Best of Africa Safari

June 3, 2019

While every African safari destination is special in its own right, there are some firm favourites that are on the top of many travellers’ bucket-lists. A Best of Africa safari offers the unique opportunity to encounter the continent’s most celebrated landmarks and wilderness areas.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

An iconic destination and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World that draws thousands of international travelers to Africa each year, Victoria Falls is the converging point of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Zambezi River’s plunge of 355 feet (108 metres) at Victoria Falls into the Boiling Pot below, makes it the world’s largest waterfall and the river’s most climatic point before completing its journey at the Indian Ocean off Mozambique.

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Victoria Falls from a different angle © Patrick Shah

The mist of the Falls can be seen from 164 feet (50 kms) away and together with the resounding roar of the rushing water, it is no wonder local people call it “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or The Smoke That Thunders. At the top of the Falls overlooking the sheer drop is Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool that is an ideal albeit exhilarating spot from which to enjoy the splendor of this world-famous tourist destination.

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A tower of giraffe in Victoria Falls National Park © Patrick Shah

Surrounding the Falls are the Zambezi and Victoria Falls national parks, which between them are home to four of the Big Five (buffalo, elephants, lion and leopard) along with various types of antelope, other plains game and birds. Together with the Zambezi rapids, the 1905 Victoria Falls Bridge makes this a major adventure capital of the world. From bungee-jumping off the bridge to flying above the Falls on a helicopter and rafting along the wild Zambezi rapids, Victoria Falls is an adventurer’s dream.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Time and again the crown for Best Safari Destination in Africa has been awarded to Botswana and it is the Okavango Delta that is considered this country’s premium wildlife-viewing region. The Okavango is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the world’s few inland deltas; instead of winding down into the sea, the Okavango River makes its final stop in the Central Kalahari Basin, where it pools to create a lush and fertile swamp.

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The Okavango Delta from above © Patrick Shah

The annual flooding of the Okavango Delta brings life to the interconnected waterways, islands, lagoons, grass plains and forests. These different habitats are part of the unique ecosystem of the Delta, which is a place of brilliant diversity with 130 mammals, 482 species of birds, 89 fish, 64 reptiles and 1061 plants species.

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Red lechwe in the Okavango Delta © Patrick Shah

Importantly, it is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion. The Delta is also a refuge for 24 species of globally threatened birds, including the southern ground-hornbill, wattled crane and slaty egret. There are also healthy populations of African elephant, buffalo, red lechwe and zebra in this watery oasis.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

The reach of the misty mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park expand into the Virunga Volcanoes mountains, together forming the destination of unforgettable gorilla trekking safaris. These mountain ranges are extend to cover parts of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda, and are a branch of the great Albertine Rift Mountains that outline the western branch of the East African Rift.

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park © Patrick Shah

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park © Patrick Shah

An iconic World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest homes about half the world’s total gorilla population and was recently named by CNN Traveler as The Most Beautiful Place in the World. The over 400 gorilla found here are habituated, which have gradually become tolerant of humans on the slopes of their lush green rainforest. Africa’s mountain gorillas remain one of the world’s highly endangered mammals and encountering them in their natural habitat is both breathtaking and humbling.

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Young chimpanzee on Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria © Andy Gooch

Along with mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also the place of other and endangered primate species, such as chimpanzee and the golden monkey, characterised by the striking combination of black, white and golden fur.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti National Park is the major destination in Tanzania to witness one the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world – the annual migration of thousands upon thousands of white-bearded wildebeest, zebra and antelope across the vast plains of East Africa. These massive herds of game are driven by a strong survival instinct to find water and grass, which also takes them into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park.

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Wildebeest making their way across the Serengeti National Park © Patrick Shah

From December to March, the herds congregate on the southern plains of the Serengeti for calving season, where up to half a million new wildebeest are born. In June and July, the herds move in vast row through the western corridor, starting to amass on the banks of the Grumeti River before making the treacherous swim across the crocodile-infested waters.

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Black-maned lion in the Serengeti National Park © Patrick Shah

The Serengeti is big cat territory, where lions (including the black-maned variety), leopards and cheetah prowl among the plains that are rich in game. Other wildlife in this amazing East African park include three African jackal species, the spotted hyena, the aardwolf and the serval cat.

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