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9 Best African Safari Countries and Where to Go Within Them

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Zebra and wildebeests walking along a lake filled with flamingos in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Africa is home to conservation parks and canyons, deserts and deltas, rivers and ravines that create an ideal canvas for a dream adventure across our best African safari countries.

Focus is given to east and southern Africa, where unfathomable numbers of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes set the scene for an animal adventure some only dream of. A beach-and-bush endeavor intertwined with majestic waterfalls, tranquil lakes, and off-the-beaten-path activities makes planning an African safari not only exciting, but perhaps a little daunting, with options stretching from border to border.

As an entire continent that captures the soul in so many ways, you can find our recommendations for the best African safari countries, with ideas of where to go within them.

  1. 1. Botswana
  2. 2. Kenya
  3. 3. Namibia
  4. 4. Rwanda
  5. 5. South Africa
  6. 6. Tanzania
  7. 7. Uganda
  8. 8. Zambia
  9. 9. Zimbabwe
  10. Explore the Best African Safari Countries on Vacation

1. Botswana

Elephants on the banks of the Chobe River, Botswana

Chobe National Park, Botswana

Botswana offers some of the most incredible wildlife experiences and several must-see destinations and landscapes.

The humbling natural beauty presents scenes ranging from stark desert beauty to thickets of acacia trees, and the winding waters of the Okavango Delta only scratch the surface of reasons to choose Botswana for your safari. With exclusive, adventurous exploration and unforgettable wildlife encounters, Botswana is the ideal playground for any safari seeker.

Whether looking for your Botswana safari for seniors or interested in a luxury Botswana safari, you can find the right place for your style of travel and more at the following spectacular places.

Okavango Delta

Where is it? The channels and grasslands of the Okavango Delta lie in north-western Botswana, the water coming down from Angola and flooding the plains to create a wonderland offering water- and land-based safaris for a variety of exciting experiences when on an Okavango Delta safari.

Highlights of the area:

  • Discover how the channels of the Okavango Delta provide a pathway through reeds and bushes to highlight some of the best birdlife and smaller wildlife in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Witness how the soil shifts from desert-like sand to stoney savannas,
  • Embrace the unparalleled game experiences to find the likes of elephants and lions, lively avifauna and foraging mongoose.

When to visit: Between May and September, when the days are cooler, the grasses low, and the game viewing at its prime, will show you the delta at its best. The dryer, winter months of the Southern Hemisphere are simply perfect to explore on water or land.

Chobe Game Reserve

Where is it? Located in the north of Botswana, Chobe is the country’s third-largest game reserve. It lies not too far from the Zimbabwe border and is a water taxi ride from Zambia.

Highlights of the park:

  • Great herds of elephants, an incredible sight to witness from within the reserve and from a tender boat on the Chobe River.
  • Proximity to Victoria Falls to experience it as a day trip.
  • Combines nicely with the Okavango Delta and Maun to create the overall Botswana safari adventure.

When to visit: Winter in the Southern Hemisphere is the best time, so consider the drier, cooler months of June to the end of September. Combining Chobe with a visit to the famous Victoria Falls works exceptionally well during the winter months as the falls are at their most magnificent from May to the end of July.

Kalahari Desert

Where is it? Crossing several countries, the Kalahari Desert covers around 70% of Botswana, starting from the southern border with South Africa, expanding up into Botswana. It offers some of the typical topography and features you would expect from a desert experience, plus much more.

Highlights of the park:

  • Bask in the diverse wildlife, flora, and fauna in connection to the dramatic variations in temperature.
  • Visit with the renowned Bushmen who have lived in the distinctive landscape and temporal conditions for millennia.
  • Enjoy stargazing and nature walks to embrace the encompassing majesty of the Kalahari Desert.

When to visit: Consider the wet season to optimize this region and embrace all its offerings, most noticeably the prolific birdlife that can be seen from December through to March. Animals also congregate around the pans, so wildlife spotting is good. The cooler and drier months will make road travel easier, so we could say this is a year-round destination.


Where is it? Located in the north-western corner of Chobe National Park, near the river border of Namibia, lies the swamp-like safari wonder of Linyanti. It is remote and rugged, and offers exceptional off-the-beaten-track safaris.

Highlights of the park:

  • View the vast herds of elephants to experience one of the main highlights of any safari to this region.
  • Indulge in the stillness, remoteness, and incredible birdlife associated with the serene corner of Botswana

When to visit: September stands out as a peak time to visit, with the best bird-watching months being January and February. The winter in southern Africa falls from June through to the end of August, making wildlife sightings easier during dry months when the grass is low.

Learn more: Botswana SafarisBotswana Safari Guide

2. Kenya

Giraffes in the background of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Comprising vast savannas, flourishing lakes, and impressive mountains, Kenya sits along Africa’s eastern coastline and is a gateway to some of Africa’s key safari destinations.

With opportunities to enjoy a Kenya Great Migration safari or honeymoon safari across Kenya, the county’s well-known parks lure you in with promises of thundering herds in the Maasai Mara or marveling at the tip of Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli, just two highlights of your safari journey.

Colonial, timeless, and offering fantastic times to visit year-round, discover safari excellence in this incredible country at the following iconic destinations.


Where is it? Perfectly positioned along the southern border of Kenya, the Amboseli National Park offers a frontline view to one of the most majestic sights of all time, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Highlights of the park:

  • Enjoy the national park with one of the best panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Explore the wilderness to find the variety of wildlife in a park home to the Big Five
  • Indulge in the natural landscapes of Kenya as you venture through one of Africa’s most scenic national parks.

When to visit: The drier months of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter are prime time to experience this part of Kenya. Visit anytime from the end of May to the end of September and discover mild days and cool nights, with quality game viewing guaranteed.

Masai Mara

Where is it? Kenya’s most famous safari park is located in the southwest of the country, bordering Tanzania and offering some of the best game viewing in Africa. The Masai Mara is the quintessential safari destination and the place most first-time safari goers look to experience on Masai Mara safaris.

Highlights of the park:

  • Discover the wilderness in the Masai Mara as you search for the infamous Big Five and herds of plain game
  • Explore the vast savannas with exceptional guides, inviting lodges, and premier camps
  • Take advantage of the sensational opportunity to witness the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth, the Great Migration.

When to visit: The Great Migration usually occurs around July and again in reverse around the end of October to provide the best game-viewing opportunities. Birding is wonderful in January and February, and the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months of June to August are known as the peak safari period. The Masai Mara is one of the few safari destinations that almost assures you of a great experience any time of year.


Where is it? Centrally located, Laikipia County runs across vast open plains, dense hilly areas, and impressive mountain ranges. It overlooks the Ewaso Nyiro River, is home to Maasai and Samburu communities, and an array of wildlife.

Highlights of the park:

  • Find a refuge for a large number of endangered black rhino and other captivating wildlife, such as giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, eland, and leopard.
  • Revel in the wilderness from a different perspective on walking and horseback-riding safaris
  • Discover the active colors, songs, and hunting prowess of the impressive avifauna with distinctive bird-watching opportunities.

When to visit: For optimum game viewing, the drier months of June through to September are perfect. If you are an avid bird watcher, be sure to include Laikipia in your East African safari itinerary and visit in January and February.

Lake Nakuru

Where is it? Located in west-central Kenya, three hours from Nairobi, Lake Nakuru is a captivating lake lying in the Great Rift Valley. The destination is often included in a standard Kenyan itinerary, adding a splash of color to a safari.

Highlights of the park:

  • Focus on the thousands of flamingos that cover the shimmering waters of the lake as they forage, rest, and cast a slightly pink hue across the water.
  • Search the landscape amongst the shrubs and along the shoreline to find vibrant wildlife such as crocodiles and baboons.

When to visit: Make the most of the dry, Southern Hemisphere winter by visiting between June and September.

Learn more: Kenya SafarisKenya Safari Guide

3. Namibia

Antelope in front of the red desert, Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia

Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia

Red desert scenery, vast safari parks, a breathtaking canyon, and the eerie yet serene coastline sum up the fascinating country of Namibia, with so many incredible places to see and experience.

A strong German influence is experienced in the town of Swakopmund and spending time with the Himba tribe as its people share their lifestyle and environment is unforgettable.

Ghostly Kolmanskop is captivating and spending time exploring the bushmen paintings at Twyfelfontein and marveling at the petrified rocks at Vingerklip round up a magnificent experience of the following places.

Etosha National Park

Where is it? Located in the north of Namibia, Etosha is a name that resonates with safari goers who look to explore more than the famous dunes, San culture, and quaint coastal towns of this fascinating country.

Highlights of the park:

  • Witness the Big Five roaming through the park during the dry winter months.
  • Discover elephants and a variety of buck as they gather at waterholes amid arid open savannas.

When to visit: Consider the drier winter months of the Southern Hemisphere between June and September for optimum game viewing. The days are cooler too, making the destination ideal overall.

Namib Naukluft

Where is it? Located on the southwest coast of Namibia, the Namib Naukluft Park is the largest game park in Africa and covers part of the Namib Desert.

Highlights of the park:

  • Embark on the key highlight at Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by magnificent rusty-red sand dunes.
  • Explore the Sesriem Canyon, an impressive gorge carved by the ​​Tsauchab River.

When to visit: Discover the area in the cooler, Southern Hemisphere winter months of May to September.

Learn more: Namibia Safaris

4. Rwanda

Family of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

A land of a thousand hills, as it is known, Rwanda thrills with its volcanoes, rainforests and open plains.

Wildlife is incredible, with the ultimate adventure found in the form of a Rwanda gorilla-trekking safari in one of the world’s key destinations to experience just that.

Below is one of the most iconic places in Rwanda that you can visit on vacation.

Volcanoes National Park

Where is it? Located in the northwestern part of Rwanda, part of the Virunga Conservation Area and covering more than 48 square miles, the park is home to five extinct volcanoes, the Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Karisimbi, and Bisoke.

Highlights of the park:

  • Venture deep into the dense jungle of Rwanda to uncover the endangered mountain gorillas.
  • Trek through the lush forests and trees to see the rare and rambunctious golden monkeys.
  • Enjoy wilderness hikes that take you into the rainforest for unique views and experiences with prolific birdlife.

When to visit: Enjoy the cooler, drier months of May to the end of August. A shorter dry season runs from mid-December to early February, a perfect time for bird lovers.

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Rwanda

5. South Africa

Rhino eating grass, Hluhluwe National Park, South Africa

Hluhluwe, South Africa

South Africa is definitely one of the top safari destinations in Africa, and with unparalleled natural reserves and breathtaking scenery, you can easily be immersed in the wonder of the Big Five and other majestic wildlife.

The country offers a handful of malaria-free reserves and parks, and with safari options available throughout the country, embarking on a trip like this is easily combined with visits to other parts of the country for a fantastic introduction to a South Africa safari for families or a safari with a South Africa food and wine tour.

With exceptional wildlife to see, here are some of the best places within South Africa that you can explore during your vacation.


Where is it? One of the most famous safari parks in Africa, the Kruger lies on the northeastern border of South Africa and Mozambique, and is said to be slightly larger in size than Switzerland. An immersive exploration of the landscape can be had on a Kruger National Park safari.

Highlights of the park:

  • Explore the breadth of the Kruger National Park to find some of safari’s most notable wildlife, including the Big Five and so much more
  • Experience a day of game drives to reach deep into changing landscapes across the park’s distinctive ecosystems.
  • Enjoy discovering the Kruger with a specially trained guide as you travel in a private vehicle or an open 4x4.

When to visit: Take advantage of the cooler, drier months of May to September to get optimum game viewing. Avoid school holidays, as many locals enjoy the park at this time. Otherwise, Kruger is a year-round destination with fascinating wildlife viewing, no matter the season.

Sabi Sands

Where is it? Lying adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands offers a private safari experience, game drives conducted in a smaller, private area on a very popular safari circuit.

Highlights of the park:

  • Indulge in the comforts and attention a private game reserve provides as your find prime game viewing on smaller sections of land.
  • Delight in the opportunity to see more wildlife at your leisure and pace, while also seeing fewer vehicles while you traverse this prime safari region.

When to visit: The Southern Hemisphere’s winter is the ultimate time to be on safari, with May to September offering mild days, low grass, and fantastic game viewing.


Where is it? Nestled in Zululand in the KwaZulu-Natal province, inland of South Africa’s east coast, it is about four hours from Durban International Airport.

Highlights of the park:

  • Revel in the opportunity to spot rhinoceros in the wild in Hluhluwe, one of the best destinations for spotting rhino in their natural habitat.
  • Enjoy the lushness of the hills and the picturesque scenery that create an unforgettable safari experience in South Africa’s oldest national park.

When to visit: The dry winter months of June, July, and August are best for game viewing, while the rainy season from late December through to February hinders wildlife sightings.


Where is it? Madikwe Reserve is located in South Africa’s North West province, near the Botswana border and the Kalahari Desert, and it boasts malaria-free status.

Highlights of the park:

  • Explore the national park famous for wild dog sightings and the strong conservation efforts focused on the preservation of wild dog packs.
  • Discover the comforts and capabilities of safari in a smaller, lesser-known park, while still having access to Big Five viewing.
  • Enjoy the freedom of a safari experience in a malaria-free zone.

When to visit: The Southern Hemisphere’s winter months from June to September are the peak time to enjoy a safari here. Daytime temperatures are mild, with low grass offering incredible wildlife sightings.


Where is it? Adjacent to Sabi Sands and on the western edge of the Kruger, in the Mpumalanga province, you will find the Timbavati Game Reserve. It is close to the town of Hoedspruit and the Eastgate (Hoedspruit) Airport.

Highlights of the park:

  • Experience the depth of beauty in the open plains and dense bush as you traverse Timbavati with a trained guide.
  • Revel in the open views and access to wildlife among fewer 4x4 vehicles traversing the park.
  • Travel through the park in search of the famous white lions that, while rarely spotted, still roam the savannas.

When to visit: Stick to the drier months of May through to September for your safari. Mild days and low grass make for a truly great experience.

Learn more: South Africa SafarisSouth Africa Travel Guide

6. Tanzania

Pride of lions in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania’s northern circuit makes up a popular safari itinerary and is definitely a key reason people visit this part of East Africa, with Swahili tradition found throughout every property.

Serengeti Great Migration safaris and luxury game adventures in Tanzania appeal to all safari inclinations, in location and style, with famous game parks giving way to lesser-known reserves for those seeking more or something different.

There are endless reasons to choose Tanzania for your safari, from the endless plains to the gorgeous craters and lakes, and our top recommendations when exploring this African safari destination can immerse you in the wonders of the natural world.

Ngorongoro Crater

Where is it? The famous Ngorongoro Crater is located in the highlands of Tanzania, approximately 110 miles west of Arusha. It forms part of Tanzania’s northern safari circuit.

Highlights of the park:

  • Embrace the wonders of the crater itself as a key feature of the safari as you travel around one of the world’s largest inactive volcanic calderas.
  • Delight in viewing the Big Five in an incredible setting that provides a memorable combination.

When to visit: Peak safari season is during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months, so plan to visit any time from May through September to enjoy an incredible safari experience. If you do want to be present for the birthing season, travel in January or February.

Serengeti National Park

Where is it? Located in the northern part of the country, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s most famous safari destination and shares a border with Kenya.

Highlights of the park:

  • Traverse Serengeti National Park in search of the incredible amount of wildlife, open savannas, rocky outcrops, and five famous rivers.
  • Wander the exciting stage of the Great Migration as you witness one of the ultimate safari experiences.

When to visit: For a chance to catch the migration, visit in October or November to watch thousands of wildebeest cross from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara.


Where is it? Tarangire National Park is located in the northern part of Tanzania, in the Manyar region. It is named after the Tarangire River that runs through it.

Highlights of the park:

  • Discover the wonderful addition to the northern Tanzania safari circuit as you travel along the Tarangire River.
  • Search for atmospheric baobab trees and the thriving elephant population to enjoy the captivating safari ambiance.

When to visit: Enjoy the dry season and Southern Hemisphere’s winter months any time from June to October.

Lake Manyara

Where is it? Part of the northern safari circuit, Lake Manyara lies on the East African rift of the Manyara regions of Tanzania. It boasts the seventh-largest lake in the country.

Highlights of the park:

  • Indulge in the iconic image of Lake Manyara as you find thousands of flamingos which make their home on the soda-ash lake.
  • Travel the lush and wet landscape to find the distinctive tree-climbing lions.

When to visit: Visit the park in the cooler months of May through to September, when the days are mild and drier, and game viewing is at its best.


Where is it? Located around 130 miles from the city of Dar es Salaam, in the southern part of Tanzania. The park is larger than the Serengeti, yet relatively undiscovered and a perfect addition to a northern-circuit safari.

Highlights of the park:

  • Embrace the quieter experience of the often-overlooked park to find dramatic landscapes comprised of waterways and forests.
  • Discover the incredible hippo, crocodile, and amazing birdlife populations as you traverse the variety of ecosystems.
  • Experience why the less-famous national park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When to visit: Consider the cooler winter months and plan your visit during the months of May through to September. While birding is great year-round, April is a good month for bird lovers.

Learn more: Tanzania SafarisTanzania Safari Guide

7. Uganda

Hippos in the rain at dusk, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

A diverse landscape of lakes and mountains, savannas and forests, Uganda offers a variety of views and adventures.

Wildlife abounds, with gorilla and chimpanzee trekking a highlight, while the culture will touch your soul. Known as the Pearl of Africa, it certainly is a gem and offers a unique safari and scenery experience at the following must-see places.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Where is it? Queen Elizabeth Park lies in western Uganda, between the Kazinga Channel and the George and Albert lakes.

Highlights of the park:

  • Enjoy the prolific birdlife and sightings of wildlife along the Kazinga Channel as you travel along the water by boat.
  • Spot tree-climbing lions in the Isasha Game Reserve, which lies in Queen Elizabeth Park.

When to visit: The park is great to visit at any time of the year. However, consider the drier, cooler months of June and July. If you are a bird lover, January and February are amazing here.

Murchison Falls

Where is it? The Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northern part of Uganda, just northwest of the capital, Kampala.

Highlights of the park:

  • Experience the alluring thunder of Murchison Falls, known as one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls.
  • Explore the diverse wildlife habitat created by the massive waterfall as you travel near the famous Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

When to visit: Consider visiting in June and July or January and February. Bird watching is best during the wet months, which are April and May and August to October.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Where is it? Covering around 120 square miles, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest lies in southwestern Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Highlights of the park:

  • Revel in the density of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as you trek through the trees in search of the renowned gorilla population.

When to visit: June to September and December to February are the drier and more desirable months to go gorilla trekking.

Learn more: Uganda Safaris and Gorilla TrekkingBest Places to Visit in Uganda

8. Zambia

Victoria Falls bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe

A southern African gem, the lesser-known, yet simply fantastic safari destination of Zambia is certainly to be considered when planning your trip.

Wide-open spaces and an abundance of wildlife are just two of the country’s major attractions, with walking safaris a distinct highlight when exploring the best places to visit in Zambia.

The incredible safari circuit is accompanied by the majestic Victoria Falls, which shares its glory with neighboring Zimbabwe, with many more excellent destinations to discover during your trip.

Lower Zambezi

Where is it? You can find the Lower Zambezi National Park in southwestern Zambia, along the north bank of the Zambezi River.

Highlights of the park:

  • Enjoy the pristine wilderness of the Lower Zambezi National Park safari to find quality experiences.
  • Discover camps and lodges that are unfenced, suggesting a vast exploration experience.
  • Travel beneath big skies that offer incredible stargazing opportunities.

When to visit: Get in ahead of the October heat and plan to visit from June to September, when it is drier and cooler.

South Luangwa

Where is it? This park is located in southwestern Zambia, in the valley of the Luangwa River, and is known to locals simply as “the South Park”.

Highlights of the park:

  • Venture through grasslands, savannahs, riverine, and woodlands when discovering the splendor of South Luangwa National Park, one of the most beautiful in Zambia.
  • Travel near the Luangwa River to find a major feature of the scenery, where many animals gather for phenomenal wildlife sightings.

When to visit: Most of the lodges and camps only operate seasonally and the ideal time to visit is during the drier months of June through to September.

Kafue National Park

Where is it? Zambia’s largest and oldest national park is located in western Zambia, also said to be one of the largest in Africa.

Highlights of the park:

  • Discover a sensational landscape perfect for walking safaris with a professional guide to view wildlife that does not migrate.

When to visit: Kafue is a year-round destination. However, the drier months of May to November are the better time to visit.

Learn more: Zambia Safaris

9. Zimbabwe

Antelope herd, Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Once known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe hosts safari parks and scenery that range from lakes and waterfalls to wildlife havens that rival more popular African destinations, easily demonstrated in the top places to visit in Zimbabwe.

A country filled with a rich cultural history and a wonderful consideration as a standalone destination or combinable with other incredible safari locations.

Hwange National Park

Where is it? Located around 60 miles from Victoria Falls, the Hwange National Park sits on a railway path that connects the famous falls to Bulawayo.

Highlights of the park:

  • Delight in the reserve surrounded by great herds of elephants.
  • Experience the dynamism of the wilderness in which wild dogs play.

When to visit: Enjoy a safari here any time between May and October. If combining it with viewing the famous Victoria Falls, then June and July are the ideal months.

Mana Pools National Park

Where is it? The Mana Pools National Park is located in northern Zimbabwe, along the lower Zambezi River. Heavy rains turn the floodplains into a bountiful lake.

Highlights of the park:

  • Discover the waterhole popular with wildlife as the surrounding lakes dry during the winter season to find a key game-viewing destination.
  • Explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a remote corner of Zimbabwe for an authentic and wild experience.

When to visit: Consider the drier months of May through to the end of September, when the animals tend to gather in search of water.

Learn more: Zimbabwe Safaris

Explore the Best African Safari Countries on Vacation

Wonderful sunset in Africa

Masai Mara, Kenya

Africa is a dynamic and intriguing continent, with several east and southern African countries setting the scene for unique drama and beauty in wildlife encounters and breathtaking scenery. Choosing to go on an African safari is the first step, knowing where to go may require a bit more research and narrowing options down to specific countries.

Let one of our Zicasso safari experts guide you in booking your next safari after you find inspiration for your best trip with our African safaris sample itineraries or African safari travel guide.

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