Africa’s wondrous wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes—as do its safaris. From camps, lodges, and countries, to guides, activities, flights, and services, the considerations seem as numerous as the species in the Serengeti.
With seemingly endless choices, planning an African safari can be overwhelming. While you can certainly organize a safari on your own, working with a reputable safari operator can be invaluable, saving you time and money by designing an itinerary that suits your interests.
#1 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Botswana offers one of Africa’s top safari experiences. A ‘high–revenue, low–volume’ tourism policy has resulted in considerable protection of the country’s wilderness areas. Together, Botswana’s national parks and huge private game reserves protect around 40% of the country’s total area!
Vast tracts of wilderness in pristine condition are home to huge herds of game, roaming unrestricted between the Kalahari’s plains and the waterways of the Okavango. With its network of private concessions dotted with just a handful of small, well-designed safari lodges, Botswana safaris offer near exclusivity.
Best Time To Visit Botswana
The dry season runs from May to October, and as the months progress and surface water becomes scarce, animals congregate in huge numbers along the river. Game is at its most dense and easily visible at this time.
October is the hottest month, while nights can be chilly between June and August. Rain falls during the warm months, November to March, creating high temperatures and humidity.
This is also known as the “green” season, with lush landscapes, newborn animals, and lots of migratory birds. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance during this time.
#2 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania’s diversity of wildlife, cultures, and landscapes. From the classic savanna destinations of the Serengeti, Tarangire, and Ngorongoro Crater to the beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar and the tropical coast, Tanzania has a lot to offer.
And that’s before you discover the off-the-beaten- track experiences such as chimpanzee trekking in the magisterial rainforests of Mahale and Gombe, or game viewing in the super-remote Selous Game Reserve.
Best Time to Visit Tanzania
December to March is summer in East Africa and temperatures are warm, with short, sporadic rain from early November to late March.
Game viewing in the Serengeti is excellent during this time. The rainy season runs from early April through early June, how- ever this is still a good time for safaris, when rates are lower and there are fewer crowds.
July to November offers comfortable temperatures and is a popular time for travel because of summer holidays in the Northern Hemisphere. It can get very busy, so do be sure to book well in advance.
The timing of the Great Migration can shift from year to year— typically from December to March animals congregate around Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
As the rains end in May, the animals start moving northwest to the Mara region, where they remain until June. The herds move to Kenya in July and August and remain through the dry season.
#3 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Zambia boasts the largest area of land under the protection of national parks in Africa. Threaded with a number of permanent rivers, all of Africa’s iconic species are abundant throughout the year.
Zambia’s enticing network of national parks receives far less visitors than their counterparts in Botswana, Tanzania, or Kenya, and some are considerably wilder. While traditional safari drives are a mainstay, Zambia is the birthplace of walking safaris.
Night drives are a further draw, permitted in all of Zambia’s national parks, which offer the opportunity to see a range of nocturnal animals, from the lumbering porcupine to the normally elusive leopard. And creature comforts come courtesy of many small safari lodges, many of them still owner-run and highly individual.
Best Time To Visit Zambia
Zambia’s altitude creates a temperate climate. There are three distinct season—cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to mid-November, and warm and wet from mid-November to April.
Rainfall is higher in the north of the country. Most visitors travel from June to October, when the land is drying out after the rains and animals are seeking out water.
#4 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Located in Northern Africa, Morocco has so much to offer. Bustling cities, quiet seaside villages, and snowy mountains, Morocco has it all.
It’s a melting pot of cultures. With elements of European, Arabic, and Berber influences to find on every corner. Get a taste of delicious Moroccan cuisine and your taste buds will be in heaven. Tagine dishes are the food of the gods!
Ait Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site you have to cross off your list. Experience pre-Saharan life with original houses with their unique structures. For history buffs, this is a must-see.
Of course, you have to make sure to visit the Djemma al Fna. This is the main square in Marrakech and from 10 am onwards it becomes a hub of activity. Street theatres, snake charmers, and incredible street food. There’s something here to stimulate all the senses.
5. South Africa
#5 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
South Africa invariably wows visitors with its unique mix of beautiful contradictions. Stark mountain chains rise vertically from valleys filled with fields of fynbos (plants endemic to South Africa); deserts and tropical rainforests are separated by slivers of rolling farmland; giant elephant herds wander through savanna that overlooks warm Indian Ocean waves.
South Africans themselves provide a marvelous celebration of individuality. This is a country with 11 official languages and a national anthem sung in four mother tongues. Meeting the locals is integral to the experience, and it’s impossible not to be buoyed by their boundless resilience and laughter.
If you are looking for a safari plus more (read: wine tasting, surfing, shopping, beach combing, etc.), South Africa is an excellent choice.
Best Time To Visit South Africa
South Africa is a year-round destination, with the weather rarely becoming uncomfortable or challenging. In the north you’ll find stark desert conditions and dramatic variations in temperature—except when you’re on the tropical coastline.
In the south of the country, the Garden Route is officially one of the world’s most temperate climates. However, South Africa has an exceptional number of sunny days and the depleted southern hemisphere ozone layer can be unforgiving. Peak tourist season runs from Christmas to the end of January, primarily due to the South African summer holidays.
Outside this period there is no easy distinction between high and low season. With so much on offer, it’s rare to visit anywhere that feels over-crowded.
#6 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Ghana is certainly not the most trodden tourist path and yet to me, it’s baffling why this is. It’s a great combination of rainforest, wildlife, bustling African markets, beaches and culture.
Compared to many African countries (especially in the west) it is fairly safe for solo adventerous travelers and whilst there are many languages spoken in Ghana, English is the most widely used.
Ghana is joyfully chaotic, friendly, colourful and diverse. You will notice not only the scenery but the buildings change as you travel north – the people change from Christian to Muslim and the landscape changes from rainforest to savanna. Ghana is also a comparatively compact country so is easy to travel around when you are limited for time.
Highlights would include: Mole National Park which is set on a cliff overlooking a watering hole and is famous for it’s elephants. You can get up close and personal with them on a walking safari but watch out for the naughty monkeys; There are also Various eco resorts and turtle conservation projects along the coast where you can sleep in mud huts by night and hammocks strung between two palm trees by day.
There is also Kakum National Park where if you have a head for heights you can brave the impressive jungle canopy walk.
Larabanga village is home to the oldest and surely the most unique mosque in Ghana; In Nkoranza you can stay at the Hand in Hand Ophanage for special needs children and support a great cause and then take a trip to see the ‘sacred monkeys’ in the wild nearby.
And at Cape Coast there is a lovely coastal town where you can take a history lesson about African slavery at Cape Coast Castle. Sobering but very informative!
Join any of these amazing tours and start your journey through one of Africa’s most intoxicating countries.
#7 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Straddling the Equator, and stretching from the Indian Ocean’s coral reefs and white-sand beaches to the colossal spread of the Great Rift Valley and beyond, Kenya is a country of huge variety and exceptional natural beauty.
The country’s lush grasslands, riverine forests, high plains and moorlands, mountain slopes, and semi-deserts provide an amazing range of habitats for the full panoply of East African wildlife, and an equally wide choice of options. In fact, the concept of ‘safari’ was invented here—the word means journey in Swahili. The wildlife in Kenya is often remarkably approachable.
While never tame, Kenya’s wild animals have lived with a comprehensive hunting ban for the last 35 years, meaning their fear of humans is greatly reduced. There are few other places on earth where you can easily watch large predators hunting, or megafauna such as giraffe, elephant, and hippo interacting and behaving quite naturally while you quietly observe them.
Best Time To Visit Kenya
The best wildlife viewing months are during the dry season from late June to October. Though constantly shifting, this is typically the best time to witness the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara.
Kenya’s well-justified popularity means it has some very large and busy lodges, with certain areas especially busy from July to September, and over Christmas and New Year. The rainy season runs from November to May, which offers lush landscapes, newborn animals, and fewer people. March, April, and May can be particularly wet and cloudy.
#9 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
This arid country of surprising contrasts is home to two great deserts, the Namib and the Kalahari. Along its length, the vast shifting sand sea of the Namib sprawls inland along the Atlantic coastline. In the interior, the plateau slopes away to the north and east to meet the Kalahari Desert.
Over the years, there have been a number of cultural influences that have all added to the unique atmosphere of Namibia. At various times Germany, Great Britain, and South Africa have all governed the territory, but it was with the eventual independence of Namibia in 1990 that the country was able to develop its multicultural character and reinvent itself.
Best Time To Visit Namibia
June to October is the dry season, where wildlife is concentrated around water, and temperatures are cool with little precipitation. November to February is the green season, which features flowers, young antelope, great light and colors, and migratory birds in breeding plumage. March to May offers a moderate climate with some green remaining.
Rain puts in a regular appearance only in the country’s more northerly regions, around December to March, while further south and along the Namib coast, rain is increasingly rare, and may not fall from one year to the next.
Temperatures are extreme in the desert, with daytime averages around 75 – 95°F in the rainy season, cooling to 60 – 75°F in the winter months—sometimes plummeting below zero at night.
#10 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
In the heart of southern Africa, land-locked Zimbabwe is a vibrant country with dramatic landscapes, impressive national parks, and welcoming people. After some difficult years, it is now returning to its rightful place on Africa’s safari circuit.
Home to abundant wildlife, top guides, and good lodges, Zimbabwe has all the ingredients for the perfect safari. Zimbabwe is bordered by two rivers, the Zambezi to the north and the Limpopo to the south.
In between is an inland plateau filled with kopjes (granite outcrops), beautiful national parks, rugged mountains, and lush forests. There is a huge variety of things to see and with relatively few visitors and no mass tourism, plenty of opportunity to find peace and quiet.
Best Time To Visit Zimbabwe
The best time to visit is from May to August, when the temperatures are mild and there is virtually no rain. Temperatures start to heat up in September and October. The green season, December to March offers newborn animals, migrant birds in breeding plumage, and excellent photography.
#11 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
The island nation of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. The landscapes here are so rich and diverse, there are lots to see here. With deserts, beaches, and rainforests in plenty, you will have plenty to do here. Fun fact: You can find 5% of all plant and animal species in the world only in Madagascar!
To experience trees which are over 800 years old, take a trip to the Avenue of the Baobabs. You will feel humbled to walk amongst them and it’s a great place to reconnect with nature. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Ambohimanga is perfect for history buffs. It is a fortified Royal settlement which is easy to get to and well worth a visit.
Best Time To Visit Madagascar
In general, the period between May and October is the most pleasant time to travel to Madagascar, with cooler temperatures and little rain. However, the weather patterns have been changing over the last few decades—you may experience rain during the dry season and vice versa, so be ready for anything!
#12 Best Countries To Visit In Africa
Uganda is one of the three countries where you can witness mountain gorillas in the wild. It is also a more affordable option than Rwanda. Home to about 450 endangered gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is open for trekking year-round. However, the best time to go on a gorilla trekking tour is from June to July and December to February.
June & July are peak travel months, so make sure to book your permit well in advance.
During the low season, the permit prices are lower and typically there are fewer visitors. However, the weather is very wet, forcing some of the camps and lodges to close during this time of the year.
Spotting primates in their natural habit might be a very popular bucket list activity, but in Uganda, you can also catch a glimpse of a really unique animal: the shoebill!
It can be found in Queen Elizabeth National Park and looks like it belongs in prehistoric times. This solitary bird looks like nothing you’ve witnessed before.