Africa is the largest continent with 58 unique countries. Planning an adventure there is a daunting task even for seasoned travelers. At Safari Bill, we specialize in preparing a custom itinerary based on your interests, time, and budget. We listen to you, and that drives our planning.
Brief descriptions of destinations we believe will provide you with a great Africa adventure should help you focus on where you think you would like to go, what you want to see, and when you want to travel.
After, we can begin to talk about options and budgets. An Africa safari is a considerable investment. You want a safe and memorable experience and the best value for your money. That is what Safari Bill delivers for our guests.
The destinations below are grouped by country. If you have a particular time of year you are able to travel, contact Safari Bill for suggestions tailored to optimize your game-viewing, travel window, and budget.
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools is widely considered one of Zimbabwe’s finest parks, and there is little mystery why. The park is renowned for its position on the Zambezi River, massive elephants, and healthy lion population. The park has varied terrain of open plains and forests of mahogany, wild figs, ebonies, and baobabs. The large woodland areas create a magical feel as the thick canopy — out of reach of elephants — filters the light over open plains. In my opinion, Mana Pools is the most beautiful backdrop for photographers with its amazing wildlife.
Hwange National Park
Bordering Botswana, Hwange National Park is home to over 100 mammal species, including lion, leopard, and rhino. It is known for its large population of elephant. This game park is generously accessible. All the safari camps offer day and night game drives, and most also offer walking safaris. The dry season is the prime time for wildlife viewing in Hwange. The many waterholes become gathering places for animals, while the thinning vegetation makes them easier to spot. The park boasts superb birdlife.
Matusadona National Park
Bordering Lake Kariba, a Matusadona safari revolves around the rhythm of the lake. Early morning game drives patrol the lakeshore for big cats on the prowl, while your afternoon can be enjoyed with a leisurely boat cruise on the lake, watching hippos and crocodiles sun themselves as nervous antelope make their way down to drink. Great for bird watching, it is also a destination where the more adventurous can stretch their legs and enjoy a walking safari in the company of expert guides and armed rangers.
The best time to go to Matusadona National Park is during the May-October dry season. Once the rains have arrived in earnest around December, Matusadona is largely inaccessible, and much of the wildlife retreats into the park’s remote back country.
Gonarezhou National Park & Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve
Gonarezhou National Park rewards visitors with stunning scenery and diverse game viewing.
You will see plenty of elephants, including big tuskers. Gonarezhou is home to rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard. Rivers cut through the park, attracting antelope, zebra, and giraffe. Wild dogs (aka painted dogs) and cheetah scout the floodplains, and the air resonates with the calls of some 400 recorded bird species.
The best time to visit Gonarezhou and Malilangwe is May-August when you will find mild daytime temperatures and cool nights. September and October can be extremely hot even though the game viewing is spectacular.
One of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River — the fourth largest river in Africa, which defines the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometers, while the spray and mist from the falling water rises to a height of over 400 meters and can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometers. The local tribes used to call the waterfall Mosi-o-Tunya “The smoke that thunders.”
Interestingly, during the dry season, the water level in the Zambezi River drops sharply, and it becomes possible to walk through some parts of the waterfall. However, during the rest of the year, Victoria Falls is a roaring machine that strikes anyone with its power.
Victoria Falls Town is really safari headquarters for visits to the parks in Zimbabwe as well as Zambia and Botswana. Many safari tours start or end here. The iconic Victoria Falls Hotel is a lovely landmark to visit.
The Linyanti region is made up of different types of woodland habitats and ancient floodplains that are covered with savannah. Since the Linyanti River started flowing again, many of these are now very wet regions. The river is bordered by lush riverine habitats, and these are home to a wide variety of animals.
One of the main attractions of an Okavango Delta safari in this region is seeing the elephants during the dry winter months. From June-September, vast herds of elephant that can number in the thousands move through the area. Zebra also migrate through the region in search of water during this period. Many wildebeest, impala, southern giraffe, eland, lechwe, reedbuck and kudu can also be seen year-round in this area of the Delta. In the dry season, you may also see rare antelope species such as sable and Roan antelope. There are also numerous hippos in the Linyanti River, and a game viewing river cruise is a wonderful way to see them. Smaller animals in the region include vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, warthogs, servals, large spotted genets, and lesser bush babies. As this wildlife concession is drier, you may see many more desert-dwelling animals such as aardvarks, African wildcats and caracals. There are many predators, and there is a healthy population of lions and spotted hyenas. The region is also home to leopards, wild dogs and cheetahs.
The Linyanti Concession is an internationally recognized Important Birding Area (IBA), and the birding is excellent, making it one of the biggest attractions on an Okavango safari.
Moremi Game Reserve is considered one of the most beautiful game reserves in Africa, and it is the perfect Okavango safari destination for those who want to discover the beauty of the African bush. The Moremi Game Reserve falls completely within the Okavango Delta, making up about 20% of the Delta. It is the only area within the Delta where you can see the Big 5 on your Botswana safari as Rhino have been reintroduced onto Chief’s Island.
The reserve is home to over 400 species of birds. The Moremi Game Reserve protects a large proportion of the Okavango, and there are many regions that are vitally important to many species of birds. The reserve is home to many rare species of birds.
The camps in this area are open year-round.
The Khwai River flows through the concession. It is the first major water source that migrating animals from the Linyanti concession encounter, and there is always a high concentration of game along the river. The Khwai Concession is a good area to see roan and sable antelope, which are relatively rare. On your Botswana safari, you might see kudu, tsessebe, wildebeest and zebra. Fairly stable populations of large predators such as lion, spotted hyena and African wild dogs are found here. If you are lucky, you may also spot leopards.
The area has a good mix of habitats, and you will see a good mix of wetland and Kalahari species. During the summer months, migratory birds also come through.
As this area is mostly dry, it is optimal to visit at any time of the year.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value. It has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. No one can talk about Serengeti without saying that the wildebeest migration is the world’s best live animal experience. Migration occurs almost throughout the year in different sections of Serengeti National Park. The famous migration event is the Mara River crossing, but there are others like the Grumeti River crossing, and the calving migration in Ndutu.
Selous National Park
The Selous Game Reserve is the biggest game reserve in Africa, covering a vast area of about 54,600 km², putting it at 1.5 times the size of Belgium! The overall area (some 155,000 km²) is the largest, uninhabited, untouched, and singularly bodied African wilderness left.
Selous is a big park, supporting plenty of wildlife and exceptional birdlife. Home to staggering numbers of elephant, black rhino, giraffe, hippo and buffalo, a Selous safari is sure to provide ample sightings. In addition, the park is packed with predators, including lion, wild dog, cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena.
Any season is the best time to visit – just different from season to season! The most pleasant time is during the cool season from the end of June to October. The animals are not as dispersed as they are during and after the rains. They have to come to the water regularly, and this makes it the best time to observe game in bigger numbers, even in concentrations. It can already be pleasantly cool in May and June, depending on the year.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees with more than 800 residing in this area. Some of them are habituated to human. The chimpanzee is a species of ape, which is the human’s closest living relative. Mahale National Park has the largest remaining wild chimpanzee population in Africa.
Mahale is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in a jungle with a mountain range for a backdrop.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge volcanic caldera that hosts an impressive ecosystem ideal for the survival and preservation of a large diversity of animals. Among the various wild animals, you should look forward to seeing the Big 5 — rhinos, leopards, elephants, lions, and buffaloes. In addition, it is an exceptional destination for birds with several species to be admired.
Since the wildlife mainly stays in the crater year-round, there is no “perfect” time to visit. However, given that the crater floor gets busy with game vehicles, it can be more pleasant to visit during low season.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtakingly beautiful setting and the best place in East Africa to see the Big 5. It is a great way to start your safari adventure. However, as one of the world’s most astonishing and renowned natural wonders, the Ngorongoro Crater does get busy. Because of the crowds, we recommend a 2-night stay here, then a move to the Serengeti for a quieter, more private safari experience.
Zanzibar Island is a jewel in the ocean, surrounded by beaches that rate among the finest in the world. Here you can swim, snorkel, or just lounge the hours away, while shoals of luminous fish graze over nearby coral gardens and pods of dolphin’s frolic offshore.
The island’s capital, Zanzibar Town, encompasses the historic quarter of Stone Town (birthplace of Queen’s Freddie Mercury) with a mesmerizing mix of influences from Africa, Arabia, India, and Europe. For these reasons and more, Zanzibar Island is the most popular destination for visitors, but choose your spot carefully. While it’s easy to find tranquil beauty or party buzz (or both), increasing development threatens the island’s inescapable magic and fragile community resources.
Zanzibar is a worthwhile destination after your safari to rest and relax before the journey home.
When most people think of safari, they think of Kenya, and with good reason. There are marvelous wildlife areas and almost all the iconic animals you expect to see in Africa.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 364sq km wildlife conservancy situated between the foothills of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. The Conservancy has over 10,000 large mammals, and it is the only park where the Big 5 and chimpanzees can be seen. It also has the fastest growing population of rhino in Africa. There is southern white rhino, about 80 endangered black rhino, and — in a special sanctuary — there are two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino.
Maasai Mara, Ol Kinyei & Olare Motorogi Conservancies
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the greatest wildlife destinations on Earth, and its profusion of plains game and stealthy predators has made it synonymous with the safari holiday. It adjoins the northern sweep of neighboring Tanzania’s Serengeti plains thus forming one huge ecosystem.
This is a diverse landscape, harboring varied habitats within its majestic plains, rocky outcrops, ancient woodlands, and life-giving rivers.
The Great Migration
The Mara lands are famous for the annual wildebeest migration (one of the Natural Wonders of the World), which occurs June-October when the Mara becomes host to an almost unimaginable half a million wildebeest seeking the grasses raised by the spring rains of April and May. Having exhausted the grazing in the northern Serengeti, the wildebeest head north en masse. This is an awesome sight in the true meaning of the word which, when coupled with the sound of thousands upon thousands of hooves trampling the earth, makes it an unforgettable spectacle.
The wildebeest are not the only tenants of the land. The Mara is also the home to zebra, elephants, and the big cats: cheetahs, lions, and leopards. Hyena, jackal, buffalo, eland, topi, impala, gazelle, warthog add to this huge diversity of wildlife.
Amboseli National Park & Selenkay Conservancy
The location of Amboseli National Park makes it a significant attraction for consideration in a Kenya safari holiday. The whole park lies at the foot of the world-famous Mount Kilimanjaro.
The park’s open landscape is home to large herds of elephants whose population is one of the few in Africa that has been spared the butchery of poachers. Elephant numbers are now well over 1000. Predators in the park include hyenas, jackals, lions, leopards, and cheetahs.
Abundant birdlife flourishes particularly in the marshes and swamps. Over 420 species have been counted within the park, including six species of vulture, 12 species of heron, and 10 varieties of eagle.
These three countries are blessed with wildlife and cursed with a history of civil strife. Tourism has suffered significantly, but the progress of the last 20 years has changed the outlook for safari. As the only place in the world to see mountain gorilla, tourists are flocking to the Rwenzori Mountains where you can hike among these endangered primates.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda are two locations where I have observed gorilla. A day license for a one-hour visit is expensive. I suggest adding a four-day extension to your safari in Kenya or Tanzania.
You can also focus on either Rwanda or Uganda for a safari that includes mountain gorilla as well as plains animals and smaller primates.
The Great Migration and the Mountain Gorilla Trek are both high points in all my years of safari in Africa.
Kruger is justifiably one of the most famous parks in Africa. The park is the size of a small country and supports a huge variety of wildlife. All of the Big 5 are present in large numbers, but wildlife viewing in the wet season is more challenging because of thick vegetation. A comprehensive road network that is fine for 2WD cars means Kruger is one of the best parks for self-drive safaris. Few visitors leave this park disappointed.
Kruger’s private reserves deliver the best Big 5 game viewing in Southern Africa. You’ll pay a premium to stay at a private Kruger game reserve, but you’ll get closer and more frequent sightings than normal, and your chances of seeing all of the Big 5 are nearly guaranteed.
Within Kruger there are a number of private concessions. Similar in concept to the reserves, these exclusive-use, unfenced concessions are set in prime wilderness areas and deliver excellent crowd-free game viewing. Accommodation is limited to two or three luxury lodges per concession and includes several of the finest safari lodges in Southern Africa.
Private concessions offer guests activities not permitted in Kruger Park, such as spot-lit night drives, guided walks, and off-road driving.
I recommend staying either within a private reserve or a private concession to truly enjoy Kruger.
A coming-together of cultures, cuisines and landscapes, there’s nowhere quite like Cape Town, a singularly beautiful city crowned by the magnificent Table Mountain National Park.
Table Mountain National Park defines the city. The flat-topped mountain is the headline act, but there are many other equally gorgeous natural landscapes within the park’s extensive boundaries. Cultivated areas, such as the historic Company’s Garden, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Green Point Urban Park, also make exploring the city a pleasure. Learn to surf; go hiking or mountain biking; tandem-paraglide off Lion’s Head; abseil off the top of Table Mountain – just a few of the many activities available.
Beyond Cape Town
Wrenching yourself away from the magnetic mountain and all the delights of the Cape Peninsula is a challenge, but within an hour you can exchange urban landscapes for the charming towns, villages, and bucolic estates of Winelands destinations, such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Hermanus is a prime whale-watching location and a base from which to organize shark-cage diving. Further afield, the beauty of the Garden Route unfolds, with more inspiring scenery to be viewed on thrilling drives down the coast and over mountain passes.
A visit to Cape Town is a must when you are in Southern Africa. Plan 2-3 days before or after your safari. You won’t regret it.