The Top 10 Best National Parks in Africa (with Photos)

Written by Collins Obara |

Africa is famously known as home to hundreds of game reserves, national parks, and other great safari destinations.  It seems like every natural attraction on this massive continent has something exceptional and unique to offer. It does not matter if the appeal is the cast of massive mammals dominated by the Big Five, the chance of tracking chimpanzees or gorillas, or the more subtle pleasures of viewing rare birds or colorful butterflies, Africa has it all.  With so many options to choose from, the first-time visitor to Africa may wonder where they can or should visit. Well, here are sodacoffee's top 10 best and amazing natural places one should consider when visiting Africa.

10. Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania

Mahale Mountains National Park is among the most remote of East Africa's parks. It protects a stretch of the jungle-draped Rift Valley escarpment which infringes on the staggeringly beautiful Lake Tanganyika. It is also home to over 800 chimpanzees and is considered to be among the best places to visit for any person interested in getting up-close-and-personal with the wild.

The best season to visit Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania is from July to October.

9. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta is an inland delta which was created by the River Kavango. It sinks into the Kalahari Desert sands, and this unique feature makes it among the best places to visit in Africa. Here, you will encounter crocodiles, hippos, and other wildlife. It is also home to lots of elephants and a small number of leopards and lions, although its real attraction is the delta’s primal sense of self.

8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is found in Uganda.  At this park, you will have the rare opportunity to see the gentle giants of the world, gorillas. These massive primates weigh up to 200kg and are a wonder to see in their misty mountain homes.

This park is also a great place to see forest dwellers like the yellow-backed duiker, L’Hoest’s monkeys, and a full 23 bird species endemic to the Albertine Rift, among them the gorgeous African green broadbill.

7. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

South Luangwa National Park, located in Zambia, is well-known for its great night drives. Most lodges at South Luangwa National Park offer expertly guided game walks, although the real appeal is a multi-day trek between the semi-permanent fly camps. The best time to visit the South Luangwa National Park is from July to September.

6. Amboseli National Park, Kenya

At Amboseli National Park, you will get the rare opportunity of coming close to the immense Mount Kilimanjaro and some of the heftiest terrestrial mammals. It is from this park that you will see some of the most inspiring views of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro as it towers above the animal-rich plains of East Africa.

Established in 1975, Amboseli National Park is one of the best places you can visit in Africa to see the interaction between elephants. It is also an excellent bird-watching destination thanks to its combination of seasonal marshes and semi-arid acacia savanna.

5. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park is one of Africa's best places for a self-drive safari. To fully enjoy this park, it will require at least two weeks. The majority of visitors are known to focus on the southern region due to its proximity to Johannesburg, South Africa's biggest city and capital.

Kruger is known to support up to147 mammal species which is the highest number of any African national park. It is also home to over 517 bird species. You can visit this park at any time of year although the best time is during the dry season from May to September.

4. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park is Namibia's flagship reserve and is dominated by a large endorheic salt pan, after which the park is named. The "pan" is normally comprised of many seasonal waterholes, and it is here that people "floodlight" the waterhole at night. This famous lighting spectacle provides memorable scenes of herds of giraffes, antelopes, and other grazers, especially during the dry season.

This park is thought to be among the most dependable in Africa when it comes to viewing black rhinos, leopards, lions, and elephants. The park is also well-suited for self-drive safaris and the viewing of animals throughout the dry season.

3. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park is among the best places to visit if you are interested in a safari which does not restrict guided and unguided walking. It is also known to provide great opportunities for canoeing through one of the most pristine wilderness wetlands. At the forest-fringed Zambezi River and these network of associated pools, you should expect to see lots of hippos, elephants, crocodiles, buffalos, and birds. This park is also known to harbor a healthy lion population and leopards. The best time to visit this park is between May and October.

2. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

 The only equal to Serengeti National Park in the whole of Africa is the smaller Masai Mara in Kenya. Masai Mara National reserve is equally rewarding when it comes to the viewing of animals. The star residents here are the big cats.  It prides itself in having more than 20 lions. It is also a great place to see leopards and cheetahs, together with elephants, giraffe, and buffalo. If you are a bit lucky, you will come across the black rhino.

The best time of visiting the Masai Mara National Reserve is from late July to early October when hundreds of thousands of the wildebeest start arriving from the Serengeti. The crossing the Mara River is the most spectacular part of the migration.

1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Coming in first in our list of the best places to visit in Africa is the Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. It is not only the largest but also one of the oldest national parks. It has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it hosts some of the most spectacular wildlife migration in the world. This seasonal movement comprises of up to 2 million wildebeest together with thousands of zebras.

Serengeti houses the largest population of lions in Africa, which is estimated to be at 3,000. It is one of the most reliable places in East Africa for seeing cheetahs. Leopards can be observed in the Central Seronera Valley.  Buffalos, elephants, spotted hyenas, giraffes and a wide variety of antelopes are the other common wildlife located here.

There is no bad time to visit the Serengeti; however, the best months are from June to October. These months offer excellent wildlife viewing and a chance of catching the great wildebeest migration. However, most of the repeat visitors favor the months of April and May, when the countryside is at its greenest.

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