The majestic African continent has something for you no matter your safari interest. You’ll be exposed to breathtaking landscapes and incredible cultures, and you’ll be able to see nature at every turn.
The 19 Best Safaris in Africa in 2023
To say Africa takes your breath away would be an understatement. With its vastness, it’s no wonder why many people travel across the globe to experience its safaris and see its grasslands, deserts, and expansive plains.
Safaris in Africa allow you to view wildlife in their natural environment. People who want to experience the best Safaris in Africa are in for an experience of a lifetime, especially for those who want to see the “Big Five,” namely the leopard, lion, rhino, African buffalo, and elephant.
With the sheer number of options to choose from, it can get overwhelming. To help you make the best choice, we’ve created a list of our favorite African safaris.
1. Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park is dubbed the “place where the land runs forever.” It’s one of the most iconic and famous safari destinations, especially for first-timers.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti is known for its annual migration of wildebeest and zebras, which travel to the Serengeti each year to give birth.
In February, the plains in the southern section of this park become the birthplace for white-bearded wildebeest calves. The young calves that survive predators begin their journey that spans two countries and a million other wildebeest.
It’s a dramatic sight everybody should see at least once in their lifetime. You’ll see antelope species and zebras caught in the migration. Lion sightings are also guaranteed, and if you’re lucky, you may see a leopard or cheetah.
At almost 3.2 million hectares, this protected area covers most of Tanzania’s north-western corner. It’s ten times bigger than the Maasai Mara.
2. Kruger National Park
If this is your first-time safari, you don’t want to miss the chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat, which is precisely what you’ll find in the Kruger National Park. At over 7,500 square miles, this park is roughly the size of a small country!
Known as one of the world’s greatest game-viewing areas, the Kruger National Park offers a truly unique experience.
The big five thrive in this national park, but there are plenty of other animals to see, including:
- Nile crocodiles
- The rare black rhino
The best time to visit this park is from June to September.
3. Etosha National Park
Namibia may not be on the top list for most travelers in Africa, but once you’ve visited the Etosha National Park, you’ll change your mind.
It was proclaimed a national park in 1907. It’s named after the Ovambo word that means “the place where no plants grow,” an ode to the Etosha Pan, which is a part of a lake that has dried out. It’s so large that you can see it from space!
One of the best activities for safari-goers in this national park is to stake out in a spring-fed waterhole and wait for animals to arrive. The Etosha National Park boasts a beautiful panorama of the dolomite hills and the arid savannas.
This park is also renowned for the big five and its rhino conservation, both for the reintroduced white rhino and the indigenous black rhinoceros. At Etosha National Park, you’ll also see cheetahs, caracals, jackals, and hyenas.
4. Laikipia Plateau
If you’re the adventurous type, you’ll love the Laikipia Plateau. The Laikipia Plateau is an expansive plain home to plenty of wildlife, including:
- Grevy’s zebras
- Wild dogs
- Black rhinos
The best way to explore this expansive piece of land is by riding on a camel, which is a fun way to see the vast plains.
You can also explore the park by riding a horse or during guided walking safaris. During the dry season, there’s plenty of water that fills watering holes for animals to come and drink.
This attraction makes this safari particularly interesting for photography enthusiasts who want to capture the animals in their natural habitat.
5. Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park is one of the most picturesque safaris in Africa. It’s known for its huge elephant population. This safari is also a great destination for adventurous people who want to spot leopards, wild dogs, and lions.
One of the best appeals of this park is you can stay in unfenced campsites located in the middle of the wilderness.
If you want to stay in this type of accommodation, choose one located near the Zambezi river for the ultimate experience. If you’re up for something unique, go on a canoeing safari.
Mana Pools is one of the few parks in Africa where you can explore without a guide, although this is not ideal for beginners.
If you’re up for game drives and bush walks, this is an amazing safari. The thin vegetation of this park makes it one of the best destinations for walking safaris because it offers incredible visibility.
For those who want to try self-drive tours, a 4×4 is recommended. What’s great about 4×4 tours is that even the drive is exhilarating!
6. Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta covers permanent marshlands, as well as seasonally flooded plains. The delta is a series of connected rivers and lakes, home to diverse wildlife, including:
- Black and white rhinoceros
It’s one of the major interior delta systems that don’t flow into the ocean, and its wetland system is almost unbroken.
The Okavango Delta is also an excellent destination if you want to do bird sightings. You might get lucky and see some rare birds. If you’re into photography, this safari will blow your mind away with its beauty.
7. Mala Mala Game Reserve
As one of the best safaris in Africa, Mala Mala Game Reserve is one of the best places to see lions in their natural habitat. Mala Mala borders the Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in South Africa.
The big five thrive in this private luxury game reserve, together with cheetahs, giraffes, and wild dogs. During the dry season, particularly during May, this is the ultimate spot to see a variety of animals, including:
- Cape wild dogs
This park is also considered a top destination for photographers. The terrain is different from the Kruger, as it’s flat, making it perfect for game drives.
You can spot the lions during the day while they rest in their dens or at night when they go to the watering holes. Another reason why Mala Mala Game Reserve is one of the best safaris in Africa is that you can also do bushwalks.
Here, you will enjoy seeing the wild dogs and cheetahs up close. Night safaris are also safe and popular at this world-class park.
8. Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai forest is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. Located in the Great Rift Valley, this expansive wilderness hosts the Big Five, as well as a large population of cheetahs and wild dogs.
The game drives are amazing here because the area is known for its high density of animal population. There are plenty of safari lodges in this national reserve, and people usually book months or even years in advance.
If you want to see a few of the big five in their natural habitat, then the Masai Mara national reserve is worth considering. Aside from animals, you’ll also love its majestic rolling hills, acacia woodlands, and grasslands.
Make sure to visit between August and October if you want to witness the wildebeest migration as they cross to Kenya from Tanzania.
9. Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve is located near the southern Kruger and is a cluster of private reserves. This wide-open savannah is a big attraction for game drives and walks.
The big five are among the most common animals you’ll see in the reserve. Sabi Sand Game Reserve is also a top spot for those who want to experience close encounters with:
- White rhinos
Moreover, this reserve is popular because of its amazing night drive experiences, where you’ll see nocturnal animals, such as:
The game reserve is also known for its outstanding birdlife. If you like bird watching, you’ll be in for a treat here. It’s recommended to visit this destination during the winter or low season, from May to September.
10. Moremi Game Reserve
If you’re looking for an incredible game reserve in Botswana, then the Moremi Game Reserve is the best destination for you.
This safari is part of the Okavango Delta, known as the world’s 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. This game reserve is renowned for four of the big five, and you’ll probably see plenty of them during your safari.
It also houses more than 400 bird species. Game viewing is also popular here. The best time to visit this game reserve is during the dry season, from June to September.
You can also explore the wilderness on a mokoro canoe safari or a walking safari. As you gaze upon the floodplains and baobab trees, you’ll feel the grandeur of nature.
11. South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park is one of the ultimate destinations in Zambia if you want to witness the wildlife, which includes endemic species such as Thornicroft’s giraffe and Crawshay’s zebra.
There are also lions, leopards, and elephants in the area. The park houses tons of beautiful tented camps, lodges, and other accommodations, which can get busy during peak season.
If you want to see this park, be sure to plan and book in advance. This park is famous for its walking safaris led by expert guides.
The best time to visit is from July to October during the dry season. This period is when animals come out from the high-temperature bush areas to look for water in the rivers.
12. Lower Zambezi National Park
Another Zambian park you should add to your list is the Lower Zambezi National. It’s one of the best safaris in Africa today, as it has recovered from poaching, although its rhino population was erased.
The Lower Zambezi is home to various animals and birds, including the big five and several other species. There are also many bird species that you can find here, including:
- Blacksmith Lapwings
- Southern ground hornbills
- African jacanas
Keep in mind that you won’t find any campsites in the area, just mid-range and luxury lodges, as well as tented camps.
13. Hluhluwe Game Reserve
The Hluhluwe Game Reserve is located in South Africa, and it’s one of the oldest reserves in the area. The Hluhluwe Game Reserve is a good safari destination to take in the natural beauty of the flora and fauna.
The game reserve is best known for its amazing plants and wildlife. It is home to the “Big Five,” and dozens of other mammals, reptiles, and birds. A highlight of this safari is the Hluhluwe River, which is a popular spot for game viewing.
There are plenty of animals in this 96,000-hectare reserve, and you can also visit the nearby Mkhuze Game Reserve. For adventurers, make sure to ride 4x4s along its dusty roads. The park also offers boat safaris.
14. Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in Uganda. It’s one of the most diverse parks in the country and is located near the famous Murchison Falls.
The park is known for encompassing different landscapes, which are all home to various species of wildlife. These landscapes include:
- Crater lakes
- Tropical forests
- Open savannahs
The park is home to elephants, buffalos, giant forest hogs, and the African skimmer, which is a unique bird with a lengthy wingspan.
The park also has boat cruises for those who want to see crocodiles and hippos. If you want to see chimpanzees, you can take a hike in the park’s rainforest.
15. Ruaha National Park
This Tanzanian park was proclaimed a national park in 1964. This off-the-beaten-track destination takes its name from the Hehe word for “river,” which serves as its lifeline.
This park is home to:
You may even see lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and jackals looking for prey. This safari is a great option to see large predators because it is home to ten percent of Africa’s lions.
It’s also home to many bird species, such as:
- The crested Barbet
- The pale-billed Hornbill
- The Dickinson’s kestrel
- The racket-tailed roller
All of these incredible features make this park one to add to the travel bucket list.
16. Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the most popular game reserves in Botswana. It was established in 1961 as a home for the Bushman tribes.
It covers an area of 52,800 square kilometers, which is over ten percent of the country’s area. This expansive space of land makes it the second-largest game reserve globally. This game reserve is a great option for those who want to see the big five.
You’ll probably see a few wild dogs as well. The reserve is also home to an amazing variety of bird species.
17. Nyerere National Park
The Nyerere National Park, formerly called Selous Game Reserve, is found in Tanzania. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 thanks to its diverse wildlife, including:
- The African bush elephant
- African Lion
- East African wild dog
- The black rhino
There is no permanent human habitation in the park, and all human entry is controlled by the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism’s wildlife division.
When you visit this park, you can expect to see crocodiles and hippos during your boat safari. There are also many species of birds here for avid birdwatchers, so bring your binoculars!
18. Katavi National Park
If seeing large herds of buffalo ranks high on your list, the Katavi National Park is a must-visit. This huge park is located in northern Tanzania, and the park is known for its large population of buffalo.
Katavi National Park is one of Tanzania’s largest national parks, and despite being a safari mecca for those who want to see wildlife, it doesn’t get as much traffic as other safaris.
Because of this, the park authorities grant guests freedom, especially those who crave adventure. You can even go on a walking safari with an armed ranger, as well as try self-drive tours.
19. Northern Damaraland
This part of Africa is remote and mostly uninhabited by humans. Northern Damaraland is home to lions, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, black rhinos, and awe-striking rare desert-adapted elephants.
This variety of animals makes it one of the top safari choices in Africa for people who are craving a unique experience they won’t forget.
Despite the remoteness of northern Damaraland, you can still find safari lodges that will suit your needs that are perfect for experienced travelers.
If you visit this safari, make sure not to miss the famous rock art at Twyfelfontein, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to Consider
To ensure your experience in the best safari in Africa is top-notch, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. First, you must consider the animals you want to see, especially if you want to see the famous “Big Five.”
You should consider the time of year you want to visit. If you don’t like crowds and want a relaxing safari, you should consider going during the off-season. Keep in mind that the weather may not be as good during those times of the year.
It’s also a good idea to get professional tour guides, who will ensure you get the most out of the safari.
Most safaris offer professional guides, but it’s a smart move to double-check before you book. Don’t forget to bring a camera and binoculars so you can snap great pictures and observe wildlife from a distance.
Most importantly, bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as some comfortable clothes. Other things you should not forget to pack include:
- Insect repellent
- Prescription medications
- Extra batteries for your camera
- Comfortable closed shoes
If you’re traveling during winter, you should throw a windbreaker in your suitcase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions by travelers who want to experience the best safaris in Africa:
Which African country has the best safari?
There are a lot of safaris in Africa that offer a unique experience. The best safari in Africa is usually based on the animal you want to see. However, many people think that Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa have the best safaris on the continent.
What safari is best for families?
Many families enjoy traveling to the Kruger National Park, but most safaris are very family-friendly. Whether you want to go for a family vacation or want a romantic getaway, safaris offer a wide variety of activities for everyone.
Which is the best month to go on an African safari?
It depends on what you are looking for during your getaway. Different safaris could offer different experiences. Generally, the dry season is recommended. The dry season is from June to October and is perfect if you want to see animals looking for water sources.
What is the average cost of an African safari trip?
It depends on what your budget is. Many safaris offer per person pricing of $150 to $1,500 per day. Mid-range safaris usually fall between $250 to $350.
Is Kenya or Tanzania better for safari?
Kenya is a more popular and affordable safari destination, although both countries offer a great safari experience. However, there are a lot of luxury safaris in Tanzania if you prefer a vacation that feels more glamorous.
So, What Are the Best Safaris in Africa?
With so many safaris in Africa to choose from, the best safari in Africa will always be based on your preferences. Whether you want to see the wild animals up close, go birdwatching, or enjoy the natural African beauty, you’ll find a safari to suit your needs.