Stretching from Kenya and Tanzania to Botswana and South Africa, there are literally scores of reserves full of game spread all over this vast continent, each of which offer unmatched views of the Big Five. Selecting the best ones, from these gems was, therefore, by no means an easy task. Still with a bit of hard work and perseverance, you will find that visiting these carefully selected bastions of wildlife, which are each so spectacular in their own right, will bring out the humbleness even in the most hardened of nature enthusiast. You can try hopping on an exceptional guided tour by Naturetrek Wildlife Holidays.
Gaze over the swaying savannah of the Serengeti
The unique UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania has all the trappings of a fascinating game reserve. Being the base point of the Great Migration, visitors have been known to view herds of more than two million animals at a time, moving from one region to another in their never ending quest for food,water and survival. The great expanse offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for wildlife lovers to spot the large predators hunting down prey, often with no other vehicle within miles of the site. Even the less visited areas of the Grumeti river and Namiri plains have known to come up with phenomenal sightings of wild dogs and lions.
Encounter the voracious lions of Kidepo Valley
Vast sweeping plains against the stunning background of Mount Morungole, perhaps makes the Kidepo Valley National Park, not only the most beautiful in Uganda but in the whole of Africa as well. The park is home to a huge population of buffalo, making them ideal targets for the large lion prides which can be sighted frequently on game drives. The day long road journey from Kampala is exacting and puts off many a visitor, but the great scenery, few people and incredible wildlife encounters makes the visit worth every bit of the effort.
Experience the brutality of the Kalahari Desert
Having a huge area of nearly 53000 square kilometres, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, situated inside the Kalahari desert is a challenging park to access. Facilities are non-existent, but a good guide and a sturdy 4×4 will take you over vast open plains full of herds of the majestic gemsbok. Due to the arid nature of the land, animal sightings tend to range over large areas so bring a pair of binoculars. Kalahari safari is all about pure adventure, with camps set up in the open, especially near the Lion Pan, with the constant roaring of the lions as company throughout the night. Irrespective of the difficulties one may encounter, an adventure of a lifetime is virtually ensured once you decide to embark upon this trip.
Get amazed by the animal diversity of Kafue National Park
Apart from the rhino, this is probably the best place in the world to see the remainder of the Big Five. The gigantic Kafue National Park is Zambia’s flagship wildlife destination, which came in existence in 1972. Apart from the frequent big cat sightings, the park holds an enormous diversity of species of antelope, which can be rarely found anywhere else. While the Busanga Plains are good for cheetah and lion, the area around the Lufupa River has a sizeable population of leopards and wild dogs. Other features which can be enjoyed here are night safaris and hikes which again is a rarity in other national parks.
Get up close with the iconic cheetah at Etosha National Park, Namibia
The Etosha National Park is the leading of all reserves with regards to wildlife numbers in Namibia.The country may not have the same high density as it’s neighbouring cousins, but it more than makes up with some unforgettable animal action scenes, especially those of the fleet footed cheetah and other desert species. Large herds of animals are known to assemble near the water holes during the dry months which stretch from July to September. The main attractions, apart from the cheetah sightings, are the economical camps and good roads which make driving around the park extremely easy and exciting. The Okaukuejo waterhole, which is lit up during night, allows the visitors to have the unusual chance of spying on animals, like even the black rhino after dark.
Take a road Safari through Kruger National Park, South Africa
Undoubtedly one of the best parks for seeing the Big Five, the Kruger National Park in South Africa also happens to be one of the most accessible, even by way of non 4×4 vehicles. The roads are so well maintained, that even first timers or independent travelers find Kruger cheap and a joy to traverse. The diverse wildlife here includes big herds of lions, cheetah, large leopards and an incredible variety of birdlife. This gigantic game park has Crocodile Bridge as it’s starting point in the south and ends in the north at Pafuri Gate after traveling a distance of 414 km of pristine wild habitat. For the more adventurous souls, it is recommended to go off the beaten track and drive through some lesser known trails in the north.
Do not even contemplate leaving without visiting the legendary Masai Mara
This extremely popular destination located in South West Kenya features some of the most extraordinary stretches of wilderness to be found anywhere in Africa. The globally renowned reserve, though small in size, holds almost 40% of the large mammals found in Africa. The vast plains of the Mara hold an enormous amount of big cats, elephants and many species of deer in the natural habitat. The park is perhaps more known for the Great Migration scenes, which can be witnessed in phenomenal numbers between July and September, when these herds migrate to Kenya from Tanzania. The migration, in itself, shapes the life of the other denizens of the Mara, mostly the big cats and the crocodiles, for whom it is the time of feasting once in a year.
When it comes to wildlife, Africa has few equals, as there is something about viewing the animals here in their natural habitat, that is extremely soul touching. Even repeat visitors rarely feel a moment of jadeness in this lush and beautiful environment. Nowhere else on the planet can one see the cycle of life constantly being played in front of your very eyes, day after day. From being witness to one of the largest migrations of animals in the world, to watching huge elephant herds grazing in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, there are bound to be new wildlife viewing instances, which will certainly leave an indelible mark in your memory.