Malawi is a good place to see game, with several reserves.
Namibia’s desert, and less arid Caprivi region, means it has a wealth of game.
Nigeria has a number of reserves.
The Egyptian desert isn’t noted for big game, but try a desert walk with a local guide to find some fascinating animals.
The Ngorogoro Conservation Area of Tanzania includes the Ngorogoro Crater and also the Oldvai Gorge. The scenery is utterly jaw dropping, and you’ve also got as good a chance of seeing lions in the wild here as you do anywhere in the world. There are also black rhinos and numerous other types of wildlife. There are plenty of places to stay around this reserve – choose from lodges that specialise in family holidays, and luxury and budget travellers.
Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the world’s best known safari destinations. Kruger is enormous, the size of Wales, with a variety of habitats and animals. There are also a variety of tourist habitats too, from fairly large camps, which are great for families, to smaller, exclusive camps – one has its own air strip. There are numerous private reserves around Kruger which are smaller and stocked separately. These can increase your chances of seeing animals and some are excellent, but some are small enough to be more like a zoo than experiencing the wild heart of Africa – check carefully before you go.
Zambia has plentiful game reserves. The Lower Zambezi Reserve used to be kept for the use of the President and his guests, and is a near-pristine wilderness area. If you don’t have a 4x4 vehicle, then lodges within the park will pick you up and take you on dawn and evening game rides. Kafue National Park is the largest park. You can camp here or stay in one of the lodges.
The Okovango Delta in Botswana is a unique destination. The river system means that boating safaris are a popular way to get around and see game – you’ll be poled around by a guide in a meroko. You can stay in semi-permanent tents, or one of the safari lodges.
Madagascar’s unique situation means it has animals you won’t see anywhere else. You’ll love the lemurs, but look out for the aye-ayes and flying foxes, as well as some of the less cute crocodiles and frogs. You can combine your Madagascar safari with a beach holiday.
Gorillas mainly live in Uganda and Rwanda. Their habitat also covers a small part of Tanzania, in the far north-west of the country. Gorillas are also found in the west of Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon.
If you want a malarial-free reserve, then the Eastern Cape in South Africa is the place to go. Addo Elephant Park is the only state run park in a malarial free zone that has the Big Five – book well in advance. If you want to stay in luxury, then the Shamwari Game Reserve near Alicedale has everything you’ll need. Kariega is a relatively new game reserve that has luxury accommodation – if you’re concerned about costs, though, combine a night at the camp with having a relaxed and affordable seaside holiday at nearby Kenton, which is a favourite with South African holidaymakers.
Although you’re on holiday and nearly everyone likes a cool beer around a braai or barbecue, remember game reserves are not compatible with full on partying. A lot of visitors enjoy nights in the camps and lodges not just for the peace, but because they want to hear animals – a surprising amount can be picked up from the camps, like hearing lions grunting or a hyena’s eerie cackle. So don’t drink a vast amount of beer or wine and then make more noise than an elephant.
Even though camps are closed off, you’re in the middle of lots of animals. Including animals that like to scavenge or are just generally curious, like monkeys. It might be a funny story to tell when you get home, but you’ll be less than amused at the time if you forget to seal up your tent or car and a thieving primate gets in and swipes your bacon, bread and anything else that might take precious holiday time to replace. Also, dispose of any rubbish carefully, for the same reason.
Bigger or exclusive camps have the options to go out with a tracker, on a guided night drive, or other activities. These aren’t always included, unless you’re going to a particularly upmarket camp. You may need to book these well in advance to avoid disappointment.