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With so many fantastic safari destinations to choose from, the ultimate decision usually falls to bucket lists and desired experiences. If the Big 5 are at the top of your list, South Africa is a perfect choice, but if you want to explore a more rugged, authentic experience, Tanzania or Zambia may be a better match. From there, it’s about activities; from walking safaris and game drives to hot air ballooning and boat-based safari expeditions.

The best place for a safari in Africa is a contentious topic but ultimately timing is key. Africa’s Green Season offers sensational birding, newborn wildlife, and is always less busy. However, it can make it a little trickier to spot game due to the lush landscapes. From May to November the weather is hot and dry, which makes for the best sightings, but also the most crowds.

To help you narrow down your ideal African safari destination, have a look at our top recommendations for safari’s in 2024:

1. Kenya

The Origin of Safari 

Views from Sarara Camp in Kenya from two chairs and a table across a lush valley | Go2Africa
Beautiful views at Sarara Camp | Kate McIntosh

Kenya is very likely to deliver some of the best African safaris in 2023. From unforgettable family safaris with child-friendly activities to exclusive hideaways for couples and honeymooners, there’s not much that beats a Kenya safari. The standards of service are high and Kenya’s top destinations offer luxury African safari accommodation ranging from lavish, colonial-style lodges to contemporary boutique hotels and authentic tented camps.

Our Picks:

Masai Mara

A gold and green hot air balloon floating above Kenyan plains | Go2Africa
Hot Air Ballooning in Kenya | Kate McIntosh, African Safari Expert

The Masai Mara‘s rolling plains provide a sanctuary for an abundance of animals like elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hyena and the Mara’s famous big cats: lion, leopard and cheetah. The reserve’s astonishing density of wildlife offers a spectacular safari experience no matter what time of the year you visit, and the wide-open plains and mild climate mean that vegetation is never too dense to see animals. We recommend staying in the private conservancies that are contiguous with the national reserve. These exclusive conservation areas offer uncrowded game viewing, walking safaris, and night game drives while staying at some of the best luxury African safari lodges in Kenya.

Laikipia

A safari vehicle and several people having sundowners on safari | Go2Africa
Spectacular sundowner views | Kicheche Laikipia Camp

The high plains of Laikipia lie to the northeast of the Great Rift Valley and are increasingly recognised as one of Kenya’s best-kept secrets. Almost the size of Wales, the Laikipia region is home to some of Kenya’s most encouraging conservation success stories, like the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a sanctuary for black and white rhinos as well as Grevy’s zebra. This hidden gem destination sees low visitor numbers and features excellent family-friendly safari lodges and camps. You won’t need to escape any crowds on your 2023 African safari in Laikipia.

2. South Africa

A World in One Country

Four people standing on a cliff overlooking the beach and sunset beyond | Go2Africa
Sundowners overlooking the beach | Lekkerwater Beach Lodge

When it comes to complete holiday destinations in Africa, South Africa is seriously tough to beat. The country offers its visitors a plethora of unique experiences and arguably the best tourism infrastructure network on the continent. Daily commercial flights link all its major cities, while chartered airplanes can easily get you to safari lodges that have their own private airstrips. From Big 5 safaris at luxurious lodges and the world’s best land-based whale watching to gastronomic delights amid magnificent rolling vineyards, South Africa has it all and then some. Plus, you can crown your South Africa safari with some well-deserved R&R along the country’s stunning coastline.

Our Picks:

Cape Town

An aerial photo of Cape Town, South Africa | Go2Africa
Cape Town, South Africa | Go2Africa

Bathed in over 3 000 hours of sunshine a year, South Africa’s oldest city offers visitors a smorgasbord of activities while being immersed in its incredible natural beauty. Table Mountain, gorgeous beaches and surrounding wine valleys provide an elegant, Mediterranean twist to a South Africa safari while culinary excellence can be relished at Cape Town‘s award-winning restaurants. If visiting between July and September, add a sojourn in Hermanus to experience the world’s best land-based whale watching. And if you’re in the mood for a family road trip, consider an unforgettable self-drive holiday along the Garden Route: one of Africa’s most beautiful stretches of coastline.

Kruger National Park

An elephant crossing the path of a game vehicle in Kruger National Park | Go2Africa
Crossing paths with an elephant | Lion Sands

Introducing South Africa’s most popular wildlife destination and one of the best places in Africa to see the Big 5. Home to the most diverse array of wildlife in South Africa, ample award-winning camps and lodges, and some of Africa’s best guides, Kruger is well-equipped to offer an exceptional experience. Not only is the park brimming with wildlife but offers a variety of activities ensuring something for every safari-goer, including first-time travellers. The park is also lauded as one of the top family-friendly safari destinations thanks to excellent infrastructure, superlative service, and exclusive-use accommodation and safari vehicles. Kruger National Park is easily accessible from Johannesburg by road or air.

Marataba

Tables set up around a firepit overlooking the mountains in Marataba | Go2Africa
Magnificent mountain backdrops | Marataba Safari Lodge

Marataba is a special place and a South African rising star in 2024. This game-rich, privately managed section of the Marakele National Park offers intimate game viewing experiences. With just two lodges in the entire Marataba, you won’t see other vehicles on game drives – making your luxury South African safari experience feel totally private and authentic. As a contractual National Park, Marataba is lauded as one of South Africa’s most innovative conservation models.

3. Tanzania

The Ultimate Bush-to-Beach Destination 

A game vehicle in Tanzania's Grumeti passing lions | Go2Africa
Game drive in the Grumeti | andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge

Safari happens almost everywhere you look in Tanzania. It’s been a way of life here for decades. Few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania’s sheer diversity of wildlife and landscapes. From the never-ending savannah of the Serengeti to the beaches and coral reefs of tropical Zanzibar, a Tanzania safari delivers one fascinating experience after another.

Our Picks:

Ruaha National Park

Exterior view of Jabali Ridge in Ruaha National Park | Go2Africa
Picturesque pink skies | Jabali Ridge

Ruaha is Tanzania’s biggest national park. Despite its sheer magnitude, it is home to only a handful of lodges and camps. This has strengthened Ruaha’s reputation as the country’s best-kept secret, especially when it comes to game viewing – the park’s diversity of animals is matched by their colossal numbers. It’s home to the largest elephant herds in East Africa and delivers excellent sightings of predators like lion, leopard, cheetah and highly endangered wild dog. Ruaha will offer some of the best African safaris in 2023 for intrepid travellers in search of beautifully wild and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Nyerere National Park (Selous)

Three people sitting in safari chairs on a beach with the game vehicle behind them | Go2Africa
A quick game drive put stop on the beach | Roho Ya Selous

Along with Ruaha, the Nyerere National Park (Selous) forms part of the lesser-known Southern Tanzania safari region. Remote, enormous (almost 1.5 times the size of Switzerland!), and filled with wildlife, Nyerere is unlike Tanzania’s iconic safari destinations such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. It remains relatively unknown to most safari travellers and offers an incredibly diverse African safari experience in one location.

The lifeblood and defining feature of Nyerere is the great Rufiji River. Forming a series of interconnected lakes and palm-fringed channels, the Rufiji harbours huge numbers of hippo and Jurassic-size crocs, and nourishes mega-herds of elephant and an impressive array of birds. Nyerere offers unique safari activities like boat cruises, and because it’s not subject to the restrictions that govern Tanzania’s national parks, you can also enjoy guided walking safaris and adventurous fly-camping excursions.

Rubondo Island

A gorgeous beach view from a picturesque suite at Rubondo Island Camp | Go2Africa
Exquisite views from the comfort of your bed | Rubondo Island Camp

Where Zanzibar is the best-known Tanzanian island, Rubondo is Africa’s largest island national park. Rubondo Island is one of Africa’s ‘hidden gem’ destinations and remains relatively untouched by tourism. A total of 237 square kilometres (92 square miles), comprising 11 small islets, offer diverse landscapes and ecosystems which support a host of wildlife from elephant and giraffe to sitatunga antelope and chimpanzees.

The island not only offers a perfect off-the-beaten-track destination but total exclusivity, with just one accommodation option of the entire island, Rubondo Island Camp. Embark on exhilarating guided treks through tropical rainforests, discover wonderful wildlife on game drives, and enjoy boating or canoe safaris. For the avid birder, this section of Lake Victoria offers around 300 confirmed species, including marabou storks, pied kingfishers, and fish eagles. Its lake locale also offers anglers ample to do with catch-and-release fishing on the lauded Nile perch. Between exploring the lush rainforests and watching wildlife, indulge in some beachside bliss and enjoy the tropical clime.

Tanzania, Tanzania
JabaliRidge-Exterior-DeckPatio JabaliRidge-Interior-Lounge JabaliRidge-Exterior-ArialView JabaliRidge-UpperLevelBedroom-LuxuryRoom JabaliRidge-Exterior-Drinks JabaliRidge-Interior-LuxuryRoom JabaliRidge-SwimmingPool-DeckPatio

Jabali Ridge

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
4x4 Drives Bird watching Bush dining Bush walks
Ruaha, Tanzania
Asilia-Usangu-Trails-Camp-Star-Cube-Tent-sunset Usangu-A-family-of-elephants-gather-in-the-long-grasses Usangu-Lion-stretches-out-after-a-nap Usangu-Private-vehicle-and-guide Gallery 1 Gallery 2 Gallery 3

Usangu Expedition Camp

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Boat-based safaris Game drives Guided walking safaris Researcher interaction
Nyerere, Tanzania
RohoyaSelous-Exterior-CommunalArea RohoyaSelous-Dining-BomaCampFire RohoyaSelous-Interior-Lounge RohoyaSelous-Interior-LuxuryRoom RohoyaSelous-SwimmingPool-Supper RohoyaSelous-Activity-WalkingSafari RohoyaSelous-Activity-GameDrive

Roho ya Selous

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
4x4 Drives Bird watching Boat excursions Boat-based safaris

4. Uganda

More Than Just Gorillas

A woman sitting on a wooden beam overlooking part of a forest in Uganda | Go2Africa
Overlooking the lush forests | Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

There are only about 900 mountain gorillas left on Earth and trekking into their native forests is the only way to see these critically endangered primates, as they cannot survive in captivity. No other wildlife encounter can rival sitting with endangered gorillas in their natural habitat and observing the fascinating family dynamics of our ancient relatives. The emerald rainforests of Uganda are incredible destinations for gorilla trekking – the continent’s most powerful wildlife experience – and the country’s trekking permits are among the most affordable in Africa. Plus, Uganda offers the chance to augment your gorilla trekking experience with one-of-a-kind chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park as well as fantastic game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. If you’re looking for some of the most diverse African safari tours in 2024, look no further than Uganda.

Our Picks:

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

A gorilla and its baby looking in the direction of the camera in a forest in Uganda | Go2Africa
Gorillas of Uganda | Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Bwindi is a World Heritage Site of both montane and lowland forest: a verdant habitat for about 350 bird species, 220 butterfly species, 120 species of mammals, plus many more reptiles and amphibians. Thanks to the income generated from tourism, the park’s endangered mountain gorilla numbers have increased to about half of the world’s population. There are fantastic accommodation options in and next to the forest to compliment your unforgettable gorilla trekking adventure.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

A boat cruising down the river overlooking wildlife with lush forest in the background | Go2Africa
Cruising down the river | Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s premier game viewing destination and most accessible savannah reserve. The park is home to big game like elephant, buffalo, leopard, and the famous tree-climbing lions of the Ishasha Plains. It’s one of the most biologically diverse parks in the world, not least thanks to its mind-boggling list of 610 bird species – more than the entire British Isles! Don’t miss a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel to spot hippo, crocodile and a plethora of feathered creatures.

5. Zambia

Birthplace of The Walking Safari 

Five people observing an elephant on a walking safari | Go2Africa
Wonderful walking safaris | Mfuwe Lodge

Although a visit to the world-renowned grandeur of Victoria Falls should be on everyone’s Zambia safari itinerary, it’s the country’s hidden gem locations that are among some of Africa’s most under-rated safari destinations. Zambia is home to an alluring network of national parks that are often less visited than their counterparts in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania.

The country boasts some of Africa’s wildest and most remote corners, but you’ll be far from roughing it on a Zambia safari. You can enjoy sensational big game viewing accompanied by some of the best safari guides in the business, while staying at luxury African safari lodges and camps. A long-time favourite among safari connoisseurs, Zambia doesn’t attract the crowds that cluster around sightings in the better-known parks of Africa. The raw and undisturbed beauty of Zambia will undoubtedly stage some of the best African safaris in 2024.

Our Picks:

South Luangwa National Park

Three wild dogs walking along a track in South Luangwa National Park with a game vehicle in the background | Go2Africa
Wild dog sightings in South Luangwa | Time + Tide

Few parks in Africa can match the phenomenal density of game that gathers around South Luangwa‘s lakes and rivers. Massive numbers of elephant, buffalo and giraffe come to slake their thirst under the watchful eyes of Nile crocodiles and powerful lion prides. South Luangwa is famous for its guided walking safaris that can be anything from a gentle morning stroll to hiking between camps over several days.

Africa takes on a new perspective when you experience it on foot, as the first explorers did. A bush walk is a unique physical, mental and spiritual adventure through nature. Experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of the bush with expert and passionate guides are among the best African safari experiences you can have. And nowhere does it better than South Luangwa.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Two ladies sitting in chairs on a veranda with an elephant right in front of them | Go2Africa
Up close and personal with an elephant | Old Mondoro Camp

Unlike the rest of Africa, some of Zambia’s national parks are protected only for private use, so you won’t see tour buses or self-drivers in these areas. Only licensed operators may conduct safaris in these parks, and only the few lodges situated within these areas may conduct boat and canoe safaris, and under strict regulations on the number of boats allowed on the water. The Lower Zambezi is such an area and visitors to this park are assured of seeing very little human activity and enjoying some serious game viewing. Providing one of Africa’s finest wilderness experiences, the Lower Zambezi National Park offers a diverse range of African safari activities from day and night game drives, guided nature walks, river cruises and fishing expeditions.

6. Indian Ocean Islands

The Best Combination Destinations 

A waiter walking across the beach in Mauritius | Go2Africa
The best of beautiful beaches and tropical gardens | Beachcomber Dinarobin

After enjoying one of the best places to go on safari and discovering some of Africa’s best national parks and wildlife, spend some time relaxing on idyllic Indian Ocean islands. Due to their proximity to Southern Africa, the Seychelles and Madagascar are perfect combination destinations. A bush and beach holiday offers the best of both worlds; the untamed wilderness and wildlife on safari paired with total tranquillity and slow beach days. Embrace island life by luxuriating on beautiful beaches and exploring crystal clear waters by boat or while snorkelling.

Our Picks:

Seychelles

A beach bar and beautiful blue waters at Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa | Go2Africa
Enjoy spectacular service and views at the Ocean View Bar | Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa

Unlike some of the other islands, the Seychelles is an ideal year-round destination; its proximity to the equator means visitors can expect a warm tropical clime and sunshine. In addition to its white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, the island is also home to some of the top luxury hotels, resorts, and villas.

World-class amenities and exceptional service await at the likes of the Four Seasons, Constance Lemuria, and the Enchanted Island Resort, and even private islands. Fortunately, there are ample accommodation options for visitors with varying budgets and traveller tastes. During your time here, be sure to discover the coral and make the most of other water-based activities, or simply sit back and soak in the sunshine on a blissful beach.

Madagascar

A table and two chairs overlooking grass and palm trees at Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar | Go2Africa
Breakfast is served in Madagascar | Anjajavy le Lodge

Make the most of Madagascar’s off-the-beaten track appeal and the fascinating flora and fauna found there, most of which is endemic. Beautiful beaches, local lemurs, and smaller surrounding islands make for an unforgettable trip. Explore the likes of Nosy Be and Île Sainte-Marie and observe their wild inhabitants, including one of the rarest lemurs in the world, the Silky Sifake lemur, or ‘Angel of the Forest’. When you’re not trying your hand at various watersports, whale watching, or enjoying a hike, relax on picturesque beaches and soak in the tranquillity.

Ready to Start Planning Your 2024 African Safari?

Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make the best African safari to suit your travel wishes in 2024:

Louis Nel
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