Nothing is more magical than seeing wildlife up close: from the bewitching mountain gorilla to the rare black rhino, there’s a National Park in Africa to satisfy even the most curious traveller.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
One of the largest and most famous National Parks in Africa is the Kruger. The park was first protected nationally in 1898 and officially became the Kruger National Park in 1926. The main draw has to be the Big 5 of lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, which are all present in the Kruger National Park. There are also over 500 different bird species including vultures, eagles, owls and storks. Other mammals include cheetah, giraffe, leopard and the rare wild dog.
Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Renowned for its spectacular game-viewing opportunities, Mana Pools National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the vast flood plains recede after each rainy season, the wildlife arrives to feed and drink. Safari trips reward visitors with glimpses of hippo, crocodile, elephant and buffalo.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
In the heart of Mozambique, lies the Gorongosa National Park, which is home to a rich biodiversity of animals, birds and plant species. In residence are lion, elephant, crocodile, antelope as well as more unusual species of chameleon, crustaceans and lizards.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The mighty Mara is world famous thanks to the various TV series that have filmed here, including the BBC’s “Big Cat Diary”. Established in 1961, the vast savanna and scrub landscape is home to big-time wildlife such as lions, giraffes, cheetahs and leopards. The Maasai people (pictured above) also call this home. The annual highlight is the awe-inspiring Great Migration where millions of zebra, wildebeest and gazelle travel between the Mara and the Serengeti between July and October.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
First established in 1907, the Etosha National park is home to a rich diversity of bird, mammal and reptile species. Comprised of grassland, savanna and woodland, Etosha is home to the African elephant, giraffe and leopard as well as rare mammals such as the white rhino, serval (tiger bush cat) and black rhino. Bird species include ostrich, stork, hornbill, pelican, eagle and vulture.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
The Bwindi Park is world removed thanks to its most famous resident: the incredibly rare mountain gorilla. With an estimated 340 gorilla in residence, Bwindi contains half of the worlds remaining gorilla population. Trekking permits are strictly limited but the sheer skill and dedication of the local guides ensures a 99% chance of spotting these elusive and fascinating creatures. Watch our video above as we got up close and personal with the mighty mountain gorillas.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The vast Serengeti plains play host to the annual Great Migration each year where 1.5 million wildebeest and other wildlife head to the Maasai Mara National Reserve (see above). Established in 1951 and now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti is home to the Big 5 of lion, African leopard, African elephant, black rhino and African buffalo. Popular with safari enthusiasts, the Serengeti also supports cheetah, impala and hyena as well as eagles, vultures and ostriches.