Here we take a quick look at what you might spot at a handful of Africa’s best national parks.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Spotted on African safari: The Big 5 – Elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino
Kruger National Park was first established as the Sabi Game Reserve in 1898. Tourists started visiting the reserve in the 1920s and in 1926 it became the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s largest national parks at just over 19,000 square kilometres.
Kruger is most famous for ‘the Big 5’ but you can also spot giraffes, Burchell’s zebras, hippos, wildebeest, hyenas and more in this park. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the 517 species of birds, including the very rarely sighted Pel’s fishing owl.
Tours that visit: Kruger to Cape Town
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Spotted on African safari: Elephant, giraffe, hippo, impala, lion and leopard
Chobe National Park in northern Botswana is home to the greatest concentration of elephants on earth – over 50,000! There are plenty of other animals to see whilst on safari though. The national park has 4 distinct ecosystems: the riverfront, the Savuti marsh area, the Linyanti marsh area and the hinterland.
The Chobe riverfront is the park’s major watering spot and here you will see elephants, giraffes and buffalo. This is also the only place in Botswana where you can see the puku antelope. The Linyanti marsh area is home to lions, leopars, wild dogs, hippos and elephants, the Savuti marsh to warthogs, impalas, zebras and wildebeest and the hinterland to elands.
Tours that visit: Namibia, Botswana & Victoria Falls
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Spotted on African safari: The Big 5, as well as zebra, gazelle and wildebeest
Serengeti National Park is best known for its annual migration of 1.5 million white bearded wildebeest, 250,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle.
Established as a national park in 1951, this 15,000 square kilometres of park is divided in to 3 section: the Serengeti Plains, the Western Corridor and the Northern Serengeti. Each area is home to different fauna. The plains to the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo and the animals that hunt them for prey such as the Maasai lion.
The best times to go to follow the annual migration is from December to July but if predators are more to your liking visit in June to October.
Tours that visit: Kenya & Tanzania
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Spotted on African safari: Mountain gorilla, golden monkey, spotted hyena and bushbuck
Volcanoes National Park lies on the western Rwandan border and is home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The park consists of 5 of the 8 volcanoes of the Virunga mountain range. Established in 1925, it is the first national park to be created in Africa and was established to protect gorillas from poachers. It was in this park that Dian Fossey established her research centre.
Visits here are strictly limited to reduce the impact on the gorilla population with just 80 permits issued per day. Groups of 8 set off in to the rainforest to find a band of gorillas and once located are allowed to spend an hour with them.
Tour extensions that visit: Gorillas of Rwanda
Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Spotted on African safari: Hundreds of thousands of flamingo, as well as giraffe, white & black rhino, python and more.
Lake Nakuru National Park, in the west of Kenya, is home to thousands (and at times millions) of lesser and greater flamingos. The park also offers spectacular scenery with the lake lying on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. It was established as a national park in 1961 and at first only included the lake and surrounding mountains but has since been extended to include the surrounding savannahs.