An African safari is one of those experiences I’ve wanted to have ever since I learned that “Z is for zebra” in my early years. Illustrated books flooded my head with thoughts of what Africa would be like. I pictured a bright, brilliant sun with animals roaming nonchalantly, coming out of nowhere. At the national parks, this was completely true. It was precisely how I pictured it as a youngster.
When travelers come to Southern Africa, most visit Kruger National Park, South Africa, drive to Cape Town, and depart without seeing anything else. While these two areas are renowned for a reason, with good tourist infrastructure and alternatives for all levels of activity and price ranges to suit everyone, I wanted to visit other places that were a bit less well known, simply to see what else may be there. Expedia asked me to think of my favorite in South Africa (which was in the Karoo) for individuals searching for excitement while traveling who want to do things off the beaten path. Check out this website if you are interested in my SA proposal.
Nonetheless, it made me think of the parks somewhere that I adored. These are the national parks of Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, all of which offer wonderful campsites close, fewer visitors, and awesome wildlife sightings. If you are like me and wished to see these creatures from childhood like me, they will not disappoint you:
Namibia – Etosha National Park
Namibia was good. That was so, so wonderful. Every time I look back, I feel the searing desert heat again and recall leaping out of aircraft, climbing sand dunes and back down, witnessing some of the world’s most famous landscapes, staring at the night sky, and seeing a milky way full of stars, and I feel so pleased to have experienced it.
My final visit to Namibia was to Etosha National Park, which was created in 1907 and comprises 8,600 square miles (22,270 square kilometers) (22,270 square kilometers). As part of the park is a big salt pan and suffers limited rainfall — it is a desert after all – animal spotting is a bit more likely.
Driving our own truck through the park, we observed the regular zebra and springbok that I had seen in South Africa, but then we spotted a few creatures that I had never seen there before: two rhinoceros blacks, a male lion with a full mane, and a honey badger. That’s right, a honey badger, by far the most badass animal ever.
Rhinos are becoming less common to observe on safari these days owing to illicit poaching which has left them severely endangered. Several countries think that the horns boost life and power when turned into powder. Thus, the illegal trade in their horns puts them at great risk of extinction. Even Prince Harry is genuinely disturbed about it.
Etosha is one of the areas where it is still possible to see one, and we were very lucky to witness two during our stay.
Do it yourself: hire a car or trailer and camp at Okaukuejo Rest Camp within the park borders. It features a waterhole that draws animals at night, including rhinos and elephants.
Botswana – Chobe National Park
Botswana was the first nation where I saw a beautiful and gigantic African elephant. I had seen elephants in Sri Lanka and South East Asia before and found it absolutely true that African elephants are a little bigger and they all had tusks. Asian elephants are also hairy and have freckles, but African elephants are totally grey, hairless, and have large ears.
Sailing down the Zambezi River for a few hours at sunset remains one of my fondest memories of Botswana. There were more elephants than I could count, as well as buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles everywhere.
Although the movie, The Lion King, is set in Kenya, it felt like all the animals in the movie were present and it could easily have been set in Botswana, with the beautiful setting sun, seeming larger than I had ever seen before.
Do it yourself: The nearest town to the park is Kasane with plenty of camping possibilities. I wasn’t a huge admirer of my camp management therefore I won’t endorse them by name. Nevertheless, I would suggest the firm I’ve gone on safari with across Namibia, Botswana, Zambia (and beyond) — here’s my precise booking with Acacia Afrique.
Zambia – South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park was my last safari in Africa and a terrific way to conclude the series of animal encounters. The camp I often stayed at had elephants grazing around the pool and hippos shouting in the neighboring waters. It was vital that we put on a flashlight and check around before entering the tents at night — that’s how widespread the animals were!
When on a game drive in the park, I finally spotted a leopard, a hippo with an open mouth (yawning I think?) and the rarest of them all, wild dogs.
Do it yourself: Camp at Wildlife Camp, which can organize a game drive for you across the park where private vehicles are not permitted. Sunset is the greatest time to cross, however, pack goggles and a jacket since the pests at night are abundant and the vehicle is open air
*Thanks to Expedia for inspiring this story and thanks to Southern Africa for being utterly stunning