The African continent is almost a sacred congregation of the most awe-inspiring eco-systems of our planet. It is steeped in historical, natural and cultural greatness and diversity, and has always been a fitting muse for true travelers looking to learn more about some of the more obscure magnificence of the world. Africa, with its vast stretches of sun, forests and sand, and home to hundreds of species of exquisite flora and fauna, is always waiting to be explored. For this purpose, the much touted African Safaris find a place of pride at the top of every bucket list. Nature doesn’t discriminate in showering its blessings throughout this giant landmass, and each region boasts of its own unique attractions. The massive demand for these safaris has created a thriving industry that caters to all the needs of the travelers to the continent, right from detailed and well-educated guides, to safe boarding and lodging. And, while there is no such thing as the “best” safaris when it comes to Africa, there sure are a few that you simply cannot afford to pass up on. TrawelMe’s exclusive list contains seven such examples:
Rwanda Safari: Although Rwanda is relatively new to popularity among African Safaris, it is clear that it has made its way up there by revamping its tourism structure to focus on its incomparable gorilla safari experience. One can also pay a visit to the Nyungwe Forest, and the Volcanoes National Park. The quirky Chimpanzee trek is also worth a try if you’re interested in unique methods of learning about wildlife, which happen to include traveler-friendly activities like trekking. One can also spend time on the beaches, or make a quick visit to the neighbouring regions of Congo and Uganda. Rwanda can be a tricky place to navigate alone since it’s still new on the safari scene. Therefore, make sure to have your trip planned well in advanced, and stick to the directions of your guides and travel advisors. These logistics however, only add to the thrill of the experience, and make a strong case for Rwanda on our list of best African Safaris.
Zambia: If you are looking for an authentic African experience, or wish to look at the continent from the eyes of the people living there, instead of the detached view of the tourist, then it doesn’t get better than Zambia. This is the region with the best walking safaris in the continent, with Norman Carr allowing tourists to stay the night out in tents right in the middle of the forests. The environment is obviously strictly managed by trained guides, but that does not stop one from feeling the thrill of being right in the middle of nature’s lap. Zambia is also home to the dazzling Victoria Falls, a feature that not only serves god-tier visuals, but also completely satisfies the adrenaline junkie in you with its straight bungee jumps right into the base of the fall. Since Zambia isn’t as frequented by tourists as some of the other regions, it makes activities like night-safaris feel like a more intimate experience with the land and its living. Kaufe and Luangwa Valley are some of the experts’ picks for the best spots to visit in Zambia. Although most facilities in Zambia are basic, and will need updating, one simply cannot stop appreciating the boundless beauty of the region.
Madagascar: It is no wonder that Madagascar had a whole movie made for itself when everywhere you turn, you find sights and scenes that would look perfect on the silver screen. From hundreds of species of plants and animals exclusive to the island, to the royal palaces and ancient burial grounds of its local people, Madagascar has an eco-system entirely unique to itself on account of the island being isolated from mainland Asia and Africa for over 88 million years, with 90% of its flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world. Naturally, tourism is a major industry for this island nation, and no stone has been left unturned to provide the best experiences to curious travelers and tourists. Multiple national parks offer tours around the natural habitats of creatures like the dancing sifaka, the wailing indri lemur, and other tiny amphibians and unusual birds. The iconic Avenue of the Baobab trees is a treat to explore. Madagascar’s terrain is extremely diverse, and travelers have to be mindful of changes in altitude and vegetation. Given Madagascar’s geographical isolation from the rest of the world for so long, its cultures and local customs and arts and products are also strikingly unique. One can always take time off the strenuous safaris in order to delve into this aspect of Madagascar’s exotic individuality.
Morocco: Africa is sometimes stereotypically equated with diverse, outlandish wild-life and terrains. However, its people and culture are often as diverse as the wildlife, and Morocco showcases that to a T. A blend of Berber, Arabic and European cultures, Morocco is a North African country that is as famous for its jewelry and handicrafts as it is for riotously magnificent terrain that generously allows for activities like mountain climbing, desert safaris and beach adventures. Moroccan architecture never fails to catch one’s eye with its rich and ornate Alaouite-styles, its enigmatic Roman ruins and its many ancient Greek caves. Abound with parks, mausoleums, palaces and museums, Morocco will never disappoint a traveler. Once in Morocco, you will also be drawn to its ample marketplaces that always seem to throng with locals and tourists making purchases in authentic Moroccan handicrafts, eatables and other items. Marrakesh’s medina is perhaps one spot in Morocco known worldwide for its mazelike medieval structure that provides entertainment, and hold endless lines of souks or marketplaces, where you can refresh yourself with some traditional mint tea. An unlikely candidate in the list of best African Safaris, but you would be hard-put to let Morocco go once you’ve decided to explore Africa.
Tanzania: A wildlife adventure safari through Africa without Tanzania is unfathomable. No matter how many times you might have visited this absorbing country, you’ll never be able to resist repeat visits simply because there’s always so much to discover about a land as wild and as vast as Tanzania. The archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge is believed to have been home to the first specimens of the human species about 2 million years ago. The site is close to a sweeping volcanic valley known for safaris and wildlife conservation, and Lake Tanganyika that allows visitors to view chimpanzees take casual stroll along the shoreline. Tanzania also has a themed marine park that display both corals and other deep sea creatures, and the heart-achingly beautiful Pemba Island, that has its own fort and museum, and is frequented by many migratory birds. Tanzania also happens to hold Africa’s highest peak, the Kilimanjaro. Mountain climbing, hiking, surfing and sight-seeing glaciers and other landmarks are just some of the activities one can do at the Kilimanjaro. Of course, getting dumbstruck and taking too many pictures is a given reaction to the breathtaking views of the cloud-veiled mountain peak.
Kenya: To get straight into it, Kenya is the land for what’s known as Africa’s megafauna. The term refers to animals like elephants, rhinos and the big cats. There’s no better place on earth to observe these animals in their natural habitat than a place like Kenya which has sanctuaries and conservatories devoted to the protection and survival of these endangered animals. Kenya’s sensitivity with the way it handles safaris and controls human interaction with the creatures, is a testimony to the value it puts on its natural resources. For a country usually riddled with political and social conflict, Kenya’s tourism has as yet never taken a serious turn for the worse, and is owed for the large part to the allure of its natural bounties. Home also to the astounding Drift Valley, a safari through Kenya takes you through terrains that only seem to get better the deeper you slide into the country. Among national parks, the Masai Mara always takes the cake because not only is it spread over a huge are, it also hold the most number of animal species in Kenya. Lakes like the Nakuru invite migratory birds and flamingoes and are usually a sight to behold. The Samburu National Reserve and the Amboseli National Park are also definitely worth a visit.
South Africa: From the wildlife safari in the Kruger National Park to the sandy beaches of the Western Cape, South Africa is a traveler’s paradise. Picturesque, safe, adventure packed, and rich in background and history, South Africa simply never lets you down. Take a hike on Cape Town’s table-top mountain, or spend some scenic moments down at the Cape of Good Hope. Explore the eerie Robben Island, or visit the penguin community of Boulder’s Beach. If you are one for exuberance and luxury while on a safari, then Sabi Sabi is the spot for you. Head to the Lion’s Head for some paragliding and hiking, and spend some solemn moments in the Apartheid Museum. Off-beat locations like the eccentric Gold Reef city are aplenty, leaving absolutely no room for complains. South Africa is a country you take out a couple of weeks just to explore the surface. Its addictive attractions and easy-going culture will always keep you coming back for more.
An African Safari will no doubt leave you both sated with the whole experience, and also keen on going in deeper and getting to know the country and all its aspects better. It is an activity you take on when you not only wish to discover and observe the very best of nature, but also discover something about your own self. The African experience is almost spiritual in the sense that it leaves you in awe of the power of survival possessed by its many inhabitants, and inculcates in you a spirit of challenge, hope and constant, concentrated struggle for a better future.