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Top Safaris Experiences

Witnessing the annual great migration on the Serengeti

Gorilla tracking in Uganda & Rwanda

Visiting Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

Incredible wildlife

Spotting the "Big 5" in Kruger National Park

Exploring Botswana’s Okavango Delta

 

 

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Top Safaris Attractions

Safari in Masai Mara National Park

Safari in Kruger National Park

Nature and Wildlife viewing

Birding on Safari

Safari in Chobe National Park

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Safaris Attractions And Landmarks Guide

“Safari” is one of the most inspiring words in adventurous travel. Seeing some of the planet’s greatest wildlife in their native habitats is an unforgettable experience. Whether by a guided sunrise just minutes from your lodge, or the exhilaration of a jeep ride deep into the savannah, no safari will be the same -- each will reveal entirely new memories.

When Africa was still colonized, big game hunters came on safari to shoot wild animals and return home with trophies to mount. They gathered in Nairobi to compare notes on bagging what they called the Big Five: elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, and Cape buffalo.

Hunting bans and conservation-oriented TV shows have largely made the big game hunters a relic of the past (with the notable exception of poachers who kill animals for their tusks, horns or other saleable parts). An African safari -- “journey” in Swahili – is now typically populated by adventurous travelers shooting pictures and videos rather than rifles. With some magnificent African animals on the endangered lists, many travelers feel a sense of urgency to go on safari now before poachers devastate the dwindling populations of rhinos and other creatures.

Wide Variety of Safari Operators

But African countries are increasingly recognizing the economic benefits of conservation and safari travel, and a wide variety of safari operators are offering environmentally sensitive guided tours in search of big game. Seasoned guides manning four-wheel drive vehicles navigate dirt roads through vast parks in search of not just the Big Five but also giraffes, hippos, zebras, wildebeest, crocodiles and abundant bird life. And, depending on your chosen safari location, you may even encounter gorillas, chimpanzees, and monkeys.

While elements of wildlife viewing can be hot, bumpy, and dusty, lodging is a different story. Many African game parks now come complete with luxury lodging options, as well as more basic accommodations such as campgrounds for those on tighter budgets. But even campers can find luxury by “glamping” – glamorous camping – in tents outfitted with beds. On mobile safaris, you’ll move with your guides most evenings to new locations.

Think Regionally

Africa is a vast continent, so it’s good to think regionally. East Africa is the classic destination. Kenya and Tanzania are home to the Serengeti, site of the largest concentration of big game animals on earth, as well as wildlife-rich Masai Mara and Ngorongoro Crater. UgandaRwanda and the eastern borderlands of the Democratic Republic of Congo are best known for tracking primates – most notably gorillas -- in the wild. Central Africa’s game parks can be paired with a huge bonus: a side-trip to Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall by volume whose roaring waters spray mists hundreds of feet into the air. It straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

West Africa is less known for big game, but Ghana, Togo and other countries do offer some game viewing along with fascinating cultural exploration. Previously overshadowed by East Africa, Southern Africa is emerging as the hot new safari destination. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the top wildlife parks in Africa; Namibia’s arid Kunene region attracts elephants, black rhinos, and lions; and Botswana’s Okavango Delta – a wetland that forms annually from flooding in the Kalahari Desert – beckons lions, leopards, cheetahs and both black and white rhinos.

With a multiplicity of safari operators seeking your business in almost every locale, the process of selecting the right one can be confusing. That’s where Stride comes in – we’ll help you compare game parks, operators, and prices, so that you can find the African safari will best fulfill your dreams.

Must See Safaris Attractions

1. The Great Migration

Great Migration wildebeest stampede

Witnessing this incredible movement of wildlife is truly one of the most breathtaking experiences on a safari in Africa. Thousands of species make their way seeking better grazing and water over hundreds of miles, creating a bend of color and dust and thundering noise. TIP: watch from the air in a hot air balloon!  

2. Masai Mara National Park

Masai Mara tribe and National Park in Tanzania

Masai Mara National Park, located in southwest Tanzania, on the border with Kenya, is a classic destination for Safari travel. Here you’ll see many of the classic Africa wildlife you’d hope to see on safari (including the Big 5). It is also a very popular travel destination for visiting traditional African communities and villages.

3. Chobe National Park

Two Elephants in Chobe National Park

Located in Botswana, this gorgeous national park is known for the incredibly biodiversity and ecosystems. The dry season is the best time to visit for observing herds of elephants -  approximately 120,000 elephants make their home in this protected area and they are a main draw for visitors to the park.

4. Kruger National Park

Lion on the savannah in Kruger National Park, South Africa

In the northeastern part of South Africa, Kruger remains one of the most popular destinations for safaris, in particular first time safari goers. The park is well known for its many bird species - birders should plan to visit between October and March when Kruger is home to several hundred more birds than usual due to migratory seasons. This park also features several different accommodation options making it perfect for families and couples.

5. Serengeti National Park

Leopard in Africa on the Serengeti

Ahh the Serengeti. Just the name conjures up images of classic Africa. This park in Tanzania definitely has one of the most quintessential landscapes in Africa, and it’s massive size makes it feel much more remote than some of the other parks in Africa. For watching the Great Migration, this is where you want to travel to.

6.  Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

The volcanic crater here is perhaps the main draw, secondary to the wildlife (which is also extraordinary). The crater serves as an incredible backdrop for the animals here, especially black rhino, making for great photographs. Ngorongoro crater is also great for hiking and nature walks. The other thing not to miss here is the paleoanthropological site at Olduvai Gorge. This area has been incredibly significant to the study of human evolution, providing many key findings.

7. Seeing the “Big 5”

Elephant family in Africa

The “Big 5” refers to five major species that people often hope to see when they travel to Africa on a safari. Originally a term used by hunters to describe the most prized kills (in terms of difficulty), it has been somewhat reclaimed by the travel industry. These animals include: African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, African Buffalo, African Lion, and the African Leopard. The best safari destinations to see the Big 5 include: South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

8. Bush Walking

Two giraffe in the bush in Africa

Step away from the safari jeep and head into the bush for an unforgettable African safari experience. This brings you up even closer and more personal to the surrounding wildlife, following a knowledgeable guide who can educate on the many animals, plants, ecosystems and nature you encounter. These walks are typically easy, flat, well maintained and guided. You’ll also have the opportunity for amazing photographs when you don’t have to constantly use a long telephoto lens from far away.

9. Staying in a Luxury Safari Lodge

Luxury safari lodge in Tanzania

There are many ways to experience Africa on safari. Some may crave the camping under the stars experience, while others consider safaris more as a day trip from a hotel. But without a doubt one of the most unique ways is staying at luxury safari lodge. It’s a great way to relax after a long day in the sun watching amazing wildlife, they provide comfort, good food, good drink, and amazing customer service.

10. Okavango Delta

Hippo in Okavango Delta in Botswana

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a great safari travel experience. Perhaps not for the first time safari goer, but if you are traveling to Africa for a second, third, or fourth time this is highly recommended to check out. The gathering of animals at this beautiful delta include wildebeest, elephant, crocodiles, giraffes, and hyenas.

Safaris Tour Reviews - Summary

4.9 out of 5

99%

recommend

307 Reviews

Excellent 363 Great 58 Average 8 Disappointing 1 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.9 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8

Great care and service from Agama Tours and Safaris

The Big 5

5.0 November 2016 Agama Tours Recommend: Yes Great care and service from Agama Tours and Safaris. From first mail communication was fast and helpful. Kabalo and Lara helped customized our perfect private safari in Tanzania. 8 days including Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. The lodges, tent camps, and transportation were all excellent. We are still in disbelief to how amazing our guide was, Emanuel. A professional animal finder, knowledgable, passionate and above all, wonderful friend we have made. I would recommend to anyone traveling to Tanzania! Read more

Kenya Wildlife with Tanzania Ext.

Kenya Wildlife Safari

5.0 November 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes This is a trip not to be missed! We took this journey in July 2016. Our group totaled only 6 and we had a wonderful time traveling together. Our guide, Abraham was wonderful and took excellent care of us. The wildlife was abundant and our guide knew just when and where to spot the animals. The accommodations on this trip were very good to excellent. The meals were mostly buffet and had good variety. Each of the hotels/lodges we stayed at had something special or unique about the location or building. This was our second SmarTours trip and it lived up to the expectations set after the first one! We were so pleased with our experience that we are looking at another SmarTours trip to a different region of Africa for next year. Read more

Well Worth it

South Africa Highlights & Safari

5.0 October 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes This tour has far exceeded my expectations. An avid independent traveler, I admittedly am skeptical of large tour groups. However I would not have experienced all that Southern Africa has to offer if traveling alone. This tour delivered it all, from the beautiful crystal blue coastline of Cape Town, the intensity of Zululand, the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, inspirational Johannesburg, the wild Kruger National Park...and the optional extension to one of the seven Natural Wonders of the world, the magnificent Victoria Falls. We could not have had a better tour guide than Jonathan Muller. His efficiency and professionalism provided me with a new respect for group touring. He came to know each personality in our group, and embraced each individual's sensitivity . With 35 person onboard, that was no easy task. Jonathan is truly a people person, also patient and knowledgeable...all aspects of a great tour guide. He kept us entertained during the long motor coach rides with humor and personal views of his homeland. While we were all enjoying ourselves during downtime, Jonathan was behind the scenes making arrangements and phone calls, so that our tour succeeded with only one glitch, a missing suitcase that eventually arrived to the hotel. All included hotels were high quality, per US standards. The beds were all comfortable. Some had bathtubs whereas the others had huge showers with strong water flow. All had room safes, only two did not have a refrigerator, and two did not have a television. We were greeted at every hotel with a non-alcoholic beverage, and room keys were distributed expeditiously. Dining opportunities were convenient at all locations. The included buffet meals were top notch. If there is any negativity to mention, it occurred during the end of our 3 day extension to Zimbabwe. Everyone was really hot, exhausted, and ready to return home. Victoria Falls itself was absolutely breathtaking, and the side trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana was was also memorable. Unfortunately, we didn't have Jonathan to hold our hands, so there was a little more exertion on our parts. However the guides and bus drivers that we had were all very friendly. I'm really glad that I did the tour and the extension; one of the best trips I've ever taken. Read more

Everyone should go on this tour!

South Africa Highlights & Safari

5.0 October 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes There are several reasons this was a fantastic trip: 1) the itinerary had a little bit of everything, from the amazing city life of Cape Town to wildlife safaris to the natural beauty of Victoria Falls to the apartheid museum in Joburg. 2) Jeremy Poole was our tour director. He made sure everything was organized, he took special requests, he offered great advice, and he was always patient. But what really made him such an amazing host was his knowledge of and his passion for his country in every aspect, from its history to its geography and botany. I doubt that we would have learned as much or been as captivated by South Africa had he not been our guide. 3) the accommodations, value for money, meals covered, etc. were all excellent. This was our first Smartour but will not be our last. Read more

Breathless Beauty

South Africa Highlights & Safari

5.0 September 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes Just retuned from African Highlights with the Victoria Falls extension. Can not say enough about Jeriemy Poole, tour director, and the entire once in a lifetime African experience. The whole tour was fantastic and I did every single optional tour. Well worth it. I highly recommend this tour. It's my second tour with Smartours and I'm booking 2 more trips for next year. You get your monies worth and then some. Read more
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Things To Know Before You Go

Before You Go

Visas & Documents

For travelers from the USA and Canada, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, and South Africa do not require visas if you’re trip is under 90 days. Your passport should be valid a full six months prior to your trip, and make sure you have at least two blank pages per country you’ll visit.

Important note for travel to South Africa: If you’re traveling with children under the age of 18 to South Africa, you will be required to present a full birth certificate (child and parent details). If only one parent is traveling with the child, or a legal guardian, additional documentation is required that details legal consent for the child to be traveling.

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all require visas which can be obtained through the embassies in Washington DC (Ottawa for Canadians), with the exception of Kenya - where visas can be purchased through the Kenya Tourism Website.

Mozambique is the only safari destination where you cannot obtain visas upon landing in country. For all the other countries listed visas are available in the airport.

If you’re going on a gorilla trek, you will need a permit for this activity purchased prior to entering Africa. This is generally arranged through your tour company.

Vaccines & Medication

Anti-malaria prophylactics are not required for every African country, but it’s a good idea to bring them regardless, especially if your tour covers multiple countries. Different countries may require different malarial medication so show your doctor where you’ll be traveling so he or she will know the correct pills to provide.

You’ll also want to get a Yellow Fever vaccine. Bring the proof of vaccination form with you as you may be required to present it at customs and border crossings.

Safety

If you are traveling with a reputable safari tour operator, you can have a reasonable expectation of safety. Travel insurance should be required and in most cases offered by your tour operator, and if not, it is advisable to look elsewhere.

For tours that include a day or two in large cities, such as Cape Town or Johannesburg, note that walking alone is ill advised, especially at night. Organized crime, petty theft, and scams are, unfortunately, prevalent here so be on your guard, and ask your tour guide what to watch for if you will be on your own. Never carry large sums of cash or valuables such as watches or jewelry, and keep purses and wallets concealed.

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