Here are some the top safari destinations in southern Africa.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park, located in the northeast part of South Africa along the Mozambique border, was established in 1898, making it one of the oldest established game reserves in Africa. In addition, Kruger is also one of Africa’s largest game reserves, offering an incredible diversity and abundance of life. Kruger sustains 16 ecozones, each with its own geology, rainfall, altitude, and landscape, along with 147 types of mammal species, including thousands of lions, leopards, hyenas, and rhinos as well as herds of elephants, buffalos, zebras, and other plains games numbering in the tens of thousands. There are also 507 types of bird species, 114 different reptiles, 336 species of trees, 34 kinds of amphibians, and 49 types of fish. Kruger's incredible wildlife experience, along with its advanced environmental management techniques and policies, makes it one of Africa's premier parks.
Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Founded in 1950, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve shares a 31-mile long unfenced border with Kruger National Park, allowing wildlife to move about freely between Kruger and this 153,000-acre reserve. Sabi Sands is one of the most famous and exclusive private reserves in Africa, home to many acclaimed safari lodges such as Singita, Londolozi, MalaMala, Ulusaba, and many others. This area is also one of southern Africa’s premier game-viewing destinations, known for its exceptionally high concentration of animal and bird life, which are attracted to the reserve’s two perennial rivers, the Sabi and Sands. In addition, Sabi Sands is one of the best places in the world for seeing leopards and lions, making it must on any safari-goers list of dream destinations.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a marvelous, pristine wetland located in northern Botswana and is one of Africa’s most outstanding wildlife areas. Known as “the river that never finds the sea” the Okavango River enters Botswana from the north and meets the Kalahari Desert, where the water then pans out into the hot sands forming and inland delta. This delta covers nearly four million acres when the floodwaters arrive in July and August. It consists of meandering channels, lily-covered ponds, swamps, oxbow lakes, lagoons, and a maze of islands. With its huge supply of water and vegetation, the Okavango Delta attracts enormous densities of wildlife and myriads of birds from all over Africa. Unlike many other wildlife regions of Africa, however, the Okavango Delta is more difficult to access and considerably more expensive to visit. But for those with the time and resources to visit the Okavango, there is no experience on the planet quite like this one.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Etosha National Park is considered to be one of the largest and best game viewing areas in all of Africa. A main attraction of the Park is the so-called “Etosha Pan,” an 80-mile salt pan that represents the remains of a large lake that used to fill the area. For a few days each year this pan fills up with rainwater, creating a lagoon that attracts flocks of flamingos and pelicans. Outside of the pan, in the surrounding bush, is where most of the park’s wildlife lives. The park’s main appeal (or deterrent, depending on your preference) is the ease of spotting game. Simply find a waterhole, park the vehicle, and let the African wildlife come to you. These scattered waterholes are the hub for all action, and attract congregations of wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, rare Black Rhinoceroses, prides of lions, leopards, and much more.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Hwange is located along the western border of Zimbabwe, next to Botswana, just below Victoria Falls. Hwange was established in 1929 and is the largest national park in the country. It is home to the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos and elephants) and is also one of Africa's elephant strongholds with a population of over 30,000 living within the park. Boasting approximately 400 species of birds, including 50 species of raptors, it is also a paradise for bird-watching enthusiasts. Hwange is easily accessible from Victoria Falls for a single-day or multi-day safari.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
South Luangwa National Park is considered to be one of the top contenders as the greatest wildlife sanctuary in Africa. The Luangwa River is the lifeblood of this park, attracting a massive concentration of wildlife. From its huge concentration of elephants, buffalos, hippos, and antelopes to an abundance of predators, South Luangwa is a safari enthusiast’s dream set in the isolation of a true wilderness. The park is also home to a number of unique animal species including Thornicroft’s Giraffe, Cookson’s Wildebeest, and Crawshay’s Zebra. What makes South Luangwa really special though, and helps set it apart from other parks in Africa, is that both night and walking safaris are permitted within the park, offering safari-goers two very unique perspectives of the African wild.
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Southern Africa is one of Africa's greatest safari destinations. With the likes of Kruger National Park, the Okavango Delta, South Luangwa in Zambia, Etosha National Park, and all the other incredible wildlife destinations that make up this region, there is little wonder why visitors flock here from all around the world. Add to that the plethora of world-class safari lodges located throughout these parks, and we have the makings of an unrivaled safari experience.