There are dozens, if not hundreds, of national parks, game reserves, and other safari sites throughout Africa. Every one of them has something to offer, whether it’s a cast of compelling big animals led by the Big Five, the chance to monitor gorillas or chimps, or more subtle pleasures like searching for rare birds or colorful butterflies.
However, for first-time visitors who are unsure where to go, the highlights below stand out as possibly the ten best and most Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa to visit in Africa.
Top 10 Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa
1. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
The Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park, and it ranks high on many safarigoers’ lists of the finest locations and Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa to visit. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site primarily for hosting the world’s most magnificent annual animal migration, which includes up to two million wildebeest and tens of thousands of zebra.
The vast plains are home to Africa’s biggest lion population, which is believed to number 3,000 animals. It is arguably the most consistent cheetah habitat in East Africa, and leopards are frequently spotted in the middle Seronera Valley. Elephants, buffalo, giraffes, spotted hyenas, bat-eared foxes, and a variety of antelopes are also frequent.
There is no poor time to visit the Serengeti. From June through October, you may see a lot of animals and witness the wildebeest migration. From late January to February, the wildebeest give birth. Many return tourists prefer April and May, when the landscape is at its greenest, rack rates are lower, and tourist volumes are at their lowest.
Where to stay: The Serengeti has dozens of moderate to premium hotels and tented camps, as well as many campsites.
2. Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)
The smaller Masai Mara, Kenya’s answer to the Serengeti, is as rewarding for wildlife viewing. The main attraction is the presence of big cats. Pride of up to 20 lions steals the show, but it’s also a great site to view cheetah and leopard, as well as elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and – with a little luck – black rhino.
The Masai Mara comes into its own from late July to early October, when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest travel from the Serengeti to cross the Mara River, the most magnificent portion of the yearly migration.
When to visit Masai Mara: Game-watching is excellent all year. Be there between late August and early October to have a good chance of seeing the wildebeest migration. If low tourist traffic is more essential to you, any other time is ideal.
Accommodation options include: In and around the Masai Mara, there are dozens of moderate to upscale lodges and tented camps. On its outskirts, there are a number of campgrounds.
3. Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe)
For the daring, Mana Pools is one of the greatest locations and Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa. It is unquestionably the place to go if you want a safari destination that allows for both unguided and guided strolling.
Even better, it provides the exhilarating opportunity to canoe through one of Africa’s most pristine wilderness wetlands in the shape of the forest-fringed Zambezi River and a network of related pools.
Expect to encounter elephants, hippos, buffalos, crocodiles, and water-associated birds whether you paddle or stroll. It also has strong lion and leopard populations.
When to go: The dry season, from May to October, is the best time to see Mana Pools.
Where to stay: Several tiny, private campgrounds serve the park.
4. Etosha National Park (Namibia)
Etosha National Park, Namibia’s flagship reserve, is dominated by the enormous, salty, and typically dry pan that bears its name. During the dry season, the pan is bordered by a succession of permanent waterholes, some of which are floodlit at night, which attract vast herds of antelope, giraffe, and other grazers.
It is also one of Africa’s more trustworthy reserves for black rhino, which live with lion, leopard, and elephant but not buffalo. Etosha National Park is unusually well-suited to self-drive safaris.
When to go to Etosha: Game watching is excellent from April through October, with the best months being July and September.
Where to stay: In addition to the inexpensive government-run rest camps located within the park, numerous more luxurious campgrounds and hotels are located just outside of it.
5. Kruger National Park (South Africa)
The incomprehensibly enormous Kruger National Park, one of the greatest destinations to visit in Africa for a self-drive safari, would take at least two weeks to tour in its entirety. Because of its closeness to Johannesburg, most people focus on the south, but the more rural north is place to go if you want to get off the beaten path.
Kruger has the most mammal species of any African national park, with enormous populations of all five Big Five, as well as hippo, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, warthog, baboon, and 20-plus antelope species. It also has 517 bird species.
When is the ideal time to visit Kruger? Anytime, although game viewing is greatest during the dry season, which runs from May to September and increases as the season continues.
Accommodation options include: Camping and hutted lodging are available through an outstanding network of reasonably priced and well-equipped rest camps. The many luxury private lodges situated in separate concessions inside the park and the private reserves that flank its western edge are more opulent.
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6. Amboseli National Park (Kenya)
Amboseli National Park’s main attractions are the world’s tallest freestanding mountain and the world’s heaviest terrestrial animal. The most inspiring views of Kilimanjaro as it looms above the animal-rich plains of East Africa may be had from here.
Amboseli is home to the world’s longest-running elephant study, which began in 1975, and it is one of the finest sites and Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa to witness elephant interaction since the elephants are particularly well habituated and magnificently tusked here. Because of its combination of seasonal wetlands and semi-arid acacia savannah, it is also a fantastic birding location.
7. South Luangwa National Park (Zambia)
South Luangwa National Park is famous for its fantastic night drives and is one of the finest locations to visit in Africa for a gritty walking safari.
The majority of the lodges here provide skillfully guided game walks, but the true experience is a multi-day trip between semi-permanent fly camps, taking in the sights and smells of the bush without the distraction of a running motor.
Although rhinos are not present, this is an outstanding Big Five Reserve with a particularly high probability of close encounters with leopards.
8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
Mountain gorillas, in a nutshell. This lushly wooded Ugandan national park is one of the greatest sites in Africa to observe these gentle giants – the world’s biggest monkey, weighing up to 200kg – in their foggy mountain habitats. Seeing a big silverback’s liquid chocolate eyes is unquestionably the highlight of virtually every visit to Bwindi.
However, it is also a great site to observe forest inhabitants such as the yellow-backed duiker, L’Hoest’s monkey, and a total of 23 bird species peculiar to the Albertine Rift, including the stunning African green broadbill.
9. Okavango Delta (Botswana)
The enormous interior delta formed by the Kavango River as it descends into the dunes of the Kalahari Desert is one of the greatest and most Popular Tourist Attractions in Africa to visit for up-close experiences with hippos, crocodiles, and other aquatic species.
It’s best explored in a professionally-poled mokoro dugout canoe, and it’s also home to a lot of elephants and a few lions and leopards, but the main draw is the delta’s primitive feeling of the place.
10. Mahale Mountains National Park (Tanzania)
Mahale National Park, one of the most isolated in East Africa, preserves a swath of jungle-draped Rift Valley escarpment bordering the breathtakingly magnificent Lake Tanganyika. It is one of the greatest places to visit in Africa if you want to get up close and personal with man’s closest living cousin in the wild.
It is home to 800 chimps. The chimps of Mahale were habituated by Japanese researchers in the 1960s, and they are so calm that it is not uncommon to have a full-grown adult brush casually by you, barely a few inches away. Other primates and birds are well represented, and the location is breathtaking.