The Wanderlust Guide to the best of African Safaris

How to choose the perfect African safari for you

6 mins

Safari means ‘long journey’ in Swahili. Today, safari-goers can bypass the arduous up-country trek of yesteryear and be deep in the African bush within 24 hours of Heathrow. Nonetheless, that earlier, romanticised era of Blixen and Hemingway retains its allure. And today, fuelled by the likes of Big Cat Diary, we bring greater expectations than ever before.

So, with half a continent at your disposal, where do you start? Should it be the endless plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti or the hidden waterways of Botswana’s Okavango? Would you rather sit back and enjoy the spectacle of wildebeest herds sweeping across open savannah? Or are you, perhaps, the more active type, who dreams of paddling past lazing crocodiles or tailing a pride of lions on foot?

To help you make this difficult decision we've gathered together the best articles, advice and tips on the Wanderlust website so that your safari is everything you dreamed it would be. And more.

 Inside a safari van (Lyn Hughes)

Where to start

Whether it's a budget camp you're after or an exclusive fly-in lodge, you need to check out our guide to the ultimate African safari, lovingly put together by the Wanderlust team. You'll find something for every type of budget and traveller, as well as useful FAQ.

Wildlife guru, William Gray, has been on more safaris than he's had hot dinners. He calls upon this vast experience to create the essential guide for tracking down the right safari for you, even if you're the kind of person who wouldn't be caught dead in a vehicle covered in zebra stripes.

Lyn Hughes, on the other hand, shares the seven things she wished she'd known before heading off on her first safari. Learn from here mistakes here.

More information

The Ultimate African Safari – The Wanderlust Team

The Ultimate Safari Planner – William Gray

7 things I wish I'd known before a safari – Lyn Hughes

 Hungry Hippo (Lyn Hughes)

Try these on for size

Fancy a super safari? Lyn Hughes attended the first ever Festival of Wildlife in Kenya, where guests could do as much or as little as they liked. Lyn took the 'much' option  and learned how to celebrate animals with all her senses.

More recently, Lyn visited Namibia and got to see first hand the incredible success they've had in the Kunene region bringing Rhinos back from the brink of extinction. It's a rare good news wildlife story and one that you can take part in too.

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Namibia: A conservation success story – Lyn Hughes

Kenyan Super Safari – Lyn Hughes

 On safari in Namibia (Lyn Hughes)

Where to go

Where to go one safari is probably the biggest decision you have to make. Luckily Wanderlust writers have visited most of the Big Game capitals on the continent and can offer insights and advice on each.

Lisa Sykes went wildlife watching in South Africa, sampling a mix of private and government reserves. Lyn Hughes went on safari in Tanzania's Masaai country and came uncomfortably close to lions. While Will Gray visited Tanzania's southern parks and found them teeming with wildlife but not tourists.

If you're looking for something even more off the beaten track, check out Lyn's account of gorilla trekking in Gabon. Or her experiences in Zimbabwe's Matobo National Park.

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Wildlife watching in South Africa – Lisa Skyes

Gorilla Trekking in Gabon – Lyn Hughes

Wildlife spotting in Matobo Natiional Park Zimbabwe – Lyn Hughes

On safari in Tanzania’s Masaai country – Lyn Hughes

Safari in Southern Tanzania – William Gray

 Walking Tour (Lyn Hughes)

How to go

Gone are the days when your choice of safari transportation was a Landrover with or without zebra stripes. Fromm hot air balloons to Shank's pony, the only limit is your imagination.

Lizzie Matthews, for example, went in search of Zambia's wildlife on the back of an elephant. You get a totally different perspective, she says, but watch out for the tamarind trees.

Lyn Hughes got up close and personal with animals of Zambia too, by walking amongst them. You won't be surprised to learn that she got very good at identifying lion tracks on the sandy paths.

For those on a tight schedule, Steve Davey extolls the virtue of doing a safari by plane, especially in Namibia where the distances are vast and the countryside empty.

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Safari in the Sky – Steve Davey

Walk on the wild side: On Safari in Zambia – Lyn Hughes

Elephant-back safari in Zambia – Lizzie Matthews

 Lion on the run (Angela Osborne)

Getting the killer photo

DSLRs may have replaced shotguns, but bagging the best wildlife 'shots' has not become any less competitive or intense.  We've sought advice from some of the biggest names in wildlife photography – including Steve Davey and Mark Carwardine – to help you to capture those magic moments. And maybe take out our Travel Photo of the Year, just like Angela Osbourne did with her amazing shot of a lion being chased by elephants.

If you're planning to witness the Great Migration, make sure you check out Paul Goldstein's tips for capturing that great event. Or if you're after more general inspiration, you could do worse than swinging by the fantastic wildlife galleries posted by our readers and website visitors.

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Top tips for photographing wildlife – Steve Davey

5 essential photography tips for wildlife – Mark Carwardine

Lion on the run: Story behind the photo – Angela Osborne

On photo safari in Kenya – Chris Haslam

Top 15 tips for taking Great Migration photos – Paul Goldstein

myWanderlust wildlife and safari photos

 Southern Tanzania (Dreamstime)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Wildlife and Safari Travel Guide is the perfect place to start.

If you have a particular question, pop over to the myWanderlust forum where our knowledgeable community is ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions people have already asked about safaris. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Wildlife and Safaris Travel Guide

The Great Migration calendar – 12 months 12 ways – Will Gray

First time travel: Safari with kids – Will Gray

 Cheatahs (Lyn Hughes)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From amazing budget camps to incredible luxury tents, there’s something for every taste and budget. You’ll find the full list of tours available here.

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Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa

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