Best National Parks

The term ‘Big 5’ often crops up while going through the different Safaris in Africa. The phrase was actually coined by hunters to refer to the animals that are the most dangerous and difficult to hunt on foot. They are – the lion, African elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and cape buffalo.

The term does not in any way refer to trophy hunting as it had been banned in most parts of the continent. It is used to entice travellers and tourists to see the ‘must watch animals’.

5. Mana Pools and Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

The Mana Pools is one of the best parks in Zimbabwe and also a World Heritage Site. The Zambezi river runs through the park and it quenches the thirst of the animals. The region also attracts crocodiles and hippos in addition to the Big 5.

The Hwange National Park is the biggest game park in Zimbabwe and extends over 14,651 sq km. It has more than 500 lions and vast herds of elephants. There are large concentrations of giraffes and zebras as well.

4. Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta – Botswana

The Chobe National Park is the third largest in Botswana and boasts of the one largest game concentrations in Africa. It is the home to huge elephants, both in number and in size. The elephants have claimed the Chobe waterfront as their own, chasing away other animals.

The Okavango Delta is one of the last remaining ancient habitats and offers refuge to huge concentrations of game. The animals here have adapted to the wet-life habitat and learnt to swim in pursuit of prey.

3. Maasai Mara – Kenya

The Maasai Mara lies in the path of the Great Migration and is, therefore, one of the best places for extraordinary wildlife sightings. The animals migrate in a circular fashion between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park. The safaris can be done here on foot, horseback, hot air balloons and open-air vehicles.

2. Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best places to view the Big 5. It is a highly esteemed wildlife sanctuary and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It hosts more than 25,000 mammals and is thus the densest concentration of wildlife.

The Serengeti hosts a large population of lions, blue wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, gazelles and lots of lions. The grasslands are home to thousands of lions and leopards. The number of grazing animals like wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and buffalo are in the millions.

1. Madikwe Reserve and Kruger National Park – South Africa

Though the Madikwe Game Reserve is the 5th largest, it is among the lesser known parks in South Africa. The experience is a little less intimate but there would be opportunities to watch the Big 5. White rhinos, buffaloes, lions and elephants are easy to spot, but it might be not that easy to spot leopards or black rhinos.