Hey, Siri. Play the song ‘Africa’ by Toto.
And every time I hear this song, my mind travels back into time, where I was once a young teen girl living in a foreign city of Durban in South Africa. Coming from Malaysia, I had all sorts of negative and closed-minded views of what it was like until I truly accepted the idea of our family’s move to the African continent.
To say the experience of living in this coastal city of South Africa was incredible would be an understatement. There are just so many things one could do daily, and it all involves being outdoors, which is a stark difference from being indoors at endless malls in Kuala Lumpur. I suppose everywhere has pros and cons, and the African continent’s many pros include safaris.
While you may be able to find what I consider to be fake safari attractions around the world, it’ll never be as good as the game reserves in Africa; here are some of the best ones to add to your bucket list.
1. Jao Camp in Okavango Delta, Botswana
When talking about African safaris, you often hear Botswana being one of the prime areas with its vast delta area, specifically the Okavango Delta. A trip to this part of the continent will afford you the luxury of seeing four of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo), and off-road driving is often permitted, which allows a more personal tour.
The best time to visit the Okavango Delta is between April and October, when the inland is considered ‘dry’, allowing for better sighting. Wanting to splurge during your African expedition? In the heart of the Jao Concession in the Okavango Delta is the award-winning Jao Camp, a luxury lodge that offers handcrafted tents for you to sleep under.
2. Mala Mala Game Reserve in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
One of the largest private game reserves in South Africa, Mala Mala offers guests an experience like no other, as wildlife viewing is the best on the continent. At this game reserve, you can tick off all animals in the Big Five group within two days, and the leopard, which is usually the hardest to spot, can be easily found here.
The daytime heat during the months of October to April can be pretty harsh and is something to consider when booking. Mala Mala offers guests winter (June to August) and summer (September to May) itineraries to choose from. Both can be personalised to your liking, especially if you’re not one to wake up at the crack of dawn. Though, it’s well worth it.
3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Perhaps the most famous and well-known one out of them all, and for a good reason, the Serengeti National Park is the epitome of what an African safari is and should be. Picture every single movie scene that showed the best of Africa’s wondrous wildlife — that is Serengeti and more.
It’s no secret that Tanzania offers endless rolling grasslands that will have you clicking that camera button more than ever before. You’ll easily spot all the Big Five here, though rhino sightings are very rare. If you’re eyeing for predators, they are aplenty!
If you’re lucky, and we mean fortunate, you may even get the opportunity to witness the annual wildebeest migration — this happens anywhere between late January to September. Accommodations around the area are pretty inclusive, too, as you can find anything from mid-range to luxurious. While you’re on the continent, why not check out the hot air balloon safaris as well?
4. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Another gem in Tanzania is none other than the Ngorongoro, which is best to visit between June through September, and adventurers can spot all animals from the Big Five in one day. Though it is recommended to take your time when searching for wildlife here.
If that is not amazing enough, during your ride through the game reserve, you’ll spot a breathtaking waterfall that is almost 2,000 feet tall. There is also an abundance of black rhinos at this park besides various predators! Did we mention that Ngorongoro is an extinct volcanic crater? Driving into the park, Africa’s best wildlife show will floor you.
5. Kruger National Park, South Africa
South Africa’s (and maybe even all of Africa’s) most well-known safari destination is none other than the Kruger National Park. No shortage of wildlife here, as all the Big Five are present at this park that resembles the size of a small country — you’ll find plenty of them here in healthy numbers. Kruger National Park is also one of the most famous ones for those looking to drive around themselves, though if you’re not confident, there are guides available.
Not only is this place teeming with wildlife you’ve always dreamed of seeing in person, but the birdlife here is next to phenomenal. As for accommodations, you can find anything to suit your needs and budget around the area. If you want the ultimate experience on your African safari expedition, we recommend you check out Kruger Gate Hotel!