LION ELEPHANT RHINO
The Mecca for all wildlife enthusiasts, travelling between June and September, must surely be the countries of Southern Africa where lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and African buffalo, known as the ‘big five’, reside in abundance along with herds of other creatures, birds and insects. Numerous reserves are to be found in this part of the world but standing above all others must surely be the Kruger National Park, Etosha, Chobe, the Masai Mara and the Serengeti.
Kruger National Park (South Africa) is the largest and most famous reserve to be found in South Africa. It covers over 2 million hectares of land that contains a variety of different environments such as mountains, plains and tropical forest. An African Safari to Kruger will not disappoint as this is where one can find the highest density population of ‘Big Five’ game as well as giraffe, wildebeeste, hyena and many more. Day visitors are welcome to visit the park but it is advisable to book in advance as there is a maximum threshold of visitors that can enter the park daily. There are rules and regulations to be followed for the safety of both visitors and wildlife such as staying inside your car at all times and keeping to the speed limit on designated roads. Stops can be taken at day visitor centres and picnic areas. There are many places to stay within the park as well as local private reserves that provide the opportunity for particular animal viewing facilities such as Timvati famous for its white lions or the elephant-back safari at Kapama. Private reserves also offer the chance of taking night game drives and guided bush walks meaning that any visitor to the park can truly feel at one with nature..
Etosha National Park. (Namibia) Travel across the border of South Africa into Namibia and you will enter a land of desert sands, semi- desert and savannahs, however, the abundance of wildlife at Etosha is only possible because of the grasslands, saltpan, camel thorn and Mopani trees to be found in the North of the country. A diverse mix of animals can be found at Etosha including elephant, rare black rhino, leopard, lion and giraffe. Many species of birds can be found here including ostrich and Kori Bustard. The park is malaria free and well equipped to deal with ordinary cars. Accommodation is available within the park and is often accessible to the watering holes where the wildlife gather to drink. Deeper into the park are more luxurious camps offering a range of safari experiences. Should you be interested in the changing seasons of Namibia one of the best times to visit is after the rains when the desert is transformed into an oasis of colour and vegetation.
Chobe National Park. (Botswana) Leaving South Africa behind and travelling further northwards will take you to Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, a place not to be missed. Admire the beautiful Chobe River and observe the plentiful varieties of wildlife to be found there, particularly the huge herds of elephant and buffalo. Chobe was once inhabited by the San (Bushmen) people but is now a National Park and protected game reserve. Here you will experience sightings of creatures such as lions, hyena, zebra, kudu, giraffe, impala, wildebeeste and many more. Make sure to have your binoculars at the ready as Chobe is also famous for its bird population of over 450 different species such as kingfisher and fish eagles, storks, herons and geese. Take a spectacular sundowner cruise to view the river’s inhabitants – crocodile and hippo – as the sun sets on the far horizon. You can self drive within the park but there are lodges available that provide game drives to help you better understand the eco system residing within the park. If time permits it is possible to take a short drive into Zimbabwe to visit the amazing Victoria Falls.
The Masai Mara. (Kenya) Kenya is another popular tourist destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Located in the grasslands of the Great Rift Valley, the Masai Mara is a haven for one of the world’s most spectacular eco systems and is particularly famous for its wildebeeste migration during the months of July and November. Up to 1.5 million animals can take part in this migration. Because of the abundance of creatures it is almost certain that visitors will catch sight of the ‘Big Five’ as well as cheetah, hyena, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, gazelles, impala, and zebra but to name a few. One can drive to the Park but there are also two airstrips for those preferring to fly in. There are only two lodges inside the park but a variety of camps on its peripheral. A visit here provides one with the opportunity to participate in game drives both during the day and at night, to visit a Masai cultural village and take a balloon flight offering spectacular views of the land below. The Masai Mara is also a popular wedding venue destination.
The Serengeti (Tanzania). The great migration of wildebeeste sees them exit the Masai Mara and enter the world famous Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti stretches from Kenya in the North to Lake Victoria on the West. The park has the highest concentration of large mammals on our planet and is well known for its lion population and diverse species of birds. The discerning photographer is sure to capture images of cheetah, leopard spotted hyena, golden jackal, elephant and a variety of Bok. Taking into account the state of the roads, it is advisable to make stops during the 200 mile journey from Arusha. There are a variety of places to stay within the park and it is recommended that you spend at least three to four days there. Also take a couple of days to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. A trip to the golden plains of the Serengeti will leave you with many happy memories of time spent observing nature in the raw.
Which ever park you choose you will never forget the truly amazing opportunity you had to spend time with some of the world’s most precious wildlife.