Africa is home to 54 countries, with only a handful offering different types of safari experiences. The best time to view wildlife is during the dry season — roughly June to October in sub-Saharan Africa. If it’s the Great Migration you want to see (herds of wildlife crossing the rivers of the Serengeti and Masai Mara), go between July and September. Let’s look at what a few of these countries have to offer:
Botswana: Home to classic safari lodges and the opportunity to explore via water-based safaris, Botswana is home to the famous flood plains of the Okavango Delta — the biggest inland delta in the world. Jeep drive or dugout canoe? The choice is yours.
Tanzania: Perhaps best known for the Great Wildebeest Migration, which happens in May and again in December. It’s also famous for the open savannahs of the Serengeti. Travelers have a good chance of spotting all of the "Big Five" species (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo), especially if the safari day includes time around the Ngorongoro Crater — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To unwind from your big adventure, Zanzibar's picture-perfect beaches are a great place to relax before the long flight home.
Kenya: One of the best-known countries for safaris, travelers have been coming to this East African country and the wilds of the Masai Mara National Park for years. Here’s your chance to live out your Out of Africa fantasy (the 1985 classic was filmed here) while watching the Great Migration, too.
Zambia and Zimbabwe: Part of the draw towards these countries is the chance to see Victoria Falls — the world's most spectacular sheet of falling water. The rainbows and mist and overwhelming water spray (for those who get close enough) are as unforgettable as the safari.
South Africa: This is often the most popular destination for first-timers since travelers have a strong chance of seeing the Big Five. Look for leopards at Sabi Sands and enjoy this country’s luxury safari camp scene. South Africa also has more to offer than wildlife: it’s compact enough for post-safari visits to excellent wine country and gorgeous coastal beaches.
Uganda and Rwanda: Either of these central African countries is your go-to place for spotting mountain gorillas in the wild. Intrepid travelers will rise early and trek for hours through dense jungle and rainforest to watch in wonder at these humanlike beasts.
Hakuna matata! Let’s choose the right country and the best time of year for your visit.