Because of the annual migration of two hundred and fifty thousand zebra and over a million and a half wildebeest, Serengeti National Park is widely considered to be the best safari destination in the world. The animals undergo a 500K round trip from the southern part of the Serengeti to the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Above: Serengeti Lanscape
The density of prey and predators makes the park one of the most visited and visitors can expect to see Leopards, hyenas and cheetahs. Animal numbers and varieties are impressive, with leopard numbers estimated at over 1,000 and hyena, over 9,000. Any time of year is a good time to visit the Serengeti although visitors may wish to avoid the rainy seasons, which are March to April and October to November. The wildebeest migration is normally between September and December, although not necessarily.
The Ngorongoro Crater, once formed by volcanic activity, lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is unique in that the Tanzanian government, whilst allowing human habitation, provides protection status for the wildlife, so land use is strictly controlled. Around 25,000 large animals live in the crater, including black rhinos and hippopotamuses. The most common large animals include zebra, wildebeest and Thompson's and Grant's gazelles. There are some lions as well as elephants and leopards on the crater rim. Buffalo are extremely common. Around 1.7 million wildebeest, 470,000 gazelles and 250,000 zebras pass through the crater on migration. Also common in the reserve are spotted hyenas, hartebeest, lions and jackals.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a good holiday destination at any time of year, unless you wish to avoid the rainy season. However, as there are fewer visitors then, it can be a good time to go, although roads may be slippery. The number of animals does not vary whatever the time of year. The Kruger National Park, South Africa, is one of Africa's largest game reserves, covering almost twenty thousand square kilometres. To the south and west of the park are the two South African provices of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. To the east is Mozambique and to the north lies Zimbabwe.
Above: Kruger National Park Waterhole
The game reserve is vast - in fact it is larger than Israel. The wildlife experiences here are almost indescribable. The land forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (the Peace Park) that links game parks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe to Kruger National Park. Fences have been dismantled to allow animals to roam freely without the intervention of man made structures. When it is complete, this park will extend to more than 35,000 square kilometres. This is the land of fever trees, marula and mopane trees, knob thorns and big animals. Numbers here have been estimated at 230 black rhino, 12,000 blue wildebeest, 30,000 Burchell's zebras, 8,000 elephants, 4,600 giraffes, 97,000 impala, 1,500 lions and 1,800 white rhinos.
The Okavango Delta is a labyrinth of lakes, hidden channels and lagoons covering around 17,000 square kilometres. The Delta is trapped in the sands of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana and is a magnet for wildlife, who depend on its waters.
Above: Okavango Delta
The Okavango is often called a swamp but is nothing of the kind. The water moves mysteriously, slowly and gently in a creeping fashion, through channels that are barely discernible and which creep away behind papyrus reed into an ever increasing network of even smaller passageways. These channels link small islands, lagoons and islets with flooded plains and open grassland. Trees and palms throw shade over forest glades and crystal pools. Because the water passes through unpopulated areas on its journey from Angola, the water is pure and clean. In the lush forests of the islands and the delta and all along the floodplains there are over 400 species of birds. Among the islands of the delta and on the mainland are hyenas, elephants, lions, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles and wild dogs. There are many varieties of antelope as well as other smaller animals such as mongoose, warthogs, bush babies and monkeys. This Delta offers unparalleled experiences to any wildlife watcher.
The Masai Mara is situated in the south west of Kenya and has been called Africa's Greatest Wildlife Reserve. Best known for its abundance of lions and for the Masai people with their distinctive colours of dress and unique customers. The reserve lies around 1,500 to 2,000 metres above sea level and is predominantly grassland with riverine forest. The Masai Mara is home to dozens of animal species including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, rhinos, hippos and of course the one and a half million wildebeest that migrate here. As well as this, over 450 bird species have been recorded including 57 species of birds of prey. Over 95 mammal species have been recorded. Lying just over 270 kilometres from Nairobi the journey to the reserve takes about 45 minutes by air and 5-6 hours by road. The unique ecosystem is home to one of the highest densities of lions anywhere in the world.
Guest Post Author: Tony Haslam
Written by Tony, part of the cheap holidays team over at Travel Supermarket.