Africa’s nature reserves are as varied as its wildlife. So how do you choose where to go? Our guide will help you consider your priorities.

The thundering hooves of wildebeest, the sight of baby gorillas clinging to their mothers and the extraordinary prowess of a lion hunting in the wild are all memories you’ll carry with you forever.

Observing animals in their natural habitat is awesome, even for the most experienced travelers. And with our guide to the best safari destinations, you can start planning your trip to Africa now.

Baby gorilla in Africa on safari

When to go

Africa is larger than the USA, China and Europe combined, so it’s always a great time to visit somewhere.

The best time to view big game, however, is between June and October; when water is scarce, animals congregate at waterholes, making them easier to locate.

Elephant on safari in Okavango Delta in Africa

What to see

Planning your first safari? Chances are you’ll want to tick the Big Five off your bucket list – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and elephant. You can also seek out gorillas, flamingos or wildebeest.

As well as considering wildlife you’d like to see, think about the type of safari you find appealing. Most are in 4x4s, while adventurous travelers can also explore on foot, horseback, boat or canoe.

Where to go


Bordering South Africa, Botswana is synonymous with the Okavango Delta’s marshlands, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Explore by canoe and boat and you may spot hippopotamus and Nile crocodile alongside blue wildebeest, endangered African wild dog and the Big Five.

Chobe National Park has four of the Big Five (no rhinoceros) as well as zebra, which migrate through Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan National Parks during the wet season, from November through March.


Sprawling savannahs and giraffes sheltering beneath acacias typify east Africa’s Masai Mara National Reserve. Revered for the Big Five, it also sees 1.2 million wildebeest migrate 620 miles from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, attempting to escape crocodiles in their search for water as they stampede through the Mara every August. 

Oryx in Namib Desert


Arabuko Sokoke National Reserve, home to 230 bird species, is less well known, although its proximity to the coast makes it popular with travelers combining a safari with the beach. 

Burnt ember dunes and salt pans cracked as honeycomb encapsulate the Namib Desert, which stretches down Namibia’s west coast. Lion, cheetah, rhinoceros and mountain zebra thrive here alongside lesser known gemsbok (oryx).

In the north, the Big Five and endangered black rhinoceros roam Etosha National Park, which also has herds of antelope.

If you’re keen to see African elephants, head north west to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Damaraland.


Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda may have the Big Five, but Volcanoes National Park has primates. 

Locking eyes with a silverback, getting close enough to hear a mother breathe and seeing dew on her baby’s coat is a humbling experience. 

The park offers just 96 tourist permits a day and contact is limited to an hour, so book ahead through us to ensure you don’t miss such a special moment. 

South Africa

Morning mist stretching across plains greets early risers in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa. 

To escape crowds looking out for the Big Five, consider a horseback ride in Karongwe Private Game Reserve and Greater Makalali Game Reserve instead, during which you may experience the thrill of getting up close to lion, hyena or cheetah.

South Africa is ideal if you’d like to combine a short safari with a city break or vineyard tour.

Once you’ve decided where to go, discover more safari tips from what to pack to choosing a guide.

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