To see wild animals in their natural habitats, it doesn’t get much more exciting than the national parks of Africa. Many travelers dream of a wildlife watching experience in Africa to see the endangered species and fascinating habits and migration patterns of elephants, giraffes, apes, rhinoceros, and much more. In fact, now is a great time to explore these regions before these amazing species become closer to extinction. Here are the top national parks in Africa to add to your travel bucket list.
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Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
One of the most famous parks in Africa is Serengeti National Park, which is known for its vast landscapes and epic migrations of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelle in the summer and winter. This is the oldest national park and a top attraction in Tanzania. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a lot of ground to cover in this large park, where lions and cheetahs also roam. Other wildlife you may see here include rhinos, leopards, elephants, and buffalo. A popular spot for wildlife sightings is Ngorongoro Crater, while the Numeri Plains area is less visited by tourists.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
This is a large national park in Zimbabwe that has many different animals living here. It is known for its large elephant population, as well as many lions, leopards, and hyenas. However, this park is not typically overrun by tourists, which means you’ll have lots of wide-open spaces for yourself and the wildlife. Many people also travel to this national park region to see Victoria Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the world.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Maasai Mara is a very popular national park that has won numerous travel awards and is a top tourist destination in Kenya. The park is located in southwest Kenya and home to elephants, big cats, rhinos, and other large mammals. The wildebeest also migrate through there between July and October, which is an unbelievable sight to see. Many people say that this park is the very best place to take a safari, especially if you are a first-time visitor to Africa.
Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
The Kidepo Valley National Park is a beautiful park that is home to Mount Morungole and lots of stunning scenery with mountains and plains. This is a less-visited park compared to some others on this list but still a great place to see wildlife. It is in a remote location that is rewarding to tourists who make the journey out to see it. Elephants roam through the valleys, and lions hunt buffalo in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Travel to Namibia to see a different part of Africa and to see the famous cheetah that inhabits this area. Overall, this country doesn’t have as much wildlife as some other parts of the continent, but it’s a great place to drive yourself on a safari because of the good roads and camps. Mountain zebras live in the dolomite hills, while other landscapes you’ll see here are grasslands and savannahs.
Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Aside from Maasai Mara National Reserve, this Kenyan national park also offers travelers a safari experience and opportunities to learn about the local culture. Some of the top animals to see here are the giraffe, zebra, ostrich, antelope, and oryx. You can camp here and might even see elephants and hippos nearby when you do. Three to seven-day camping safaris are popular here, while lodge safaris are also available for a little extra comfort.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Many travelers to Africa also visit Kruger National Park, which is a large national park in South Africa with great roads and accessible areas. This is one of the few African national parks where you don’t necessarily need a 4×4 vehicle to get around. The park spans nearly two million hectares of land and offers travelers the opportunity to stay in a rustic camp or cozy cottage. As with many parks highlighted on this list, it’s a good idea to not try to cover too great of a distance in Kruger National Park and travel slow so that you can truly take it all in.
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
The Virunga National Park has been in existence since 1925, which makes it the oldest national park in Africa. Located in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protects the mountain gorillas. In this large national park, they live among the Rwenzori Mountains, forests, and volcanoes. Virunga is rich in biodiversity and also has glacial peaks, swamps, and other natural habits for wildlife to live and thrive in. Chimpanzees also live in this part of Africa and can be seen by visitors.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
South Luangwa National Park is another top pick if you’re looking for an uncrowded safari experience in Africa. Tourists often see lions, cheetahs, leopards, and painted dogs here. The park was originally founded as a game park in 1904 and converted into a game reserve in 1938. If you book accommodations at a nearby lodge, you can arrange for pickup and transportation from Mfuwe Airport. When you are in Zambia, you can also check out Kafue National Park, which is larger than South Luangwa National Park and home to many antelopes, lions, and leopards.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is another good place to see gorillas living in the wild, as there are several hundred living here today. In fact, over half of the gorillas living in the wild in the entire world live in this region. The park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda and also home many birds and butterflies. Numerous itinerary options are available when you add this national park to your bucket list, including three-day gorilla trekking, five-day gorilla and chimp trekking, and 10-day Ugandan wildlife safaris. Lodges that range from budget-friendly to mid-range and luxury are available for travelers who join a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda.