Africa offers so many unique choices for your next African safari. Whether you want to kick back on the beach after searching for the Big Five or trek through mist-laden forests to see the gorillas, we’ve got you covered in our list of can’t miss African safari experiences.
African Safari to see the Big Five
If we could pick one spot to view the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), it would be South Africa’s Kruger area. Taking in the proud mane of a lion and cubs frolicking with their mother is a sight to behold. Expect to come across zebra and giraffe on morning and afternoon game drives led by your expert guide. Or for a more adventurous African safari go on a night drive for the chance to see nocturnal animals like the elusive leopard. A jaunt after the sun goes down with a guide who knows their movement is your best bet for spotting one.
Kenya and Tanzania are two African safari hot spots for what is called The Great Migration. This migration of thousands zebra, wildebeest, and antelope happen as they go in search for better grazing. In the early part of the year, you’ll have the opportunity to see wildebeest calves in the southern Serengeti in what’s known as calving season. When the mass of wildlife make it’s move up to the Masai Mara National Reserve, there is quite a bit of noise and dust being kicked up in the air.
At the river crossing, we suggest packing a lunch so that you are able to post up on the river bank in anticipation of the famous crossing of the wildebeest. “You could sit all day and watch the movement,” says Ker & Downey Vice President of Sales and Business Development Nicky Brandon. If staying in one spot isn’t your thing, go in search of the Big Five exploring all areas of the reserve with your guide. Or hang at your camp watching for animals from your porch. We quite like Kenya’s Angama Mara for its high-up position looking out onto the vast landscape below. We also suggest the cool, laid-back style of Namiri Plains. With the closest camp over an hour away, you’ll feel like you have the Serengeti to yourself.
Trekking through the misty mountainous jungles of Uganda or Rwanda is a rewarding endeavor, to say the least. In the early morning, head up Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to see gorillas in their natural habitat. Perhaps you will even catch a sight of the baby gorillas playing together on this unique African safari. A large majority of the planet’s gorillas live right here, which attracted world-renowned researcher Dian Fossey. Many of us here at Ker & Downey have made the journey to Rwanda. Those who have share they will never forget the feeling of being so close to such magnificent creatures. When a day of trudging through the terrain is done, lay your head at Bisate Lodge. Housed within an eroded volcanic cone, its 12 villas boast spacious verandas with scenic views.
Should you wish to see other primates while you are here, go with your guide to search for the golden monkeys. You’re likely to find yourself standing in the middle of a family of them as they jump around. Or make your way to Nyungwe Forest National Park in search for the chimpanzee. With 14 different species of primates, including the L’Hoest’s monkey and black and white colobus, a trip here gives the the adventurous traveler plenty to see.
Next-door neighbor Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers a similar experience within its dense forests. Guides lead you in search of gorillas, some treks lasting hours. You may even catch a glimpse of the rare forest elephant along the way. While you are there, head to Kibale National Park. It is home to 13 species of primates, including the chimpanzee. Wanting something more laid back? Experience a more traditional African safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park. Head out on a game drive or explore the nearby villages, famed for its unique culture. Uganda is a well-rounded destination to suit most any traveler’s preferences.
An African Safari and Sea
Kick off your boots and plunge your feet into the exceptionally clear waters on one of Africa’s many unique beaches. Whether on the shores of South Africa or one of the many tropical islands, each offer a variety of history, culture, wildlife, and postcard-perfect beaches that can easily rival any of the world’s best. Take your pick — there’s Zanzibar, the Seychelles and Mauritius. Or opt for Mozambique, a melange of Arab, European, and Portuguese cultures. After you have explored the towns, take a snooze under the swaying palms while you listen to the gentle sound of the sea. You’ll want to be marooned on one of the 32 islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago with its plentiful coral reefs swimming with fish.
After a few days on an African safari in Kenya or Tanzania, we will take you to the tiny coral islands of the Seychelles. The only thing on your agenda might be lounging in the shade while you enjoy fresh island fare. Enjoy a reef flat expedition with a knowledgeable biologist who will point out creatures big and small.
South Africa is known for its beautiful coastline and is a hot spot for marine life. We’ll take you out on a coastal drive and a whale watching excursion in the area around Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Known for the Marine Big Five — great white sharks, seals, penguins, southern whales, and dolphins, seeing both the traditional Big Five and Marine Big Five would be one for the books.
Off the Beaten Track
Follow in the footsteps of explorers of days gone by with a few nights in a tented camp. Wake up to the bird’s song or enjoy the sun rise as you meander the channels of the Botswana’s Okavango Delta in your mokoro. Watch giant hippos emerge from the water, elephants wade, and lions take cover in the shade. In both Botswana and Zambia, walking safaris are one of the best ways to truly feel immersed in the silence and beauty of the African wilderness. Learn how your guide tracks by following animals’ footsteps and listening for their movement.
Ethiopia is known for its ancient churches and colorful tribes, but there’s also an opportunity to go off the beaten track in search of wolves and baboons on this African safari. Located in the Highlands, Ethiopian wolves are listed as an endangered species. Seeing one in the wild is a rare sight to behold. Or head to Namibia. It’s stark and striking landscape is for adventure-seekers wanting a completely unique trip to Africa. Picture Cape fur seals on the wind-whipped Atlantic coast. Farther inland, desert-adapted lions roam the arid land, while in Damaraland elephants manage to survive for days without water in this unbelievably harsh terrain.
Madagascar is about as far-flung as you can get, making it pretty elusive for travelers wondering what exactly there is to see on this big African island. An African safari in the untamed Spiny Forests feels like you’ve been plucked straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Spot the odd look of lemurs dancing on two legs. Go under the sea where a whole colorful world awaits. We suggest a stay at Miavana, located off the northeast coast of Madagascar. It is an unparalleled adventure marked by its wildlife offerings, pristine Indian Ocean setting, and collaborative conservation practices.
Regardless of what African safari experience you choose, the diversity of this unique continent will keep you coming back time and time again.