Botswana – The Okavango

The world’s largest inland delta, described by many as “one of the last best places on earth”, the area is a rich expanse of wildlife paradise. Rising in the Angolan Highlands, various tributaries feed their waters into the Okavango River which then flows into a vast complex of channels, lagoons and floodplains. The delta is driest during the summer months of November through January and it is during these months that the rains are falling in the north of Angola where it takes until March or April before the inflow causes a rise in the delta water levels. The flood waters reach a peak in late June through until early August.

The best time for a safari in the delta is between May and November, and for specialised birding from November until March. I would also recommend visiting the dryer, northern reaches of the delta and in particular, the Chobe National Park, Linyanti, Selinda and Kwando areas. The contrast of biomes makes for wonderful game viewing with large herds of big game converging onto lands of sweet grasses and sparse water distribution.

South Africa – The Kruger National Park

The prehistory of the Kruger National Park is absolutely compelling – from the early Stone Age inhabitants who lived and hunted the area half a million years ago, to the Iron Age people who left evidence of rock paintings and stone built structures dating back 1500 years.

The Kruger was initially established as the Sabi Game Reserve in 1898, then proclaimed as a National Park in 1926, and remains one of Africa’s most well-known National Parks. With the removal of fences between neighbouring private reserves and the park in the early 1990s, the Kruger now encompasses 20 000km2 of pristine wilderness. With its 148 recorded mammal species, 114 reptiles, 33 amphibians and more than 520 birds, the Kruger is probably the most intensively surveyed and researched large conservation area in Africa.

The best time for safaris in the Kruger and surrounding reserves is from May until October when the drier conditions and concentrated water sources make for ideal wildlife viewing. For keen ornithologists, the rainy season in November and December offers wonderful birding opportunities.
South Africa is a diverse country offering a myriad of destinations and activities. You could choose to broaden your itinerary by spending several days in the beautiful Cape, exploring the Garden Route or discovering the grandeur of the Drakensberg Mountain Range.

Kenya – Masai Mara

Located in the northern reaches of the great Serengeti / Mara Ecosystem, the Masai Mara must rate as one of the world’s greatest wildlife areas. It is globally famous for its exceptional big cat viewing and the congregation of the annual migration of wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle and zebra in certain months of the year. Multiple award winning wildlife documentaries have been captured along the Mara River where enormous crocodiles hunt down the massive gatherings of wildebeest at crossing points. The Mara River marks a section of the border between Tanzania and Kenya and viewed from both sides has to go down as one of nature’s most spectacular events.

Nairobi is the gateway to the East Africa safari, and has numerous high end establishments to be based after a long international flight. Lewa Downs Conservancy and Samburu National Park are also highly recommended starting points for a safari, Samburu offering a wonderful Masai cultural experience, and Lewa, well known for its superb rhino populations.

Zimbabwe – Gonarezhou

Located in the south east of Zimbabwe and along the Mozambique border, the Gonarezhou National Park – meaning “place of elephants” – covers an area in excess of 5000 km2. It consists of mainly open grasslands and dense woodlands and forms a natural migratory triangle with neighbouring concessions.

Gonarezhou National Park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a huge undertaking that includes South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. This massive area is set to become one of the premium peace parks on the continent, dedicated to conservation, biodiversity and the economic development of the surrounding local communities. Natural animal migration routes and fragile regional ecosystems will ultimately be re-established and the park will provide world class ecotourism opportunities for visitors.

The greater area will include more than 500 species of birds, 147 species of mammals, at least 116 species of reptiles, 34 species of frogs and 49 species of fish.

On the periphery of Gonarezhou lies Singita Pamushana Lodge. This 500 km2 natural paradise is a place of enormous beauty and character, packed with wildlife including rare species such as Roan, Sable and Black and White Rhino. The lodge offers majestic views of the dam below where the snorting of the resident pod of Hippo and the call of the African fish eagle makes for an unforgettable soundtrack. I would suggest visiting Singita Pamushana from late May through until November, and whilst in Zimbabwe a visit to the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is a must.

Rwanda – Volcanoes National Park

Tourism is the fastest growing sector in Rwanda and is now the country’s leading foreign exchange earner. Volcanoes National Park is home to an estimated one-third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population and is arguably Africa’s most popular destination to see these great beasts. Despite the genocide legacy, the country is now perceived internationally as a safe destination. The Genocide Museum in Kigali is a very moving experience and should be included in any visit. Other attractions include the Nyungwe Forest where you can view chimpanzees and Ruwenzori Colobus monkeys.

Tanzania – The Serengeti National Park

Africa’s number one world heritage site, the Serengeti is among the best known wildlife sanctuaries and symbolises the quintessential African safari. The ecosystem, one of the few truly wild places left on earth, contains over three million large mammal and bird species. The Serengeti is synonymous with the annual wildebeest and zebra migration, arguably nature’s greatest wonder, and is also home to other vast resident grazing herds throughout the year.

Spanning 50 000 km2 the greater Serengeti /Mara ecosystem stretches between the shores of Lake Victoria in the west, Lake Eyasi in the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east, and includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Grumeti, Ikorongo and Maswa Game Reserves, and the neighbouring Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Most safari operators and independent travellers depart from Arusha – Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater is all easily accessible from this tourism town. The best time to visit the area is from June through until January.

Zambia – Lower Zambezi National Park

Zambia is a landlocked country with a tropical climate, and consists mostly of high plateaus with low hills and mountains, dissected by river valleys. Zambia is drained by two major river basins; the Zambezi and Kafue basin in the middle, west and south covering about three-quarters of the country; and the Congo basin in the north covering about one-quarter of the country. A very small area in the northeast forms part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Rukwa in Tanzania. Zambia is blessed with some of the world’s most renowned wildlife concessions, National Parks and natural wonders including the Lower Zambezi, North and South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks. Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and is one of the most popular destinations on the continent.