My 6 Favourite Wildlife Destinations in Southern Africa
experience the real Africa, visit these AMAZING places.
I have been to all of the Southern African wildlife destinations over the last few years and list the below 6 as some of my all-time favourites.
Guests planning a wildlife adventure to Southern Africa are spoilt for choice as the region is blessed with numerous destinations which can successfully rival any wildlife reserve in the world.
Moremi Game Reserve
Spending a few days or even a week or 2 in Moremi is an amazing experience. Although I have been to Moremi many times I still pinch myself every time I get back there and entering the reserve will always be one of the most special occasions of my career as a safari guide.
Hugging the waters of the great Okavango Delta, a Unesco world heritage site, Moremi Game Reserve has such an incredible array of wildlife that it is not always easy to comprehend the vast scale of it all. Wildlife numbers as well as variety is huge and not replicated anywhere else in the South Africa Region.
This is the reserve where you can find large herds of elephant, an abundance of hippo and crocodile, great lion numbers, regular leopard, hyena and cheetah sightings, giraffe by the hundreds, buffalo herds so big that you can see the beginning but not the end.
Large numbers of kudu, letchwe, zebra, wildebeest, impala and more. Bird life is as outstanding as the carnivores and herbivores and will blow you away day in and day out.
A major plus about spending time in Moremi is the low tourist numbers in the reserve. Due to the fact that the Botswana Government regulates visitor numbers to perfection you will never have your freedom of movement in the reserve compromised and vehicle numbers at sightings are always small.
The cherry on top is the wonderful sand tracks winding its way throughout the reserve. Although they might get challenging at times they are much preferred to broad highways with speeding lunatics spoiling the very peaceful game drives you came to Africa for.
The reserve is well run and ablution as well as camping facilities are top notch and as good as it gets.
The fact that campsites are al unfenced adds so much excitement to the whole experience and a wandering elephant or hyena through your camp is a real possibility, and happens from time to time. Late evenings and nights are particularly special as a variety of animal calls will entertain you throughout the night.
Moremi will always be Moremi… not much to beat it…
Chobe National Park
Yet another true wildlife haven is the Chobe Nature Reserve in North-east Botswana.
Although Chobe is a huge reserve the 2 stand out safari destinations are Savute and the Chobe National Park which is situated adjacent to the mighty Chobe River.
Whilst Savute mostly relies on watering holes with pumped water, water in the Chobe is no issue as the Chobe is one mighty river, never drying up and filled to the brim with water throughout most of the year.
As a visitor to both these superb African destinations you will have many hours of amazing wildlife sightings from monitor lizards to eagles to jackal, to all the antelope species, carnivores like lion, leopard and cheetah, as well as the big ones like buffalo, hippo, crocodile, giraffe and elephant.
Roads in the Chobe Reserve are all typical Botswana sand tracks which are narrow and challenging at times, but perfect for low volume vehicle numbers and their ability to limit vehicle speed to around 20km per hour is ideal.
Accommodation facilities are available throughout and it varies from basic unfenced campsites with clean ablution facilities to 5 star lodges providing quests with luxurious lodging complete with all meals, spa facilities and solid well guided game drives during your stay.
My personal accommodation choice in these parks no doubt is camping and here guests can choose between 5 star glamping or the more conventional dome tents, complete with camp beds and fireside dinners in open inviting campsites.
A variety of antelope as well as elephant might on occasion graze right by the camp site, thereby providing first class sightings from the comfort of your camp chair.
As a true wildlife destination the Chobe Reserve is as good as it gets and be assured that as a guest to this part of Africa you will not be disappointed and enjoy many hours of spectacular excitement.
Kruger National Park
Situated in the Lowveld region of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s flagship safari destinations and a must experience for any wildlife enthusiast.
The Kruger National Park is huge and a number of European countries can fit inside its boundaries with ease.
The climate is influenced by the warm Indian Ocean in the east and the result is a lush tree rich vegetation, perfectly suitable for the large variety of animals we find here.
The fact that the Kruger National Park has a number of large river courses dissecting it in places contributes to the large volume as well as rich species diversity we find here.
Kruger National Park is the most prominent big five destination of South Africa and if the big five is your wish the Kruger National Park should be your safari destination.
As with all the other parks in South Africa I frequent on a regular basis, my accommodation of choice once again is camping in the well-managed, fenced camp sites. Animal activities close to the camp sites occur continuously and good viewings from your camp site can be enjoyed at times.
Amazing night sounds will further enhance your safari and you can have peaceful dreams in the comfort of your tent whilst hyena, lion, hippo and more call out in the distance.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is another huge National Park and animal haven in Southern Africa. Situated in Northern Namibia Etosha is the pride of the country and visited by thousands of guests each year.
The sheer size of Etosha makes this possible and fortunately guests can enjoy most game drives in relative peace, without the disturbances of long queues of cars spoiling peaceful viewing.
Animal numbers are huge and varied and can range from the tiny Damara dik dik antelope to the largest of bull elephants with everything in between.
Etosha has a varied vegetation ranging from grassland to Mopanie scrub, making for vegetation suitable to a wide variety of animals, including springbok, impala, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, eland and more, as well as grazers and browsers like rhino and elephant.
The lack of free flowing rivers inhibit the presence of hippo and crocodile, but fortunately the large numbers of other wildlife compensates for this.
Camp sites are fenced and of good quality, whilst self-catering lodging is freely available inside as well as outside the park.
Whilst some African Parks are devoid of luxuries like shops and swimming pools, Etosha caters for this and if you like comfort with your safari Etosha might just be the place to be!
Mana Pools National Park
As a Unesco World Heritage Site Mana Pools rates alongside all the best wildlife reserves in Southern Africa.
Situated adjacent to the mighty Zambezi, which eventually feeds the majestic Victoria Falls, Mana Pools gets its name from the 4 large pools formed by the meandering of the middle of the Zambezi River.
The Park itself has an amazing wildlife population comprising of most of the sought after animals like elephant, hippo, buffalo, lion, hyena, leopard as well as large numbers of antelope species.
The Zambezi River basin is larger than the Sahara Desert and the stretch of wild life found here is the biggest in Zimbabwe by far.
The park itself is relatively small when compared to reserves like Hwange, Etosha and the Kruger National Park, but what it lacks in size it makes up in scenic beauty and animal dynamics.
The hippo population is one of the highest concentrations of hippo anywhere in Africa and it’s all there for the guest to the park to savour and enjoy without having to spend too much time searching for it.
The park campsite is one of the most spectacular in Africa and is as wild as it gets. Situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi, the abundance of wild life surrounding campsites is huge.
There are a few top end lodges in the park and due to limited numbers do be prepared to spend a pretty penny to enjoy the comforts of a warm bath.
To potential visitors to Mana Pools I strongly recommend including a 3 day houseboat cruise along the length of Lake Kariba, the biggest man-made lake on earth, as well as a couple of days at the Victoria Falls, one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
By flying in to Victoria Falls Airport and again departing from here the above destinations can be accommodated with ease.
Hwange National Park
As the 10th largest wildlife reserve in Africa Hwange National Park is another of Southern Africa’s best destinations.
The fact that it is a stone throw away from the Victoria Falls as well as the Chobe Reserve across the border in Botswana makes Hwange a popular destination for guests having 8 – 10 days to spend in this part of Africa. Add to that the close proximity of Lake Kariba and you are as close to wild life heaven as can be!
The park is somewhat drier when compared to the Kruger National Park, Moremi as well as Chobe, and is neighboured by the famous Kalahari Desert of Botswana to the west.
Vegetation includes grassland as well as Mopani forest and this allows for a varied species count of animals big and small.
Elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, a large variety of antelope, buffalo, giraffe, spotted as well as brown hyena all occur here freely whilst the park has a healthy population of wild dog, one of the fastest declining species in Africa.
Although water is in short supply when compared to many of Africa’s great wildlife destinations artificial, but natural looking waterholes and pans provide suitable habitats for the resident hippo and crocodile.
Guest numbers in the park are limited and this means carefree uninterrupted animal sightings more often than not. The park has a number of well-maintained fenced in campsites with good facilities and clean ablutions.
There are a number of stand-out lodges in the area ranging from affordable to expensive, but all of very good quality and offering great cuisine as well as a variety of game drive options.
Hwange National Park is one of the last true game reserves in Africa and will continue to be one for many years to come.
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