Best Safaris in Africa cont……

 

This blog is a little more information based, but it is information that will help crystalise what the exciting conservation efforts that you could explore on your next African Safari Tour. Peace Parks is intimately involved in preserving the wildlife areas of Africa and their goal is to preserve 100 000 km² for this purpose. They are fully vested in seeing the 3 transfrontier parks I am writing about reach their full potential.

10 – Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park & Greater Kruger

Lanner Gorge in the northern Kruger

View over Lanner Gorge in the northern Kruger

Once upon a time an African safari tour could have made use of over 10 million km², but over the centuries this has been drastically reduced. With the formation of transfrontier parks, the dropping of fences between National Parks in South Africa and privately-owned reserves, the Greater Kruger combined with the Limpopo Transfrontier Park is in the process of restoring a chunk of 38 000 km² where the wildlife of Africa can roam freely. A drop in the bucket, but never-the-less, a significant step forward for conservation efforts in the region.

This means that an elephant born on the Crocodile River could end its life in the Zinave National Park in Mozambique over 500km away. This of course is as the crow flies. The chances are that this elephant would travel through the Sabi Sands, cross the Limpopo River into rugged Gonarezhou and end up on the banks of the Save River.

Sabi Sands
When selecting where to go on your African safari tour, your choices are almost limitless. The famous Sabi Sands is almost able to guarantee a sighting of all the Big 5 during a 3 night or longer. With the range of luxury to uber luxury lodges, not only will your safari be exciting, but your stay will be very comfortable and at some lodges, obscenely so.

Kruger National Park
Of course, the Kruger remains one of the world’s premier wildlife destinations and rightly so. If you want to self-drive, there is no better safari area in Africa. The Kruger also has allowed several private concessions within its borders that offer top class accommodation, a more private Kruger experience and a chance to see big herds and a wide variety of game from the comfort of open 4×4 safari vehicles.

The northern part of the Kruger National Park is almost another world. Separated from the southern and central section by a wide Mopane forest, very few animals cross over this area. The reason for this is unclear. The northern part is rugged and mountainous as opposed to the flatlands of the rest of the Kruger. This makes for a more scenic experience, although the game viewing is not as fruitful as the rest of Kruger.

Associated Private Nature Reserves
Not quite as well-known, but in all aspects as good a safari destination as the Sabi Sands and Kruger are the Associated Private Nature Reserves. This group of 4 reserves includes the Timbavati, of “White Lions of Timbavati” fame. It also includes the lesser known, but equally impressive Balule, Klaserie and Umbabat game reserves. The prices here are a little more reasonable than the Sabi Sands but they lack for nothing in the safari department.

Lesser known still is the Manyeleti Game Reserve where there only a handful of lodges in 230 km², making for a more off-the-beaten track experience.

Zimbabwe section

Malilangwe Wildlife reserve

Scenery in the Malilangwe Wildlife reserve courtesy of Singita

The Zimbabwean side is much less developed with only a couple of lodges that I can recommend for your African safari. These lodges are, there is Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and Singita Pamushana. The scenery is dramatic, with red cliffs and deep gorges cut by the three rivers that traverse the park. With large numbers of elephants, black and white rhino and a healthy wild dog population, it is well worth a visit, especially for those looking for something remote.

Mozambique Section
The parks on the Mozambique side are still very much in the development phase and as such are not yet ready to receive discerning visitors.

This area, which is just smaller than the Netherlands, offers some of the world’s best safari lodges. As a destination it must rank in the world’s top 3 safari destinations.

Here is a list of National Parks, sanctuaries, conservation areas and private reserves included in this massive wildlife conservation area.

Kruger National Park (South Africa)
Sabi Sands Game Reserve (South Africa)
Timbavati, Balule, Klaserie and Umbabat form the Associated Private Nature Reserves (South Africa)
Manyeleti Game Reserve (South Africa)
Mjejane Game Reserve (South Africa)
Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe)
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve (Zimbabwe)
Sengwe Safari Area (Zimbabwe)
Manjinji Sanctuary Area (Zimbabwe)
Malipati Safari Area (Zimbabwe)
Banhine National Park (Mozambique)
Maputo Elephant Reserve (Mozambique)
Zinave National Park (Mozambique)
Limpopo National Park (Mozambique)

2 – The Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

Covering an area bigger than Germany and Belgium combined, this conservation area is the biggest in the world. It includes gems like the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. The conservation area covers large parts of the Kavango and Zambezi River basins.

Angolan section

The Kavango River

The Kavango River’s source is not far from here

It is the Angolan part of this conservation area that presents the biggest challenges. Conservation efforts are hampered by 153 minefields in the Leungue-Luiana and Mavinga National Parks, which are home to the headwaters of the Kavango (Rio Cubango) River. Although $60million was allocated to the project whose target date is 2025, double this amount is actually needed. There are no meaningful safari options in Angola at this time, certainly not for the mainstream traveller.

Botswana, Zimbabwe & Zambia
In stark contrast, the parks and conservation areas in Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe are pumping with tourists who can be assured of a safe, luxurious and unique African safari. Botswana has a high price, low volume approach to tourism, which while making it less affordable, it does serve to preserve the “alone in Africa” feel to a safari here. Botswana has huge contrasts in experiences from the desert, salt-pan experience of the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans, to the lush, green, water experience of the Okavango Delta and everything in between.

The Victoria Falls is surrounded by protected areas, both on the Zimbabwean and Zambian side. While the Falls themselves are the main attraction, it is an added bonus to cruise on the Zambezi River and see herds of elephant and buffalo on the shore. Cocktails above the largest falls in the world while the magnificent sunset silhouettes the wildlife on the banks of the Zambezi. What more could you ask for?

Game viewing in this whole region is easy and fruitful as for the most part, vegetation is low and sparse. There are few places where a safari, either by vehicle or walking, can be so rewarding. The scenery is varied, spectacular and screams Africa at its very best.

Here is a list of National Parks, sanctuaries, conservation areas and private reserves included in this massive wildlife conservation area.

Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (Botswana)
Nxai Pan National Park (Botswana)
Chobe National Park (Botswana)
Khaudum National Park (Namibia)
Bwabwata National Park (Namibia)
Mavinga National Park (Angola)
Leungue-Luiana National Park (Angola)
Sioma-Ngwezi National Park (Zambia)
Kafue National Park (Zambia)
Liuwa Plains National Park (Zambia)
Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia)
South & North Luangwa National Parks (Zambia)
Bengweulu Swamps (Zambia)
Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe)
Matusodona National Park (Zimbabwe)
Chizarra National Park (Zimbabwe)
Zambezi National Park (Zimbabwe)
Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe)
17 other protected areas

12 – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi park

Springbok in the green Kgalagadi park

This park has the distinction that it is Africa’s first peace park. Jointly run by Botswana and South Africa it is also the only transfontier park that you can enjoy a safari in both countries without border formalities. The park sits in the Kalahari desert and has two dry rivers, the Nossob and Auob Rivers that run through it. With no permanent water the animals rely on man-made waterholes. Many of the water-holes were donated and are maintained by individuals and companies that love Africa. An African safari in this land of red dunes, herds of oryx and springbok and patrolled by big black-maned lions is as other-worldy as its name suggests. Remote Africa is a phrase that comes to mind.

Most safaris are done on a self-drive basis. The South African side can be traversed by 4×2 vehicles, but the Botswana side is only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. On the Botswana side, the roads are hardly more than a double vehicle tracks, sandy and tough. Believe it or not, these tracks are also one-ways. The most remote one-way roads in the world.

Accommodation
Accommodation on the South African side is predominately in National Park rest camps with a smattering of a few luxury lodges, while on the Botswana side, 4×4 camping is the order of the day. Campsites have little or no infrastructure.

Dark Sky Status

!Xaus Lodge

This is the reason that !Xaus Lodge has been awarded Dark Sky status – courtesy of !Xaus Lodge

!Xaus Lodge, in the  !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park on the western side of the Kgalagadi is one of only two reserves be awarded Black Sky status. The other is the NamibRand Reserve in Namibia. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), awarded this status in recognition of it being one of the world’s darkest places and best areas for viewing pristine night skies.

If you want to experience an Africa safari tour where the feet of countless bushmen have gone before, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is definitely the place you should visit

Here is a list of National Parks, sanctuaries, conservation areas and private reserves included in this massive wildlife conservation area.

Gemsbok National Park (Botswana)
Mabuasehube Game Reserve (Botswana)
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (South Africa)
!Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park

End of my current journey
So I come to the end of my journey with you into the best African safari tour destintinations. While I have covered, for the most part, my favourite places, there is so much more to see and experience in Africa. A lifetime is not enough to truly experience all Africa has to offer. No one place is the same and the safari experience changes daily.

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