Lion’s hunting in the sun, wildebeest migrating in their thousands, elephants meandering slowly while their children play at their feet. It can be hard to find the right safari to discover the best experience for you, but we’ve sifted through the best places to go on Safari in 2023 so you don’t have to!
Safaris are present on almost all of the world’s continents. There are so many on offer that it is sometimes difficult to know which ones provide the best experience, whilst still keeping things ethical and allowing the animals to live in their natural habitat. Here we are going to explore some of the world’s best Safaris and give a little insight into the incredible experiences at your fingertips!
Kruger National Park – South Africa
Not only is this one of the most famous safari destinations in the world, it is also one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Kruger National Park is the oldest park in South Africa and is a whopping 350km long and 60km wide! Don’t worry though, the population of animals here is relatively high compared to some other parks. There is a very good chance of seeing everything you set out for, and almost definitely more!
Situated in the Northeast of South Africa, Kruger is easily accessible from Johannesburg, a city with its own value as a tourist destination. Coupled with this Kruger National Park is very close to The Drakensburg, a stunning mountain range in the north of the country. This means that Kruger National Park is the perfect destination for those wanting to combine their safari adventure with hiking or sightseeing. There are also a variety of accommodation options from camping to luxurious resort-style living to suit everyone’s needs.
Kruger is known around the world for being one of the best locations to spot the elusive leopard, but I strongly recommend staying for at least three days. This means that you can explore the vast area of the park, and increase your chance of seeing the Big 5!
With all these factors considered, it’s easy to see why hundreds of thousands of people visit this park every year. While in South Africa, why not check out Cape Town, an incredible city and home to one of the Natural Wonders of the World?
Maasai Mara – Kenya
Named after the tribe that has inhabited the region for hundreds of years, Maasai Mara is another incredible safari that should not be missed for anyone wanting to see it all. Although smaller than some of the other safaris on this list, Maasai Mara boasts a high density of indigenous animals and is also home to the only indigenous black rhino population in the country. The size of this park makes it easy to explore and you can easily access most of the park via offroad guided tours.
As well as a safari, Maasai Mara is also a wildlife conservation area and is putting in a lot of work to help indigenous populations and to put an end to poaching. This means that you can be sure your money is going towards helping the animal populations that you will see on your safari.
In my opinion, you have to visit Maasai Mara between August and October, this gives you a chance to see what is locally known as ‘The Great Migration’.
Once a year, over two million wildebeest travel from the south of the Serengeti, up through Maasai Mara. They follow the rain in order to find green pastures and keep feeding year-round. The wildebeest are often accompanied by other herbivores, making this the largest mammal migration in the world. Truly an incredible spectacle.
You can book a tour that picks you up in the capital, Nairobi, or you can make your way there yourself for a cheaper alternative. Don’t forget to spend some time exploring the local Maasai culture while you are in the area.
Okavango Delta – Botswana
This incredible safari is located on one of the largest inland deltas in the world! When flooding, the water from this delta spills out over the Savanna, becoming the watering hole for animals for miles around. Most deltas empty their waters into the ocean and so this rare feat of nature allows for a fantastic backdrop to the many lions, elephants, hippopotamus, and many more animals that occupy the area. This area was actually named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World in 2013, making it an unmissable safari!
Featuring over 150,000 islands, Okavango Delta offers visitors a unique way to explore the local wildlife – via canoe. Mokoro’s, a local dug-out canoe, is a wonderful way to explore the area’s many avenues without disturbing the animals with loud engines. It also allows you to get up close to many animals, and even see some of the incredible smaller creatures that you may miss on some of the other safaris.
The Botswana government regulates the number of visitors to this area each year in order to stop over tourism, meaning the area remains perfectly preserved, and you can enjoy your safari without hundreds of people around you.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site can be accessed by charter plane or road. Due to its ever-changing nature, Okavango Delta is a year-round safari destination offering different scenery every time you visit.
Chitwan National Park – Nepal
From one UNESCO World Heritage Site to another, Chitwan National Park is home to a large population of the greater one-horned rhino. It also hosts royal bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, asian elephants and much more. Chitwan is an incredible adventure safari that you can explore by car, boat, or even on foot!
Located halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara, it would be foolish not to visit Chitwan whilst in the area, and it is also a fantastic place to centre your trip! Chitwan National Park was created in 1973 to help preserve the jungles of the area and to combat poaching. Since then it has grown to be one of the most famous places to safari in Asia!
With over 68 species of mammal and over 500 species of bird, you will want to spend a few days here exploring what is on offer. Make sure to take a night safari as well to increase your chance of seeing a leopard.
There are also opportunities to tour the park on elephant back. However, these are not run by the national park and I would not recommend taking these due to the cruelty inflicted on the animals during domestication.
I’d recommend combining your trip to Chitwan National Park with a visit to the Himalayas. Where else in the world can you see some of the planet’s rarest animals and highest peaks in the same week?
Denali National Park – Alaska
Situated in the foothills of the Alaska Mountain Range, Denali is truly one of the most visually stunning safaris on this list! That’s before you even get to the animals. Although not the country you would first think about when mentioning the word ‘safari’, the incredible landscapes of this untouched area are home to many interesting animals.
Whilst exploring Denali National Park, you can see grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and even wolves! Denali also offers visitors an animal-friendly way to explore the park. Unlike most safaris, where you book a vehicle for your group, Denali has frequent shuttle buses running through the park. You can choose if you want the guided or unguided buses, but there are some important things to note before making your choice.
The unguided shuttles are significantly cheaper, although you won’t get as much information. Sometimes the driver of the bus will give commentary on the surrounding areas, but it is not required of them and there is no official guide like on the guided shuttles.
It’s important to note as well that both shuttles will still stop whenever an animal is nearby, so you won’t miss anything. The advantage of taking the unguided shuttles in my opinion, is they also stop in several locations to allow you to exit and hike. You can easily catch another shuttle bus running the other way in a few hours’ time.
This system was created to reduce traffic in the park and to eliminate disturbances to local animals.
The park is also home to a rich culture of indigenous populations, who have been living in these harsh conditions for thousands of years. Another bonus of this park is you can often see the incredible display of the northern lights after your safari! Truly wonderful!
Serengeti – Tanzania
Known to be the inspiration for Disney’s Lion King, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of this vast area. Possibly the most famous name on this list, what you may not know is the Serengeti is one of the most preserved ecosystems on the planet. This means that its weather systems, flora and fauna have remained unchanged for over a million years, giving you a look into the past as you explore these animal-rich plains.
The Serengeti is also home to the Great Migration mentioned above and can be accessed by car or plane. Situated close to Mt Kilimanjaro, why not couple your trip with an incredible hike?
Yala National Park – Sri Lanka
I’ve spoken a few times so far about how elusive the leopard is. Even on multi-day safaris, it can be hard to see these great nocturnal cats. Yala National Park is one of the best places in the world to see leopards due to its large population!
In Sri Lanka, the leopard is top of the food chain, with no natural predators and very few hunters to compete against. This means that its population has steadily increased with ease in the area. The large flat lands of the area make it easy to spot these magnificent creatures.
Yara is also home to monkeys, asian elephants and crocodiles so there is always plenty to see. Around the park are fantastic opportunities to dive into local culture, with cave markings and ancient Buddhist ruins dotted around the region.
Pantanal Wetlands – Brazil
Containing around 3% of the world’s wetlands and roughly the size of Belarus, Pantanal is the perfect springboard for exploring South America’s unique wildlife!
As one of the world’s best locations to see jaguars, it is easy to see why these wetlands are explored by safari goers from all over the world. In addition to the highest density of jaguars, Pantanal is also home to the world’s largest parrot, caimans, maned wolves, and many more interesting animals.
The best way to spot Jaguars here is to take a cruise down the river as they often hang out on the river banks. You can also hike through the area if you are feeling brave, to really get in close with nature. The best starting point for this massive area is to fly into Corumba, you can take a boat straight from here down the river into the Pantanal!
If you are flying into Brazil via Rio de Janeiro, why not check out our guide on the best spots to visit?
There are so many incredible animals on this planet we call home, and so many different options to ethically enjoy them! My advice when choosing the perfect safari is to first think about which animals you most want to see. From here you can narrow it down to a continent, country and then specific safari.