Top 7 Must-See African Safari Destinations - Where to Go for a Quintessential Safari Experience

Lion in Masai Mara National Reserve

Lion in Masai Mara

An African safari plunges you into the untamed wilderness with a sense of tranquility, surprise, and unexpected luxury found in both East Africa and Southern Africa. The continent of Africa could fit the entirety of the United States within its borders more than three times, and the opportunities to explore are endless. The following information offers you a guide to the best places for an African safari to capture the authentic spirit of culture and celebrate the wonders of the wild.

1. Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Cheetah cubs in the grasslands of Masai Mara National Reserve

Cheetah cubs in the grasslands of Masai Mara National Reserve

Gazing across the Masai Mara is like stepping into a storybook safari experience with endless plains of grass interrupted by sporadic groups of rocks. Lions roam across the landscape to survey their kingdom while wildebeest graze in inspiring abundance. The rich gathering of animals like gazelle and zebra support the remarkably high concentration of predators giving the national park more big cats per square mile than anywhere else.

Highlights: The Great Migration | Migratory Birds | Leopard | Lions | Cheetahs

Recommended Length of Stay: 4-5 days

Best Time to Visit: July | August | September

2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park

Wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park is a cherished image that captures most visitor’s preconceptions of what an African safari will be. The park is home to an extravagant number of wildlife, including the world’s largest concentration of mammals. Sporadic rocks rise suddenly out of the flat panorama, used by lions to survey the landscape while wildlife like zebras and gazelle graze on the hundred of miles of unbroken grassland.

Highlights: The Great Migration | Elands | Topis | Waterbucks | Zebras | Gazelles

Recommended Length of Stay: 4-5 days

Best Time to Visit: July | August | September | October

3. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Rhinoceros in Kruger National Park

Rhinoceros in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the oldest and largest national parks in all of Africa. Not only is the scale remarkable, but the varied biospheres of the park provide an excellent setting for diverse wildlife such as rhinos, lions, and giraffes. The grand size of Kruger also gives you access to exceptional experiences like the immense carved valleys, wild scenes of predators, and the authentic ambiance of the wilderness.

Highlights: Elephants | White Rhino | Black Rhino | Lion | 500 Bird Species

Recommended Length of Stay: 4-5 days

Best Time to Visit: May | September

4. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Mokoro safari in the Okavango Delta

Mokoro safari in the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is a phenomenal oasis in the heart of the Kalahari Desert. The unique diversity of the desolate surroundings give way to blues and greens of the swelling Okavango River and its tributaries. The natural wonders of the labyrinthine channels sprout reeds for the ultimate canoe excursions, game drives, and walking safaris. Thousands of islands rise out of the waterways and support the unique image of bounding lions through the water and over 400 recorded bird species.

Highlights: Elephants | Nile Crocodile | Lions | Leopards | Greater Kudu

Recommended Length of Stay: 3-4 days

Best Time to Visit: July | August | September

5. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Elephant in South Luangwa National Park

Elephant in South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is an underrated destination that captures the fantastic diversity of an African safari. The bumpy and rough roads lead to endless action from the riverbanks to the forest with walking safaris, game drives, and some of the world’s best birding. Whether witnessing herds of elephants splash in the river or finding vultures circling in the sky over a lion’s latest hunt, South Luangwa rarely disappoints.

Highlights: Elephants | Puku | Lillian’s Lovebirds | Thornicraft’s Giraffe | Coke’s Hartebeest

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit:  July | August | September

6. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Baby mountain gorilla sitting on the back of his mother

Baby mountain gorilla sitting on the back of his mother

Volcanoes National Park is a collection of majestic peaks and impenetrable forests. Lush bamboo trees and verdant rainforest drapes across the five steep volcanic mountains known for supporting elusive troops of mountain gorillas. The stunning landscape only heightens the experience of a walking safari as guides lead you through the protected landscape in search of endangered and secluded wildlife.

Highlights: Gorillas | Golden Monkeys | Forest Elephants | Rwenzori Double-Collared Sunbirds

Recommended Length of Stay: 2-3 days

Best Time to Visit:  July | August | September

7. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Two black-faced impala at a watering hole on Etosha National Park

Two black-faced impala at a watering hole on Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premier safari destination and combines accessibility with spectacular wilderness. The untamed landscape stirs a sense of the ancient with shimmering rawness along the salt pans to scorched yellow and red grasses spanning the dusty savanna. Herds arrive in abundance during the dry season in search of permanent water sources with few places to hide, resulting in remarkable viewing of some of Africa’s most elusive species.

Highlights: Black-Faced Impalas | Damara Dik-Dik | Bat-Eared Foxes | Black Rhinos | Lions | Cheetahs

Recommended Length of Stay: 3-4 days

Best Time to Visit:  June | July | August | September | October

How many days is enough for an African Safari?

A goliath heron in Kruger National Park

Two weeks is the perfect amount of time for a diverse and in-depth African safari. Fourteen days gives you the best opportunity to fully explore the East or Southern Africa’s different ecosystems and witness the diversity of wildlife.

Safari is a surprising experience that requires a lot of moving and intense focus, with most itineraries dividing the safari experience with other activities as well, such as cultural encounters, hiking, or beach time. This will make your two-week vacation both exciting and relaxing for a perfect balance of an African safari in either one or two neighboring countries.