Top 10 African safari experiences

The array of wildlife-watching opportunities in Africa is dizzying. So how do you pick your perfect safari? BBC Wildlife asked the experts.
Cheetahs on the plain
8. Best for families: Eastern Cape, South Africa
The Eastern Cape is the cat’s whiskers for family safaris. Not only is the region malaria-free, but you can easily combine your safari with the ‘Garden Route’ for beaches and dolphin-watching.
And just because it’s not Kruger, don’t feel you get short-changed. Several Eastern Cape reserves boast the ‘Big Five’ (lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos and elephants), while Addo Elephant National Park is a good self-drive option. More upmarket reserves have child-friendly lodges. WG
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Also recommended
  • Malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, north of Johannesburg 00 27 21 424 1037.
  • Tanzania also offers family-friendly safaris – try Families Worldwide 0845 051 4567.
9. Best for self-drive: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger is easily the best park in Africa for DIY safaris, thanks to its surfaced roads suitable for any car and a network of affordable rest camps with restaurants and shops for self-caterers.
Shorter safaris generally stick to the more accessible south, where a popular camp is Lower Sabie, located at the junction of three top-notch game-viewing roads. The H4-1 along the river is excellent for elephants, leopards and woodland birds; the H4-2 south to Crocodile Bridge passes through an area with plenty of rhinos; and the scenic H10 almost always presents some good ‘Big Five’ sightings.
With more time to spare, you could head to Satara, where herds of wildebeest and zebras are preyed upon by the park’s densest concentrations of lions and cheetahs. Further north still are Shingwedzi and Punda Maria, the latter offering access to the lushly forested Luvuvhu River, a great birding site. PB
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  • Book your rest camp or accommodation through South Africa’s comprehensive national parks website.
  • To reach the park, fly with South African Airways to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport and hire a car there.
  • Game-viewing is best July–October.
Also recommended
10. Best for birds: Okavango Delta, Botswana
This oasis in the northern Kalahari is the world’s largest Ramsar site – more than 26,000km2 of rivers, lagoons, floodplains and reedbeds – and every square centimetre throbs with life.
Numerous species of kingfisher haunt its reed-lined channels, while marsh harriers drift over the papyrus beds and pygmy geese float among the waterlilies. Fish eagles cry from the treetops, and wherever you look there are storks, herons, bitterns, egrets, grebes, crakes and cormorants.
In all, about 350 species frequent these ‘African Everglades’, including Okavango specials such as wattled cranes and slaty egrets. The rarity everyone wants to see is Pel’s fishing owl, though there are only an estimated 100 breeding pairs in the whole of the delta. And don’t forget that there are interesting mammals here, too, including the water-loving sitatunga antelopes.BJ
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  • Located on the banks of the Khwai River in the heart of Moremi Game Reserve, Xakanaxa Camp is good year round. Call 00 27 11 463 3999.
Also recommended
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