There is nothing quite like the thrill of an African safari. It’s the stillness of the early morning, before the rising sun reaches its peak and casts a heat mirage across the horizon. It’s the sound of wild creatures calling in the night and the sense of peace that comes with being surrounded by untamed wilderness. These are the top African safari destinations in 2019 according to TripSavvy.
1. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Located in the extreme southwest of the country on the border with Tanzania, Maasai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s quintessential safari destination. Covering over 580 square miles/1,500 square kilometers, it’s home to the Big Five and is famous for its thriving big cat populations. In particular, the reserve is known as one of the best places to see lions in their natural environment.
2. Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park lies adjacent to the Okavango Delta in the northwest corner of Botswana. It includes four distinct ecosystems, allowing for an incredibly diverse array of animal and bird life. In particular, the park’s Savuti Marsh offers one of Africa’s highest year-round concentrations of wildlife. Chobe is especially famous for its elephants, with an estimated 120,000 of the great grey animals living within the park’s borders.
3. Kruger National Park, South Africa
Located in the northeast of the country on the Mozambique border, Kruger National Park is the most famous of all South Africa’s many game reserves. As well as the Big Five, the park is home to the vulnerable cheetah, the endangered wild dog and several elusive small cat species. It is a good option for first-time visitors to Africa, with a wide choice of accommodation options (ranging from basic campsites to luxury lodges).
4. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
In eastern Zambia, South Luangwa National Park is known for incredible walking safaris that offer the chance to get up close to the park’s wildlife. It supports healthy herds of antelope and elephant, as well as several large lion prides. River-dwelling species such as hippos and Nile crocodiles thrive here and more than 400 bird species have been recorded in the region. Above all, South Luangwa is arguably the best place in Africa to see wild leopards.
5. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a unique inland water system created at the point where the Okavango River flows into the Kalahari Desert basin. It sustains an astonishing variety of wildlife and swells and recedes throughout the year according to the annual rains. The most exciting way to explore is on a traditional canoe or mokoro and the best time to visit is during the annual flood. Confusingly, this coincides with the May to September dry season.