The famous grasslands of Africa have appeared on every nature lover’s television or computer at some stage or another. The endless golden grass swaying in the breeze breached only by the dark eyes of a predatory stalking cat is one of the most famous predator-prey images we have.
Mirroring this, African savanna tours are one of the world’s most memorable wildlife experiences. To see lions laying in the shade or hunting prey, elephants foraging for food, or giraffes blocking your jeep for a photo or two offers not just a vacation but a lifetime of memories. Here we present a selection of a few top African Savanna tours to help you make the most of this amazing ecosystem. To focus on South Africa, you can see the top 5 savanna tours in South Africa.
With warm tropical weather year round, abundant wildlife, nature spectacles, and some of the world’s best lodges, what better place to spend your free time. The savanna crosses many African countries and some of the most loved places for your savanna safari include South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, which will be the focus of this post. So let’s go TourTheTropics of the most famous tropical grassland.
South Africa’s Savanna
Covering almost half of the country, many tourists visit South Africa to see the famous African savanna. This is South Africa’s oldest conserved habitat and was protected 100 years ago by the famous Kruger National Park, which is home to the Big 5 African animals and many others. Here you will find elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetah, giraffes, hippopotamus, zebra and a fantastic diversity of birds and other animals.
Kruger is a very large protected area covering almost 2 million hectares. This is where you can find large concentrations of famous animals. To put its wildlife into perspective, the park contains around 10,000 blue-wildebeest, 9,000 kudu, 100,000 impala, 25,000 zebra, which support around 200 cheetah and 1,500 lions, and of course many more species live within these boundaries.
Shamwari Reserve conserves a fantastic area of South Africa’s savanna that you can experience from luxury camps like the Bayethe Lodge or walking tours from Shamwari Camp. To help see the differences compared to Kruger above, we have written a guide to Shamwari Reserve and Kruger National Park. From the explorer camp, you will enjoy an original and traditional safari by walking across the savanna and staying in a traditional safari camp. From your base, you will head out to find savanna wildlife, including some Big 5 encounters. Your guide will talk about the birds, cultural history and wildlife around you. To explore the area, there are also some fantastic luxury lodges for the Shamwari Game Reserve.
Considered the best wildlife destination on the western cape, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is located at the base of the Warmwaterberg Mountain Range and pays tribute to the San people who roamed this arid land for centuries. One of South Africa’s largest privately owned game reserves, Sanbona covers 54,000 hectares where you can find fantastic ancient rock art of the San, and learn about these highly skilled and knowledgeable bushmen. On walking safaris from the Sanbona Explorer Camp, your guide will teach you about the area, its cultural history and help you experience wildlife of the reserve, including the Sanbona’s White Lions.
You can enjoy Ugandan savanna and its wildlife by visiting the Mihingo Lodge. Here you don’t even need to go on their guided tours to see the wildlife. You can relax in the Mihingo’s pool gazing out at the waterhole to see many different savanna animals, including waterbuck, topi, buffalo, hippo, duiker, and bushbuck. The water hole is also frequented by crocodiles, oribi, reedbuck, and leopards.
Tanzania is probably better known for the Serengeti National Park where the great wildebeest migration makes its way to Kenya. Around two million wildebeest, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle, cross the serengeti on their way to the fresher grass of the Masai Mara in Kenya. This is a fantastic place to see famous hunting scenes as lions, cheetah and hyena ambush the herds in the hopes of picking off weaker animals.
Tanzania’s serengeti continues in Kenya as the Masai Mara where the migration stops to feed. The vast herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra pass through Africa’s largest concentration of lions and other big cats, including Nile crocodiles as they cross the Mara River, culminating in incredible wildlife spectacles and photography opportunities.
When the fresh grasses return to Tanzania in about late October, the migration changes course back to the Serengeti in an endless cycle chasing the favored and constantly changing feeding grounds. The best time to see the migration depends on exactly where you are, but also on the ever-changing and unpredictable weather patterns. The best bet is to contact the exact lodge you’re interested in for their recommendation on when to maximize your chances. Even when there is no migration, the Masai Mara is a fantastic destination to view elephants, rhino, hippopotamus, lions and other big cats. You will head out on the Mara for game drives to find fantastic wildlife with your highly trained safari guide.
The Masai Mara is home to fantastic camps where you will be treated to the highest service available on your African safari. At enjoyable lodges like Governors Camp, Little Governors Camp or the more luxurious Private Governors Camp or IL Moran Camp, you will tour the Masai Mara to see fantastic wildlife, including elephants, hippos and many more.
At these camps, the best time to see the migration is from July to October, but we recommend contacting the tour to make sure, as the exact time varies each year and is often hard to predict. You will enjoy game safaris, community visits and, as an additional activity, you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the Mara as a truly unforgettable experience.
For more information on Kenya, you can visit the Governors Camp website.