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The best safari countries in Africa

26.09.2017  |  updated: 17.01.2024
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TourCompass safari jeep drives on the gravel in Tanzania

Africa has a lot of great countries where you can go on safari. We’ve put together a list of five of them where you can enjoy world-class African safari.

Find inspiration here to help you decide which safari country is the best one for you.

Tanzania Popular safari country with endless experiences

Lion in the Ngorongoro Crater in Serengeti, Tanzania

Go on safari in Tanzania and discover how the Serengeti steals the limelight with its impressive landscapes and fascinating wildlife. Picture the endless savannah and, above it, a sky that goes on forever. And more animals than you ever dreamed of seeing. At once!

You’re in with a really good chance of spotting lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes, known collectively as “the Big Five”. The Serengeti is also where you can experience the Great Migration, when up to 2 million gnus, zebras and gazelles migrate from Serengeti to Masai Mara in Kenya in their search for food and water.

Tanzania continues to impress in the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera and one of the most unique national parks in Africa. Be enchanted by the unique wildlife and the breathtaking surroundings, where every moment is like something narrated by David Attenborough.

Can be combined with: a relaxing beach holiday on beautiful Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, or gorilla tracking in Uganda

Tanzania is the place for you if: you’re looking to experience impressive landscapes and more animals than you ever imagined: the Big Five, the Great Migration, giraffes, hippos, zebras and all the other safari animals you dream of seeing. Click here to read our guide to Tanzania’s weather and wildlife.

Kenya: Traditional and adventure-filled safari destination

Wildebeest migration on the Mara River in Kenya

A safari in Kenya offers adventure by the bucketload in one of Africa’s oldest safari destinations.
A visit here is not complete without a visit to the Masai Mara, the Kenyan part of the Serengeti ecosystem, which is also found in Tanzania. The safari is compressed into a much smaller area here, but the animal experiences are still just as impressive, making the Masai Mara a unique and intense safari experience.

The Masai Mara is particularly famous for the perilous crossing of the Mara River during the Great Migration from July to October, which offers a dramatic spectacle as the crocodiles lurk the water, waiting for the wildebeest and zebra to cross over to the other side. It’s something that just has to be experienced!

If you’d like to learn about the local culture, a visit to a Masai village is a must, giving you the opportunity to meet some of the locals. The Masai are a proud people that that honours its traditions. They still live as their ancestors did more than 400 years ago. They measure their prosperity by the number of cows and wives they have, and live off the milk and meat of their own cattle, among other things.

Can be combined with: a fabulous beach holiday in Mombasa which, besides being a metropolis, is also an important and lively port on the Indian Ocean, or with a beach holiday on magnificent Zanzibar. Read about the differences between Zanzibar and Mombasa.

Kenya is the place for you if: you’re looking to go on safari at one of Africa’s oldest safari destinations offering world-class safari and great variety in terms of its nature and wildlife, including “the Big Five” and “the Great Migration”..

South Africa: Diverse experiences with multiple combination options

Giraffe at sunset in Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa

If you’ve never been on safari before, South Africa is the perfect destination because it offers so many combination options. South Africa is known to be a culturally and ethnically diverse country, with Dutch, Chinese and Indian influences, to name but a few. In fact, South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation”.

South Africa’s major draw is, without a doubt, Kruger National Park. The huge park, which is almost the size of Wales, gives you ample opportunity to experience the best Africa has to offer. Located in north-eastern South Africa, the park is home to no fewer than 140 different types of mammals (including “the Big Five”), 500 bird species, 120 reptiles and just under 2,000 different plants.

South Africa also offers more luxurious safari experiences at some of the country’s private game reserves, such as Kariega Game Reserve, which is also completely malaria free, or at Kapama Private Game Reserve. You’ll enjoy a more exclusive safari experience here, with all-inclusive and accommodation in luxurious surroundings.

If you dream of combining your safari with other experiences, South Africa is also an obvious choice. The offers great diversity, and you can look forward to exciting big city experiences in Cape Town, relaxation in the Winelands, scenic coasts on the Garden Route and much more besides.

Can be combined with: A beach holiday in beautiful Mauritius, nature experiences at Victoria Falls in Zambia or safari in Botswana.

South Africa is for you if: you’re looking to enjoy outstanding experiences and want more than “just” safari. South Africa truly has something for every taste.

Botswana: Unspoiled nature and lots of elephants

Elephants in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

In Botswana, you’ll find some of Africa’s most unspoiled and less visited national parks. The government has made great efforts to preserve the country’s nature, which has limited the number of visitors who have been allowed to visit the country. Botswana is therefore now considered to be one of Africa’s most exclusive safari destinations, where you can expect a more intimate safari experience.

Most of Botswana is made up of the Kalahari desert. But in the north-western corner is the lush Okavango Delta, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique ecosystem which attracts a great variety of fascinating wildlife. The Okavango Delta is actually one of the best places to see elephants in Africa during the dry season.

East of the delta lies Chobe National Park, which is home to more than 50,000 elephants, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes and leopards. The Chobe River runs through the national park, where you can see crocodiles and hippos. Embark on a river safari and get right up close to the wildlife along its banks.

Can be combined with: a city break in Cape Town or experiences in the Winelands in South Africa, Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe or a relaxing beach holiday on the stunning beaches of Mauritius.

Botswana is the place for you if: you long for spectacular, unspoiled nature with exciting and abundant wildlife. Botswana is an exclusive but costly safari destination.

Uganda: Gorillas and Africa’s most scenic landscapes

Mountain gorilla with baby in Bwindi, Uganda

Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. There’s a reason Uganda is known as the “Pearl of Africa”. It offers lush nature with vast areas of rainforest, rivers and mountains – as well as amazing wildlife.

Uganda is perhaps best known for experiences involving primates. On a hike at Kyambura Gorge you can, for example, experience the chimpanzees, who are actually mans’ closest living relatives. It’s wonderful to experience the intelligent animal in its natural surroundings.

But the main reason for visiting Uganda is the mountain gorilla. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to around half of the few hundred free-living mountain gorillas left in the world. Experienced rangers accompany you on a hike through the dense vines of the forest in search of the highly endangered mountain gorillas. If luck is on your side, you’ll get right up close to them, which is an amazing experience.

Can be combined with: a beach holiday in exotic Zanzibar.

Uganda is for you if: you wish to experience the beautiful, free-living mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and spectacular, lush scenery in one of Africa’s most beautiful countries.

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