Africa is the mother of all wildlife safaris. There are lots of national parks to visit for game viewing in Africa. Here are 10 less known national parks to enjoy wildlife safaris in Africa;
- Masai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara national Reserve, also known as “The Mara,” is the venue for arguably the most astounding wildlife spectacle on earth.
Every year during the great migration an estimated 2.5 million animals make a round-trip journey of 2,000 kilometres across the Serengeti ecosystem between Tanzania and Kenya.
The Mara has been described as the most prolific wildlife real-estate on earth and is perhaps Africa’s greatest safari destination.
Similarly, the Serengeti, which is contiguous with The Mara to the south, is one of Africa’s truly untamed wildernesses, with seemingly endless expanses of swaying savannah where plains herds graze and lions and cheetah maintain a vigil from their lookout kopjes
2 Liwonde National Park, Malawi
Game boma in Liwonde National Park (Dreamstime)
Recognising the economic benefits of national parks and game viewing, the Malawi government has made it a priority to rehabilitate Liwonde National Park. Their aim is to make it a Big Five park again, re-introducing rhino, lions and elephants for the first time in decades.
Located beside the Shire River, the park offers the opportunity to track rhinos with researchers, as well as go on walking safaris.
Sunset cruises along the river are popular too, affording great sightings of elephants, hippos, crocs, waterbucks and abundant birdlife.
3 Tiwai National Park, Sierra Leone
You’ve probably seen the forests of Tiwai National Park on television without realising it. The park is a long-term favourite with wildlife documentary-makers, the go-to place for footage of chimpanzees and Pygmy hippos living undisturbed in an environment that hasn’t changed for centuries.
Tiwai remains pristine because it sits on an island on the Mao River, largely cut off from the rest of Sierra Leone. The island is reached by motorboat from Kambama and accommodation is limited – just tents and a shared bathroom – but the advantage is that monkeys frequently stroll through the camp.The park is a UNESCO-listed site, recognised for its lush rainforest, unique and rich biodiversity, and a high concentration of endemic species.
- Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
A good place for lion spotters and best for untamed, limitless desert wilderness and the tough Kalahari lions.
Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve is Africa at its rawest. The San Bushmen have lived here for an estimated 30,000 years and the first explorers knew this area as “the plains where courage fails.”
There are only a few lodges that allow an opportunity to explore the reserve without the safety net of a full-blown four-wheel drive expedition vehicle and in this area you could not feel farther removed from the crowds and tour buses of other parks.
In the heart of the Kalahari you camp within earshot of roaring lions, in the certain knowledge that there will rarely be anyone else within 50 kilometres.
- 5. Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
For all your adrenalin-producing needs and is good for: Spectacular landscapes and great buffalo herds.
With sprawling savannah and soaring mountains, Kidepo National Park might be the most picturesque park in Africa.
Sharing borders with Sudan and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, it is Uganda’s most beautiful, remote and least-explored park. Kidepo was once the playground of the late president Idi Amin and you can still visit the haunting ruins of a lodge that could just as easily have been designed as a massive bunker.
Those who take the trouble to get here are rewarded with phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity that can rarely be had at any cost in neighbouring countries.
- Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania
Near guaranteed sightings of the “Big Five” (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard).
Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater could be the most compact wildlife venue on the planet. From the first spellbinding glimpse of the crater and the stomach-churning descent down the inner walls, your senses are assaulted by Africa at its most intense. During a single morning you can easily rack up unforgettable sightings of elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.
If this is your first time on safari it can be the perfect choice but aficionados complain that this amazing little “lost world” makes it all too easy.
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
Best for Cheetah spotting and waterhole stake outs.Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premier wildlife venue and one of Africa’s most hypnotic landscapes.
The park takes its name from a local word meaning “Great White Place” and the startling white pan (which was a lake bed 12 million years ago) covers about a quarter of Etosha’s 22,300 square kilometres.
The key to wildlife spotting here is to focus on the waterholes that dot these lizard-baking, mirage-haunted plains.
Etosha is home to the Big Five, vast herds of gazelle and antelope and (depending on season) more than 300 species of birds.
- National Parks along Gambia River,
Best for: Bird watching and West African aquatic wildlife.
The Gambia is effectively little more than the opposing banks of West Africa’s greatest river, but the six national parks strung along Gambia River constitute one of Africa’s most unexpected safari venues.
The country has traditionally been written off by safari connoisseurs as “hunted out” but its reputation as a safari destination has been sadly understated.
Not only is it a paradise for bird-watchers (with almost 600 species) but its bush is home to monkey, baboon and chimpanzee, and its crocodile-infested waters offer rarer sightings like African otter and manatee.
- Ahaggar National Park, Algeria
Best for: Tuareg nomadic culture and vast, sweeping Sahara land scapes.On a map of North Africa, Algeria’s Ahaggar National Park is where the “H” would be in “SAHARA.”
This immense park is 40 times the size of the entire Gambian nation but, far from being a massive wasteland, the center of the world’s greatest desert is a diverse area, boasting classic dunes and a 3,000-meter mountain range.
Despite its reputation, security is rarely a problem in this area: as the local Tuareg people are quick to point out, in this vast country you’re further from Algiers than you would be if you’d stayed in London.
- Kruger National Park, South Africa
One of Africa’s more convenient parks and for: best Accessible wilderness.
Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship park, is famous for the great diversity of habitats (16 macro eco-zones have been recognized here) that can be found in the 300 kilometres of wilderness that lie between the Limpopo and the Crocodile rivers.
Kruger is the most accessible and best equipped of Africa’s great parks and makes an ideal venue for self-drive safaris, since it is well signposted, well maintained and even boasts restaurants and gas stations.
Apart from wonderful wildlife sightings, other great adventure draw-cards of Kruger are its range of multi-day hiking trails and mountain-biking tours.