When and Where to Book the Ultimate Safari Experience
POSTED BY Mavy | July 14, 2015
Label: Africa, Flights, Safari Holidays, Travel Tips
For many people a safari isn’t just a holiday, it’s a life changing experience. But with options galore and potentially hefty price tags, how do you ensure your trip is the experience of a lifetime, rather than something you’ll just spend a lifetime trying to pay off?
The great news is if you are looking to book the ultimate safari experience there are plenty of expert travel companies such as African Safari Consultants and go2africa to take the strain and lots of incredible places where you’ll be in with a good chance of spotting ‘The Big 5’. Initially a term coined by hunters to describe the five most difficult animals to hunt, these days it’s a tick list of the most-wanted sightings for safari-goers: African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros.
Where to book a safari isn’t the only consideration here - when you book a safari is just as important. With migration meaning these animals aren’t all found in the same place all year long, the timing of your trip should be a big factor when it comes to deciding where to stay.
1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
A trip to the Serengeti is on many an adventurer’s bucket list and undoubtedly offers one of the world’s top safaris. But while it’s beautiful almost all year round, it’s best to avoid April (the rainiest month of the rainy season) if you can.
While you might catch wildebeest calving in January-February, the most popular months for wildlife viewing in general are June to September.
For many the biggest draw of this beautiful park is the opportunity to see the great migration, where 1.5 million wildebeest set out on a 1,200-mile journey to the Maasai Mara, joined by 200,000 zebras.
The Seronera Valley and the South’s short-grass plains both offer breath-taking game-viewing spots, while the sight of the migration pouring through the Western Corridor are not to be missed if you are there in June.
Arguably the best way to experience the Serengeti is to stay at a safari camp, but for those looking for sturdier accommodation, you’ll find luxury lodges in Singita Grumeti in the north.
Aside from the migration, the Serengeti National Park is known for its healthy stock of wildlife, meaning it’s also a great destination for ticking off ‘The Big 5’.
2. Masai Mara, Kenya
With its boundless savannahs and wide rolling skylines, the Masai Mara is renowned for its spectacular river crossings when migration reaches the Mara from July-September.
Tucked into the forest, many of The Governors’ Camp’s luxury tents have uninterrupted views of the river.
Location for the BBC’s ‘Big Cat Diaries’, it’s also the best place to go to see, you’ve guessed it, big cats. You can expect to see lions, cheetahs and leopards, but where there are big cats you’ll often find there are big crowds.
The Mara Triangle, west of the river, has less accommodation and therefore fewer visitors, or if you’re really keen to avoid the hoards completely you can stay outside the national reserve on one of the private wildlife concessions, such as Naboisho, where numbers are limited.
3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Home to approximately 25,000 large animals, the Ngorongoro Crater boasts the highest density of big game anywhere in the world.
This volcanic crater is a great place to spot ‘The Big 5’, which alongside the breath-taking beauty of the area and it’s surrounding highlands makes it one of Africa’s top safari destinations.
Here you’ll find some of the continent’s biggest tusker elephants and a healthy population of black rhino and thanks to the fact the animals stay in the crater all year round, you’re guaranteed good game-viewing whenever you visit.
The Ngorongoro crater can get very busy, so it’s worth considering a visit at low season (April-May), when you may also get to enjoy a higher concentration of the crater’s stunning resident flamingos thanks to water levels in Lake Magadi.
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge provides quirky world-class accommodation at the crater’s edge, while Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge provides great views from the crater rim on a budget.
4. Antelope Park, Zimbabwe
Set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland, the tranquil Antelope Park is home to the world famous African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) lion rehabilitation.
As well as offering the truly unique experience of walking with lions, Antelope Park also offers a host of other activities, such as riding through the African wilderness on an elephant and ‘Night Encounters’, which gives you a chance to get close up to the lions in their natural environment under the cover of darkness.
Accommodation-wise, chose from the selection of lodges and camping facilities you’ll find at the park.
5. Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth
If you are looking for things to do in Johannesburg your nearest safari experience is at Kruger National Park, but if you are will to travel and want to view ‘The Big 5’ while experiencing some serious luxury, head to the private Shamwari Game Reserve on South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
With a guestbook that includes everyone from Prince Charles to Brad Pitt, this sumptuous resort delivers both accommodation and wildlife that you’ll never forget.
If incredible safaris led by your personal game ranger aren’t enough you can visit Shamwari’s animal hospital or indulge in one of the spa treatments offered at the various lodges.
6. The Zambezi Valley, Zambia
To experience an African safari in a place that feels truly unspoilt, head to the wilderness of the Zambezi Valley.
Join a walking and canoeing safari to follow the river Zambezi through lush forests and grassy floodplains, camping on secluded beaches and looking out for hippo pods and basking crocodiles.
The area’s abundant game also makes it a prime spot for game walks and more traditional game drives.
You’ll find a selection of comfortable camps here including the Sausage Tree, with its incredible sunset deck that’s perfect for sunsets and Chongwe’s scattering of open-sided tented suites.
7. Chobe National Park, Botswana
With one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa at its proximity to the stunning Victoria Falls, it’s not hard to see why Chobe is Botswana’s busiest park.
A major watering spot, the Chobe River is the place to head to see animals including large breeding herds of elephants, families of giraffe and cape buffalo, especially in the dry season, which usually runs from May to October.
A stay at Chobe Game Lodge could mean you spot a very rare creature indeed, a female game guide. The accommodation is home to Chobe’s Angels, believed to be Africa’s only all-female team of safari guides.