Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
If a safari is on your 2017 bucket list, Acacia Africa’s round up of the top ten “must visit” parks and reserves could be well worth the read. The specialist tour operator recently quizzed its tour leaders on the best animal haunts, the expert guides giving us their take on “where to get your wild on” in the coming year.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Namibia made Lonely Planet’s list of Best Value Destinations for 2017, the country’s currency pegged to the South African rand. A major plus, there are eight peak months of game viewing from May to December and you can watch the wildlife 24/7 at Etosha’s floodlit waterholes! The national park attracts a smorgasbord of plains game and four of the Big Five – and even more exciting – lucky night owls might even spot a leopard on the evening prowl.
Masai Mara, Kenya
After marking the 50th anniversary of the film adaption of Joy Adamson’s autobiographical book “Born Free,” demand for travel to Kenya was bound to make a tremendous comeback. Annual migration anyone? Movie buffs should check out the famous film, which follows the endearing story of how Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, finally releasing her into the Kenyan wilderness where she successfully made the transition back into the wild.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence at the end of September, the media buzz surrounding the event securing its status as one of Africa’s leading safari destinations for 2017. The country is home to the Okavango Delta, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and we’re placing this watery wonderland in our top three, the available activities including walking safaris, thrilling delta swims and sunset rides across Africa’s last-remaining wetland wilderness.
Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa
South Africa also makes the hotlist, and not just because you can safari on the cheap. The country is literally chock-a-block with national parks and reserves, and while you might be more familiar with the Kruger – 2017 will be the year to explore more of this wildlife haven and visit some of its lesser known parks.
Head for the Polokwane Game Reserve and enjoy a walking safari. Alternatively, include the Addo Elephant National Park. The only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” – the list includes the Big 5 as well as the southern right whale and great white shark off the Algoa Bay coast. One of the oldest game reserves in South Africa and a magnet for the famous “Big Five,” Hluhluwe should also be on your list.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland
Swaziland is an up and comer on the safari circuit, and while it’s the smallest country in the southern hemisphere there’s talk it could become Southern Africa’s next adventure capital. Visit the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and gain a more intimate appreciation of your surroundings and the resident game on a thrilling mountain bike safari.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Conservation will be on everybody’s bucket list in 2017, but what if you don’t have the time or budget for a voluntour? Head for Tanzania, where the elephant population is declining due to poaching, or safari in Zimbabwe as the country is dehorning its rhinos – a decision that was made after 50 rhinos were shot dead by poachers in the last year.
A success story in the making, wild dog fans should get off the beaten track in Zambia and visit the South Luangwa National Park, experts recently claiming that the pack sightings were spectacular.