Some of Africa’s Best Safari Destinations
Would you like to try something different on your next trip to Africa but not sure where to start? There’s more to Africa than meets the eye.
If you’re looking for a thrilling African safari, an immersive underwater experience, balmy beach days, or a great family escape, these are the top destinations in southern Africa for your travels.
South Luangwa National Park
The birthplace of the walking safari, South Luangwa National Park has the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa and is widely regarded as the best place to experience a true African safari.
It’s an excellent destination for sighting elephants, hippos, buffalo, giraffes and big cats, as well as endemic and rare creatures like Thornicroft’s giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra, and Cookson’s wildebeest.
When you’re not out in search of big game, you can relax with a massage featuring lagoon views, or shop for unique hand-painted items and curios manufactured from recycled goods including unique pieces crafted from snares.
Lower Zambezi National Park
A premier Zambian safari destination, the Lower Zambezi National Park offers an appealing off-the-beaten-track environment for undisturbed game and bird watching experiences.
It offers vast landscapes of forests, grasslands, and floodplains teeming with wild creatures including elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, plains game, and more.
This is a top destination for birders too with thriving populations of fish eagles, secretary birds, jacanas, starlings, hornbills, and lovebirds.
Kasanka National Park
Kasanka National Park is Zambia’s only privately managed park and one of the most beautiful in the country. It features swamp forests, papyrus marshes, and miombo woodlands, as well as more than 500 bird species during the summer months.
Kasanka’s biggest claim to fame is its annual bat migration. Every year in November, millions of straw-coloured fruit bats descend on the forest of Kasanka, where they remain until the new year.
The result is a feeding frenzy for the local birds of prey, small predators, and scavengers. The bat migration is unique to Kasanka National Park.
Kasanka National Park is also an excellent place to see rare sitatunga antelope, while a trip to the nearby Bangweulu Wetlands yields sightings of endemic black lechwe and shoebill storks.
Kafue National Park
Zambia’s largest national park is also Africa’s second-largest wildlife haven. It’s even bigger than the Kruger National Park and includes diverse habitats across its length and breadth.
Despite its large size and abundance of wildlife, Kafue is one of the country’s least visited national parks, so you’re assured of a more exclusive experience when you visit.
Considered a hidden gem, Kafue National Park offers an unspoiled, untamed African safari experience promising abundant wildlife sightings. It’s home to over 500 different types of birds, and many reptiles, fish, and amphibians.
Kafue has the highest diversity of antelope species in Africa and accommodates 158 mammal species including lion, elephant, buffalo, hippo, puku, zebra, sable, and cheetah.
Despite this abundance, there are no rhinos or giraffes in Kafue National Park.
Liuwa Plains National Park
Liuwa Plains Zambia is an isolated destination, most famous for its wildebeest migration. Featuring some 40 000 animals every year, this is the world’s second largest event of its kind, after the Serengeti migration.
The best time to visit Liuwa Plains if you’d like to witness this spectacle is during November, but you can enjoy incredible birdwatching year-round with a chance to spot slaty egrets, spoonbills, marabou storks, and saddle-billed storks.
This is also one of the best places in Zambia to see hyenas, the apex predator in this reserve.
Lake Malawi National Park
Another one of Africa’s watery treasures, Lake Malawi is a playground for water babies, anglers, and nature lovers alike.
Secluded among verdant hills, Lake Malawi is home to 650 species of birds, especially the water-loving kind and small antelope and baboons abound on the shores.
You can spend your time island hopping by boat in between the several luxury lodges situated here or visit Likoma Island for a spot of snorkelling and sightseeing.
Liwonde National Park
Liwonde National Park is located along Malawi’s Shire River, the largest river in Malawi and the only outlet that flows into the Zambezi River in Mozambique. The Liwonde National Park in Malawi incorporates mainly wetland swamps, flood plains, lush grass plains and baobab groves.
There are several good quality game lodges in the area offering access to the park on guided walking and driving safaris. During these outings, you might come across impalas, side-striped jackals, elephants, baboons, hyenas, and waterbuck.
Nyika National Park
Nyika National Park stretches across the central Malawian plateaux and boasts a unique natural habitat comprising clear streams, heaths, lush orchid beds, and rolling montane grasslands.
It’s home to the headwaters of many regional riverways where buffalo and elephant wallow and splash, and you can also look forward to seeing roan antelope, eland, leopard, reedbuck, bushbuck, duiker, and Crawshay’s zebra along with 400 different types of birds.
Hiking, horse riding, animal tracking, and bird watching are the most popular activities in Nyika National Park.
Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve
Mulanje Mountain is Malawi’s highest peak. Towering 3 000 meters above sea level, it rises above the plains of southern Malawi, close to the Mozambiquan border.
It’s one of the country’s most striking sights and hosts a variety of habitats including woodlands awash with the endangered widdringtonia African cypress tree.
The Bazaruto Archipelago
The Bazaruto Archipelago comprises five major islands, deserted beaches, and staggering biodiversity. These turquoise waters are home to beautiful coral gardens, and thousands of fish, whales, dolphins, dugongs, and turtles.
This is a must-visit destination for scuba divers and photographers wanting to add something extra special to their portfolio.
Gorongosa National Park
You can navigate Gorongosa National Park’s 4 000 square kilometres of wilderness by 4×4, on foot, or in a kayak.
The Park is home to all of Africa’s most iconic species like hippos, elephants, and lions as well as healthy populations of antelope, and abundant birds. Top sightings include bee-eaters, crowned cranes, and fish eagles.
Inhaca Island is a hotspot of resorts and beaches for both local and international holidaymakers, just a short boat trip from Maputo.
Apart from its luxe leisure attractions, the island is also an important research centre for monitoring the 300 bird species found on site as well as the local humpback whales, and manta rays.
Quirimbas National Park
Quirimbas National Park is a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve incorporating both islands and mainland areas. This tropical destination delights visitors with sugar-white beaches, towering palms, and quaint village scenes.
It’s also home to reefs, mangrove forests, humpback whales and scores of smaller species.
When you visit the mainland, you’ll enjoy a more classic African experience with safaris to see elephants, lions, and leopards among the hills and savannahs.
Ponta do Ouro
Ponta do Ouro butts up against the South African border in the south of Mozambique. It’s a popular beach resort town with gorgeous beaches, excellent fishing opportunities, and authentic local restaurants.
Scuba diving is another popular activity here, especially since there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing the waters with large numbers of dolphins.
Limpopo National Park – Mozambique and South Africa
Limpopo National Park is accessible from the Kruger National Park and is a continuation of this wildlife destination.
This Transfrontier park boasts 10 000 square kilometres of woodlands, savannahs, and winding rivers that attract large numbers of game year-round.
You can expect to see all your Kruger National Park favourites like cheetah, hyenas, lions, elephants, buffalos, and crocodiles in this part of the world.
Zambia and Zimbabwe
No trip to either of these countries is complete without visiting the iconic Victoria Falls. This incredible sight is visible from both countries and offers a host of activities to suit travellers of all inclinations.
You can test the waters on boat rides, sunset cruises, power boat jaunts, river rafting, or tiger fishing expeditions. Scale the heights with bungee jumping, abseiling, and zip lines or soar with the eagles on a helicopter or airplane flip over the sights.
Golf, safaris, spa treatments, hikes, markets, and fine dining are all on the cards when you visit Victoria Falls.
Lake Kariba is the largest man-made reservoir in the world and extends for 5 000km2 along Zambia’s border with Zimbabwe.
It’s 40 kilometres wide in places and an excellent playground for anglers in search of tiger fish.
The Zimbabwean side of the lake still offers plenty of opportunities to see wildlife like elephants and hippos, but you’ll have to head to Chete or Chikanka Island to see wild animals on the Zambian side.
Houseboating is a top activity on Lake Kariba and the best way to enjoy all that this destination has to offer. You can also indulge in motorboat and canoe safaris on these waters.
And There’s Even More…
You’ll find plenty more to choose from when considering the best that southern Africa has to flaunt. There truly is something on offer for everyone in this diverse destination.
Browse our travel guide and blog as well as part one of this series for all the best ideas to help you plan your next trip and check back for our final instalment on the best destinations in southern Africa, featuring South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Eswatini.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.