If you’re dreaming of heading to Africa on vacation to take in a once-in-a-lifetime safari, we bet you’ve been dreaming of for a long time.
Going on a big safari trip is on most people’s bucket lists, but it’s one of those fantasy vacations that feels like it will always remain exactly that – a fantasy. We have a tendency to automatically assume that it’s going to be expensive, and most of us don’t know where to start.
Africa is a huge place, and its image abroad isn’t always a good one. People tend to think of it as dangerous, and the perception isn’t helped by large media outlets publishing hugely long lists of things you should worry about before you set off. In practice, the majority of Africa is no more dangerous than the city you live in, and if you book with a reputable touring company, you should be well looked after. If you take the same precautions you would when going on any vacation, you’ll be fine.
As for the expense – it’s relative. Some countries cost more than others. The whole continent doesn’t operate on the same pricing system! Even if it does cost the same as a visit to Disneyland, what price can you put on seeing some of the most exotic wildlife in the world up close and in person? Humanity has always been fascinated by the wildlife of Africa. We know that, because it’s used as an attraction in movies like ‘Jumanji’ and in leading casino games like ‘Hot Safari’ and ‘Great Rhino.’
Safari-themed casino games have been among the best performing at online casino websites or their sister sites for much of the past two years, and that’s because people love Africa’s animals. It’s one thing to see them on a screen – it’s quite another to see them in the flesh.
If you don’t know where to start with looking at an African safari, here are three options to consider.
Botswana’s Okavango Delta
This is the location to go to if you want to avoid the crowds. If you’ve spent big money going all the way to Africa, you don’t want your experience ruined by jostling shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other sightseers. There’s no chance of that on the Okavango Delta; you’re surrounded by water on all sides!
Taking a safari across the delta gives you the chance to see wildlife close up, and yet at a safe distance, from a boat. Even the water here is stunningly beautiful – it’s not without reason that this area recently found its way onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nowhere in Africa will you find a higher concentration of buffalo and elephants than in Botswana, but there are also plenty of big cats to hold your attention, including leopards, cheetahs, and, of course, lions. The best way to ensure an exclusive appearance is to book a mokoro tour – that’s just you, your tour guide, and a traditional Botswana canoe.
Zambia’s South Luangwa
If you’ve spent any time looking into potential prices for safari holidays, you’ll notice some significant variance at different times of the year. That’s because the bulk of popular safari locations are only good for animal spotting at certain times of the year, and so if you turn up at the wrong time, you’re in for a disappointing (and possibly very wet) vacation.
That’s not the case at South Luangwa in Zambia, where you’re guaranteed spectacular sights all year round. This part of Zambia isn’t just one of the richest in terms of wildlife in Africa – it’s one of the richest in the whole world. Nowhere will you find more hippos, but it’s also a hotspot for lions and giraffes.
Bird Spotters will get a chance to spot the colorful bee-eater birds swarming across the river, where you can also get within touching distance of a crocodile if you’re feeling brave. The luxury Chinzombo Camp accommodation is the best way to do South Luangwa in style – although it’s also the most expensive.
Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve
Kenya is probably the best-known and most-visited safari destination in Africa. It has more than one safari area to consider, but for us, the pick of them is the Masai Mara, and that comes down to the prevalence of Africa’s ‘Big 5’ animals in the region; that’s the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, and rhino, Once upon a time the phrase was only used by hunters (as they’re among the hardest animals to hunt), but now it’s common safari parlance.
Kenya’s landscape is the Africa of legend, and the one represented in a thousand works of fiction; savannas rolling away to mountains in the distance, with golden red plantlife that looks like a forest on fire as the sun goes down. If you want to see the awesome spectacle of wildebeest migration, you’ll want to go in July – just have an awareness that you’ll be far from the only people in attendance!
While the big five are the main attraction, Masai Mara also hosts baboons, cheetahs, zebras, gazelles, and hippos. You won’t get the sense of exclusivity here that you will find in the other two destinations we’ve recommended, but if you’re only going to go on safari once, this is the best bet for seeing as much of the wildlife in one place as possible.
Obviously, because we’ve only looked at three locations, this is far from an exhaustive list. We also have plenty of good things to say about South Africa, Zimbabwe, and several other major safari destinations within the continent, but the purpose of this list was to give you a sense of where to start looking. For an intimate or exclusive trip, go to Botswana. For incredible scenery and a rich variety of animals, head to Kenya.
For something in between, and a guarantee that your trip will be worthwhile no matter what time of year you visit, it has to be Zambia. Whatever destination you choose, commit yourself to doing it. You only get to live your life once; don’t live to regret not taking the opportunity when you were young enough to do so!