Wild at heart: 10 incredible African safaris you'll want to book now

From little-known corners of Zimbabwe and Zambia to the classic wildlife hotspots of South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, there’s an African wildlife adventure just for you

6 mins

1: Discover wild Zimbabwe

Leopard in Hwange National Park (Dreamstime)

Leopard in Hwange National Park (Dreamstime)

Little-visited Zimbabwe often flies under the radar as a safari destination. But the wildlife is abundant, the facilities are first class, and the number of visitors is small compared with other safari hotspots in southern Africa. 

On this Zimbabwean adventure you’ll explore the country's two key wildlife locations: Hwange and Mana Pools.

Starting in Hwange National Park, you’ll quickly learn why it is called the ‘Land of the Giants’, spotting many of the park's multitude of elephants from the your luxury tented camp. 

Next you'll hit the water at Mana Pools National Park, exploring by canoe and getting water-level close-ups of the birds and wildlife. You’ll also tour the remote Kanga Pan by vehicle and on foot – an area renowned for the huge variety of wildlife that gather at its watering holes.

Trip: Wild Zimbabwe

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Apr-Nov

How long: 10 days

How much: From £4,345 (exc. flights)

2: Botswana baobabs and bush

Baobab sunset, with giraffes (Dreamstime)

Baobab sunset, with giraffes (Dreamstime)

This is a classic Botswana safari – visiting Moremi and Chobe national parks, mixing wild bush camps and luxury camping with comfortable African lodges.

Flying into Moremi Game reserve, you’ll soon get a chance to see Africa’s Big Five and their equally spectacular cousins. You’ll spend evenings marvelling at the African skies, with a canvas of stars framed by the distinctive silhouettes of baobabs.

Trip: Botswana Baobabs - One Week Safari Special

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Departures Apr & Jul-Nov

How long: 7 days

How much: From £2,995 (exc. flights)

3: Watch birds in Ethiopia

Von der Decken's Hornbill (Dreamstime)

Von der Decken's Hornbill (Dreamstime)

Did you know that Ethiopia has one of the highest concentrations of endemic birds and mammals of any African country? On this privately-guided tour, you will have the chance to seek many of its 850+ species of birds, as well as some of the world’s rarest mammals: the Ethiopian wolf, Nubian ibex and spotted neck otter.

It is the birds that are the stars of this trip though, with vast numbers of passage migrants stopping on their way to or from Eurasia. 

Serious birders can adapt the tour to venture further south to Yabello, home to the Streseman bush-crow, or the Jemma Valley to seek the highly sought-after Harwood's francolin.  

Trip: Birding Ethiopia

Who: Rainbow Tours

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £3,650 (exc. flights)

4: Uganda gorilla-watching and safari

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi (Dreamstime)

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi (Dreamstime)

There are only about 700 mountain gorillas left on the planet, and half of them can be found in Uganda's spectacular Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. 

Led by a local guide, you’ll spend two full days trekking in the park to see the gorillas and learning about the important conservation work being done. The moment you see your first gorilla in the wild will live with you forever, as will the experience of falling asleep to the sounds of the forest.

Uganda is also an underrated traditional safari destination, as you’ll discover on exciting game drives exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park. Home to elephants, tree-climbing lions, buffalo and Ugandan kobs, it’s the perfect way to end your wildlife adventure.

Trip: Uganda Gorilla Expedition & Safari - Limited Edition

Who: Peregrine

When: Departures Jul & Nov

How long: 9 days

How much: £3,925 (exc. flights)

5: Double the adventure in Kruger

White rhinos in Kruger (Dreamstime)

White rhinos in Kruger (Dreamstime)

Tucked away in the northeast corner of South Africa, Kruger National Park is regarded as one of the finest wildlife destinations in Africa. It also offers some of the most luxurious accommodation, as you’ll quickly discover, staying in two of the Kruger's premier private game reserves: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

It’s the perfect way to seek out Africa's Big Five, along with a host of other mammals, birds and reptiles in a vast, untouched wilderness environment.  

When you're not out and about looking for wildlife, you will be waited on at the luxurious tented camps. Be warned: you may never want to leave.

Trip: Twin Centre Kruger Safari

Who: Wexas Travel

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 8 days

How much: From £4,725 (exc. flights)

6: The big wet: Okavango and Vic Falls

Mokoro safari in the Okavango Delta (Dreamstime)

Mokoro safari in the Okavango Delta (Dreamstime)

There’s no better way to experience the Okavango Delta than by mokoro, the traditional wooden canoes that locals have used to negotiate this vast waterway since time immemorial. Extreme close-up encounters with wildlife are guaranteed as your skilled guides pole you through this exotic wetland.

You’ll also enjoy game drives on (relatively) dry land, searching for big cats and large herds of elephants. A night drive in Shinde is a great chance to spot nocturnal predators.

Finally, you’ll visit the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls. The spray thrown up by the Falls can be seen for miles so, as in the Delta, be prepared to get a little damp.

Trip: Botswana's Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls safari

Who: Audley

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: £5,490 (inc. flights)

7: Experience Zambia’s Great Migration

Sunset at Kasanka National Park (Dreamstime)

Sunset at Kasanka National Park (Dreamstime)

Led by legendary guide Robin Pope, you’ll venture deep into the remote Liuwa Plains in Zambia to see the thousands of wildebeest and zebras that migrate here at the end of October each year. The second largest migration in Africa, it offers all the thrills and spills of the migration in the Serengeti but without the crowds.

Robin will also introduce you to the other wildlife in this part of Zambia, including the rare Pel's fishing owl, with four nights in Kasanka National Park to witness one of nature's greatest events: a gathering of fruitbats that is the highest density of mammals on the planet.

Trip: Liuwa Plain & Kasanka

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Nov-Dec

How long: 10 days

How much: £4,195 (exc. flights)

8: Classic Kenya safari

Lake Nakuru National Park (Dreamstime)

Lake Nakuru National Park (Dreamstime)

Kenya is classic safari country, a nation of vast grasslands and acacia trees that inspired both Out of Africa and Born Free. This is your chance to write your own Kenyan safari tale.

Whether you're exploring Lake Nakuru National Park – the best small park in East Africa – or the iconic Masai Mara, memorable wildlife viewing is guaranteed. 

Time your visit to the Mara right and you’ll witness one of the greatest sights of the natural world: millions of wildebeest and zebras crossing a crocodile-infested river on their epic migration through the savannah.

Trip: Classic Kenya Safari - Premium

Who: Exodus

When: Weekly departures Aug, Sep & Oct

How long: 7 days

How much: £1,799 (exc. flights)

9: Conservation and carnivores

Cheetah in Namibia (Dreamstime)

Cheetah in Namibia (Dreamstime)

This is your chance to see Africa’s iconic wildlife and help to protect it at the same time. As a volunteer on a conservation project at the Namibia Wildlife Reserve, you will help record statistical data of the wildlife species that live here, ultimately contributing to the long-term management of the area.

The main species you will help track are cheetahs, brown hyenas, spotted hyenas and leopards. You will also help out with the carnivores, baboons, caracals and other animals at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Experience the power and majesty of the continent's magnificent big cats first-hand, and actively work towards their conservation.

Trip: Carnivore Conservation & Research in Kanaan

Who: The Great Projects

When: Every Monday

How long: 15 days

How much: From £845 (exc. flights)

10: Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater

Game drive in Ngorongoro Crater (Dreamstime)

Game drive in Ngorongoro Crater (Dreamstime)

There are good reasons why the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are two of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. Ngorongoro is known as the 'Noah’s Ark' of Africa, offering spectacular game viewing all year round. The Serengeti is home to all of the Big Five, and hosts millions of wildebeest, zebras and Thomson’s gazelles – and their predators – every year during the Great Migration.

Starting in Nairobi and heading south to Arusha, you’ll enjoy numerous game drives, as well as spending time with the Maasai, the people who graze their cattle across the vast grasslands.

Trip: Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater Safari

Who: Absolute Africa

When: Flexible departure dates throughout the year

How long: 4 days

How much: From £750 (exc. flights)

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