Escaping deep into the remote and untouched wilds of Africa on a magical safari can be a life-changing experience. Home to scores of national parks and game reserves, a sojourn in these pristine wildlife habitats are not just confined to the prey and predator interaction but offer great bird watching and other adventure outdoor activities as well.
So without any further ado, zero on to these top wildlife experiences you can enjoy if you are planning to travel to Africa in 2022.
The Tofo Beach in Mozambique is known the world over for its deep bays which are a mecca for snorkelers and divers. This also happens to be the best place in the world to go swimming with whale sharks and even manta rays. These gentle giants do not mind the presence of human swimmers as they glide through the waters. If you are lucky, you may encounter humpback and southern right whales too, since they migrate to the coast between June and December to breed and give birth.
Getting even a glimpse of this amazing and extremely endangered primate in the wild is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. Mountain gorillas, in small populations, are confined to just a few jungle pockets of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo which are the only three places in the world where you can get up close to these magnificent apes.
That said, the best place to see our closest ancestor in the wild is Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest in Uganda. Book well in advance, as only eight persons are allowed to visit a single gorilla family per day, and that too for just sixty minutes. You can book this once in a lifetime experience on a site like Naturetrek.
Safaris have stood the test of time in East Africa, with Kenya being the first choice of almost every safari goer. Every year a wildlife spectacle unfolds like no other nature show on Earth. Millions of wildebeest lead the charge of the great migration followed by thousands of other grazers in the Masai Mara game reserve, located in the prime open grasslands of the Great Rift Valley. Apart from the iconic Mara river crossing, there are over 400 species of birds recorded here.
Travel in private mobile camps that are set up in prime locations to experience Africa the way few others can. Led by expert naturalist guides, you get to explore the rich wildlife of the Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park and the world famous Okavango Delta by open customised vehicles and riverboat cruises. At night, you will sleep in your private tent with all the amenities you require, drifting off to sleep to the sounds of the African darkness. Mobile camping is not only a rare way to enjoy a safari - it's magical.
Leopards, without doubt, are one of the most elusive animals of the Big 5. Since they are shy and solitary, one is considered lucky to get a good sighting of this feline in its natural habitat. Thankfully, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve has the highest density of these animals in the world and you are guaranteed great sightings on your game drives. As the reserve is private, one can go off-road, without having to share views with crowds of vehicles. You can even partake in walking safaris and game drives by night.
The sheer number of animals one can see at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania will take your breath away. This classic East African safari destination may be better known for tracking the Big 5 and witnessing the great migration, but watching this action and drama from another level can be mind-blowing. Taking a hot air balloon safari over the plains of the Serengeti, will give you a bird's eye view of the action taking place below, provided you time it right. Without doubt, a great way to start the day on a safari in Tanzania, especially when a delicious breakfast awaits you.
The low-water period from August to December is a boon for adventure seekers looking to tame the rapids of the mighty Zambezi. The water levels keep changing throughout the year, but August onwards is the best time to experience at least four or five good grade rapids. Do not forget to pay a visit to the Devil's Pool, a natural infinity pool set right at the edge of Victoria Falls.
The largest inland water delta in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the Earth’s natural wonders. Every year during the summer months, when rainfall is scanty, the vast plains are flooded with water, attracting animals in their thousands. The best way to explore this unique wonderland has to be by a unique method. Going on a mokoro safari, by using a traditional dug-out canoe gets you close to the diverse flora and fauna like no other vehicle can. Gliding silently across the water, surrounded by hundreds of animals is a mesmerizing experience.
The South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is known for great sightings of big herds of elephants, buffalo, as well as lions and leopards - sadly the rhino is missing. Zambia is also referred to as the birthplace of walking safaris and is known for spectacular close human and animal interactions. You can hike along the edge of Zambezi till you hear the roar of the water cascading in the gorge at Victoria Falls. The bush camps are connected by easy hiking trails, where you can come across elephants bathing as well as some of the most sought after endemic bird species such as the lilac-breasted roller and the carmine bee eater.
Home to over 100 different animal species, the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe has the largest variety of animals that can be found in one place, in the world. Elephant lovers never had it so good in Hwange as the park holds a massive population of close to 70,000 of these gentle giants that congregate in herds of over 500 individuals during the hot dry season. The park offers excellent viewing of the Big 5, and some unusual endemic antelope species like the greater kudu and the sable antelope.
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is the size of a small country and supports wild animals in large numbers. It is justifiably not only the most famous park in South Africa but also on the planet. There is a comprehensive network of roads within the parks which are excellent for a self-driving trip. The infrastructure is top class and a range of lodges and camps can be found on the route catering to every budget. While the park is practically teeming with wildlife (the big 5 are here in sizeable numbers), the birdlife of Kruger is also phenomenal. Antelope species include the common impala and the greater kudu.