Botswana is the leader in low-impact, upmarket tourism. This eco-friendly approach promotes a true wilderness experience in this unspoiled country. The beauty of the Okavango Delta is best discovered by mokoro canoe, while abundant wildlife can be encountered in Chobe and Moremi parks.
Kenya is a top wildlife destination, recommended especially for those booking a first-time safari. The Masai Mara offers excellent big cat encounters and is the setting for the yearly wildebeest migration. Palm-lined beaches offer a perfect place to relax after an action packed safari.
Malawi’s main tourist attraction is enormous Lake Malawi, with its beaches and water-based activities. The country also offers a range of safari options. Lovely Liwonde National Park has a winding river ideal for boat trips and seeing lots of elephants. Majete Wildlife Reserve is Malawi’s top Big Five destination. The rolling green hills of Nyika National Park are ideal for walking.
Mozambique’s main attractions are its islands and its endless, largely undeveloped coastline. The Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagos are great places to relax on the beach, and also to see some amazing marine life. Maputo Special Reserve is an excellent spot for ocean safaris, as well as for seeing some elephants and other wildlife in a coastal setting. Niassa and Gorongosa both have potential to become top wildlife destinations with four of the Big Five present, though tourist facilities are limited at present.
Namibia is characterized by its desert habitat and a remarkable variety of landforms. This harsh environment forms a magnificent backdrop for a different kind of safari. Animal populations are smaller, but sightings in this sparse setting tend to be rewarding. Not to be missed is Etosha National Park, a seasonal wildlife magnet.
Rwanda offers arguably the best gorilla trekking experience in Africa (and this can easily be added on to any East African safari). Rwanda is also a worthwhile safari destination in its own right. Volcanoes National Park is the place to track gorillas, and other activities include volcano hikes and tracking golden monkeys. Chimps and several other primates can be found in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Akagera National Park offers a low-key but increasingly rewarding off-the-beaten-track savannah safari.
South Africa is one of Africa’s great wildlife destinations. And vast Kruger National Park is one of the continent's iconic attractions – part of a network of fine protected areas that have an exceptional abundance of animals (the Big Five are readily seen). For outdoor adventure, the sweeping Blyde River Canyon is the third largest on the planet, and soaring rocky peaks such as the Drakensberg, punch into the sky. Cape Town and other cities hum with a modern urban beat, and are fringed by white-sand beaches.
Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini) is easily incorporated in a South African holiday. It offers some outstanding wildlife viewing in low-key parks, stunning scenery and traditional cultures. Mkhaya Game Reserve and Hlane Royal National Park are excellent places to see many flagship animals.
Tanzania has three safari circuits and each one of them would make Tanzania a top wildlife destination. The popular Northern circuit with the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater offers one of the best classical safaris in Africa, especially if timed with the annual wildebeest migration.
Uganda is a great destination to view wildlife in both forest and savannah. Not to be missed is gorilla trekking in Bwindi or Mgahinga, while chimps can easily be spotted in Kibale and several other locations. Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks offer wonderful savannah safaris with good wildlife viewing, as does the more remote Kidepo National Park, but animals are not as abundant compared to the top parks of Kenya and Tanzania.
A safari in Zambia is not about checking off the Big Five. High-quality guides will share their knowledge on game drives, night drives and walking safaris. A canoeing safari on the Zambezi River is not to be missed by the more adventurous.
Due to the political situation in Zimbabwe, tourists are few and prices are competitive, but the main parks are still cared for and well worth visiting. Hwange is not to be missed and Mana Pools offers great canoeing safaris on the Zambezi River.