Must – See Tourist Places in Africa

'A small group of African Elephants in different ages is moving in the plains of Serengeti.Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Shot in wildlife.'

Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site largely on account of hosting the world’s most spectacular annual wildlife migration, comprising up to two million wildebeest, as well as tens of thousands of zebras. The expansive plains host Africa’s largest lion population, estimated at 3,000 individuals. It is probably the most reliable place in East Africa for cheetah, while leopards are regularly observed in the central Seronera Valley. Other common wildlife includes elephant, buffaloes, giraffe, spotted hyena, bat-eared fox and a wide variety of antelope.

Bwindi Forest National Park for mountain gorillas. This lushly forested Ugandan national park is one of the best places to visit in Africa if you want to see these gentle giants – the world’s largest primate, weighing in at up to 200kg – in their misty mountain homes. Staring into the liquid brown eyes of a giant silver back is undoubtedly the highlight of almost all visits to Bwindi. Therefore, visiting Bwindi is so much perfect to enjoy gorilla trekking tours in the mist.

But it is also an excellent place to see forest dwellers such as yellow-backed duiker, L’Hoest’s monkey and a full 23 bird species endemic to the Albertine Rift, among them the gorgeous African green broad bill.

Masai Mara is equally rewarding when it comes to game viewing. Big cats are the star residents. Prides of up to 20 lions hog the spotlight, but it is also a very good place to see cheetah and leopard, along with elephant, buffalo, and giraffe and – with a bit more luck – black rhino. The Masai Mara comes into its own over late July to early October, when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest arrive from the Serengeti to cross the Mara River, the most spectacular part of the annual migration.

Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe is one of the best places to travel in Africa for the adventurous. It is definitely where to go if you are looking for a safari destination that places no restriction on unguided and guided walking. Better still, it offers the thrilling opportunity to canoe through one of Africa’s most pristine wilderness wetlands in the form of the forest-fringed Zambezi River and a network of associated pools. Whether you paddle or walk, expect to see an abundance of elephants, hippos, buffaloes, crocodiles and water-associated birds, it also harbours healthy populations of lion and leopard.

Etosha National Park in Namibia is dominated by the vast, saline and normally dry pan for which it is named. The pan is lined by a series of perennial waterholes – some floodlit at night – that attract large herds of antelope, giraffe and other grazers during the dry season. It is also one of the more reliable parks in Africa for black rhino, which occur here alongside lion, leopard and elephant but not buffalo. Etosha is unusually well geared towards self-drive safaris.

One of the best places to visit in Africa for a self-drive safari, the incomprehensibly vast Kruger National Park would require at least two weeks to explore in its entirely. Most people focus on the south, due to its proximity to Johannesburg, but the more remote north is where to go if you want to get off the beaten track. Kruger supports 147 mammal species, the most of any African national park, including prodigious populations of all the Big Five, together with cheetah, hippo, zebra, giraffe, warthog, baboon and 20-plus antelope species. It is also home to 517 bird species.

Okavango Delta in Botswana the vast inland delta created by the OKavango River as is sinks into the sands of the Kalahari Desert ranks among the best places to visit in Africa for close encounters with hippos, crocodiles and other aquatic wildlife. Most alluringly explored in a professionally-poled mokoro dugout canoe, it is also home to plenty of elephant and smaller numbers of lion and leopard, but the real attraction is the delta’s primal sense of place.

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the endangered mountain gorilla and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. Tracking endangered mountain gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of 200 species of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, is only one of the truly unique experiences in the area.


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