• William Gray

14 Inspirational Ideas for African Safaris

Updated: Feb 24

There's more to an African safari than game drives. Here are 14 ways to experience Africa's amazing wildlife.

Exploring Botswana's Okavango Delta by mokoro

1. Glimpse geladas in the Great Rift

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

Along with large troops of gelada baboon, the dramatic Rift Valley escarpments of the 4,000m Simien Mountains are inhabited by Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and lammergeier vulture.

When to go: October to March for trekking

2. Stroll out with the Samburu

Laikipia Plateau, Kenya

Camel trekking with Samburu warriors provides an intimate, low-impact way to explore the arid frontier land of Laikipia – home to Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, black rhino and gerenuk.

When to go: January to March, July to October

Hot-air balloon flight above the Namib Desert

3. Rise above it all in a hot-air balloon

Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia & South Africa

Dawn balloon flights are available from camps in the Masai Mara and Serengeti, as well as Loisaba in northern Kenya. You can also get aloft above the Namib Desert and several locations in South Africa.

When to go: Year round

4. Experience nature’s greatest show

Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, Kenya & Tanzania

The perpetual pilgrimage of 1.5 million wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson’s gazelle and 200,000 plain’s zebra is punctuated by the dramatic crossings of the Grumeti and Mara Rivers.

When to go: Year round

5. Fly-camp in the wilderness

The Selous, Tanzania

Walk in one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, sleeping out in the bush at small, temporary camps where dinner is cooked over an open fire, the sounds of the African night all around.

When to go: July to October

6. Follow in Livingstone’s footsteps

Kasanka and Bangwuelu, Zambia

North of the Luangwa Valley, the little-visited papyrus swamps, floodplains and moist forests

of Kasanka National Park and the Bangweulu Wetlands are rich in big game and birdlife.

When to go: November to March for birdwatching

7. Take a walk on the wild side

Luangwa Valley, Zambia

South Luangwa National Park has long been renowned as the place in Africa for walking safaris. Its lavish spread of dappled woodlands, rivers and lily-covered lagoons is perfect for exploring on foot.

When to go: June to late October (Nov-May for birdwatching)

8. Canoe along the Zambezi

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Launch a canoe on the River Zambezi, paddle silently past hippos and herds of browsing elephant, drift within a few feet of bee-eater colonies and camp out on remote islands.

When to go: April to November

9. Witness the rebirth of a park

Gorongosa, Mozambique

Following a devastating civil war from the late 1970s to 1990s, this diverse national park is being restocked and now offers an exciting safari experience in a little-visited corner of Africa.

When to go: April to November

10. Get carried away in the Delta

Okavango Delta, Botswana

This extraordinary wetland is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, from frogs and fish eagles to elephants and wild dog. Drift along the waterways in a mokoro (dugout canoe).

When to go: March to November

11. Track wildlife with Kalahari Bushmen

Tsumkwe, Namibia

No one knows the Kalahari better than the Bushmen. Joining Ju/’hoansi hunters in

Bushmanland as they track game, set traps and gather wild food is a unique privilege.

When to go: Year round

12. Drive yourself on safari

Damaraland & Etosha, Nambia

Namibia makes an excellent self-drive destination – the roads are quiet, it’s safe and places like Damaraland and Etosha National Park have plenty of camps and lodges for independent travellers.

When to go: Year round

13. Go ‘safari chic’ in a private game reserve

Kruger, South Africa

One of Africa’s fi nest national parks, Kruger is ideal for self-drive, but for those in search of a spot of pampering, private game reserves, like Sabi Sands, offer opulent accommodation and fine cuisine.

When to go: Year round

14. Island safari


Lemurs may be the stars of this evolutionary treasure chest, but Madagascar also boasts many other unique, often bizarre, creatures, including a dazzling variety of chameleons.

When to go: April to November



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Wildlife Wishlist was founded by zoologist, conservationist and award-winning travel writer and photographer William Gray. Sharing his passion for wildlife and recommendations for responsible travel, Will has spent around 30 years tracking down the world's best wildlife holiday experiences.