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Importance of Africa’s Landscapes and How to Explore Them on Safari

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Wild animals surrounded by nature, Ngorongoro Crater, Africa

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, Africa

The inherent idiosyncrasy of safari is fueled initially by the diversity of Africa's landscapes and habitats that you can expect to see and explore during your African safari.

Each habitat dictates what you see on safari and how you experience each new habitat provides its own mystical experience. The individual showcases of wilderness share characteristics that let you delight in their limitlessness while immersing you in a journey that stitches together wildlife encounters.

Africa's landscapes are marvelously painted to provide a patchwork of colors; abundant stretches of scorched savannah merging into open woodland, the snaking path of a waterway, a desert pockmarked with exuberant oases to create your unique safari experience.

  1. Why Habitat is Fundamental to the African Safari Experience
  2. The Importance of Water to all Africa's Habitats
  3. Exploring Different Habitats on an African Safari
  4. How to Start Planning Your Safari

Why Habitat is Fundamental to the African Safari Experience

Two buffaloes in woodland, Aberdeer National Park, Kenya, Africa

Kenya, Africa

Understanding habitat is essential to understanding what you will see on safari. Many species are specialists, evolving to flourish within a specific habitat, the strongest of a species dominating the place with the most ideal conditions. Some species flit across a multitude of habitats, ever-adaptable to the conditions. Consider that lion prides not only relish lounging on rocks in the open grasslands, they are also expert hunters in woodland and around waterways.

Take away the wildlife and each habitat is laced in visual superlatives. A salt pan that blinds as it shimmers with the mirage of nature's antiquity, a tangled forest scarred by the rumbustious rumblings of an elephant herd. A mammoth baobab tree standing lonely amidst an ocean of shriveled grass, and the explosion of color and noise as a waterway slithers through deserted plains.

The intimacy of the experience is similarly dictated by habitat. Open landscapes allow you to see more; the wildlife is quickly spotted on the horizon. One sweeping view presents everything, from the giraffe and elephant far in the distance to the impala and buffalo herds across the foreground. Closed and hidden habitats like woodland and forest are more challenging, with trees dominating most of the vista. You must inspect the foliage to unravel the camouflage, follow the echoed calls, and move slowly to discover hiding places. But trees also mean that wildlife doesn't see you to bring the animals impossibly close.

The Importance of Water to all Africa's Habitats

A herd of elephants by the Rufiji River, Selous National Park, Tanzania, Africa

Tanzania, Africa

Every habitat is dictated by water. Desert life revolves around shriveled oases before an annual deluge brings fluid bounty. When it doesn't arrive, wildlife migrates for hundreds of miles to scrap for the final remains. Woodland and forest are made abundant by water's continued presence, a sudden sprouting of trees often flanking a permanent river, or mountain slopes bringing a continual supply of rain. Savanna and grassland are colorized with the seasons, exploding into rich colors just after the rains, then gradually disintegrating to the telltale yellow of drought. Water is the constant that pulls everything together, often enabling habitats to merge.

When water is difficult to find, the wildlife is usually impossible to miss. Animals stay close to permanent water sources such as rivers, lakes, and waterholes with even a spoonful of water. Rains bring change, scattering wildlife across great areas. Ungulates move to fresh green pastures, feasting and spreading as they go. Many species have evolved to calve during this time of abundance, allowing the young to start life on fertile landscapes with limited competition. For most destinations, during and immediately after the rainy season is the off-peak time to travel, with vivacious color that makes this a dazzling time to experience Africa's habitats.

Exploring Different Habitats on an African Safari

Oryx in the Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa

Namibia, Africa

Comparing habitats is not easy from a distance. Photos and descriptions of wildlife can only tell part of the story. Each has a unique feel, a distinct atmosphere that floats with the chorus of mammal calls. Every individual scene retains this idiosyncrasy, for example, spotting a cheetah accelerating across open grassland is different to seeing one stealthily moving through woodland. Exploring for longer, you're able to experience the many sides of Africa's landscapes and habitats. Each day and each destination brings a new feel, an ambiance that distinguishes it from the rest.

Most of Africa's famous safari routes effortlessly connect different habitats. For example, a safari across Botswana takes you from the desert and pan to waterways and then dense woodland. Tanzania's northern safari loop connects four national parks, each with its own unique landscape. Kenya's vast diversity of habitats always makes safari eclectic. Some national parks provide a microcosm of the continent, mixing different habitats as they provide an oasis for a remarkable abundance of wildlife. Spending more time on safari allows the heterogeneous appeal to peel away, opening up a new layer of the continent.

How to Start Planning Your Safari

Proud lion in the savannah, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa

Tanzania, Africa

As you explore Africa, the definitions blur. Open grassland blends into savanna which merges into open woodland that eventually becomes a forest, and waterways weave through most habitats, creating an oasis that contrasts the rest of the landscape. Explore for a few days and you'll grow accustomed to the distinct atmosphere that flickers through each of Africa's habitats. Work with your Zicasso travel expert to create your ideal safari, taking your preferred landscapes and wildlife spotted there into consideration. You can speak with a safari travel specialist for free by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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