When it comes time to plan your African safari adventure, it can be difficult to choose from the many fantastic safari destinations.
While East Africa’s Wildebeest Migration might be the star attraction, there are plenty of reasons to consider other options.
Today, the Shadows of Africa team breaks down the benefits and drawbacks of the ten best African safari destinations.
Ethiopia isn’t commonly thought of as a safari destination.
The nation’s most famous attractions tend to be of a historic nature, with images of iconic Gondar and Lalibela sure to come to mind first.
However, it is perfectly possible to combine a cultural and historic exploration of Ethiopia with a safari to see its unique animals.
Nowhere else in the world will your safari include black-maned lions, walia ibex, or gerada baboons. This makes Ethiopia a fantastic choice for those who have already ‘been there, done that’.
Pros: Unique wildlife. Fascinating history. Delicious food.
Cons: Not a traditional safari destination. Recent political unrest.
Namibia’s stunning landscapes are amongst its biggest selling points. How can you not fall in love with the windswept Skeleton Coast or the towering dunes of Sossusvlei?
While the tiny southern African can’t quite compare with the ‘big boys’ when it comes to game drives, the country is still a fantastic safari destination in its own right.
Etosha National Park, in particular, is attracting game enthusiasts from around the world with its towering elephants, the huge variety of bird and animal life, and its dramatic landscapes.
When you combine this with the country’s other significant charms, it becomes a very attractive prospect.
Pros: Stunning landscapes. Very affordable.
Cons: Long drives between destinations.
Like neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia is perhaps best known as the home of the majestic Victoria Falls.
But did you know that it is also a fantastic game drive destination?
While it is certainly a bit more of an off-the-beaten-track destination than Zimbabwe, Botswana, or South Africa – Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park are truly awe-inspiring game-drive destinations that can compete with some of the most famous safari parks on earth.
Pros: Combine a safari with a visit to Victoria Falls. Off the beaten path charm.
Cons: Off the beaten path translates into less information and infrastructure availability.
Zimbabwe is one of Shadows of Africa’s most popular new destinations, with people from all over the world coming to witness the powerful Victoria Falls and explore this gorgeous country.
It’s a shame that so few people extend their trip to see more than just the falls, as national parks such as Mana Pools National Park and Hwange National Park offer fantastic game drive opportunity.
Combine this with the history of Great Zimbabwe and the aforementioned Victoria Falls and you have a country that can boast being the complete package.
Pros: Victoria Falls. Close to South Africa.
Cons: Less developed tourist scene away from Victoria Falls. Political issues.
One of the world leaders when it comes to wildlife conservation, Botswana is a truly world-class African safari destination.
Chobe National Park is home to Africa’s densest concentration of wildlife, Chobe is a conservationist’s dream that can boast Africa’s largest elephant population and some of the world’s most stunning landscapes.
Of course, there’s more to a Botswana safari than just Chobe. Botswana is home to a number of other fantastic parks that are worthy of your time.
Pros: World class conservation record. Africa’s densest wildlife population.
Cons: One of Africa’s most expensive destinations.
Arguably the most famous African safari destination, South Africa is justified in its popularity.
Its diverse landscapes, fantastic beaches, world-class wines, and famous game parks make it a hugely popular destination.
South Africa’s level of development and the fact English is the primary language makes it an appealing destination for first-time safari travelers, but it also means a more crowded tourism scene.
Still, Kruger National Park is justifiably considered one of the world’s best safari parks, and the prospect of combining this with the stunning Garden Route, the popular South African wine regions, and the gorgeous beaches makes South Africa a great choice.
Pros: English speaking nation, well-developed tourism market, and a variety of activities.
Cons: Crowded market can make booking hotels difficult.
What comes to mind when you think of a trip to Rwanda?
Chances are, it’s either gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park or visiting the haunting Rwanda Genocide Museum in Kigali.
Did you know you can also combine the above with a Big Five safari in Akagera National Park? While the park was once something of an afterthought, the Rwandan government has recently made huge strides to import both rhinoceros and lions to bring the park back to its former glory.
A perfect day trip from Kigali, a safari in Akagera can be tailored to also include a boat safari to make for something different.
Pros: Easy day trip from Kigali. See gorillas, chimpanzees, and the Big Five in one trip.
Cons: Wildlife numbers are low and Rwanda tends to be expensive.
Uganda was once dubbed the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill, and we certainly agree with that sentiment.
No country in Africa can offer quite what Uganda does: world-class gorilla and chimpanzee trekking, terrific game drives, and the majesty of the mighty Nile.
A perfect destination for those who have already visited Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa – Ugana’s wild charm and variety of offerings makes it a great place to plan that second safari.
Pros: The best place to combine gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, and a Big Five safari.
Cons: Poor road conditions, expensive domestic flights.
Kenya often refers to itself as “Africa’s safari capital”, and the East African country absolutely has a claim to that mantle.
Home to the world-famous Maasai Mara as well as boasting the best views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya is also an affordable and well-developed tourism market that is great for families or people traveling on a budget.
Shadows of Africa offers a huge variety of Kenyan safari tours, so there is something for all walks of life.
Pros: Home to the Wildebeest Migration in August-September. Views of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Amboseli. Cheapest East African nation.
Cons: Popularity means hotels sell out early.
The undisputed king when it comes to African safaris, Tanzania is home to the Wildebeest Migration for ten months of the year.
It’s also home to the World Heritage-listed Ngorongoro Crater, Africa’s tallest mountain, and the gorgeous island paradise of Zanzibar.
When it comes to putting together your dream Tanzanian safari, Shadows of Africa have you covered. We’ve been in operation here for almost a decade and know the country inside and out.
Pros: The best place to see the Wildebeest Migration. Mt. Kilimanjaro. Zanzibar. Ngorongoro Crater.
Cons: East Africa’s most expensive destination.
With so many choices when it comes to planning your African safari, it can be difficult to find the right fit for you.
Thankfully, Shadows of Africa has expertise in all ten of the above countries and can help find the perfect fit for you!
Contact us to start planning your dream safari now!