Africa’s place as home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife is unrivaled. The continent covers well over 11.72 square miles, with an abundance of animal and plant life to be explored. From the wide-open savanna of Tanzania to the lush forests of Madagascar, there’s no shortage of incredible wildlife hotspots that guarantee remarkable sightings of some of the world’s rarest species.
Most wildlife havens are situated in national parks and game reserves, where visitors can observe animals in their natural habitat. Others, like zoos or wildlife sanctuaries, offer a more controlled environment. Regardless of the type of wildlife destination, visitors are guaranteed a unique experience. Here’s our PICK of the top 10 wildlife hotspots in Africa that must be seen to be believed.
10 Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Located on the Kenyan side of the Great Rift Valley, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the top national parks in Kenya that will have you book a flight. This 583-square-mile expanse of pristine land houses an incredible range of wildlife – including almost 90 species of mammals such as wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles – and a remarkable 500 bird species. What makes the Maasai Mara National Reserve stand out is the opportunity to watch Kenya’s 8th world wonder – the great wildebeest migration. It’s a spectacular annual wildebeest migration where more than 1.5 million animals migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Maasai Mara and back again in search of greener pastures.
9 Chobe National Park, Botswana
Set in the northern corner of one of the safest countries to visit in Africa, Chobe National Park offers visitors an amazing wildlife sighting experience. The park is both land and water-based – with a vast floodplain. Chobe National Park is especially well-known for its incredible population of elephants – estimated to be the world’s largest concentration, with around 150,000 elephants living here. It’s a sanctuary for many other animals, too, such as lions, leopards, buffalo, wild dogs, and numerous antelope species. This national park is ideal for game-viewing safaris, boat rides along the river, or fishing trips, and flying safaris offering an aerial view of this remarkable scenery.
8 Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
One of the most beautiful East Africa destinations and a world-renowned safari destination, Serengeti National Park welcomes 350,000 visitors each year. The park is home to an astounding amount of wildlife, including the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. Covering 5700 square miles and consisting of vast plains, woodlands, and hills, this national park offers travelers a remarkable spectrum of landscapes. Visitors can also see the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti during the months of May or June.
7 Kruger National Park, South Africa
South Africa’s largest game park, Kruger National Park, is home to an incredible 147 mammal species, including the Big Five. Hundreds of bird and butterfly species also call the park home, in addition to an array of wildlife from other species. Kruger National Park is divided into six ecologically-distinct regions, each providing a unique habitat of diverse wildlife and vegetation. The park has an impressive network of roads that provide plenty of options for self-guided game drives or safari tours with experienced guides.
6 Etosha National Park, Namibia
Bordering the Kalahari Desert and located in northern Namibia, Etosha National Park is an extraordinary blend of rivers, grasslands, and savannahs. It’s a place that offers visitors the chance to observe some of Africa’s rarer species, such as giraffes, wild dogs, cheetahs, black rhinos, and elephants. This park has an interesting geological feature – an enormous salt pan that is often dry but occasionally filled with rainwater to form an incredible lake.
5 Isalo National Park, Madagascar
For the last 88 million years, Madagascar has evolved separately from other continents, leading to a wildlife experience that is incredibly unique. It’s no wonder that 90 percent of the wildlife in Madagascar island is unique to the island. Isalo National Park offers visitors the chance to come face-to-face with many of these special creatures. Among the mammals that live in Isalo are ring-tailed mongoose, fossa, and different species of lemur. The park is ideally located in the central part of Madagascar, making it easily accessible from anywhere on the island.
4 Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic Of Congo
Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and boasts an incredible range of wildlife, including chimpanzees, elephants, hippos, hyenas, and critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park is also home to more bird species than any other national park in Africa. Travelers can take guided hikes into the mountains or enjoy a cruise on Lake Edward.
3 Yankari National Park, Nigeria
That Nigeria is one of the most beautiful West Africa destinations is undisputable, and Yankari National Park is a perfect example of it. Located in the heart of Bauchi State, this protected area is home to a wide variety of plains game, including wild buffalo, elephants, and baboons. Yankari National Park also boasts the Wikki Warm Spring, a large warm water spring that has become a favorite activity among visitors in recent years.
$4.4 per adult
2 Kufue National Park, Zambia
One of the largest national parks in Africa, Kufue National Park covers an area of 22,400 square kilometers and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. The park has a large number of antelope species like sable, roan, eland, hartebeest, puku, and reedbuck, in addition to predators such as lions and leopards. Kufue National Park has a high concentration of hippos, with one of the largest populations in Africa. Visitors can take advantage of the numerous game drives and safari tours that the park has to offer.
1 White Desert National Park, Egypt
There’s more to Egypt than the Great Pyramids and the Nile. Located in the Western Desert of Egypt, White Desert National Park should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The park’s stark white landscape and towering chalk formations make it a breathtakingly beautiful spot for nature lovers. Visitors can explore the desert on foot or rent a vehicle for an exciting adventure. The national park is also home to other species, including the endangered Rhim gazelle and Dorcas gazelle. Other animals visitors can see here include the Barbary sheep, different fox species, and sand cats.