• William Gray

Best Safari Destinations for First-Timers, Photographers and Families

Updated: Mar 2

Where to go on safari in Africa if you're a first-time visitor, a keen photographer, or have kids in tow? Also, which are the best safari destinations for diversity or adventure?

Satao Elerai, a safari lodge in Kenya's Amboseli National Park

Best for first-timers: Kenya

Why? Long-established safari scene, superb wildlife and plenty of options for all budgets.

How? For the best introduction, book a safari that combines the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru with somewhere more off-the-beaten track like Laikipia.

When? Avoid the rains by travelling July to October or January to March.

Also consider: Tanzania’s northern circuit or South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Sossusvlei in the Namibi Desert

Best for photographers: Namibia

Why? Pixel-popping desert scenery, one of Africa’s premier national parks and natural wonders galore.

How? Rent a car (you don’t need 4WD) and combine a few days in Etosha National Park with a visit to the giant red dunes at Sossusvlei and Cape Cross seal colony on the Skeleton Coast.

When? Year round, but July to late October is best for game viewing.

Also consider: Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains for rare wildlife in dramatic Rift Valley scenery.

Getting to grips with a family safari

Best for families: South Africa

Why? Malaria-free and family-friendly game reserves of the Cape.

How? Drive along the Garden Route towards game reserves like Kwandwe.

When? Year round. November to March is the hottest, sunniest period.

Also consider: South Africa’s Madikwe and Ngala Game Reserves.

Best for diversity: Tanzania

Why? Tanzania has it all, from wildlife-rich game reserves to the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro and the coral reefs of Zanzibar.

How? In just two weeks you can combine Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks in the celebrated ‘northern safari circuit’.

When? The southern Serengeti is teeming with game from December to March, while the wildebeest migration heads west and north between April and July and returns to the Serengeti around October.

Also consider: Botswana for the verdant waterways of the Okavango and the stark Kalahari salt pans.

Best for adventurers: Zambia

Why? Walking safaris were pioneered in the Luangwa Valley, while off-beat Liuwa Plain requires a mini expedition just to reach.

How? Join a walking safari linking bushcamps in Luangwa, or plan a 4WD trip to Liuwa.

When? June to October.

Also consider: The Selous in Tanzania, canoeing on the Zambezi or tracking wildlife with the San in Namibia’s Bushmanland.



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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.