African safari holidays now comprise more than 40% of the world luxury travel market for travelers above 50 according to a recent report.
That’s an incredible stat considering the destinations of the world.
The one thing that sets Africa apart of course are the animals. And when you combine great settings and animals with luxury safari lodges, you have a recipe for holiday success.
The challenge however as a first time safari traveler is “where to go?”
Africa has a seemingly endless variety of game reserves and conservation areas. There are also beach activities and other experiences to consider.
So where to start?
We asked the experts at AfricanSafariHome.com for their advice and this is what they had to say…
I’ll start by saying that undoubtedly the most popular and recommended country for first timers is South Africa.
No country offers more variety and value.
Depending on your desires however, results may vary, hopefully this brief guide will answer your questions.
If you desire an all-round African experience and want more than wildlife only, South Africa is the destination for you.
No country boasts more beauty than the one located at the southern most tip of the African continent.
Cape Town lays nestled between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with the majestic Table Mountain in the background.
It is frequently voted in the Top 10 Most Beautiful Cities Worldwide.
Here you’ll enjoy a variety of experiences including pristine beaches – you can swim with penguins at Boulders –, world-class wine estates, shark cage diving, whale watching, cultural tours and cuisine from restaurants rated in The World Top 50.
Just outside Cape Town lies a little town called Franschhoek and you’ll think you’ve left the country and escaped to Europe.
This historical town set in the foothills of the Cape Fold Mountains provides a perfect escape from the adventures of Cape Town.
If you enjoy great food, luxury spas and magnificent wine this is a must-see for you. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the many hiking and mountain biking trails, horse riding and adrenaline activities.
The destination that follows a typical 4-5 day Cape Town stay is The Kruger Park.
This is where your wildlife animal safari begins.
The Kruger Park is home to more than 140 large mammal species – the most in Africa – including the sought after Big Five. (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino)
In addition the Kruger boasts more than 500 bird species, with over 240 resident species. This truly is a wildlife lovers dream destination.
What makes the Kruger Park stand out even more though is the variety of quality accommodation and cuisine.
All countries have excellent wildlife experiences, but the lodges of the Kruger go the extra step when it comes to accommodation and cuisine.
There are exceptions of course, but I mean generally speaking.
The average stay in the Kruger Park is also 4-5 nights.
This will take many people by surprise but Zambia makes our #2 as the Victoria Falls Region is immensely popular.
Zambia also offers excellent wildlife experiences without the high costs of destinations like Kenya or Tanzania.
The Victoria Falls is most often combined with a safari holiday that includes The Cape and The Kruger.
Guests typically spend 3 nights in the Victoria Falls area, which is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall and a truly breathtaking sight to behold.
The area offers an abundance of activities for young and old including white water rafting, tiger fishing, bungee jumping, river cruises, sunset cruises and cultural experiences.
Botswana is a special destination for a luxury safari thanks to the Okavango Delta.
Lodges are located along the waterways and inlets of the Delta where animals frequently roam to escape the days heat.
You experience unique safaris here like a mokoro safari, which is a dug-out canoe experience.
An experienced guide takes you on the waterways and the close proximity to animals provides captivating photographic opportunities.
The recommended average stay in the Okovango Delta is 4 nights.
The Chobe reserve is another popular destination in Botswana, home to more than 50,000 elephants and the Big Five.
Tanzania is home to the Great Animal Migration and one of the most popular destinations in Africa.
The Great Migration is a constant movement of more than 2 million animals around the Greater Serengeti.
The 1.4 million wildebeest and gazelle follow the rains in search of grazing pastures, and the predators like Lion and hyena in turn follow them.
If you want to witness the Great Migration I recommend a tented safari experience.
The luxury-tented camps follow the Migration and thus provide a more intimate experience.
The lodges on the other hand can become very busy during calving season for example. If you don’t mind people, you will enjoy the experience.
Kenya also enjoys the experience of the Great Migration as the animals move through its southern borders.
The country is perhaps slightly better known for its Masai Mara area and people.
If you are looking for a traditional or historical safari experience, Kenya has many options for you.
If you desire an 1920-s style safari or an “Out of Africa” experience then you have found it.
Wildife sightings and safaris are very good, as mentioned The Great Migration passes through Kenya and they also have the Big Five.
If you’re a first timer to Africa then I recommend Cape Town, Kruger Park and Victoria Falls in a 10-12 day package. If you want a discreet luxury experience I recommend The Okavango Delta in Botswana. If you want to see millions of animals and nature in its rawest form, I recommend Tanzania.