As a huge fan of wildlife watching, I’ve spied on a leopard up close in the Serengeti National Park, observed sea lions on the Galapagos Islands and tip-toed around a snoozing koala bear in Melbourne, Australia. Being able to observe wildlife in a natural setting is a rare, unique and one-in-a-million experience.
Out of the numerous wildlife watching spots in the world, African countries dominate the list with their awe-inspiring savannahs and untouched surroundings. I bring you five of the best in Africa, based on my own experience and readings.
Top 5 African Countries for Wildlife Watching
Botswana stands out for its diverse ecosystems: on a wildlife safari in Botswana, you’re never limited to just one transport mode. Besides game-tracking by 4WD, you’ll be exploring Botswana’s mixture of salt pans and savannahs by mokoro (dugout canoe, Botswana specialty) and riverboat. Places not to miss include the Chobe National Park, home to the world’s largest herds of elephant, and the Okavango Delta, an exquisite wetland area. Botswana lodges are also world class, often found in the heart of African wilderness.
A country bursting with unspoiled beauty, Tanzania has some of Africa’s most coveted wildlife watching spots. Amongst them, my personal favorite is Ngorongoro Crater. At daybreak, as the mist dissipates, you’ll see silhouettes of elephants, rhinoceros, lions and buffalos appearing before you. The long drive through Serengeti National Park is an epic one, as you get to witness the massive wildebeest migration. Whether you’re looking for a luxury safari or a basic camping safari, a trip to the wildlife epicenter of Africa is an essential part of your trip to Tanzania.
What’s unique about Namibia is its expansive deserts, red sand dunes and a kaleidoscope of different environments. Straddling two great deserts: the Namib, the oldest desert in the world, and the red sand dunes along the Atlantic Coastline. Some of the best wildlife-watching spots include the white saltpans of Etosha National Park (herds of giraffes), red dunes at Sossusvlei (to see gemsbok) and Skeleton Coast (colonies of seals).
Rwanda is best known for its excellent gorilla tracking opportunities. Unlike most of the other countries on this list, gorillas are Rwanda’s star celebrity in the wildlife world. The Volcanoes National Park , in northern Rwanda is home to the world’s largest number of endangered mountain gorillas. In Eastern Rwanda, the Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda is crowded with wildlife – from herds of elephant and buffaloes to giraffes and zebras grazing its savannahs and a dozen species of antelope roaming free.
5. South Africa
South Africa has an edge over the other countries, and it’s that besides wildlife safaris, its cities have even more to offer: cultural activities, ethnical history and cosmopolitan city life. Kruger National Park, its largest and most diverse game reserve, is home to all of Africa’s Big Five. Several other national parks in South Africa are also said to be malaria-free, namely KwaZulu Natal, Madikwe Game Reserve and the Waterberg.
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