Africa seems to find itself synonymous with the wildlife. The rich fauna makes it one of the best places for wildlife tourism. A lion adoring its young ones, an elephant bathing in the pond, a leopard lazing under the tree, it’s indeed a treasure site to see these animals doing the daily routine.
Africa is one really fascinating wildlife destination. It is home to four of the five fastest animals in the world, cheetah, wildebeest, lion, and gazelle. The Dwarf Blue Butterfly with wing length of ½” is only found in South Africa. Almost half of the entire chameleon population on earth resides in Madagascar. The world’s largest frog which is usually one foot long finds its abode in Cameroon. The world’s largest and the heaviest beetle is again found in Africa. And if you thought Africa is just about tropical lands and animals, let me tell you, you can even find penguins in South Africa owing to the cold Antarctic currents near the cape. Let us take you through African wilderness and help you plan your best wildlife adventure.
The National Parks
Africa is home to more than 1100 species of animals and 2600 species of birds! It just sounds amazing when you hear those numbers but imagine seeing that diversity in real! Here is a list of some of the best national parks in Africa that offers the most diversity of fauna.
1. Kruger National Park, South Africa -The best part about Kruger is its easy accessibility from Johannesburg and that you can take your own vehicle inside the paved roads. Yes there are some real animals inside which usually sound very dangerous but the heavy electrical fencing helps you to take a good look at them without having to fear their attack. Opening and closing times - 6:00 am – 5:30 pm Cost of Visit - R264 per adult, per day, R132 per child, per day http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/
2. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) and Masai Mara National Park(Kenya) -
Famous world over for the wildebeest migration, the two national parks are adjoining to each other across two countries. The migration happens around July-August which is the best time for visiting this place. The best part about this place is that it's mostly flat grasslands so the visibility of animals even from very far off is really high.
Cost of Visit - US$ 25 per person per day and US$ 30 per vehicle per day Best time to visit - April and May Opening and closing times - The route and timing of the wildebeest migration is unpredictable.
3. Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania -
Yes it is a crater. Many many years ago a giant volcano exploded and formed this crater. Today this place has thousands of animals and all your favourite wild beasts. The place offers some open camping options. So if you are one of those real wild explorers who like to feel lively coming face to face with wilderness, this seems to be the best place for you.
Opening and closing times - 6:00 am – 6:00 pm Best time to visit - June to September http://www.ngorongorocrater.org/
4. Etosha National Park, Namibia -
Situated in northern Nambia, this place is truly a wilderness abode. The best part about this place that some of the area is flood lit at night. So the animals you can’t see during the day because of the nocturnal nature of some animals, you can see them at night!
Opening and closing times - The times change weekly and are based on Sunrise and Sunset Cost of Visit - NAD 80-00 per adult per day, NAD 60-00 per adult per day Best time to visit - May – October http://etoshanationalpark.co.za/
5. South Luwangwa National Park, Zambia -
You won’t find this place in one of the most famous national parks of Africa. But that makes it all the more interesting because it feels purely wild with no fencing and vehicles passing by. Also, this place is known to have the highest concentration of leopards and it’s actually very easy to spot one! Make arrangements for your safety though.
Opening and closing times 6:00 am – 6:00 pm Cost of Visit - $ 20/person/day http://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/national-parks/south-luangwa-national-park
6. Okawango Delta, Botswana -
The Okawango Delta seems like a huge swamp kind of a place which is a wildlife haven today. This is quite a famous wildlife destination so you’ll find a lot of walking and mokoro safaris. For those who are wondering what a mokoro safari is, it's basically a hollowed out fiberglass.
It’s quite an experience to see the animals doing their thing which are usually projected as wild beasts. If you take proper care of your safety and you do not mess around with them, they will give you absolutely no reason to complain but will leave you mesmerized for their sheer innocence and beauty.
Planning the Safari -
Owing to the popularity of African countries for wildlife tourism, the government has made national associations for arranging safaris for tourists. Along with that you can have your own DIY Safari option which is rare anywhere.
Package Tours -
There is no better option to approach for safari arrangements than centralized safari associations. For Kenya and Tanzania, there is Kenya Association of Tour Operators and Tanzania Association of Tour Operators for your help. Apart from that there is also provision for luxury safari which might cost a bounty for a single day. But a luxury Safari in Africa is worth every penny.
DIY Safari -
If you are one of those adventure kinds and don’t mind driving in rough terrains, this is probably the best option for you. You can rent vehicles and be your own guide. Make sure you have done your research well or you have someone who knows that place well. This is not only a cheaper option but you can have your own planned/unplanned stopovers to capture the wilderness through your real and virtual lenses.
When to go -
July-October are the best months to plan an African Safari but these months also happen to be the busiest. One idea is that you can go either just before the peak season starts or just immediately after.
Where to stay -
There are three suitable accommodation options to choose from. You can either stay in a hotel nearby, a tented camp or you can even have your camp installed. Yes that is possible! Though for personal camping, you would have to arrange for permits. Not every country and national park offers self-camping options but most national parks in Kenya and some other in Tanzania have such options available. The cost of permits may vary from park to park but it would be mostly around $25 per adult.
Africa is indeed a fantasy land for all the wildlife enthusiasts across the globe. A good research is what you require before heading to the African wilderness. Although the entire Africa is great way to explore wildlife but the places vary according to the diversity and concentration of certain species. Pack up to the wilds!