Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda)
In two words: mountain gorillas. This lushly forested Ugandan national park is one
of the best places to visit in Africa if you want to see these gentle giants –
the world’s largest primate, weighing in at up to 200kg – in their misty
mountain homes. Staring into the liquid brown eyes of a giant silverback is
undoubtedly the highlight of almost all visits to Bwindi. But it is also an excellent
place to see forest dwellers such as yellow-backed duiker, L’Hoest’s monkey and
a full 23 bird species endemic to the Albertine Rift, among them the gorgeous
African green broadbill
- When to visit Bwindi:
Gorilla tracking runs all year, but the
drier months of June to August and December to February are best.
to stay: Each of the four gorilla-tracking trailheads is served by a
selection of upmarket and midrange lodges.
Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
Frosting many safari lovers list of finest destination to
visit in Africa, this park Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest and largest national
park. It is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site largely on account of accommodating
the world’s most outstanding yearly wildlife migration, encompassing upto over two
million wildebeest, as well as tens of thousands of zebras. The extensive
plains host Africa’s biggest lion population, estimated at 3,000 individuals.
It is probably the most unswerving place in East Africa for cheetah, while
leopards can be regularly observed in the central Seronera Valley. Other common
wildlife includes elephant, buffalo, giraffe, spotted hyena, bat-eared fox and
a wide variety of antelope.
- When to visit Serengeti: There’s no bad time. June to October
offers great general wildlife viewing and an opportunity to catch the wildebeest
migration. The wildebeest calve from late January to February. Many repeat
travelers favor April and May, when the countryside is at its greenest,
rack rates drop, and tourist volumes are lowest.
to stay: There are dozens of midrange to upmarket lodges suppliers and
tented camps in the Serengeti, as well as several campsites.
Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya)
Essentially the Kenyan counterpart to the Serengeti, the
smaller Masai Mara is equally rewarding when it comes to game viewing. Big cats
are the star residents. Prides of up to 20 lions hog the spotlight, but it is
also a very good place to see cheetah and leopard, along with elephant,
buffalo, giraffe and – with a bit more luck – black rhino. The Masai Mara comes
into its own over late July to early October, when hundreds of thousands of
wildebeest arrive from the Serengeti to cross the Mara River, the most
spectacular part of the annual migration.
- When to visit Masai Mara: Game viewing is good throughout the year.
Be there between late August and early October to be reasonably certain of
catching the wildebeest migration. Any other time is preferable if low
tourist volume is more important to you.
to stay: Dozens of midrange to upmarket lodges and tented camps are
scattered in and around the Masai Mara. Several campsites can be found on
Amboseli National Park (Kenya)
The world’s tallest freestanding mountain and heftiest
terrestrial mammal are the key attractions of Amboseli National Park. It is
from here that one obtains the most inspiring views of snow-capped Kilimanjaro
as it towers above the animal-rich plains of East Africa. Amboseli hosts the
world’s longest-running elephant study, established in 1975, and it is the one
of the best places to visit in Africa to see interaction between elephants,
which are unusually well habituated and impressively tusked here. It is also a
great birding destination thanks to its combination of seasonal marshes and
semi-arid acacia savannah.
- When to visit Amboseli: Any time, but the dry seasons (July to
October and Jan to March) offer the best game viewing.
to stay: Several midrange and exclusive lodges and camps operate within
and around the national park.
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