Offering eight days of activities, including game drives and boat trips in Ruaha National Park and Nyerere National Park, this safari gives you prime opportunities to spot lions, cheetahs, leopards and elephants, among other species. What's more, lodging at the company's campsites, select meals, and flights to and from Dar es Salaam are factored into the package's prices. Expect to pay a minimum of $5,700 per person; prices vary depending on the time of year, and the tour isn't offered in April and May.

Micato Safaris

(Courtesy of Micato Safaris)

If you want to explore multiple destinations while on safari with plenty of comfort (but a price tag to match), book the 15-day Micato Grand Safari. This outing by Micato Safaris starts with a two-day visit to Nairobi, Kenya, before continuing to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and the Amboseli and Serengeti national parks for wildlife-viewing excursions. During your trip, you'll see Mount Kilimanjaro as zebras, gazelles and more roam in the foreground. The package costs at least $22,450 per person (based on double occupancy rates) and includes a hot air balloon ride, a camel tour led by members of the Samburu tribe, and lodging at upscale properties like Serengeti's Four Seasons outpost. The company also offers various extensions allowing you to explore other parts of Africa, from the island paradise of Zanzibar to the deserts of Namibia.

Rothschild Safaris

African safari vacation

(Courtesy of Rothschild Safaris)

If your ideal safari vacation consists of customizing your trip from start to finish, consider an outing with Rothschild Safaris. The company offers itineraries in locales like Zambia and Madagascar , but if you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the big five animals, the Essence of Tanzania safari is a good bet. This nine-day experience, which embarks from Arusha and returns there by plane, includes game-viewing drives in Tarangire National Park and accommodations like canvas tents and farmhouse lodges. Elephants, zebras and lions are just some of the animals you may spot during your journey. You'll also have the opportunity to go on a nighttime safari to spot nocturnal wildlife.

Lion World Travel

African safari vacation

(Courtesy of Lion World Travel)

As the trip name implies, Lion World Travel's 10-day Best of Cape Town & Botswana vacation package combines sightseeing in Cape Town, South Africa , with a classic safari in Botswana. During the latter half of the itinerary, visitors will explore Botswana's Okavango Delta (home to cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos and more) and Chobe National Park, which is believed to have Africa's largest elephant population. Prices start at $4,299 per person and cover game drives; many of your meals; and stays at luxury hotels, camps and lodges. You'll need to pay an extra charge for the flights within the tour (Cape Town to Botswana as well as Botswana to Johannesburg ).

[See more of Cape Town: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]

Bearded Heron Safaris

African safari vacation

Neil Heron | Courtesy of Bearded Heron Safaris

Travelers keen on seeing South Africa's Kruger National Park through the eyes of a local naturalist will appreciate the 15-day safari with Bearded Heron Safaris. Led by Neil Heron, a nature guide and wildlife photographer and writer, Bearded Heron Safaris' longest option features small game drives that may include lion, rhino, zebra and leopard sightings throughout all corners of Kruger. Rates are inclusive of in-park cottage accommodations and all breakfasts, dinners, snacks and drinks. Flights and park fees are not included. For a 15-day safari, expect to pay 76,900 South African rand (about $4,500) per person.

[See more of Kruger National Park: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]

Discover Africa

Black rhinoceros in the african savannah

(Getty Images)

For an inside-out trip through the natural wonders of Botswana, Discover Africa's nine-day Epic Botswana Adventure is a formidable option. You'll start out at a riverside lodge on the Chobe River – a great location for elephant spotting – before moving onto the marshy Okavango Delta, a wildlife-rich area where you can spot a huge range of animals from leopards to rhinos. The safari ends at the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, a good place to admire wildlife like zebras and buffalo on the savanna as well as salt pans from a former lake. You'll stay in upscale lodges and campsites within close reach of the wilderness. All meals and transport along the tour are included in the price tag (which starts at $4,800 per person), but international flights are excluded.

Wild Wings Safaris

africa unique safaris

If you're looking to have a broader experience that mixes in some history and beach time, consider Wild Wings Safaris' eight-day Battlefields, Bush and Beach Safari. You'll start off visiting some of South Africa's historic sites from the Boer wars, before moving on to the Phinda Private Game Reserve, which doesn't allow day visitors, so you should be able to look out for the big five without too many crowds. The tour wraps up at Thonga Beach Lodge, where you can snorkel or scuba dive near coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. As far as safaris go, this one is an affordable option, starting at about $2,795 per person with all meals included as well as a rental car; for the cheapest price, you will need to drive yourself between the destinations, but it's possible to pay an additional fee for a driver to guide you instead.

Cuckoo Safaris

Aerial few of the world famous Victoria Falls with a large rainbow over the falls. This is right at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. The mighty Victoria Falls at Zambezi river are one of the most visited touristic places in Africa.

This tour company kicks off its tours from the majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, with a host of safaris that range from two days to nine, across Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, including some family-friendly choices. For an affordable option, there's the four-day Discover Victoria Falls, Chobe and Hwange Park safari, which will take you on two full-day tours to Chobe National Park (across the border in Botswana) and to Hwange, Zimbabwe's largest national park, where you should keep your eyes peeled for lions, elephants and more. This safari also includes a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. The price starts at $900 per person, which includes the tours plus breakfast, lunch and lodging in Victoria Falls; travelers will need to pay for entrance fees to the parks and dinner.

Compass Odyssey

africa unique safaris

(Courtesy of Compass Odyssey)

Explore the savanna and deserts of southwest Africa with Compass Odyssey's eight-day Namibia Wildlife Safari. You'll visit a community-based conservation area in Damaraland – known for its desert-adapted elephants, oryx, giraffes and other wildlife – while staying in the rustic-chic Doro Nawas Camp. You'll also spend two days in Etosha National Park, seeking wildlife at the park's bustling waterholes by day and embarking on an evening game drive as well. Starting at $3,750 per person, the tour includes most meals and all park entry fees, but not flights; the company does allow the tour to be customized on request.

Vaccination and visa requirements for African countries

Some popular safari destinations may require you to have received certain vaccinations in order to enter the country as a tourist. Inoculation requirements can include vaccination against COVID-19 and yellow fever, and you'll need to get these vaccines before departing on your trip. Be sure to bring proof of vaccinations with you. If you are transiting through another country en route to your safari tour, you must check that you also meet immunization requirements for the stopover location.

Note that, outside of what's required, there are a number of other vaccinations that are recommended, so ensure you're up to date and fully protected before you travel. In addition, many safari locations are prone to malaria; you should consult with your doctor to see if you need to bring anti-malaria medication on your trip.

Safari countries have varying visa requirements for travelers from the U.S. – these are detailed below. Depending on your itinerary, you may need a single- or multiple-entry visa, and some visas require you to apply in advance of traveling and/or have a certain number of blank pages in your passport. Regardless of your destination, your passport should be valid for at least six months before you leave for your trip.

Here are the vaccine and visa requirements for major safari destinations as of November 2022:

Botswana: If you have recently visited a country where yellow fever is common, you will need to be vaccinated against this illness. This does not include the U.S. but does include a number of countries in Africa, Central and South America. Consult the World Health Organization's website for a list of countries with risk of yellow fever transmission, including Kenya and Uganda.

U.S. citizens and nationals can stay in Botswana for 90 days without a visa.

Kenya: Travelers to Kenya must have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with the last shot administered more than 14 days before arrival in the country. Unvaccinated visitors can enter with a negative PCR test, conducted no more than 72 hours before departure. Proof of COVID-19 tests or vaccines must be uploaded to an online system called Panabios. Kenya is a country where you'll be at risk of yellow fever transmission; it also requires those traveling from other places with yellow fever or cholera outbreaks to be vaccinated against these illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you protect yourself against yellow fever before your trip here.

Americans need an e-visa to enter Kenya. You should apply online at the eVisa government website no more than eight weeks before your trip, as visas are not available upon arrival in Kenya. See more on the U.S. Department of State's website .

Namibia: Those traveling from a country where yellow fever is common need to be vaccinated against it. No visa is required as long as you're staying for 90 days or less.

Rwanda: If you're coming from a country where yellow fever is endemic, a yellow fever vaccination is required before departure.

U.S. citizens and nationals can be issued a 30-day visitor visa on arrival in Rwanda or through the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C. A single-entry visa costs $50, and it's recommended you bring sufficient cash in U.S. dollars to pay for this (although credit card payment may be accepted at Kigali International Airport). Consult the State Department website for more information.

South Africa: A yellow fever vaccination is required if you're traveling from a country with a risk of transmission. No visa is required for stays of 90 days or less.

Tanzania: Travelers must be able to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination with a QR code to enter Tanzania. Unvaccinated travelers must take a PCR test no more than 72 hours before departure, and the test results should be accessible by QR code. Yellow fever vaccines are mandatory if you're traveling from a location where yellow fever is present – including if you spend more than 12 hours in transit in such a country.

Visas are required for tourism in Tanzania. You can apply for a single-entry, 90-day visa online for $50 – and be sure to print a copy of the approval to bring with you. The processing period takes up to 10 days. You can also obtain a visa on arrival for a $100 fee; it's recommended you bring cash to cover this. Find more Tanzanian visa information on the State Department website .

Uganda: To enter Uganda, you must either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or present a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Like Kenya, Uganda is a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. All visitors must show proof of vaccination against yellow fever to enter Uganda, regardless of where you're traveling from.

American visitors to Uganda must apply online for an electronic visa before departure; arriving in Uganda without completing this process could result in your detainment. Visit the State Department website to learn more.

Zambia: Visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must show proof of vaccination but do not need a test to enter Zambia; unvaccinated travelers must undergo a PCR test no more than 72 hours before departure. Yellow fever vaccines are only required if you're coming from an area considered at risk.

Visas are required to visit Zambia, but these can be obtained online before your departure or at a port of entry. Check the State Department website for more details.

Zimbabwe: To enter Zimbabwe, travelers must either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or must take a negative PCR test no more than 48 hours before your departure. As with other countries on this list, visitors from countries with yellow fever outbreaks also require a vaccine against this illness.

U.S. visitors can obtain a 30-day, single-entry visa upon arrival in Zimbabwe for $30. If you're taking a tour that requires you to leave and reenter Zimbabwe, be sure to get a double-entry visa for $45. You can learn more from the State Department website .

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Passport Wallets (That Also Hold Vaccine Cards)
  • The Best COVID-19 Travel Insurance Options
  • The Best International Travel Insurance Plans
  • The Best Zoos in the U.S.
  • The World's Best Places to Visit

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World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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The Ultimate Guide to 10 of the Best Safari Destinations in Africa

africa unique safaris

Updated by Gavin Denner on 16 January 2024

Part of the African Safari Collection

Are you looking for the best safari destinations in Africa? Look no further! Here is The Ultimate Guide to 10 of the Best Safari Destinations in Africa, curated with essential information on each destination.

Learn about everything from ogling zebras to exploring majestic landscapes filled with breathtaking vistas that will make your African safari adventure unforgettable.

Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)

Situated in northwestern Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park is an untouched wildlife sanctuary boasting breathtaking landscapes and spectacular wildlife. Home to Africa’s famous Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos – visitors can expect to be dazzled by nature in its purest form.

Lions in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania | Photo credits: Kusini Camp

It’s an oasis in the heart of Africa, spanning over 14,750 square kilometers, where you can witness the annual wildebeest migration, which truly is one of nature’s miracles. 

Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)

The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most incredible places on Earth. It plays host to a spectacular diversity of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, and giraffes.

Mother cheetah with her two cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Visitors to the reserve can witness some magnificent annual animal migrations, as millions of zebras and wildebeest pass in search of fresh grazing space. The Masai Mara is a highlight of Discover Africa safaris . 

Kruger National Park (South Africa)

Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometers, the Kruger National Park is home to over 500 bird species and 100 mammal species including the Big Five. This makes it a nature lover’s paradise.

Cape Buffalo in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Its impressive network of roads makes it easy for visitors to explore and spot the wildlife living within its borders. 

Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)

This area is home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna. This includes everything from lions and elephants to rare black rhinos and delicate wildflowers.

Rhino and calf in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Perhaps the most unique feature is the Ngorongoro Crater , a massive caldera that is a sanctuary for over 25,000 grazing animals. 

Chobe National Park (Botswana)

Chobe National Park is a famous African safari destination featuring an incredible diversity of wildlife and jaw-dropping landscapes.

Elephants on the banks of the Chobe River, Botswana.

One of the highlights of visiting the park is the opportunity to witness the famous Chobe elephant herds, the largest in the world. 

africa unique safaris

Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Botswana Makgadikgadi Pans

Price on Request

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East Africa Beach Extension Zuri

From $ 950 /USD

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Affordable Victoria Falls Stay

Zimbabwe Victoria Falls

From $ 960 /USD

Etosha National Park (Namibia)

Etosha National Park is home to many animal species, including lions, elephants, zebras, and giraffes. With its striking landscapes, open grass plains, and salt pans, the park is a photographer’s dream come true.

Zebra calf in Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Don’t miss the annual zebra migration, where thousands of zebras trek across the park in search of water and food. Etosha is home to more than 340 bird species. Visitors can explore on guided safaris or self-drive tours, offering a unique and unforgettable wildlife adventure experience.   

Virunga & Volcanoes National Parks (Rwanda/Uganda/Democratic Republic of Congo )

This magnificent parkland, home to three highly active volcanoes, hosts an impressive and diverse range of primates, including the endangered gorillas and golden monkeys.

Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

Experience the unique culture and traditions of the local communities that call these mountains home. The Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit for anyone looking for unmatched adventure and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich African culture.  

Selous Game Reserve (Tanzania)

Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa. Visitors can enjoy activities such as game drives, boat safaris, and walking safaris to experience the natural beauty of the reserve up close.

Leopard in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.

Despite being one of Africa’s most untouched and remote wilderness areas, Selous Game Reserve has faced increasing threats from poaching and human encroachment in recent years. Tanzania is engaged in conservation efforts to preserve this unique ecosystem.      

Kafue National Park (Zambia)

Kafue National Park is one of Africa’s largest protected areas and features a diverse array of wildlife, including leopards, lions, giraffes, and hippos.

Hippo in Kafue National Park, Zambia.

The park also features a rich cultural history, with evidence of human settlements dating back thousands of years. Visitors to Kafue National Park can experience the wonder of the African wilderness firsthand, whether it’s through a guided safari, a river cruise, or a secluded bush camp.     

Okavango Delta (Botswana)

The Okavango Delta is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Botswana. This vast inland delta floods annually from June through to September, attracting an abundance of wildlife such as elephants, lions, and hippos.

Elephant in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

The delta encompasses unique habitats such as grasslands, lagoons, and palm-fringed islands. Visitors can explore the delta on a mokoro safari , a traditional dugout canoe, led by experienced guides. 

From the Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks to the Okavango Delta in Botswana , Africa is home to some of the most stunning safari destinations in the world. Whether you’re looking for an adventure featuring wildlife encounters, or a cultural experience immersed in African history and tradition, there’s something for everyone.

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With over 20 years of experience, our team will help you choose the perfect african safari for your adventure., 24/7 support, personalized, why travel with us, recent reviews from travellers who planned and booked their africa trips with discover africa safaris, susan read our minds and gave us the best trip.

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Many thanks adelle for your precious help.

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Taylor-made safari within a short time, suggestions welcome, special offers are included..

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Very good safari experience, thanks.

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Very professional and responsive engagement.

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With discover africa i had the most wonderful experience of my life.

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Everything you need to know before booking your first African safari

​For many, a safari represents the optimal escape and lifelong travel dream. If you’re going to invest in turning this dream into reality, there are some things worth considering. Plus, we recommend five incredible wildlife itineraries for 2023.

From the first waft of dewy morning air to the gentle owl hoots that drift into camp after dark, there’s a satisfying natural rhythm to a day on safari in Africa. Even if you’re not normally an early riser, you’ll quickly fall into the routine of pre-dawn starts, lazy lunchtimes, active afternoons and mellow evenings, making the most of the best hours both for wildlife-watching and for chilling out. Deep at night, if you’re lucky, you may hear the distant whoop of a hyena, the rasping call of a leopard or the bassy roar of a lion.

But more often than not, you’ll sleep soundly, drunk on fresh air. Soon after you wake, you’ll head out into the wild, eager to discover what the day will deliver. Perhaps you’ll find yourself inching up on some rhinos, watching boisterous elephants bathe in a waterhole or spotting the youngest, cutest members of a mighty big cat dynasty.

If this sounds like the kind of escape you’ve been craving, but you’re puzzling over possible itineraries, what’s the best way to choose?

Green means go

While every luxury safari offers unforgettable wildlife encounters, there are plenty of options to consider. High-end African trips and settings vary hugely in their atmosphere and style.

Some itineraries, for example, are much greener than others. If you’re passionate about nature, you’ll want to make ethical choices, mindful of climate change and biodiversity, perhaps by minimising your time in the air. While every long-haul trip has a high carbon footprint, you can limit your safari’s impact by choosing a destination near an international airport and sharing a vehicle rather than continuing by taking domestic flights.

With superb wildlife-watching opportunities within driving distance, Nairobi makes an excellent starting point for a low-airmiles luxury safari. “You could head for the stunning mountains and waterfalls of the Aberdare range, where lions hunt giant forest hogs”, says Kenya specialist Richard Trillo of Expert Africa. “The tree-dotted plains of the Maasai Mara, which host East Africa’s annual Great Migration, are also within reach,” Richard adds.

There are other ways to dial down the net impact of your trip without compromising on quality, however. While carbon offset schemes can help compensate for your emissions, for a more targeted approach, you could book your trip through a specialist safari operator that has established working partnerships with African conservation charities. 

“We’re proud to support South Africa’s all-female Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, and Greenpop, a non-profit Sub-Saharan forest restoration and urban greening organisation,” says Marcelo Novais of luxury operator Ker and Downey Africa. 

“We give all our clients the opportunity to donate to these worthy causes, since leaving a positive legacy is one of our core values,” he adds. Other deserving organisations include African Parks, the African Wildlife Foundation, Tusk and the World Land Trust. 

Another effective way of maximising the benefits of your trip is to choose lodges that go the extra mile in their vicinity, doing more for environmental protection, community partnerships and rural development than  merely covering park fees and basic wages. In Tanzania, the Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge invites guests to visit the craft project they support, Shanga, where locals with disabilities upcycle glass, textiles and fishing wire into cute elephant cushions, jewellery and clothing.

When it comes to shortlisting properties, membership of Ecotourism Kenya, Responsible Tourism Tanzania, Fair Trade Tourism and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council are generally useful indicators.

Settling in

Once you’ve arrived in the bush, what will your surroundings feel like? Anyone who’s cautious about camping in the wilderness will be relieved to discover that most top-end operators put their guests at ease by focusing on creature comforts: cool drinks, gourmet dining, indulgently appointed private bathrooms and sumptuous beds, for example. As a rule, their staff — from the head guide to the housekeepers — are superb at their jobs. 

That said, there are significant differences between, on the one hand, intimate, minimalist camps with just a handful of canvas tents and, at the other extreme, sizeable lodges featuring swimming pools, gyms and perhaps even a spa, photography hide, editing suite, research centre, library and observatory. It’s a matter of weighing up how close to nature you’d like to feel — hearing all those thrilling sounds in the night, for example — against the range of facilities and creature comforts you’d like to enjoy.

When deciding, honest opinions from people who know the properties well can be invaluable. “Our safari specialists always have detailed conversations with our clients to understand their preferences and offer advice”, says Liberty Gilmour of Audley Travel. “Conventional aircon, for example, is rarely essential: Zambia in May and high-altitude destinations such as Ngorongoro can be quite cool, particularly at night. If it’s hot, natural ventilation may be sufficient, but many camps also have solar-powered cooling systems.”

Whether opulent, nostalgic or quirky, surroundings that suit your aesthetic aspirations can elevate your experience. The family heirlooms that decorate Camp Jabulani in South Africa’s Kapama Reserve, for example, create a uniquely cosy atmosphere, while Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta is so proud of its collection of original pieces by contemporary African artists and artisans that staff offer art and design tours of the premises. To strike a contemporary note, Loisaba Lodo Springs in Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy has rooms dotted with hand-stitched West African textiles and elegant upcycled Edwardian furniture.

Peaceful days

Almost every safari programme revolves around guided excursions called game drives, a name dating back to the days of Big Five hunting trips, but the style of the vehicles you ride in isn’t discussed as much as perhaps it should be. While some outfits settle for basic open-sided 4x4s, others invest in supremely comfortable, easy-access vehicles with charging points, dustproof storage space and a fridge. If you’re a keen photographer, top quality private vehicles are a must. Electric safari vehicles offer a particularly smooth ride; while still rare, they’re the future, and are starting to catch on.

Ila Safari Lodge in Zambia’s Kafue National Park offers the rare luxury of total peace and quiet. Founder Vincent Kouwenhoven, who has pioneered electric transport at Ila and its sister lodges in Zambia and Malawi, explains: “Our love for Africa led us to develop technologies that enable guests to experience the bush in near-silent, pollution-free vehicles, charged by our own solar panels. It’s an ecologically conscious way to watch wildlife and very calming, too. Instead of the engine, you hear birdsong.”

Some safaris also promise near-solitude in a vast natural landscape — an intoxicating feeling. One way to dodge the crowds is to travel during low season, the dates of which vary from location to location; alternatively, you could choose private reserves where the only vehicles you’ll see will be those of your fellow guests. As well as providing daytime activities, guides may offer night drives, using spotlights to search for nocturnal activity, such as birds roosting or lions stalking their prey.

For the ultimate in exclusivity, it’s possible to book an entire camp or lodge, with the staff handcrafting everything to your precise specifications, from wake-up times to the cocktails and canapes. According to Ash Jarvis of Best of South Africa Travel, exclusive-use properties work particularly well for mixed-generation families: “With their private game drives, multiple living areas, private pool and the undivided attention of the whole staff, including the chefs (fussy eaters welcome), they eliminate stress and ensure that nobody has to compromise. That’s what good family holidays are all about.”

The ultimate adventure

If serenity is your scene, you may be dreaming of floating over herds of zebras and wildebeest in a hot-air balloon, or wandering across the savannah on a bushwalk or cycle ride. The most interesting safaris offer a mixed programme of imaginative guided activities such as these, enlivening the days with little surprises: picnics in beauty spots, perhaps, or lantern-lit barbecues. 

The possibilities depend, to a large extent, on your choice of location. In Kenya’s northern conservancies, for example, you could explore the semi-desert by camel, while in Rwanda or Uganda, the activity you probably won’t want to miss is venturing into the depths of the rainforest on foot for a precious one-hour audience with mountain gorillas.

On a gorilla trek, you’ll be guided by rangers at the top of their game — a hallmark of an excellent safari. A knowledgeable, communicative guide can transform any trip, keeping you safe, entertained and intrigued.

“The inside track is what you really want, whether that’s in guiding, photography or conservation”, says Will Bolsover of Natural World Safaris. “In-depth knowledge leads you beneath the surface, for true insights into how conservation works, how wildlife benefits and how you can contribute.”

Since quality time with experts is one of the ultimate luxuries you can enjoy on safari, some top-end safaris, particularly in Kenya and South Africa, include a philanthropic element, whereby in exchange for a substantial donation to a conservation fund, you gain access to specialists in the field, perhaps even helping collar predators or collecting DNA samples from juvenile rhinos. Conservation safari companies such as Great Plains and AWF Safaris can assist with this. There’s no better way to start unlocking the mysteries of the African wilderness.

Five luxury safari trips in Africa to try in 2023 and beyond  

1. low-carbon luxury in kenya.

After a night at Nairobi’s fabled Giraffe Manor, travel overland to Solio Lodge in the Central Highlands to explore Kenya’s oldest rhino conservation sanctuary, then continue to Sala’s Camp, in one of the least-visited corners of the Maasai Mara. Eight days from £8,400 with Expert Africa. expertafrica.com

2. Take to the skies in Tanzania

Flip from park to park in style on a SkySafari, travelling by private plane and touching down at luxurious Elewana Collection properties. This classic circuit takes in Arusha, Tarangire, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, for blockbuster wildlife-watching. Ten days from £8,300 with Sky Safari. skysafari.com

3. Family adventures in South Africa

South Africa has a host of prospects to suit muti-generational families. Delightful safari properties such as Morukuru River House team well with Cape Town, the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route. Fourteen days from £4,500 with Best of South Africa Travel. bestofsouthafricatravel.com

4. Clock the Big Five in the safari heartlands

To experience some of southern Africa’s most exclusive wilderness retreats, string together Bushmans Kloof in South Africa’s Cederberg region, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia, DumaTau in Linyanti and Xigera in the Okavango Delta. Twelve days from £24,797 with Beyond Green. staybeyondgreen.com

5. Meet mountain gorillas in Rwanda

Nothing can prepare you for the surge of emotions you’ll feel when, after an exhilarating trek, you first encounter a family of gorillas in the rainforest. Combine your hike with game drives in Rwanda’s Big Five national park, Akagera. Eight days from £7,493 with Jacada Travel. jacadatravel.com  

Published in the 2022 edition of National Geographic Traveller (UK) The Luxury Collection

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How to go gorilla hiking in uganda on a budget, how i got the shot: ben pipe on coming face to face with a lion, a self-guided campervanning safari through southern africa, 5 game drive alternatives, from cycling to horse-riding.

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africa unique safaris

Regenerative adventures.

Off the beaten path.

Destination Africa

Africa is vast and abounds with incredible sights, from soaring sand dunes to savannas teeming with wildlife, unique cultures and breath-taking landscapes. Whilst the continent is changing - like the rest of the world - it still possesses vast wilderness areas that seem almost untouched in time and allure. The continent's shear ecological and cultural diversity is reflected in its range of ecotourism activities that are available.

At Africa Untamed, we offer bespoke, tailor-made safari's through which you can experience the continent’s many wonders first-hand. Work with us to create your own, or join one of our small-group "African Odysseys".

africa unique safaris

Regenerative travel

We strive to ensure that your safari leaves Africa and the planet better off than you found it. Our portfolio of properties and activities are rooted in community development and conservation. We also carefully monitor the carbon footprint of our trips. By using sustainable enterprises, we reduce carbon emissions linked to your safari as much as possible. In this way, we ensure that your trip has reduced impact on the planet whilst benefiting conservation efforts and local communities. 

africa unique safaris

Off the beaten path

Combining our experience traveling and working in Africa with local knowledge and connections, we tread off the beaten path to provide authentic and unique African travel experiences. Whether embarking on a bespoke private safari just for you, jumping into the world of rhino conservation, searching for illusive mammals or birds, or joining one of our specially curated African Odysseys,  stepping off the tourist trail avoids over-tourism and allows for a more rewarding and impactful holiday.

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“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” - Brian Jackman

Tailor made experiences

 It's your journey, your way. We work directly with our clients to create tailor-made and unique safaris that are designed just for you. Drawing from our knowledge of Africa's landscapes, wildlife and people, we take pride in creating regenerative travel experiences that not only nourish your soul but benefit local communities and wildlife.

Click on the links below to learn more, and get in touch to start planning your perfect safari.

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Africa Odysseys

Every year we assemble unique, small-group expeditions that traverses a series of Africa landscapes. We carefully craft these spectacular adventures so that they represent and immerse our guests within a larger historical or contemporary African Story.

Click on the links below to learn more about our upcoming Odysseys

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Our trip to Turkana was mind blowing. I can't thank the team at Africa Untamed enough for their superb planning.

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Luxury African Safaris: Where to Find Exclusive Wilderness Retreats?

  • October 19, 2023

Africa, a continent of extraordinary beauty and biodiversity , is a destination that beckons adventurers, wildlife enthusiasts, and luxury travelers alike. While the image of Africa is often associated with untamed wilderness and breathtaking wildlife, the continent also offers a range of exclusive, luxurious safari experiences that cater to discerning travelers.

In this extensive guide, we’ll explore the world of luxury African safaris, delving into the remarkable destinations and exclusive wilderness retreats that promise an unforgettable journey.

1. The Appeal of African Safaris

African safaris have long captivated the imagination of travelers, offering a unique blend of adventure, wildlife, and awe-inspiring landscapes. The appeal of African safaris can be summarized in several key elements:

1.1. Wildlife Diversity:

Africa is renowned for its incredible variety of wildlife, from the “ Big Five ” ( lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros ) to rare species such as cheetahs, African wild dogs, and a multitude of birds. A safari offers the opportunity to witness these animals in their natural habitat.

wildlife diversity

1.2. Scenic Beauty:

The African continent boasts diverse landscapes, from the endless savannas of the Serengeti to the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta and the dramatic landscapes of Namibia. Each region has its unique charm and beauty.

Scenic Beauty

1.3. Cultural Richness:

Africa is home to a myriad of diverse cultures, and safaris often provide a chance to interact with local communities, learn about their traditions, and gain a deeper understanding of the continent’s cultural tapestry.

Cultural Richness

1.4. Adventure and Serenity:

African safaris offer a unique combination of adventure and serenity. While tracking wildlife can be exhilarating, the serenity of a pristine wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, is equally enchanting.

Adventure and Serenity

2. Types of African Safaris

African safaris come in various forms to cater to the different preferences of travelers. Luxury safaris are known for their emphasis on exclusivity, comfort, and personalized experiences.

Here are some of the key types of African safaris:

2.1. Classic Safari:

These safaris typically involve game drives in open vehicles and guided walks. Accommodations range from comfortable lodges to luxury tented camps. The focus is on wildlife viewing and experiencing the African wilderness.

Classic Safari

2.2. Fly-In Safari:

In this type of safari, travelers often fly between destinations to maximize their time in remote and exclusive areas. Fly-in safaris provide access to regions that may be challenging to reach by road.

Fly-In Safari

2.3. Walking Safari:

These safaris offer a more immersive experience by exploring the wilderness on foot. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, guests can discover the subtler aspects of the ecosystem, from tracking animals to understanding the flora and fauna.

Walking Safari

2.4. Canoe or Boat Safari:

In regions with waterways, such as the Okavango Delta or the Zambezi River , guests can explore the wilderness by canoe or boat. These safaris offer a unique perspective on African landscapes and wildlife.

Canoe or Boat Safari

2.5. Balloon Safari:

Balloon safaris provide a bird’s-eye view of the African wilderness. Drifting above the landscapes at dawn or dusk, travelers can witness the beauty of the continent from a serene and breathtaking vantage point.

Balloon Safari

3. Destinations for Luxury African Safaris

Africa is a vast continent with numerous countries offering diverse safari experiences.

Some of the most sought-after destinations for luxury safaris include:

3.1. Tanzania:

Home to the iconic Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater , Tanzania is a safari paradise. The Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest and zebras cross the plains, is a spectacle that draws visitors from around the world.

3.2. Kenya:

Known for its expansive savannas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve , Kenya offers a classic African safari experience. The annual wildebeest migration is a major attraction.

3.3. Botswana:

With pristine wilderness areas like the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park , Botswana is a haven for luxury safaris. Exclusive lodges and tented camps provide unparalleled comfort.

3.4. South Africa:

Offering a diverse range of experiences, from the renowned Kruger National Park to private game reserves, South Africa is a popular safari destination. The luxury lodges in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve are especially renowned.

3.5. Zambia:

For a more intimate and off-the-beaten-path safari, Zambia is an excellent choice. Walking safaris are a specialty here, and the Lower Zambezi National Park is known for its beautiful riverine landscapes.

3.6. Namibia:

Famous for its otherworldly landscapes, including the Namib Desert and Etosha National Park , Namibia’s luxury lodges offer an opportunity to explore unique environments.

3.7. Zimbabwe:

The Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe provide extraordinary safari experiences, with the chance to encounter diverse wildlife, including large elephant populations.

3.8. Rwanda and Uganda:

These countries offer remarkable opportunities to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, providing a unique and intimate wildlife encounter.

4. Exclusive Wilderness Retreats

What sets luxury African safaris apart is the quality of accommodations and personalized service. Here are some of the exclusive wilderness retreats that stand out:

4.1. Singita Grumeti, Tanzania:

Located in the western corridor of the Serengeti, Singita Grumeti is a private reserve offering world-class luxury. It’s known for its exquisite lodges and the Great Migration’s river crossings.

Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

4.2. &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa:

This private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal offers a range of luxury lodges and an abundance of wildlife, including the rare black rhino.

&Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa

4.3. Royal Malewane, South Africa:

Situated in the Greater Kruger National Park , Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge with opulent accommodations and impeccable service.

Royal Malewane, South Africa

4.4. Zarafa Camp, Botswana:

This eco-friendly camp in the Selinda Reserve is known for its luxury tented suites and exclusive safari experiences.

Zarafa Camp, Botswana

4.5. Mombo Camp, Botswana:

Located on Chief’s Island in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp is celebrated for its extraordinary wildlife sightings and lavish accommodations.

Mombo Camp, Botswana

4.6. Little Kulala, Namibia:

Set in the surreal landscapes of the Namib Desert, Little Kulala offers guests the chance to explore the unique desert ecosystems.

Little Kulala, Namibia

4.7. Singita Lebombo, South Africa:

Perched high on a hill overlooking the Kruger National Park, Singita Lebombo offers stunning views, exceptional design, and top-notch service.

Singita Lebombo, South Africa

4.8. Bisate Lodge, Rwanda:

For a gorilla trekking adventure, Bisate Lodge provides luxurious accommodations near Volcanoes National Park.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

5. What to Expect on a Luxury African Safari

When embarking on a luxury African safari , travelers can anticipate a range of exclusive experiences and services:

5.1. Exquisite Accommodations:

Luxury lodges, tented camps, and safari villas provide spacious and elegant living spaces, often with private plunge pools, expansive decks, and panoramic views of the wilderness.

Exquisite Accommodations

5.2. Gourmet Dining:

Fine dining is a hallmark of luxury safaris . Guests can savor gourmet meals prepared by skilled chefs, often with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.

Gourmet Dining Safari

5.3. Expert Guides:

Knowledgeable guides and trackers accompany guests on game drives and walks , sharing insights into wildlife behavior , ecology , and conservation efforts.

Expert Guides

5.4. Personalized Itineraries:

Luxury safari providers create customized itineraries that align with guests’ interests, whether it’s tracking specific animals or embarking on unique experiences.

Personalized Itineraries

5.5. Spa and Wellness:

Many luxury lodges and camps offer spa facilities for relaxation and rejuvenation amid the wilderness.

Spa and Wellness

5.6. Private Game Drives:

Private game drives, often with dedicated guides and vehicles, provide intimate wildlife encounters without the presence of other guests.

Private Game Drives

5.7. Conservation and Community Engagement:

Some luxury lodges actively engage in conservation efforts and community development, allowing guests to learn about and contribute to these initiatives.

6. Responsible Tourism and Conservation

A growing focus in the luxury safari industry is responsible tourism and conservation. Many lodges and safari operators are committed to preserving the fragile ecosystems and wildlife of Africa. They engage in various initiatives, such as anti-poaching efforts, community development, and sustainable practices to minimize the environmental impact of tourism.

Guests on luxury safaris often have the opportunity to participate in these conservation activities and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and successes in preserving Africa’s wilderness.

7. Challenges and Considerations

While luxury African safaris offer unparalleled experiences, there are challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

Luxury safaris can be costly, reflecting the exclusivity and quality of the experience. It’s important to budget accordingly.

7.2. Conservation Impact:

Ensure that the operator you choose is committed to responsible tourism and conservation to minimize any negative impact on the environment.

7.3. Health and Safety:

African safaris may involve traveling to remote areas with limited medical facilities. Adequate health preparations and travel insurance are essential.

7.4. Seasons and Wildlife Sightings:

The best time to visit may vary depending on the destination and the wildlife you want to see. Research seasonal patterns to maximize your experience.

7.5. Booking and Planning:

It’s advisable to plan well in advance, as availability at exclusive lodges can be limited.

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Luxury African safaris offer a unique and extraordinary way to experience the continent’s incredible wildlife and landscapes. From the vast savannas of the Serengeti to the pristine waterways of the Okavango Delta and the surreal deserts of Namibia, Africa’s diverse ecosystems provide the backdrop for unforgettable adventures.

The exclusive wilderness retreats and lodges that cater to luxury travelers ensure that every aspect of the safari, from accommodations to dining to wildlife encounters, is of the highest quality. Furthermore, responsible tourism and conservation efforts play a crucial role in preserving Africa’s natural heritage for future generations.

Whether you seek thrilling wildlife encounters, serene wilderness retreats, or a combination of both, luxury African safaris offer an unparalleled experience that will leave you with lasting memories of this remarkable continent.

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walking safaris

11 top walking safaris

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Tuesday, 12 December 2023

africa unique safaris

Africa, the untamed continent, beckons adventurers with its extraordinary wilderness spaces and unique wildlife. There are many ways to explore its wonders, but none is more immersive and intimate than what is offered on walking safaris. On foot, the sudden amplification of sound, smell, touch and adrenaline creates a profound sense of connection to nature that has been all but lost in our frenetic, modern lives.

Options for walking adventures when on an African safari vary. There’s something on offer for all adventurers: from a morning or afternoon stroll while staying at a lodge, to a fully fledged walking safari taking place over a few days, where you have the option to sleep out in basic tents. We’ve included various options below, covering the best of all there is on offer.

So, lace up a sturdy pair of walking shoes and prepare to ignite your wanderlust with our 11 favourite African walking safaris….

africa unique safaris

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Often referred to as the home of walking safaris, Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is a playground for visitors seeking an authentic and unspoilt wilderness. Here, generations of expert guides have followed in the bootprints of Norman Carr to conserve the tradition of exceptional on-foot experiences. Stride over sandy riverbeds, navigate oxbow lakes and discover riverine forests, all the while observing the rich diversity of life (from dung beetles to elephants!) in Luangwa. Check out safaris in South Luangwa here .

walking safaris

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park is one of Zimbabwe’s most breathtaking protected areas, known for its picturesque Zambezi River floodplains, ethereal Ana tree groves and abundant wildlife. From habituated packs of African wild dogs (painted wolves) and towering elephant bulls to massive herds of thirst-driven buffalo and the lions that stalk them, Mana is a land designed to be explored up close and personal. It is also one of the few national parks where travellers can walk without a guide. Zimbabwe is also home to some of the best (and, in some cases, eccentric) walking guides in Africa, and securing their services is guaranteed to bring out the best in your African safari. Check out our ready-made safaris in Mana Pools here .

walking safaris

Alternatively, if you are looking for a truly wild walking experience, where you’ll camp in a remote spot with limited facilities, and have daily encounters with wild animals, then Chitake Springs offers just the ticket. Chitake Springs is a remote area in the southern reaches of Mana Pools, away from the Zambezi River. The campsite, used for walking safaris, is based at the only available water source in this part of the park – a magnet for wildlife. Find out more about safaris to Chitake Springs here .

africa unique safaris

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Trekking for mountain gorillas is a walking safari of a very different kind – one that many have described as a profound and spiritual experience. The fern-fringed, muddy paths of the fairy-tale Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are verdant and bursting with secret sounds. While finding the gorilla families may take several hours of hiking, the reward at the end is the chance to go eye-to-eye with our endangered and sentient relatives. Observe their intricate social interactions, marvel at their human expressions, and be moved by the simple presence of these extraordinary creatures. Browse our ready-made safaris to Bwindi here .

africa unique safaris

Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only Big 5 national park and, in recent years, has established itself as one of the premier African safari destinations. From papyrus-lined swamps to savannah woodlands, the park’s magnificent landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for superb wildlife sightings and birding. Check out our safaris to Akagera here . 

africa unique safaris

Okavango Delta, Botswana

The swampy oasis of the Okavango Delta in Botswana is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary wildlife destinations in Africa, which, by extension, makes it one of the best places to traverse on foot. Marvel at the Delta’s labyrinthine channels and vast floodplains as you tread softly through the wilderness in the company of the highly skilled guides who know the secrets of this waterlogged paradise. Your walking safari will likely also involve time in a mokoro – gliding silently along the water channels as your expert poler reveals this water wonderland to you. We have several ready-made safaris to the Okavango Delta – see more here . 

africa unique safaris

Tsavo East and West National Parks, Kenya

The rugged beauty of the vast Tsavo landscape is filled with the ancient magic of true wilderness, and walking here is akin to escaping to a bygone era. This is a land of legends, where many of Africa’s largest remaining tuskers roam, their thick skins shaded rust by the region’s famous red soils. From open savannahs and massive river systems to lava fields and woodlands, experienced guides will lead you in the search for giant elephants, maneless lions, gerenuk, fringe-eared oryx and even critically endangered hirola antelope. See our ready-made safaris to Tsavo National Park here . 

walking safaris

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti is synonymous with Africa’s Great Wildebeest Migration – the Greatest Show on Earth. Still, few realise its vast plains can be explored on foot, granting unique privacy even in the busiest tourist months. Imagine embarking on a journey in the company of Maasai guides eager to share their intimate knowledge of their wilderness heritage. Witness the awe-inspiring landscapes, spot lions lazing under acacia trees, and feel the thrill of being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras on one of Africa’s most immersive walking safaris. Peruse our safaris to the Serengeti here .

Just under 100km away, the diverse and wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Conservation Area also provides explorers an opportunity to walk in the largest unbroken caldera in the world, explore extinct volcanoes, and meet Maasai herders along the way

africa unique safaris

Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park is perhaps one of the country’s best-kept African safari secrets but for an ardent following of experienced travellers drawn to the park’s remote and rugged appeal. The iconic Chilojo Cliffs are perhaps Gonarezhou’s most famous feature. However, the ancient baobabs, thriving elephant herds and jaw-dropping vistas all contribute to securing the park as an exceptional walking safari destination.

africa unique safaris

Laikipia County, Kenya

The mantra of the private conservancy experience in Kenya is one of exclusivity and freedom, and nowhere is this better epitomised than the mosaic landscapes of Laikipia County . Here, the low-density, high-quality approach allows travellers to customise their experience in a truly unique manner. Going on at least one walk is a given. Still, the full experience can even include accompanying ecological teams into the field to aid in monitoring endangered species, tracking lions, or even walking with baboon troops. With each step, you become a part of this remarkable landscape, forging a meaningful connection with the wilderness and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

africa unique safaris

Greater Kruger, South Africa

The private reserves bordering South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park offer the chance to leave the confines of a vehicle behind and set out on foot, led by experienced trackers and armed rangers. Stroll along ancient animal trails, learn about the region’s fascinating flora, and come face-to-face with some of the region’s Big 5 residents. Check out our safaris to Greater Kruger here .

africa unique safaris

Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia

In the desolate beauty of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park, embark on a unique walking safari that combines rugged landscapes with fascinating wildlife encounters. Traverse the vast dunes and arid plains, where desert-adapted elephants roam, lions hunt in the shifting sands, and seals frolic along the coastline. This untamed wilderness showcases the astonishing resilience of life in the most extreme of environments. Check out spots to stay in and around the Skeleton Coast here .

africa unique safaris

And on that footnote

From the sweeping plains and savannahs to the remote reaches of the coastlines and dense forests, Africa’s walking safari destinations offer an intimate connection with nature that few other experiences can match. Whether you seek the thrill of encountering iconic wildlife, the tranquillity of walking through pristine landscapes, or the chance to recentre your soul, it’s time to open your senses to the wild beauty of Africa.

africa unique safaris

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Where to go on your first safari in Africa

Dec 11, 2020 • 6 min read

africa unique safaris

In the Masai Mara cheetah are known to use safari vehicles to help them hunt by getting a better vantage © Pedro Helder Pinheiro / Shutterstock

If you’ve never before been to Africa , you’ve so much to look forward to. But choosing where to go on your first safari can be quite daunting.

Which countries offer the easiest introduction to the continent for first-time travellers? Which countries are good for wildlife? We answer these questions and more in our country-by-country overview for your first safari.

Editor's note: travel restrictions may be in place due to COVID-19. Always check ahead and follow government health advice.

They’ve been doing safaris in Kenya since the very concept was invented, and safari actually means 'journey' in Swahili. Nowhere in Africa has a more professional safari industry than Kenya’s, and with that experience comes a rare combination of infrastructure and service. There are hundreds of excellent lodges and tented camps, standards of service from local staff are generally high, and they’ve mastered the logistics of moving between national parks for each leg of your safari itinerary.

Tens of thousands of wildebeest stand in the long green grasses of the Serengeti; they are so tightly packed that the grass is hard to see.

Kenya’s wildlife offering is also outstanding. The main safari circuit takes in the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Lake Nakuru , with Tsavo West , Tsavo East and Samburu popular add-ons. Any combination of these parks should ensure ample sightings of big cats, plenty of elephants, a few rhinos, and all of the plains game, such as buffaloes, giraffes, zebras and all manner of gazelle and antelope species. Extend your stay by a week and you could even scale Mt Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak.

Kenya has a downside, it’s Nairobi . Most travellers pass through without difficulty, but the city is a robust introduction to the continent with endless traffic snarls and questionable security in some quarters. Stay long enough to visit Nairobi National Park – an extraordinarily well-stocked park on the cusp of one of Africa’s largest cities – and then move on. And spend as little time as possible on Kenya’s roads, both because the combination of distance and traffic means you can take forever to arrive, and to minimise your risk of accidents. Flying from one park to the next makes better use of your time, although it does cost more.

Tanzania is similar to Kenya – fantastic wildlife parks across the country, an excellent safari industry – but its traffic is generally less stressful, prices are (for the most part) lower, and its mountain ( Mt Kilimanjaro , Africa’s highest) is even higher. Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is a terrific introduction to the continent, including as it does the Serengeti , Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park , as well as Mt Kilimanjaro. A ten-day to two-week jaunt around the north is a fine way to fall in love with Africa, especially if you add some days on the island of Zanzibar .

While there are other world-class wildlife attractions – the chimps of Gombe and Mahale out west, or the southern wilderness parks of Selous and Ruaha – these are probably best left for those on a return visit: distances are vast, and the infrastructure is a little less developed.

A long line of elephants walk along a sandy riverbed, with lush vegetation to their left.

South Africa

South Africa can be a good introduction to the African safari, not least because it allows you to combine watching wildlife with more sedate pleasures, such as wineries and Cape Town urban cool. Many of the safari offerings are also priced for the domestic market, which makes them some of the best value options on the continent.  Kruger National Park is a terrific place to get acquainted with Africa’s wildlife. The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) are present in large numbers as are all manner of different mammal species, plus brilliant birdlife. The infrastructure is also excellent – the main roads are paved, there’s well-run accommodation across a range of budgets, and it’s very easy to get around. As for Kruger, so, too, for most of the rest of the country. South Africa’s safari operators, car rental companies and other service providers also rank among the most professional on the continent.

The only reason why many first-time travellers might hesitate before flying into Johannesburg is the country’s reputation for crime. Most visitors never encounter any difficulties, but there’s no denying security can be an issue in South Africa, particularly in urban areas. If you stick to South Africa’s parks and abundant private reserves, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of experiencing any problems.

A black rhino making its way through the grasses with Etosha's great salt pan in the distance

Often marketed as ‘Africa for Beginners’, Namibia is a fine choice for your first African journey. Like South Africa, many prices are aimed at the domestic (and South African) market, which makes them good value. For wildlife, Etosha National Park is simply wonderful and has excellent infrastructure, while the intimacy of wildlife-rich private reserves such as Okonjima and Erindi are ideal for first timers. Elsewhere, wildlife is pretty difficult to track down, but you could combine wildlife with other attractions – the shipwrecks and seal colonies along the Skeleton Coast , time spent with the Himba in the country’s north, and the sand dunes of Sossusvlei . If you’ve the time, it’s a long drive south to Fish River Canyon , which might not have much wildlife but remains one of the continent’s most dramatic hiking destinations.

Beyond these major attractions, most of which are accessible along the country’s well-maintained network of paved roads, some of Namibia’s other major attractions, such as Damaraland with its stirring mountains and desert-adapted elephants, consist of pretty rugged country that’s probably best left to more experienced Africa hands. If money is no object, you can easily fly into luxury camps in some of the country’s most beautiful and more remote corners. Getting there is far more difficult if you’re on a more modest budget.

The front of a mokoro (dugout canoe) is visible going through long reeds in the waters of the Okavango Delta; ahead, deeper in the reeds and moving past a tree is another mokoro being poled by the guide.

Botswana is one of Africa’s premier wildlife-watching destinations. The wildlife is prolific and extraordinary and the landscapes – the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta , the salt pans of Makgadikgadi – are likewise. As one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and with one of the lowest population densities on the planet, diamond-rich Botswana is a pleasure to travel in, with empty roads, very few large cities and a highly accomplished safari industry. 

But Botswana’s appeal comes with a caveat, and it comes down to cost. Keen to avoid the pitfalls of mass tourism, Botswana’s government aims high, putting an emphasis on low-volume, high-cost safari experiences. You could rent a 4WD vehicle and go camping, but the price of doing so will still be out of reach for many budget and even midrange travellers.

A canoe with a guide sits in the Zambezi River with a large elephant on the bank.

Zambia & Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls , which is accessible from both Zambia and Zimbabwe , should be on everyone’s bucket list of African experiences. Provided you fly in and fly out, national parks such as South Luangwa (Zambia) and Hwange (Zimbabwe) are world-class for wildlife, although the cost of doing so can be prohibitive. But if you’re travelling by more traditional means and your budget does not extend to luxury camps and aeroplane transfers, the large distance between attractions in both countries make this a less-than-ideal choice for first timers. The potential for political instability and corruption in Zimbabwe is another potential turn-off. And a big part of these countries’ safari appeal – guided walking safaris (in Zambia) and even unguided ones (Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe) – are probably best left to those with more experience of the African wild.

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This article was first published October 2019 and last updated December 2020.

This article was first published October 2019 and updated December 2020

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10 Types of African Safaris: Different Ways to Experience a Safari

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Hot air balloon safari in South Africa

Aerial safari

There are countless ways to experience a safari, from open-vehicle game drives to guided walks and horseback riding, and we have compiled 10 types of African safaris you can choose from.

From open savannahs and forested havens to breathtaking mountain landscapes with rolling hills overlooking water channels, the scene is set for a dramatic animal encounter, no matter how you choose to safari.

Whether it's a complete experience or a combination of options, your safari is bound to be unforgettable, no matter which option you decide upon.

1. Guided Game Drives

2. walking safaris, 3. aerial safaris, 4. mountain bike safaris, 5. water safaris, 6. horseback safaris, 7. primate safaris, 8. mobile safaris, 9. photographic safaris, 10. hideout safari experiences, experience the best types of african safaris.

Game drive in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Game drive in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Stepping into an open 4x4 safari vehicle, you may get a sense that something quite unique is about to begin. The optimum viewing platform, a game drive is not only the most popular way to experience a safari, but one that allows you to traverse vast landscapes for a stunning experience in Africa.

Journey across open savannahs, through rocky outcrops, and forested hideouts, coming across a herd of elephants or a lone kudu as you quietly pass wildlife in action. Game drives are an excellent way to see the wildlife, whether on Kruger National Park safaris or Serengeti safaris .

Night drives provide an opportunity to spot nocturnal favorites such as aardvark and civet, and experience the haunting yet exhilarating sounds of the bush after dark. Guides and trackers will use spotlights to reveal wildlife in trees and on land as you navigate under a brilliant African night sky.

Best Places for Guided Game Drives: Kruger National Park, South Africa • Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa • Masai Mara National Park, Kenya • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania • Chobe National Park, Botswana • Okavango Delta, Botswana • South Luangwa, Zambia

Expert Tips for Discerning Travelers

Bush walk with Marataba Safari in South Africa. Photo courtesy MORE Family Collection

Bush walk with Marataba Safari in South Africa. Photo courtesy MORE Family Collection

A walking safari gives you a more intimate experience of the land and wildlife, guided by a trained professional who understands the terrain and animal life across the best African safari countries .

Tribal communities have lived in proximity to wildlife for millennia, with guides sharing their respect for the environment and its inhabitants with safari walkers.

Get a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna around you and enjoy up-close and personal encounters with the smaller members of the animal kingdom, such as beetles and small birds.

Best Places for Walking Safaris: Chief’s Island, Okavango Delta • Kruger National Park, South Africa •  North Luangwa, Zambia • Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania • Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Morning view from balloon of wildebeest migration in Tanzania

Aerial safari in Tanzania

An aerial safari gives you a macro panorama of the landscape and wildlife of any destination, the action and drama unfolding beneath you.

Such a safari could take the form of a hot-air balloon ride, microlight flight, helicopter flip, or one on a small plane conducting air-hops between destinations, each providing a view of the scale and wonder of the wilderness, no matter when you go on an African safari .

You may find herds swirling across the grasslands or plains lined with marching elephants, each sighting unique in its unfolding. A safari from the air is one of the most incredible ways to enhance such an experience, with exceptional options on Masai Mara safaris .

Best Places for Aerial Safaris: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania • Masai Mara National Park, Kenya • Okavango Delta, Botswana • Virunga National Park, Rwanda • Kafue National Park, Zambia

Woman with a mountain bike observing zebras

Biking in Kenya

Picture traversing a vast landscape on 27-inch tires as you take a mountain bike safari through nature reserves and parks, keeping an eye out for game along the way.

Terrain changes from open savannahs to rugged pathways set among lush rainforests, with opportunities to spot animals in trees and around rocky outcrops. Your qualified guide will point out, from a safe distance, a variety of wildlife.

Enjoy the freshness of the great outdoors, the satisfaction of being active, and the thrill of cycling through parks and reserves, immediately at one with the African bush.

Best Places for Mountain Bike Safaris: Northern Tuli Reserve, Botswana • Laikipia, Kenya • Lower Zambezi, Zambia • Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, South Africa • Gonarezhou-Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

Mokoro boat meandering down the river in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Mokoro boat safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a huge focus on water for the land’s survival, it makes sense that one of the more popular ways of experiencing a safari is on water.

With predators and prey tentatively eyeing permanent water sources, game viewing from a mokoro (dugout canoe) or small boat brings you close to the action in a unique way, even when looking for the Big Five and Little Five .

Channels, rivers, and lakes reveal wildlife beneath the surface and on land nearby, creating an immersive yet slow-paced exploration. Boat safaris are one of the best ways to experience the wilderness by waterways, especially on Okavango Delta safaris .

Best Places For Water Safaris: Okavango Delta, Botswana • Chobe Game Reserve, Botswana • Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania • Lake Manyara, Tanzania • Lake Nakuru, Kenya  • Kruger National Park, South Africa • Etosha National Park, Namibia

Horseback riding African safari in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya

Lewa Conservancy, Kenya

A horseback safari is one of the most unusual yet inspiring ways to experience the wilderness. Skilled and semi-skilled riders follow trails and tracks through nature reserves and forested parks where predators are a safe distance away.

Imagine coming across a tower of giraffe grazing in the trees above or leading your horse to a shaded rest spot where, once dismounted, a warm beverage awaits you.

Discover parts of a game park or reserve where vehicles may not be allowed to take advantage of snapping some wonderful wildlife shots as you quietly approach antelope, birds, and diverse and breathtaking landscapes and habitats .

Best Places for Horseback Safaris: Makalali Game Reserve, South Africa • Matlapeng Reserve, Botswana • Tuli Reserve, Botswana • Pakamisa Private Game Reserve, South Africa • Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe • Masai Mara, Kenya

Encounter with mountain gorilla while on walking safari in Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda

A primate safari takes you deep into the jungle or forested terrain of East Africa in search of wildlife like mountain gorillas or chimpanzees.

Discover the wonders of a guided trek through otherwise impenetrable forests, ending up on lush mountain slopes in search of primates swinging from tree to tree or chewing on plant matter. From Rwanda gorilla trekking to Uganda safaris , the encounters with primates are sensational on these expeditions.

This type of safari requires planning well ahead, with opportunities to incorporate other safari types before or after a gorilla or chimpanzee trek.

Best Places for Primate Safaris: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda • Volcanoes National Park • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda • Kibale Forest, Uganda • Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania • Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania

Mobile tented camp in Tanzania

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The beauty of a mobile safari is being able to wake up in one location, then end your day sipping a beverage of choice beneath the stars in a different spot.

Reducing a safari-goer’s carbon footprint and being able to relocate as often as your itinerary allows make mobile safaris popular.

Accommodations are comfortable and simple, easy to pack up and move, with all the mod cons necessary for this kind of experience. Gain access to more sites and sounds with a mobile camping safari.

Best Places for Mobile Safaris: Chobe Game Reserve, Botswana • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania • Masai Mara National Park, Kenya • Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Photo vehicle with photographers on safari game drive photographing zebras and antelope

Game Drive Photo Vehicle in South Africa. Photo courtesy of MalaMala Camp. Photo courtesy of MalaMala Camp

Embark on a photographic-focused safari, during which time doesn’t seem to exist as you patiently wait to capture that perfect shot, the African bush your inspiration.

Professional guides help direct you to ensure you are positioned just right to get that winning picture. Staying on a siting or venturing into unique locations within parks and reserves, your time out on safari is yours to get as creative as you want.

Vehicles are fitted with special camera holders, each guest assured of optimal viewing throughout the drive. For a walking safari experience, your guide will ensure open spaces, great lighting, and perfect timing are the order of the day. How you want to experience your photographic safari is one of the many reasons to plan your trip with a safari travel specialist .

Best Places for Photographic Safaris: Okavango Delta, Botswana • Tsavo West, Kenya • Kruger National Park, South Africa •  Sabi Sands, South Africa • Amboseli National Park, Kenya •  Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa • Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Tourist watches and films wildlife from a hide at the Olifantsrus waterhole in Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park, Namibia

This may seem a strange way to conduct a safari, but viewing animals from the safety and comfort of a hideout offers a unique perspective on game viewing.

Whether coming upon a hidden locale or strategically located structure, sometimes slightly underground, hides offer seating and windows to the show unfolding before you. Unseen, you have the chance to spot without being spotted, including when exploring the best places to visit in Africa on safari .

Some have you placed at eye level with game at a watering hole, while others may see you set high up in a tree, a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings offering an opportunity to spot wildlife far and wide.

Best Places for a Hide Safari Experience: Kruger National Park, South Africa • Sabi Sands, South Africa • Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa • Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa • South Luangwa, Zambia • Etosha National Park, Namibia

Safari game drive in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

With a variety of ways to experience an African safari, the choices may seem impossible. However, depending on time and preferences, options are available as stand-alone adventures or a combination of a few. Imagine a few days on a guided game drive followed by a walking safari expedition or primate discovery.

To discover a wealth of information and inspiration, visit our African safari travel guide and take a look at our African safaris . One of our expert safari specialists will be on hand to assist you when you are ready to book your specific safari style.

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Best Safari in Africa → Top Countries + Places for First-Timers

Published October 12, 2023 · Updated October 12, 2023

best African safari in Africa

Looking for the best African country for safari in 2024? You’re in the right place!

Witnessing lions stalking their prey or leopards lounging on tree branches against the backdrop of endless savannah is an unforgettable sight. Africa offers the ultimate adventure, with its fascinating and diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and unmatched safari experiences. From the vast plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the majestic Okavango in Botswana, the best safari in Africa offers an unlimited number of options for an extraordinary wildlife expedition. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first African safari, join us as we explore the best places to safari in Africa and unique experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer. Get ready to be immersed in nature’s wonders as I guide you through the best countries for safaris in Africa.

You may be wondering, where should I go on my first safari in Africa?

When you think of the best safaris, the first continent that comes to mind is Africa. With its vast national parks, incredible wildebeest migration and high densities of predators, it’s not hard to see why Africa is the most popular safari destination in the world.

There are many countries in Africa which are popular for safaris, each with their own unique national parks, animal species, and cultures. Below I’m going to run through the best places for safari in Africa, so you can decide which is the best country for your first (or next) safari in 2024.

How long should I spend on an African safari?

My personal recommendation, from countless number of safaris of my own, is that you should plan to spend at least 10 – 14 days for an in-depth safari African experience. This will give you sufficient time to see plenty of wildlife and visit three or four different camps and lodges in different areas to get a good feel for the region. The best month to go on a safari in Africa is during the dry, winter season of June to October. During this period, it is easier to spot the wildlife as the vegetation is more sparse and the animals tend to gather at water sources due to the scarcity or rain and water.

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Which Country Offers the Best Safari in Africa

Which African country is best for safari?

Beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro Places in Africa

Which country offers the best safari in Africa?

1: TANZANIA 

Tanzania is arguably the best safari destination in Africa. Boasting the absolutely huge Serengeti National park in the north, all of the big five (elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalo) and an incredibly diverse culture including the famous Maasai tribe, Tanzania has a lot to offer.

Tanzania is also renowned as having the safari with the most animals and the continent’s largest populations of safari species, with an estimated 4 million wild animals. One of the highlights of a safari in Tanzania is seeing the legendary great migration, whereby over 2 million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle move across the Serengeti ecosystem.

There are two main options when it comes to planning your Tanzania safari itinerary — the northern circuit or the southern circuit. The northern circuit is the most popular and more cost effective option and also includes the most popular parks such as Taragire, Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Crater.

The southern circuit is more expensive and less visited due to the longer distances involved. However, it does include some great parks such as  Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha, and Udzungwa Mountains.

The cost of a Tanzania safari is one of the highest in Africa due to the high park fees. It’s also more geared towards using a safari company vs self drive which can also increase costs somewhat. Tanzania safaris typically start at $250 pp per day for budget and from $450 pp per day for mid-range, excluding external flights .

Beautiful Places in Africa Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

Most Popular Tanzania Safari Circuits

Northern Circuit includes Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park

Southern Circuit includes Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Mikumi National Park and Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Western Circuit includes Katavi National Park, Mahale Mountains National Park, Gombe Stream National Park and Rubondo Island National Park

Best places for safari in Africa

Key Parks in Tanzania

The Serengeti which means “endless plains” is absolutely huge at approximately 14,763 square kilometres (5,700 square miles). One of Africa’s most famous and iconic national parks and the best place in Africa for safari, it’s renowned for its vast savannah plains, wildebeest migration, and high density of predators.

Game in the serengeti includes lions, leopards, African elephants, Cape buffalos, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeest, and zebras.

Tarangire National Park covers an area of about 2,850 square kilometres (1,100 square miles) and is famous for its large herds of African elephants. The park is also known for its diverse landscapes, including grassy plains, baobab trees, and the Tarangire River which spans the park and gives it its name.

As well as elephants, the park is home to many other game including lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, buffalo, and numerous bird species.

Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a world famous African landmark . The conservation area covers an area of about 8,292 square kilometres (3,202 square miles), with the crater itself being around 260 square kilometres (100 square miles). It was recently separated from the Serengeti National park to allow for the Massai to live there as the Serengeti National park does not allow tribes to live inside it.

The Ngorongoro Crater has a wide range of wildlife, including all of the big five animals. This massive volcanic caldera is home to game including lions, elephants, black rhinos, leopards, Cape buffalos, as well as various other animals such as zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, hippos, and a rich birdlife. Some of the animals move into and out of the crater, while others stay here all year round.

Best African safari places in Africa

2: SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa needs no introduction when it comes to the world of the best safaris in Africa in 2024. It is a must-visit destination for wildlife and nature enthusiasts alike with its diverse wildlife, diverse landscapes, and plethora of accommodation options.

Which country is best for first safari in Africa?

A South African safari offers an unparalleled opportunities for encountering wild animals and flora up close amidst stunning natural settings. This country boasts an incredible variety of wildlife species that can be observed during your African safari. From the iconic Big Five (elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, and leopard) to hippos, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and countless bird species – there is just such a large bounty and variety of safari animals to encounter while exploring the game reserves.

Safaris in South Africa tend to either centre around national parks such as the world-renowned Kruger National Park in the northeastern part of South Africa and private game reserves. You can expect to find an abundance of safari experiences with plentiful lodges, expert guides, and many intimate encounters with the wildlife.

Although South Africa caters to some very luxurious safaris in their private reserves, they also offer reasonably priced budget safaris starting at $200 pp per day, excluding international flights.

South Africa also provides world-class horse riding safaris in their game reserves. The wildlife grow used to the horses, who often live in the bush with the other animals when they are not being ridden, which allows riders to get close to the game without startling it.

For ethical tourism, avoid private game reserves that have hands-on animal experiences as these pose a number of ethical issues.

African safari best places

Most Popular Safari Routes In South Africa

The Kruger National Park Route focuses on exploring the Kruger National Park. You can enter the park through one of the multiple entrance gates and drive along the network of roads to explore different regions within the park.

The Panorama Route takes you through the Mpumalanga province, near Kruger National Park. This route includes attractions such as Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window. This can be combined with the The Kruger National Park Route above.

The Madikwe-Mapungubwe Route explores the Madikwe Game Reserve and Mapungubwe National Park in the North West province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a good route for those seeking a malaria-free safari.

Giraffe south Africa travel safari tips

Key Parks in South Africa

No list of the best African safari countries is complete without South Africa . Here are the most famous parks in the country.

The Kruger National Park covers an area of approximately 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 square miles), making it one of the largest national parks in Africa and slightly bigger than the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Located in the northeastern part of South Africa this vast wilderness sanctuary that is one of the best places to go on safari in Africa is accessible for both self-drive safaris and guided game drives.

Game includes the Big Five as well as cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and antelopes.

Sabi Sands Game Reserve covers an area of approximately 65,000 hectares (160,618 acres) and shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park.

It is a private game reserve known for its frequent leopard sightings and luxury accommodation.

As well as leopards, animals include lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinoceros, cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles and a wide array of bird species.

Madikwe Game Reserve covers an area of approximately 75,000 hectares (185,329 acres) in the North West province of South Africa.

One of South Africa’s largest malaria-free reserves, the park is also known for its successful conservation efforts with species such as African wild dogs, as well as black and white rhinos.

In addition to the Big Five, Madikwe is known for its populations of cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, warthogs, antelopes and over 300 species of birds.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve spans approximately 96,000 hectares (237,221 acres) in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

The park is one of the oldest game reserves in South Africa with a high concentration of wildlife. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi played a crucial role in the conservation of the white rhino species.

The park is famous for its populations of both white and black rhinos.

Wealthy African countries rich economy GDP

Still wondering where to safari in Africa? Next up we have…

Kenya is another country which is synonymous with the best African safaris. And for good reason — the Kenyan Maasai Mara, which joins the Serengeti at the Mara river, is world-class. More than 8 percent of the land in the country is protected and it offers an amazing safari experiences all year long due to its plethora of wildlife, pleasant weather, and vast open areas.

There are 23 national parks and game reserves in Kenya, each offering a memorable safari experience. One of the highlights in one of the best places for an African safari in Kenya is seeing the great migration, where millions of wildebeest and other herbivores cross treacherous rivers in search of greener pastures.

The Maasai Mara provides front-row seats to one of nature’s greatest spectacles, which incorporates the Mara river crossing in the south of the reserve. In addition to offering iconic safaris in a region teeming with wildlife, you also have the opportunity to enjoy cultural encounters in Kenya with the local Masai tribespeople. The best time to go to Kenya for an African safari is during the dry season of of January to February and July to October. Plan to spend at least 10 to 14 days exploring the best that this region has to offer.

The Most Popular Safari Routes In Kenya

The Maasai Mara Route which centres around the Maasai Mara National park and also includes Lake Nakuru National Park and Amboseli National Park. 

The Amboseli-Tsavo Route which focuses on the Amboseli National Park, then onwards to Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks. 

The Samburu-Isiolo-Meru Route which explores the northern parts of Kenya, including Samburu National Reserve proceeding off the beaten path to Isiolo and Meru National Parks

The Aberdare-Mount Kenya Route takes you through Aberdare National Park and includes Mount Kenya National Park.

Kenya offers slightly lower rates for budget safaris compared with other African countries with budget safaris starting at $150 pp per day excluding outbound flights.

African sunset Tanzania Serengeti safari

Key parks in Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve covers an area of approximately 1,510 square kilometres (580 square miles). One of the most renowned safari destinations in Africa, it borders the Tanzanian Serengeti National Park in the south where it meets the Mara River. Located in the south, it’s famous for the great migration, where millions of wildebeest and zebras move in search of fresh grazing.

The Maasai Mara is home to a wild variety of game including the Big Five and also cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and a rich diversity of bird species.

Amboseli National Park spans approximately 392 square kilometres (151 square miles). 

Located in southern Kenya, Amboseli National Park is famous for its views of Mount Kilimanjaro , Africa’s highest peak. The park is also known for its large herds of African elephants roaming freely across vast plains. The swamps within Amboseli are teeming with a diverse range of birdlife.

Game in Amboseli include elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, hyenas, and a variety of bird species.

Tsavo National Park is another great option to go on a safari in Africa. Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks form one massive ecosystem divided by a railway line.

Best safari in Africa Namibia

One of Africa’s top safari destinations in 2024, game viewing in Namibia is unique due to the country’s stunning dune and desert scenery such as the Namib Desert, which is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Expect to find an abundance of desert-adapted wildlife and mesmerising landscapes.

Namibia’s biggest national park, Etosha is renowned for its salt pan and numerous waterholes, which attracts a wide variety of wildlife during the dry season.

As well as Etosha national park, Namibia has a number of private game reserves and conservation areas.

Self drive safaris are popular in Namibia, however, due to the vast distances between destinations it’s recommended to study a Namibia travel guide beforehand to help you construct your itinerary to make the most of your trip.

As self drives are popular and accommodation is reasonably priced or you can sleep in a roof top tent, costs can be quite reasonable compared to other safari destinations in Africa. Prices for a budget trip will start from around $100 pp per day.

The best time to visit Namibia for wildlife viewing is between the months of July to October. This is when you will find pleasant temperatures and a low chance of rain.

African safari in Namibia

Most Popular Namibia Safari Circuits

Etosha National Park Route focuses on exploring Etosha National Park, The route typically starts from Windhoek, the capital city , and includes stops at various rest camps and water holes within the park. 

Namib-Naukluft National Park and Sossusvlei Route takes you to the Namib Desert and the Sossusvlei sand dunes. The journey often starts from the city of Windhoek and heads south to Sesriem, the gateway to Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Damaraland and Kaokoland Route explores the rugged and remote regions of Damaraland and Kaokoland in northwestern Namibia.

Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert Route explores the wild and remote Skeleton Coast, The route often starts from Swakopmund or Walvis Bay and takes you along the coast. The route can also include a visit to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve and the Namib Desert.

Best Place to safari in Africa Namibia

Key Parks in Namibia

Etosha National Park covers an area of approximately 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 square miles), making it one of Africa’s largest national parks and slightly bigger than the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The park is dominated by the vast Etosha salt pan, which attracts a wide array of wildlife, especially during the dry season.

Wildlife in Etosha include the  Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo). Other key animals include giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, springboks, oryx, kudus, cheetahs, hyenas, and a variety of bird species.

Namib-Naukluft National Park is one of the largest conservation areas in Namibia, covering an area of approximately 49,768 square kilometres (19,216 square miles)

The park encompasses the Namib Desert, one of the oldest deserts on Earth, known for its towering sand dunes.

Wildlife includes oryx, springboks, ostriches, jackals, hyenas, various reptiles and endemic bird species.

Skeleton Coast National Park stretches along Namibia’s northwestern coastline for approximately 500 kilometres (310 miles).

It is named after the numerous shipwrecks that dot the coastline and often requires experienced guides to visit due to its remote location and challenging conditions.

Wildlife includes seal colonies, which attract predators such as jackals and brown hyenas. You can also see elephants, giraffes, oryx, springboks, and a variety of bird species, including flamingos and pelicans.

okavango delta Beautiful places in Africa Landmarks

5: BOTSWANA

The landlocked country of Botswana in Southern Africa is next up on this list of best safari Africa. Its landscape is defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta and it is this fascinating range of habitats that make going on a safari in Botswana truly special. Its main safari reserves, such as the Okavango and Chobe, are less accessible and wilder than the majority of those mentioned in the other countries above. The Okavango becomes a lush animal eden during the seasonal floods while the Central Kalahari Reserve is home to a plenitude of animals. In addition, Botswana is often ranked as one of safest places to safari in Africa .

Botswana emphasises high-cost, low-impact fly-in tourism. With high-end lodges and prohibitive costs, you will have a more peaceful safari experience compared to some of the busier safari destinations in Africa, the likes of Kenya.

Botswana is a country that is committed to conservation, and its protected areas are well-managed, allowing for exceptional game viewing opportunities in a remote and unspoiled environment.

Botswana is arguably the most expensive safari destination in Africa. In addition to the highest conservation fees in Africa, safari costs are quite high. A safari here starts at around $250 pp per day for budget and from $450 pp per day for mid-range, excluding external flights.

Most Popular Botswana Safari Circuits

Okavango Delta Circuit includes Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai Concession and Private concessions within the Okavango Delta.

Chobe Circuit includes Chobe National Park, Kasane region, Linyanti Reserve, and Savuti.

Central Kalahari Circuit includes Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans.

Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Circuit includes Nxai Pan National Park and Makgadikgadi Pans.

hippos on safari in Africa

Key Botswana Parks

The Okavango Delta covers an area of approximately 22,000 square kilometres (8,500 square miles).

The Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest inland delta in the world. Formed by the overflow of the Okavango River, this extraordinary ecosystem encompasses a network of channels, lagoons, and islands .

Game includes Elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and many species of birds.

Chobe National Park covers an area of approximately 10,566 square kilometres (4,083 square miles).

This woodland park is known for having the large population of wild elephants than anywhere else in the world, especially during the dry season when they gather around the Chobe River.

Game includes elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, and lots of birdlife.

Victoria Falls Beautiful Place African

Home to one of the natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, Zambia contains a number of sprawling national parks which are teeming with wildlife. It offers real safari encounters in wild, remote destinations and is a strong contender as one of the best countries for safaris in Africa.

As well as traditional 4×4 safaris, Zambia is well known for its excellent walking safaris which allow you to immerse yourself in the nature of their unspoiled landscapes for a more intimate safari experience in Africa.

Water-based safaris such as boat safaris, canoe safaris , or river cruises along the Zambezi River or other waterways are also popular in Zambia. Water-based safaris allow you to view hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species from a unique angle.

Most Popular Zambian Safari Circuits

Northern Circuit includes South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park, Kasanka National Park, Bangweulu Wetlands, Lavushi Manda National Park.

Luangwa Valley Circuit includes South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park, Luambe National Park, Lukusuzi National Park and Luangwa River.

lions best safari in Africa

Key Zambia Parks

South Luangwa National Park covers approximately 9,050 square kilometres (3,500 square miles).

The park is known for its untouched wilderness, walking safaris and high concentration of leopards.

Game includes leopards, elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalos, hippos, wild dogs, zebras, antelopes and over 400 bird species.

Lower Zambezi National Park spans an area of approximately 4,092 square kilometres (1,580 square miles)

Situated along the banks of the Zambezi River, the park includes floodplains, riverine forests, and impressive escarpments.

Game includes elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, antelopes and many different birds.

leopard on African safari

Africa is the perfect continent for a safari , home to some of the world’s best national parks which are absolutely teeming with life. You really can’t go wrong with any of these top African safari destinations, each one offering something unique to travellers.

And now you know where to find the best safari in Africa . What is your favourite safari destination in Africa?

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African Unique Safaris and Tours

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The best safaris to experience in 2024

Intrepid voyages into the wild: walking with elephants in Zambia, sleeping under the stars in South Africa and exploring the jungles of India

Whether you follow the Big Five – lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos – by four-wheel drive in South Africa, sleep under the stars during a walking safari in Zambia, cross paths with tigers and sloth bears in India, or spot some of the world’s rarest creatures in Madagascar, a safari is a must for any intrepid traveller.

Embark on the ultimate bucket-list adventure with our selection of this year’s most exhilarating itineraries and camps, where you can see beautiful creatures roaming freely in their natural habitats.

scott dunn india

Explore spectacular, diverse areas of central India, starting with three nights sleeping in a treehouse high in the Bandhavgarh jungle, trailing Bengal tigers and glimpsing sloth bears on game drives. Then, take a meandering drive north to Pench Tiger Reserve – the park that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – where you’ll find the eco-conscious, 10-tent Jamtara Wilderness Camp. Set under the sprawling branches of a banyan-tree, the camp is a superlative base to spy flitting butterflies, scurrying jackals and monkeys jumping from branch to branch. Make your final stop the secluded Reni Pani Jungle Lodge in Satpura National Park, untrodden by tourists and resplendent with ravines, forests and mountains.

madagascar, vakona forest lodge

Madagascar is home to plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, including several species of lemur, which you can see in the Andasibe National Park, and rare tortoises, geckos and chameleons. Take a guided stroll through the Ifotaka rainforest after dark to glimpse nocturnal aye-ayes and see the cat-like fossas prowl; by day, head out on a canoe through the mangroves, and meet members of the Malagasy Antandroy tribe in their holy forests.

A 13-night ‘Classic Madagascar’ safari with Abercrombie & Kent , from £6,375 a person.

South Africa

lepogo south africa

The not-for-profit group behind Lepogo Lodges in northern South Africa offsets the environmental impact of each of its guests, starting from the moment they leave their homes, and all proceeds are invested back into the community or put towards conservation projects. Noka Camp in the 120,000-acre reserve in Limpopo Province can be easily reached from Johannesburg, and provides ample opportunity for spotting the Big Five. The off-grid camp – comprising a quintet of cliffside villas above the Palala River and surrounding bushland – generates all of its energy with a custom 250-metre solar walkway. Along with the usual game drives, you can visit Iron Age settlements and view prehistoric paintings by bushmen, assist with conservation efforts and, for the brave of heart, experience an unforgettable night sleeping out in the bush.

Lepogo Lodges ’ Noka Camp , from about £770 a person a night, all-inclusive.

sri lanka

Begin your adventure on a coconut estate an hour’s drive from the airport, and conclude it in Weligama, on the sandy shores of the island’s south coast. In between, visit the ruins of Polonnaruwa, discover the impressive architecture of Galle, stay overnight at one of the finest estates in tea country, and explore ancient fortresses and national parks, such as Minneriya (where you’ll find the endangered Asian elephant) and Yala, the roaming ground of the retiring Sri Lankan leopard. At the latter, Resplendent Ceylon’s striking Wild Coast Lodge, designed to mimic both the boulders on the beach and a leopard’s paw, will be your base. Along the way, you might also catch sight of dolphins, whales, macaques and langurs.

A 10-night Sri Lanka safari with AndBeyond , from about £5,195 a person.

travelbag tanzania

With the largest concentration of animals in Africa, Tanzania’s parks and game reserves are home to 120,000 elephants, 160,000 buffaloes and 2,000 rhinos. Travelbag’s itinerary will take you from the rocky mountains to the Serengeti grasslands, by 4WD or hot-air balloon – tailor your trip as you wish, either travelling independently or with an expert guide. Round off your voyage with a retreat to the nearby island of Zanzibar, whose warm beaches are the ideal setting for some R&R.

A 13-night Tanzania and Zanzibar safari with Travelbag , from £6,899 a person, including flights.

tide and tide zambia

After an hour’s flight from Zambia’s capital Lusaka, drive through the vibrant town of Mfuwe, past the bustling fruit and vegetable markets, to the unspoilt South Luangwa National Park. Renowned for its walking safaris, it is a spectacular wilderness to explore up-close, replete with tamarind-, ebony- and baobab-trees, upon which leopards perch and baboons frolic. At Mchenja, Time + Tide’s five-room camp on the edge of the Luangwa River, the grunting of hippos reverberates from the surrounding lagoons, on whose banks crocodiles sunbathe, and herds of elephants feast on seed pods as they pass through. The staff are unfailingly friendly, welcoming you by name with a refreshing cold towel and always at hand to share their knowledge of the local area – five per cent from each stay contributes to conservation efforts and the support of local communities through the camp’s foundation. Set off on foot in the cool morning with an expert guide, to the dawn chorus of more than 450 native bird species, and see impalas, zebras, wildebeest and giraffes grazing, as you walk towards neighbouring forests where lions and cheetahs rest during the heat of day. At night, sleep under the moonlight in Time + Tide’s luxurious net tents, set up in a wide sand valley around a campfire, where clear skies enable you to see the Milky Way while you hear fruit bats swooping, hyenas calling and big cats prowling in the distance. In the morning, wake to the smell of breakfast sizzling on pans, ready to fuel you for another adventure-filled day.

A five-night safari with Time + Tide, through the Ultimate Travel Company , from about £6,160 a person.

batoka

Just an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls, in the west of the Zambezi National Park, the newly opened Batoka Zambezi Sands houses 10 spacious and stylish tents – created by the South African designer Yvonne O’Brien – each with its own plunge pool. Lions, hippos and elephants walk the surrounding plains, making it the ideal base for wildlife-spotting on game drives and river-boat cruises. Batoka is Africa’s first Black-female-owned safari lodge, and a percentage of its profits are donated to its charity, the Tesse Fund, which supports local communities.

Batoka Zambezi Sands , from about £540 a person a night.

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Africa Thrilling Safaris

Experience the Thrill of Africa.

Are you tired of the same old vacation spots and looking for something unique and thrilling? Look no further than Africa for your next adventure! 

Plains Zebras

4 Days Fly-in Mara Safari

From  $ 1,190 per person sharing Inclusions: ✓ 3 nights of Accommodation ✓ Return Flights ✓ Park Fees ✓ Full Board Meal Plan ✓ Maasai Village Visit ✓ All Applicable Government Taxes

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5 Days Kenya at a Glance Safari

From  $ 1,688 per person sharing Inclusions: ✓ All Transport & Transfers ✓ Accommodation ✓ Park Entry Fees ✓ Full Board Meal Plan ✓ Unlimited Game viewing drives ✓ Professional Guide-driver

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9 Days Kenya Classic Safari

From  $ 6,052 per person sharing

Inclusions: ✓ All Transport & Airport Transfers ✓ All Domestic Flights ✓ Accommodation ✓ Park Entry Fees ✓ Full Board Meal Plan ✓ Game viewing drives ✓ Maasai Village Visits, Bush Dinner & Walking Safaris

Tailor-Made Safaris?

Tailor-made safari holidays have become increasingly popular over the years due to their flexibility, personalized service, and unique experiences. Unlike group tours, tailor-made safaris allow you to customize your itinerary to suit your interests and preferences. You have the freedom to choose your destination, accommodations, activities, and even your safari guide. This level of customization ensures that your safari holiday is truly unique and tailored to your needs. 

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Safari Experience

If you are an adventurous traveler looking for a unique experience, Africa has a lot to offer. With its diverse wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating cultures, Africa is a top destination for safari enthusiasts and we are here to guide you through the best safari experiences in Africa, from game drives and bush walks in the savannas to hot-air balloon safaris. 

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When you travel with us, you'll be treated like family. We take the time to get to know you and your interests so that we can personalize your trip and create an itinerary that's tailored just for you.

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We don't believe in cookie-cutter trips or following the same well-trodden paths as everyone else. Instead, we strive to offer experiences that are genuine, meaningful, and truly unforgettable.

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10 Unique Safari Experiences in South Africa

South Africa is a land of contrasts and natural wonders that continues to fascinate tourists from around the world. The vast and untamed regions of the country offer unique safari experiences that combine authenticity, adventure, and respect for the environment. In these pristine corners, adventurous travelers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of South African wildlife.

Whether on foot or by balloon, in the desert, or at night, here are some of the most unusual safaris in this rainbow n ation – one of the best reasons to visit South Africa !

Take a ride above the clouds on a thrilling balloon safari

africa unique safaris

Taking a hot air balloon safari in South Africa is an ideal way to experience its stunning landscapes and observe wildlife in its natural habitat. Expert pilots guide travelers over the country’s most spectacular areas, featuring herds of elephants, giraffes, lions, and rhinos.

Whether you’re a seasoned safari expert or a first-timer, traveling alone, with a partner, family, or friends, operators of aerial safaris provide customizable options to fit your needs and budget.

Experience South Africa’s stunning national parks and wildlife from a different perspective by taking a hot air balloon safari for an aerial view of the vast landscapes, perfect for those who want to cover more ground quickly and efficiently.

Highlights include the Cradle of Humankind region and the Magaliesberg mountain range. Enjoy the views, bathed in golden sunlight, as you soar through the skies.

Hot air balloon safaris are best experienced early in the morning when the animals are most active.

Go on a Cycle safari

africa unique safaris

Get off the beaten track and embark on a cycle safari to experience South Africa’s wildlife up close while being environmentally friendly. This is an eco-friendly way to explore South Africa’s national parks while also getting some exercise.

You can rent a bike from various outfitters or bring your own and cycle through the park at your own pace. This is a great way to be immersed in nature and observe wildlife without disturbing their habitat. It’s important to note that not all national parks allow cycling, so make sure to research beforehand.

Some popular destinations for cycling safaris in South Africa include iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Garden Route National Park.

Exploring the great outdoors on a wildlife walk

africa unique safaris

South Africa boasts a wealth of safari experiences. Visitors can immerse themselves in the untamed wilderness, marveling at the songs of birds, indulging in the aromas of the savanna, and detecting wildlife’s fresh footprints.

africa unique safaris

Experienced guides educate travelers on the importance of preserving the habitat and ecosystem of wild animals.

Timbavati Reserve is renowned for its white lions, and the Phinda Reserve contains seven distinct habitats. For a more private experience, Welgevonden and Thanda Safari reserves offer untouched beauty.

A perfect choice for adventure seekers: Nighttime fun!

africa unique safaris

At nightfall, a new world full of adventure and mystery awakes. Brave adventurers can experience a unique night safari, where they can encounter creatures most active at night, such as lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals.

The fascinating nocturnal atmosphere is enhanced by the captivating sound of the savanna, while experienced guides lead small groups in specially equipped vehicles, for an unrivaled sensory experience.

Madikwe, Thornybush, and Sabi Sand reserves offer these unforgettable night safaris through the African savanna.

Experience the thrill of a photography safari

africa unique safaris

Join a photography safari led by a professional photographer to improve your wildlife photography skills and capture incredible shots of South Africa’s wildlife.

Many national parks in South Africa offer photography safaris that focus on wildlife photography.

africa unique safaris

These safaris are led by professional photographers who have extensive knowledge of the national parks and the wildlife that inhabits them.

They will offer technical advice and help you capture the best shots of South Africa’s wildlife.

Book a walking safari with an expert tracker

africa unique safaris

Accompanied by an expert tracker, hike through the African bush to get up close and personal with the wildlife of South Africa.

Walking safaris are a unique way to experience the African bush and learn about the different species of wildlife that inhabit it.

Do you prefer mountains or deserts?

africa unique safaris

South Africa is home to a range of diverse landscapes, from mountains like the Drakensberg and Table Mountain to arid deserts.

Guided mountain safaris let you explore picturesque trails, with the chance to spot leopards, antelopes, zebras, exotic birds, and more.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier and Witsand Kalahari Nature Reserve offer an incredible experience in the desert, with meerkats, antelopes, ostriches, and felines adapted to the harsh conditions.

Self-drive safari

africa unique safaris

Rent a 4×4 and drive yourself through one of South Africa’s national parks to spot wildlife on your own.

This is an opportunity to have a personalized experience and to explore the national park at your own pace. Some of the most popular national parks for self-drive safaris include Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.

Renting a 4×4 is easy and affordable, and you can choose from a wide range of vehicles that suit your needs and budget.

Canoe safari anyone?

africa unique safaris

Paddle down a river in a canoe and get up close to hippos, crocodiles, and other animals that live around the water.

Canoe safaris are a great way to experience wildlife at a slower pace and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the African bush. Visitors can expect to see elephants, buffalos, crocodiles, and various bird species as they paddle leisurely down the river.

Experience the thrills of horseback riding in the savanna

africa unique safaris

Horseback safaris offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore South Africa’s wild nature.

Both seasoned and novice riders can enjoy the thrill of spotting wildlife, such as giraffes, zebras, and more, across plains, rivers, and beaches. Luxurious lodges in the African savanna provide a relaxing setting with stunning views.

africa unique safaris

Safari options span all types of landscapes from the Wild Coast’s coastal seascapes to Waterberg Reserve’s lush green valleys.

africa unique safaris

In conclusion, South Africa is a unique and fascinating country that offers a plethora of safari experiences that combine authenticity, adventure, and respect for the environment.

From exhilarating balloon rides and walking with wildlife to night safaris and horseback riding through the savanna, there is something for every type of traveler. Visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of South African wildlife, explore diverse landscapes, and revel in unforgettable experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime.

It’s no wonder that South Africa continues to be a top destination for safari enthusiasts from around the world.

Keep reading: Cape Town most picturesque spots

africa unique safaris

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African Safari: How To Choose The Right Safari For You

Posted: February 18, 2023 | Last updated: June 20, 2023

Only a few things can compare to the thrill of an African safari. Miles upon miles of savannah grassland hold the potential for an adventure like you've never experienced. Forget all those National Geographic videos you've watched. Take in the wilderness of Africa, not merely through your TV screen, but up close and personal. Guess what? Mufasa, Simba, and Pumba actually exist and they're out there somewhere in the wild expanse of the African plains, waiting for you to show up.

With so many options on the table, it might be a bit of a head-scratcher to find the right safari location. From the extensive East African prairies down to the southern deserts, there are plenty of magnificent places to choose from. While each location offers memorable surreal encounters with wildlife, there are unique differences that set them apart. So whether you want to experience the great wildebeest migration, get a first-hand view of a thrilling lion hunt, or see the majestic African bush elephant in all its splendor, Africa has it all. Here are a couple of pointers to help you out before heading out on your next (or first) African safari.

Think About Accomodations

Accommodations are always a big deal when choosing your dream safari adventure. Regarding lodgings, it boils down to two main options: a safari lodge or a camping site. Safari lodges offer hotel-like services and come with plenty of amenities including hot showers, flush toilets, Wi-Fi, power sockets, and swimming pools. Meals are also included as part of the package with most offering buffets where you can sample a variety of foods, including local delicacies such as nyama choma and Kenyan chicken pilau. You can go for this option if you're looking for somewhere more refined.

Camping sites are also a viable option and come in two varieties. You have the option of a classic camping site, where you get to pitch tents in the great outdoors and spend the night in a sleeping bag or on a mattress. The tents are usually pitched in specific campsites that neighbor the parks, and thankfully, there's a support team to help you out in case tent pitching isn't really your strong suit. Bathrooms and toilets are a shared resource, so take note of that. You may opt to cook for yourself, but the support team will always be on hand to cater to your culinary needs.

Choose Which Landscape To Explore

Africa is huge. With a land area of roughly 11.7 million square miles, this gargantuan continent has a lot to offer including a vast array of terrains. From the expansive savannah and grasslands that cover large tracts of land in eastern to southern Africa to the desert and semi-desert over the southwestern and northern regions, you'll be spoiled for choice.

The most frequented locations are often those covering the savannah. You may be wondering why. It's simple, these areas have an abundance of wildlife to see. The most famous game parks and wildlife reserves are located within this belt of terrain and contain some of the most sought-after animals. If you're thinking about the Big Five, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, or rhinos, they're all there. But hey, if you want to try something different, then there's the lovely Namib desert in Namibia with its unique blend of animals such as gemsboks and Namib desert horses. Botswana's Okavango Delta is also a worthy contender since it offers a unique ecosystem that even hosts endangered species such as the white rhinos.

Think About Who You're Traveling With

Maybe you're planning a solo safari trip to enjoy some quality alone time with all that nature has to offer. Or perhaps you want to take out your significant other for some one-on-one time, away from the daily hustle and bustle. You might even have a nice family vacation in mind, where you can take the little ones for some fun-filled thrills in the beautiful plains of Africa. Knowing who you're traveling with goes a long way in making proper preparations.

A growing number of solo travelers make their way to Africa each year, so if you're planning a solo trip, you're not alone. Matters touching on timing, safety, and the number of activities are definitely worth considering before booking your safari. Some safari options are geared toward solo travelers, whereas others encompass plans for children or couples. A little side note though, kids aged five and below might not be up for the adventure, especially if you plan to explore the wilderness by foot. Kids this young are also not able to join certain safaris. 

Keep In Mind The Wild Animals You Want To See

Africa is home to some of the most unique animal species that you'll only find on the continent. And the best part is, these animals are in the wild, not in zoos, so you'll get to experience them in their natural setting. There are plenty of animals to see including a majestic lion, the highly-elusive leopard, the gracious gazelle, the nimble cheetah, and the mighty elephant, just to name a few.

Depending on where you decide to visit, the animal species will differ. Away from the savannah grasslands and in the semi-desert areas, particularly the Namib desert, you'll likely spot a few distinct animals, including the spotted hyena, the aardvark, the oryx, the aardwolf, and even the bat-eared fox. And it's not just terrestrial animals that you can look forward to. The skies also hold their fair share of amazing bird species with all sorts of colors and sounds.

Budget In Advance

You've probably heard someone say, "failing to plan is planning to fail." Well, that's something worth keeping in mind as you sit down to plan your African safari adventure. There's plenty to think about from your plane tickets to the cost of accommodation, meal prices, game drive fees, alongside a few other add-ons like souvenirs or perhaps even a tip for the friendly staff. Transportation and hiring tour guides is likely to be among your biggest expenses. Budgeting is simply a matter you can't ignore and the sooner you do it the better.

Your budget will heavily depend on the length of your stay, the size of your travel entourage, and the season. The best option may be to look for reputable travel companies with proven track records for amazing travel packages, which include a private tour guide, meals, accommodation, on-the-ground transport, and pick-ups and drop-offs from the airport. Getting a package can save you lots of time and money by helping you avoid the hassle of booking everything individually. Plus, you'll save yourself from the temptation of tipping every resourceful person you meet.

Choose Whether To Go On A Self-Drive Or Hire A Tour Company

To go solo or to go together? That is the question. Well, each option has its pros and cons. If you're the type who wants to do it alone and embark on a safari in a rented car, that's totally okay. There are plenty of car rental services you can choose from, just be sure to do your due diligence. It's always wise to book using a well-known travel company and a quick search should yield some reliable results. A couple of extra handy tips when going on a self-drive safari: have a map of the area (yes, that includes a conventional printed-out map), ensure you have a four-wheel drive vehicle because of the terrain, and note down a couple of easy-to-reach contacts in case of an emergency. The downside? Navigating through unfamiliar terrain means you may get lost or stuck.

Hiring a tour company would be an excellent choice if you prefer a more relaxed experience. Aside from having the necessary experience in terms of terrain and location, a travel agency also takes care of pretty much everything, including scheduling safari drives, so you don't have to. Also, they tend to know where all the best spots are to get awe-inspiring shots of the animals. In the end, it's all a matter of personal preference.

Consider Transportation Options

The rugged African savannah isn't something to underestimate, especially when it comes to transportation. Sure, once you land at the airport, the smooth tarmac carries you along nicely but once you hit the safari trail, things get rough pretty quickly. You'll need something gritty that can handle everything the tough terrain throws your way. 4x4 Landcruisers are a fan favorite because of their handling. They're super robust to get you up those challenging sections of your safari and their seats make for a very comfy ride. Also, their pop-up roofs offer some truly amazing views and give you a chance to capture some remarkable shots.

For a more breathtaking experience, you could hop on a hot air balloon. The aerial views of the savannah give you a deeper appreciation of its sheer vastness while affording some unique glimpses of wildlife in a way you've never seen. If the whole hot air balloon isn't your thing and you'd prefer something with actual wings, you can still explore the plains onboard a light airplane for a similar aerial view. But again, there's always the good old-fashioned walk. Be sure to hire a professional guide to offer you tips and paths to mind-blowing spots.

TIming Is Everything

They say timing is everything. Well, that's true when choosing your safari adventure because a wrong choice could lead to some disappointments. While Africa doesn't have the type of weather you'd expect at higher latitudes, it does experience seasons, heavy rains, and hot sun. If you're planning an East African safari, say in Kenya or Tanzania, June through September would be an ideal choice. This period works for two reasons -- not only is it cooler and drier than other times of the year, but you also get the chance to view the famed animal migration as roughly 2 million wildebeests , including herds of zebras and antelopes, make the perilous journey from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kenya's Masai Mara, across the crocodile-infested Mara River.

If you opt for a Kenyan safari at a later time of the year like between November and December, chances are you'll experience wet spells as the short rains pour down. But not to worry, the sun always shines through, quickly transforming the gloomy-looking sky bright again. Interestingly, after heavy rains, the sun shines for a few hours, and that's enough to make you forget that it ever rained because the soil dries completely. If you want a less-crowded safari experience, consider booking your safari any time from March through May. Parks and game reserves tend to have their low season during that period, meaning you will typically pay less for the same services.

Decide How Long Your Holiday Will Be

Two days? Maybe three? A week perhaps? When it comes to planning your safari, shorter trips are doable but anything less than three days may not give you the chance to enjoy what the great African outdoors has to offer. Of course, the length of your stay rests on a couple of factors. First things first, your safari location. If you'll be at a bigger park, say the Masai Mara, then you'll probably need a solid week to get enough time to explore. Secondly, consider the kinds of wild animals you want to see. If you're keen on catching a glimpse of rarer animals like the leopard, you might have to stick around a bit longer because they are more active at night.

If you're a first-time safari goer , why not plan for a longer trip? Plan for a full week or two to ensure you're able to savor the thrills of the African bush and build some fond memories you'll be proud to tell your grandkids about. Last but not least, you may want to think about how much you're willing to spend, as a bigger budget affords you a longer stay.

Consider Places To Eat

There's nothing like a long game drive to stir up your appetite. After taking in the sights and sounds of the open grasslands, you'll need to give your tummy (and taste buds) some tender loving care. Your choice of where to eat largely depends on your destination. If you're staying at a safari lodge, meals are often part of the travel package, and that includes three meals a day. You can look forward to a scrumptious yet light breakfast, a lovely picnic lunch out on your game drive, and a savory sunset dinner. You may also carry along a couple of snacks (think dried fruits or nuts) while you're out and about on safari drives.

Mobile safaris essentially entail a portable camp that moves with you as you go along on your exploration exploits. But don't let the term "camp" trick you into thinking you'll be out there all alone in the wild expanse of the African savannah struggling to whip up a meal over some campfire you struggled to start. Look forward to delightful safari dishes every day prepared by excellent chefs. While you may not get the same expansive menu that a lodge would afford, you'll still get exquisite options to satisfy you. If you find yourself wanting a snack, walk around in the community to find places to try some of the local cuisines.

Decide Which Cultures You Want To Experience

No safari would be complete without getting to indulge in some of the local cultures. Africa's rich and diverse cultural heritage stems from the roughly 3,000 tribes on the continent with some of the most renowned communities being the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania, the Himba of Namibia, and the Khoisan in South Africa. The Maasai still hold on to many of their cultural customs and if you decide to visit them on a safari, you can take a tour of a Maasai village and get to see what a typical day there looks like. If you're up for it, test your jumping skills in the renowned Maasai dance and grab the vibrant Maasai shuka as a souvenir.

If you're in South Africa, you may want to take in some of the Khoisan cultures. Though the Khoisan people have had a challenging past, they still hold to a lot of their traditions and possess an incredible knowledge of their environment. You can learn more about how they're able to use diverse plants for their medicinal benefits and how they established themselves as highly successful animal hunters. While you're at it, why not learn a Khoisan word or two? Its unique clicking sounds to make it one of the most fascinating languages you'll ever hear.

Read this next: 50 Underrated Tourist Destinations Around The World

Elephants at Tarangire National Park

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    Unique Safari Experiences in South Africa The Kruger National Park, Serengeti and Masai Mara, some of Africa's most iconic destinations, have long delighted their visitors.

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    Tanzania. Tanzania is similar to Kenya - fantastic wildlife parks across the country, an excellent safari industry - but its traffic is generally less stressful, prices are (for the most part) lower, and its mountain (Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest) is even higher.Tanzania's northern safari circuit is a terrific introduction to the continent, including as it does the Serengeti ...

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