There are few travel experiences as extraordinary as the African safari. From the thrill of a game drive to spot incredible animals to the stunning landscapes, a safari travel experience is truly special. The best part is that there are dozens of unique safari destinations across Africa, with something to suit almost everyone from first-timers to experienced safari-goers and budget travellers to luxury seekers. In celebration of World Elephant Day and World Lion Day in August, we’ve put together your complete guide to the best safaris for every kind of traveller.
Looking for a slice of safari luxury? There are plenty of options at all the best safari destinations in Africa from the Masai Mara, Kruger and the Serengeti, to some of the lesser-known gems like Samburu. Get inspired by some of our favourite luxury safari accommodations below, or speak to our friendly team to discover our full range of luxury safari accommodations.
Aberdare National Park, Kenya
When you go on safari in Kenya with Trafalgar, we’ll spend the night in The Ark Lodge, one of our most incredible ‘Stays With Stories’. This wildlife sanctuary is filled with all kinds of animals like zebras, impala and warthog and you’ll see them grazing nearby from your luxury room. There’s also plenty of activities here, so whether you want to relax in the pool or go on a thrilling night game drive through the park, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience at The Ark.
GET INSPIRED BY: Wonders of Kenya
Karongwe Private Reserve, South Africa
While we love our luxury resorts in the Kruger National Park – like the stunning Sabi River Sun Resort – you also can’t miss spending the night in the private game reserves near Kruger. We’ll take you to one of our favourite ‘Stays With Stories’, Becks Safari Lodge in the Karongwe Private Reserve. It’s the perfect place to kick back and relax in the gorgeous wilderness by the pool. Or get in on the action with game drives and evening sundowner drinks where you can spot wildlife emerging.
GET INSPIRED BY: Essence of South Africa
Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Dreaming of a lavish camping experience on safari? You’ll find it at Ashnil Samburu, a luxury tented camp in the Samburu National Reserve of Kenya. Set on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, you’ll be surrounded by pristine wilderness. You’ll have the chance to spot the ‘Samburu Special 5’ on a game drive or go on a guided nature walk with an expert naturalist. Whether you want to enjoy a luxury sundowner experience or dig into a private barbecue in the bushveld, Ashnil Samburu is one of the best luxury safari destinations.
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The best places for a cost-effective safari experience include all the most famous destinations such as the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Etosha National Park in Namibia. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, including camping and basic lodge-style accommodations. Speak to our friendly team to learn more about the best options for cost-effective safaris with Trafalgar.
Best safaris for first timers
Wondering where to go on a safari in Africa for your first time? There are dozens of fantastic safari travel experiences to choose from! Here are some of the best destinations you can’t miss, complete with game drives, scenic lodges and the chance to spot the Big Five.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
As one of the most iconic safari destinations, the Maasai Mara is a highlight on any safari adventure. When you travel to the Maasai Mara with Trafalgar, we’ll spend our days exploring the stunning wilderness in search of the Big Five, or relaxing at our lodge’s watering hole where hippos roam. You’ll also get to visit a local Maasai village and learn about their daily life and traditions.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The UNESCO-listed Serengeti offers up some of the best safaris in the world. Home to all of the Big Five and more, not to mention the greatest show on Earth – The Great Migration – the Serengeti is truly extraordinary. We’ll take you on a 4×4 safari game drive through the vast plains dotted with Acacia trees. If you travel at the right time, you might even get to watch some of the millions of wildebeest thundering across the Mara River in their annual migration.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Neighbouring the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is another UNESCO-listed safari wonder in Tanzania. We’ll take you down hundreds of metres to the floor of the massive Ngorongoro Crater, where you’ll explore its grassy plains, soda lakes and lush forests, filled with all kinds of animals including lions, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, pink flamingoes and more. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the crater, then relax in your nearby accommodation with spectacular views of the greenery.
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Etosha National Park, Namibia
Exploring Etosha is like stepping into another planet, and you’re sure to experience one of your very best safaris here. We’ll climb aboard a safari vehicle as we go in search of the park’s abundant wildlife around the watering holes. See large herds of elephants and big cats like lions and leopards lounging in the shade. Etosha is also one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the endangered black rhino. After all that wildlife spotting, it’s time to relax at your lodge and watch the beautiful sunset as you toast to an unforgettable day.
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Best safaris for experienced safari-goers
So you’ve seen the most iconic safari destinations… where next? Here are some of our favourite places where you can get off the beaten track on safari in Africa:
Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania
From massive elephant herds and rare tree-climbing lions to pink flamingoes and more than 400 bird species lining the lake shores, Lake Manyara is a real hidden gem of Tanzania. Located nearby well-known icons like the Serengeti, it’s definitely worth making a detour to Lake Manyara for some otherworldly scenery.
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Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Tarangire serves ups landscapes unlike anything you’ve seen in Tanzania. Imagine flat-topped acacias, giant baobabs, and lush rivers and forests. The animals are also incredible and it’s one of the best places to spot elephants, along with giraffes, zebras, warthogs, gazelles and over 550 bird species. You can even meet the curious tree hyraxes that climb around when you go on safari with Trafalgar.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park, South Africa
Set in the KwaZulu Natal Regine of South Africa, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. This legendary park is home to an abundance of wildlife including all of the Big Five, giraffes, zebra, cheetah, African wild dogs, hyenas, wildebeest, jackals, hippopotamus, Nile crocodile, warthog, mongoose and more. The park is also world-renowned for its conversation efforts in bringing the white rhino back from the brink of extinction. We’ll take you on a 4×4 game drive through the beautiful landscape, where you’ll spot the incredible animals and learn all about animal movements and habitats from expert guides.
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Best safaris for senior travellers
Most safaris can be customised to meet your preferred activity level. You might like to head out on a game drive in the morning and enjoy a siesta in the afternoon… Or you can enjoy a sleep in and go on a thrilling evening game drive. There are also low impact options like boat cruise safaris. Here are some of our best safaris experiences for senior travellers:
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of the very best national parks in South Africa. It’s home to all of the Big Five plus many more unique animals and bird species. You won’t have to go far to spot some incredible animals with our Local Specialists Plus with 22,000 square kilometres of space in the park, you’ll have enough room to have a private wilderness experience.
GET INSPIRED BY: Best of South Africa
Chobe National Park, Botswana
If a river cruise is more your speed, there’s no better place to do it than Chobe National Park in Botswana. This is where some of the world’s largest herds of elephants are found, and you’ll have the chance to see them gathering at the river bank on your Chobe River cruise. From buffalo to kingfishers, you’ll spot all kinds of fascinating creatures, before enjoying lunch at the Chobe Safari Lodge.
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Best water safaris
Think the best safaris happen on the water? Here are some of our best picks…
Okavango Delta, Botswana
This watery wonderland is best seen by boat – specifically, a makoro (a traditional dugout canoe). You’ll glide through the delta with a guide, spotting all kinds of birds and wildlife just inches from the water. The Okavango is also one of the few places left in the world where traditional makoros are still used, making this an extra special place for a water safari.
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So you’ve heard of the Big Five and even the Samburu Special Five… What about the marine Big Five? You’ll have the chance to spot all of the marine Big Five – whales, dolphins, seals, mola molas, and leatherback turtles – in Walvis Bay when we take you on a catamaran cruise with local experts. You’ll see some 60,000 resident Cape Fur Seals around Pelican Point and if you travel between July and November, you’ll have the chance to spot many different species of whales and dolphins, along with leatherback turtles and mola molas.
Lake Saint Lucia, South Africa
You’ll have the chance to board a cruise on Lake St. Lucia in South Africa, where you’ll come face to face with hippos, crocodiles and all kinds of birdlife. If you’re lucky, you might even hear the cry of the fish eagle or watch one catch a fish.
Best bird-watching safaris
Everyone loves spotting the Big Five mammals… But what about the bird enthusiasts? Here are some of our favourite destinations for the best bird-watching safaris.
Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
If you’re an avid twitcher, you can’t miss visiting Lake Nakuru. It’s a true bird watcher’s paradise, with more than 400 species recorded here. Not only will you spot hundreds of bird species lining the lakeshore, you’ll also have the chance to spot lions and leopards on your game drive. When you travel with Trafalgar, you’ll also spend the night in the park and enjoy an early morning bird-watching session. You’ll meet your guide at sunrise on the lakeshore to spot flamingos, pelicans and more. You can even spot zebra, buffalo and rhino grazing nearby. With the call of the birds and the damp scents of the bush filling the air, this is a truly magical safari experience.
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Lake Naivasha, Kenya
We’ll also take you to Lake Navaisha, another bird watcher’s utopia in Kenya. You’ll board a boat to cruise across the lake and keep your eyes peeled to spot hippos. There’s also more than 400 bird species such as the African Fish Eagle and the Greater Swamp Warbler, along with flamingoes, pelicans, storks, bee-eaters and more. After getting your fill of birds, you’ll stop at Crescent Island and join a local specialist to walk among wildlife like giraffes, zebra and impala.
Best responsible safaris
At Trafalgar, we only participate in ethical wildlife experiences that show respect for the wellbeing of all animals. Here are some of our best safaris showcasing conservation and responsible safari travel in Africa:
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya
We’ll take you to Ol Pejeta, a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Kenya, as part of our Make Travel Matter experience. It’s the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and you’ll learn about their efforts to stop poaching and save the rhinos. During your visit, you’ll have the chance to take a horseback ride through the 600-acre Endangered Species Enclosure, dedicated to the recovery of the northern white rhinos species. You’ll even get to spot the last two that remain in the world, along with other animals like the endangered Grevy’s zebra, Jackons’ hartebeest, gazelle and antelope.
You can also join an expert game ranger for a fascinating guided bush walk. Your guide will share their intimate knowledge of the land and animal habitats, including how to identify animals tracks. For something extra thrilling, you can also join the Ol Pejeta team on a lion tracking experience, as they undertake their regular monitoring of the lions in the conservancy.
Solio Game Reserve, Kenya
This privately-owned wildlife conservancy is internationally renowned for its successful rhino breeding program. Founded in the 1970s to protect the black and white rhino, the reserve is home to the world’s largest population of white rhino. Although Solio is a well-kept secret on the safari circuit, we’ll take you on a game drive here for a special safari experience. You’ll have the chance to spot large numbers of rhino, giraffe, zebra, leopard, lion and buffalo with few other safari vehicles in sight. You can even opt to go for a nature walk within the sanctuary or snap some gorgeous photos with Mount Kenya as the backdrop.
Which safari destinations are at the top of your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!