Africa was the cradle of mankind and retained a much higher amount of its large animals, such as the elephants, rhinos and giraffes we all know and love. Because of this, it’s a destination separate from others for wildlife, adventure and mystery.
South Africa Safaris
A great place for a safari, South Africa is home to fantastic reserves and the world’s largest population of rhinos. Good places to fly into South Africa are Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. From here, you can explore game reserves like Kruger National Park (Johannesburg), Shamwari Reserve (Port Elizabeth) and the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (Cape Town). These protected areas are home to different safari lodges and tented camps. Expert game rangers will lead you on walking safaris and game drives for you to experience Africa at its finest.
As one of Africa’s largest game reserves, Kruger contains a large number of animals. For example, with over 500 different birds and more species of large mammals than other protected African areas – including all of Africa’s Big 5 game animals – it helps explain why South Africa is the most popular destination for an African safari. Here you can enjoy a different kind of traffic, as giraffes or lions laze across the dusty off-road trails blocking your guided game drive – just long enough for you to capture fantastic images.
The luxury game lodges have the latest facilities and are perfectly positioned for wildlife viewing. After your adventure in the wild, you can return to the lodge for a massage or spa treatment to relax after all the excitement. A well respected lodge for the Kruger National Park is the Jock Safari Lodge where you can tour the reserve on the comfortable side. But for a bit more adventure, you can stay at an explorer camp like the linked Jock Explorer Camp. Explorer camps provide a traditional African safari and retain the style of living similar to that of famous African explorers. Take a look at the South African Safari Lodges & Tours available to see some lodge examples.
Kenya remains a great place for an African safari. Linked with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the Maasai Mara is a perfect place to see the Africa we have all seen in wildlife documentaries. The park contains a high number of big cats, which makes it a great place to see lions and cheetahs, and increases your chances of capturing these expert predators in action.
Enjoy the Maasai Mara at various luxury camps in the protected area to see elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions and the other famous African animals. If you are lucky enough to travel between the months of July and October, you will witness one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in Africa, the great wildebeest migration. Just after the rains, which turns the otherwise golden Maasai Mara a lush green, half a million wildebeest make their way from Tanzania to this corner of Kenya. The wildebeest are not alone and are accompanied by vast numbers of zebra and gazelle, which all make this perilous journey north.
To arrive on the Maasai Mara, a nice place to begin your Kenyan experience is the Loldia House (only a two hour drive from Nairobi) where you will see hippos roaming the grasslands and have a chance to see the Lake Nakuru National Park. Loldia House has its own airstrip to the Maasai Mara where you can enjoy luxury lodges like the Governor’s Camp, or ultimate Kenyan safari luxury at the IL Moran Camp or Governors Private Camp.
One of the most spectacular ways to tour the Maasai Mara is a Hot Air Balloon ride from any of the Maasai Mara Governors Camps. Spot animals from the air as you sail over the Mara before returning to camp to complete your safari. You will also have opportunities for cultural visits to the Maasai to see a culture that has not changed for centuries.
Taking a break from the action on the plains, Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and a must see on any visit to this section of Africa. To visit the lake, one of the most interesting places to stay is the Mfangano Island Camp. Here you can enjoy fishing and the luxury island getaway to relax among the birds and beautiful gardens.
For more information on Kenya, you can visit the Governors Camp website.
Rwanda Rainforest Safaris
Venturing into the rainforests of Rwanda, you will experience a contrasting environment from the Maasai Mara. Here the tropical trees hide some of Africa’s most noble and loved animals, the gorillas and chimpanzees. Enjoy luxury lodges like the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge with views over the Volcanoes National Park and gorilla treks. Among this chain of volcanoes, you can visit the twin lakes, explore the Buhanga Sacred Forest or Gishwati Forest, climb a volcano and enjoy the wildlife of the African rainforest.
Around 20% of Rwanda is covered with rainforest and about 8% is protected. It is not just the Gorillas and Chimpanzees that inhabit this fantastic country. Rwanda is home to just under 100 mammals and over 650 different birds. Tourism continues to be highly important for the Rwandan people and its wildlife. For example, the protection of the Volcanoes National Park is largely the reason Mountain Gorillas survive to this day, despite being highly threatened. The fee paid by tourists to see the gorillas funds the protection, rangers and upkeep needed for conservation. Without this, it is likely that farmers and poachers would have exterminated one of the world’s most magnificent animals. The local people are passionate supporters of their forests and when protection of some areas was not possible, it was the local communities who became the rainforest’s guardians.
Another fantastic lodge in Rwanda’s rainforest is the Nyungwe Rainforest Lodge, which offers chimpanzee treks and the comfort of a 5 star hotel. The lodge sits in the middle of a working tea plantation beside the protected Nyungwe Forest. This forest contains exceptional wildlife including 13 different primate species (with 20% of African apes) and excellent birding opportunities.
These lodges and tours are sure to provide unforgettable African experiences. To stay updated on new lodge and tours in Africa and the tropics, you can join the TourTheTropics.com monthly Newsletter