Our Top 10 of African National Parks and Game Reserves
Africa is a beautiful and wild continent, an infinite source of emotions, a melting pot of different cultures and traditions, characterized by different environments such as endless deserts, vast grasslands teeming with animals, rainforests and towering snow-capped mountains. Africa is also perfect for animal lovers because it offers the opportunity to visit many National Parks and closely spot the famous Big Five in their natural environment. We unconditionally love this fantastic land that we’ve visited 18 times, and we still keep many beautiful memories in our hearts. It isn’t easy to make a real Top 10 because each country is different from the other, as well as the environments, the landscapes and the several geological wonders. Therefore, this is a list of Parks and Reserves that we highly recommend not to miss.
Our Top 10
1. Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya) and Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Kenya and Africa, a must-see for those who want to experience an African experience surrounded by wild nature and an abundance of wildlife. It extends at an altitude between 1500 meters and 2000 meters above sea level, and its landscape is mainly grassy savannah. The Reserve boasts the largest concentration of lions in the entire African continent, and its fauna includes leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, black rhinos (rare), giraffes, large herds of buffaloes, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, antelopes, hippos, crocodiles and over 500 species of birds. The Reserve is also famous for the “great migration”, a true wonder of nature where 2 million wildebeest move through its expanses searching for fresh grass, coming from the neighbouring Serengeti Park in Tanzania.
The Serengeti National Park is the oldest and most popular National Park in Tanzania and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It extends to an altitude ranging from 920 to 1850 meters and covers a huge area of over 14,000 square meters that features different landscapes ranging from the savannah to the hilly and wooded areas. The Serengeti boasts an exceptional presence of lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas controlling the vast plains and savannas. The Serengeti is also home to large herds of buffalo, elephants and giraffes, many types of primates, including baboons and colobus monkeys, thousands upon thousands of wildebeests, elands, mice, impalas and Grant’s gazelles, and over 500 different species of birds. Like the Masai Mara, this park is also famous for its great migration.
2. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (Uganda)
Bwindi Forest is famous for being one of the three African parks to meet the wonderful mountain gorillas in their natural environment. It boasts about 300 gorillas divided into family groups, but only some of these families have been accustomed to close contact with humans, and access to the Park is limited. The rangers will lead you through the dense forest in search of these magnificent primates that, once met, you will never forget. The other National Parks where you can track gorillas are the Virunga Mountains National Park (in Congo DRC) and the Mgahinga National Park (in Uganda).
3. Namib-Naukluft National Park (Namibia)
Namibia’s most beautiful attractions are the desert area known as Sossusvlei, located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. This area of truly unique beauty is a large and dry salt basin, surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world, including the dune called Big Daddy, 390 meters high. Another wonderful place in the Park is the area known as Deadvlei, a small dried up salt basin famous for its dead trees surrounded by the high desert dunes.
4. Lake Malawi National Park (Malawi)
Lake Malawi is the southernmost of the African lakes in the Rift Valley system and is the third-largest lake in Africa. At the lake’s southern end is the beautiful Lake Malawi National Park, the first freshwater park in the world, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. The lake is defined as “the great aquarium” because it contains the most significant number of tropical fish species of any other lake in the world, including about 1000 species of colourful cichlids. Among the several activities, you can arrange diving/diving courses, kayaking, boat excursions, fishing trips, and of course, basking in the sun on the beach in complete relaxation.
5. Quirimbas Islands National Park (Mozambique)
The Quirimbas Islands are a naturalistic paradise still unknown and uncontaminated, a real surprise for travellers. The Quirimbas form an archipelago of 32 islands of different sizes along the northern coast of Mozambique, particularly interesting for snorkelling, hiking in the midst of unspoiled nature, relaxing on long white beaches bathed by a crystalline sea and even visiting the charming evidence dating back to the era of Portuguese colonization.
6. Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe)
The Victoria Falls are among the most visited attractions on the African continent and the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. With a length of almost 2 kilometres and a height of over 100 meters, this incredible naturalistic wonder outlines the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia with its powerful water flow. The Parks offer a wide range of activities like a helicopter tour, sunset cruises, bungee jumping, rafting and safaris.
7. South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
South Luangwa National Park is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s main attractions. It was initially established in 1938 as a protected area and later declared a Park in 1972. It covers a vast area of almost 9,000 square kilometres, including grassy savannah, woodlands, and the Luangwa River, making it a perfect safaris destination. It is known as the “valley of the leopard” due to its high density of these elegant cats and boasts a significant population of lions and the most common species of animals.
8. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest collapsed volcanic crater in the world, twenty kilometres of isolated natural beauty at an altitude of 2,286 meters above sea level. The conservation area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and 1981 also an International Biosphere Reserve. His vast population of animals, estimated at 25 thousand specimens, includes lions, cheetahs, hyenas, elephants, buffaloes and the rare black rhino. At the centre of the crater, fed by the Munge River, extends Lake Magadi, where flocks of flamingos and a variety of around 400 bird species are often spotted.
9. Table Mountain National Park (South Africa)
Table Mountain National Park extends over a large area near the magnificent city of Cape Town and is well known for the rich biodiversity and abundance of flora and fauna unique to this area. Its main attractions are Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Silvermine, the Cape Peninsula, the Boulders area with the friendly penguins and the long beaches lapped by the ocean. In addition to the incredible landscapes, the Park offers the opportunity to practice many activities, including hiking, climbing, diving and mountain biking.
10. Chobe National Park
Proclaimed a national park in 1968 to preserve its wonderful flora and fauna, it is the third-largest park in Botswana and has one of the largest concentrations of animals in all of Africa. The Chobe National Park is known for its large elephant population, currently estimated at around 120,000, and for the great variety of African fauna that includes lions, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, crocodiles, buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, otters, zebras, antelopes, jackals and many species of birds. Do not miss the Chobe Riverfront area, where most activities take place, including the magnificent cruise along the Chobe River.
Tip: if you are looking for an excellent tour operator to visit Botswana or the southern countries of Africa (Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia), we suggest Undhuvu Safari and Tours.