Where to start when choosing a safari destination? There are just so many options to choose from. We have narrowed it down to a few of the best safari destinations in the Southern part of Africa to suit most safari-goers, whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned safari traveller. Each destination was chosen for its uniqueness, facilities and safari activities.
Mana Pools in Zimbabwe
Mana Pools National Park is located in the far northern part of Zimbabwe and is one of Zimbabwe's most popular parks. The southern bank and islands of the Zambezi River form part of Mana Pools, which also borders on Zambia. The park is renowned for its wildlife sightings near and on the river as well as the surrounding flood plain areas. Large populations of Nile crocodiles, elephant and hippo tend to gather at sunrise in Long Pool which extends for six kilometres. The lion prides tend to stalk their prey around the waterhole at Chitake Spring in the south.
Mana Pools is best known as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site and the remoteness and wilderness are unique to this area. It also boasts with 350 bird species and aquatic life abound. The name "Mana" means "four" in the local Shona language, referring to the four large pools situated just inland from the Zambezi River.
Magnificent game drives, walking safaris, lion tracking and fishing are some of the activities that can be experienced at Mana Pools.
Linyanti is in the Chobe National Park, situated just north of Savuti in Botswana. One of the most attractive areas in the park is the Linyanti Swamp. Safari travellers choose Linyanti for its great diversity of game and its restful atmosphere. This area is expanded to the north by the remote Mamili National Park in Namibia on the northern bank of the Kwando River and the Selinda Reserve to the west. The Linyanti River forms a swamp area of 900 square kilometres in extent.
Wildlife viewing in Linyanti is excellent with large numbers of lion, elephant, sable and roan antelope, hippos and wild dog, best seen during the dry winter months from June to August.
The activities to expect in Linyanti are open vehicle game drives, night drives, game and bird walks and canoeing and boating on the large lagoons and smaller waterways.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is located in western part of Zimbabwe and has some lovely grasslands and mopane woods which are home to African wild dogs, lion and large elephant herds.
Some other species to look forward to are Giraffe, Wildebeest, Gemsbok, Impala, Roan & Sable Antelope and Buffalo. Hwange also sports 400 different bird species. The drier winter months attract huge numbers of animals to the waterholes.
Activities also include game drives, night safaris, walking safaris, bird watching, wilderness trails and unbelievable game viewing on Nyamandhlovu platform, as well as the waterholes and Big Toms & Little Toms hides.
South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park is located in Luangwa River Valley in east Zambia. Luangwa is referred to by experts as one of the best wildlife reserves in the world as a result of the high concentration of animals. There are also hundreds of bird species which are home in the woodland savannah areas of this park.
The wilderness trails meander through baobab trees, the rare Thornicroft's giraffes and herds of elephants. There is a high number of the elusive leopard that can be seen on a night game drive. It also boasts a high number of hippo in the river section near the Mfuwe entrance gate.
The vegetation in this park will enhance all safari experiences as the Luangwa valley has some great plant and tree growth and the spotting of exotic wildflowers will excite most.
South Luangwa includes exciting boat safaris in addition to game drives, walking safaris and bird watching.
North Luangwa National Park
North Luangwa National Park just like South Luangwa offers some of the finest wildlife experiences in Africa. North Luangwa is also situated in the Luangwa River valley but in north-east Zambia. This piece of land is very remote, it has no permanent lodges and is not open to public access. There are only a handful of local operators granted permission to access the park and conduct walking safaris.
There are very few roads in the park, it is wild and untouched providing true beauty. It is dramatic and travellers can expect a truly authentic safari. It is known for its enormous herds of buffalo and large prides of lion, so it is fair to say the chances of witnessing a kill are not uncommon.
This is one of the most unique safari destinations of its kind in Africa.
The Okavango Delta is actually vast open grasslands which turn into a very large swampy inland delta in the northern past of Botswana surging from March to June each year, reaching its flood peak between June and August as a result of summer rainfall in the Angola highlands. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
It hosts some of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa including large numbers of bird species in the breeding season. It is truly a smorgasbord of wildlife, hence the Delta being referred to as Africa's Eden. There is a large migration of wildlife from the surrounding Kalahari and Namibia which takes place in the drier winter months when the flood waters arrive.
The Okavango has some of the most luxurious safari lodges and camps. These are divided into water-focused, land-focused and land and water focused camps. The Okavango Delta is a definite inclusion on every bucket list.