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The main icon of African safaris is the untamed wildlife encounters. It is hard to imagine an African holiday without a safari car or a sunset in an African wilderness. Africa is undeniably a beautiful continent, a destination with plenty for you to experience.
There are enormous opportunities awaiting nature lovers and adventure seekers to explore the spectacular global south. This is one continent where you won't only see all the big five game (Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions, Rhinos, and Leopards), but it is also an ideal place to encounter the world's sought-after primates in their natural habitat.
Here are the five best safari experiences to take in Africa:
The Great Wildebeest Migration is remarkably an epic wilderness experience that makes Africa the most treasured destination. Over two million wildebeest and more than 20,000 plains game can be witnessed migrating from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. This lifetime wilderness experience is excellently enjoyable on Kenya safaris in Masai Mara Reserve and Tanzania safaris in the Serengeti National Park.
Huge herds of wildebeest cross from Serengeti to Maasai Mara between June and September in search of greener pastures and drinking water. Aside from the great migration, there is also an opportunity to enjoy the birthing experience, and this occurs in the months of December, January, and February.
The wildebeest migration is one of the great wonders of the world, and it is among the best safari experiences that you should not miss once you decide to go on an African safari.
Gorilla trekking is one of those scarce safari encounters that are only limited to a few African countries. Though there are more than five countries that have different gorilla species, there are only a few that have developed gorilla trekking to a level where you have at least a 90% chance of encountering gorillas on any given day.
At the moment, it is Uganda and Rwanda that top the list of gorilla trekking destinations in Africa. Though countries like Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, among others, also have gorillas, the road network and security make it hard to go gorilla trekking in these countries. Even when you overcome the security issues and the road network, the chances of seeing the gorillas in these countries are relatively lower compared to Uganda and Rwanda.
Most of the gorilla treks in Africa happen in two national parks: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. A few travelers also go gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park of Uganda and Kahuzi Biega National Park of DR Congo. In order to trek gorillas in any of these national parks, you will need a gorilla trekking permit, a document that allows you to trek gorillas in the respective park.
A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda goes for $800 for foreign non-residents, while a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda goes for $1500 for foreign non-residents. The experience in the two countries is more or less the same. The main difference lies in the pre-trekking experience and post-trekking experience.
Africa is home to some of the finest wildlife, especially diverse savanna species. A game drive is a must-enjoy on an African safari, and this offers nature lovers a lifetime opportunity to search for the big five game, abundant savanna dwellers, and antelope families.
Top African destinations for game viewing include Kidepo Valley National Park, a remote, isolated national park in North Eastern Uganda that was recently voted as the best place to visit in Africa. Other popular parks for wildlife safaris include Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park—in Uganda.
In Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve is a must-visit, given its plentiful wildlife that is easy to spot while on a traditional African Safari. Other national parks to visit in Kenya include Tsavo National Park, Amboseli National Park, and others.
When you decide to go further in East Africa, Tanzania is a renowned destination that will surprise you with amazing national parks for game viewing; explore the wonders of Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro National Park, and the newly gazette Nyerere National Park.
You can also choose to go game viewing in Southern Africa. The Kruger National Park in South Africa has held the name for quite some time.
Explore the wonders of Botswana's Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Okavango Delta, and more. While in Namibia, you can go game viewing in the vast Etosha National Park, Namib-Naukluft National Park, and others.
Unlike the primate trips, game drives do not have a minimum age. The only prerequisite is the ability to sit in a safari car and simply stick to the park guidelines.
Birding in Africa is an interesting safari experience offering enthusiastic birders a chance to identify a variety of birds, including endemic species. Africa holds a huge concentration of birdlife, and they range in diverse habitats, including wetlands, forests, deserts, coastlines, and more.
Top birding destinations in Africa include Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, and others. The checklist of birds to consider spotting on an African birding expedition includes African fish eagles, African masked weaver birds, shoebill storks, pelicans, flamingos, malachite kingfishers, lilac-breasted rollers, long-tailed paradise whydah, grey crowned crane, collared sunbird, Eurasian golden oriole, papyrus gonoleks, great cormorants, and others.
Cultural Safari Experiences
Africa has over 3000 tribes scattered all over the continent. Some have kept their native customs, while other tribes have adopted either Islam or Christianity into their culture. The true cultural experience lies in encountering tribes that have maintained their ancient way of life.
Most of the notable tribes, such as the Zulu in South Africa, have become more modern tribes. However, when you get a chance to visit places like Serengeti National Park or Masai Mara game reserve, encounters with the Masai people are still some of the most memorable cultural experiences that Africa has to offer.
The Karamajong in Uganda have also, for the longest part, maintained their customs to the core. Due to the unavoidable influence of Western society, a number of African countries are adopting the idea of cultural communities. These communities attempt to continue living after the order of their native cultures to the best of their knowledge.
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