Best African Safari In December – There are many things to consider when deciding where to go on safari. If you want to see the Big Five – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos – South Africa is a great choice, with options to suit all budgets, good tourist infrastructure and family-friendly properties in a malaria-free area. If you’re more experienced or just want to avoid the crowds, a walking safari in Zambia or southern Tanzania might tempt you. The weather also plays a role – most safari areas are at their driest between June and September, but the monsoon season can be a great time for birding, it’s cheaper and the lush landscapes are ideal for photographers. With all this in mind, read on for some interesting destination inspiration.
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Best African Safari In December
This inland delta is one of Africa’s most beautiful and wildlife-rich areas. Located in northern Botswana, it is fed by the floods of neighboring Angola between May and October. This is when visitors can discover the waters lined with mokoro reeds
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– traditional canoe – which is a special experience. There are many reserves in the delta and tourism is controlled, so it feels wild and remote; it is also the most expensive place to go on safari. But the sight of wildlife is fascinating – imagine lions hunting buffalo, wild dogs running through the bush, hippos resting in the water, elephants exploring acacia trees. And a great birding destination.
Best Base Camp Vumbura Plains is one of the most luxurious camps in the delta and a great place to see wildlife, especially the big cats.
The Maasai Mara in southwestern Kenya is known for the beauty of its rolling savanna grasslands, its dense game population, and the large herds of wildebeest that thunder across the Mara River between July and October. Big cats – lions, cheetahs and leopards – are very fertile. Wildlife is familiar and easy to find. The key to enjoying your time in the Mara is avoiding the crowds – that means finding a great guide or paying a little extra to stay in one of the community-managed private reserves on the edges of the park.
Best basic campsites The exclusive 1920s Kotar campsite is set in a private park – great for less crowded wildlife spotting – and is one of the Mara’s oldest campsites.
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This ancient, dormant caldera—2,000 feet deep and 100 square miles wide—is one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes for wildlife viewing. There are elephants, endangered black rhinos, lions and flocks of flamingos. Not only can you go on safari in and around the crater, but you can also go hiking and visit the surrounding Maasai villages. The crater will be crowded, especially during the peak of the dry season from June to September. Rainier weather in the off-season means fewer visitors and better prices, although the conditions are of course not so favorable.
Best Base Camp Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge is a smart and comfortable hotel with 20 accommodations, a swimming pool and a spa – and it’s just five minutes from the entrance gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
In southwestern Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park consists of savannahs, forests and lakes and has a variety of wildlife from elephants to chimpanzees. It is best known for its lions, who have an unusual tendency to climb trees, but it is also a great place for boat trips and bird watching. Its proximity to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest makes it an excellent partner for mountain gorilla trekking safaris.
The Best Base Camp With stunning views and minutes from the park entrance, Buffalo Safari Lodge is an excellent choice for visitors to Queen Elizabeth.
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Hwange National Park is one of the best and most popular safari destinations in Zimbabwe with a wide variety of wildlife in the savannah and forests. Animals include lions, wild dogs, leopards and cheetahs; Hwange is also home to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. Private concessions offer walking safaris in addition to game drives. And the park has famous Zimbabwean guides who are excellent (due to the strict certification program). Hwange can easily be combined with Victoria Falls, which is only a three-hour drive away.
Best Base Camp Through a private concession, the simple but comfortable nine-tent Davison Camp is located on the edge of a waterhole frequented by elephants.
The wildlife in South Luangwa is some of the best in Africa, especially for big cats and elephants. You can spot rare subspecies unique to the area, such as the Thorniccroft giraffe. The park – and Zambia in general – is famous for its walking safaris. So if you want to explore the bush on foot, whether just for a day or an epic fly camping adventure, this is the place for you. The Luangwa River attracts many animals during the dry season, which is the most popular time to visit. Note that many inns are closed during the wettest months between December and March.
The Best Base Camp Flatdogs Camp is a popular little spot just outside the South Luangwa National Park. Flatdogs Camp was a backpacker and has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Botswana In December
Located in southern Tanzania, Nyerere is Tanzania’s largest and newest national park. It was the northern part of the Selous Big Game Reserve until 2019, when the area was declared a national park. The best wildlife sightings are around the Rufiji River – a relaxing boat safari is the highlight – and the park is home to lions, elephants, hippos, endangered black rhinos and wild dogs. As an added bonus, Nyerere – and southern Tanzania in general – receives a fraction of the tourists who visit the northern park.
The ultimate base camp, Serena Mivumo River Lodge is located on the banks of the Rufiji River with just 12 towering villas overlooking the water.
At the northeastern tip of South Africa, Kruger is the most popular safari destination. As well as great wildlife sightings – especially the leopard, which tends to be very oblivious to vehicles – there is excellent tourism infrastructure, including excellent self-drive safaris. The private Kruger Reserve has basic to super-luxury lodges, so there’s something for most budgets. It can get very crowded, but it helps a lot to travel in the summer or off-season as you venture north of the lesser-visited park, where you’ll find good trails, large baobab trees, and tropical forest.
The best base camp Among the continent’s most elegant luxury hotels, Singita Lebombo is designed for the stylish safari visitor. 15 apartments with bush or river views. The food and wine selection is also excellent.
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While the density of wildlife is much lower than in other parts of Africa, Namibia makes up for it with beautiful desert scenery. In the north of the country, Etosha National Park is the most popular safari destination. The best time to visit is during the dry months when the animals congregate in the water – there are plenty of elephants, plus giraffes, lions – and maybe even a black rhino. Pan Etosha, the park’s focal point, is a salt flat where mammals and birds such as flamingos congregate. You can either drive from the capital, Windhoek, or enjoy the scenic views by light plane – one of the options reveals Namibia’s vast, open landscape.
Best Base Camp On the edge of Etosha National Park, Ongawa Tented Camp is a private nature reserve where you can go on night hikes and bush walks.
The vast plains of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania have been featured in dozens of nature documentaries for good reason. Not only are the views stunning, but they are also home to incredible wildlife, which most tourists are very familiar with. Watch a cheetah foraging from the top of a termite hill or next to a park eating its prey in a tree. In the southern part of the park, from November to February, the large migrating wildebeest herds stop to graze and give birth to their young; from June you can see them crossing rivers as they move between Kenya’s Serengeti and Masai Mara on their cyclical migration.
The best base camp south of the park, Elewana Serengeti Pioneer Camp offers stunning views of the plains. Each of the 12 tents has its own deck and side panels that can be rolled up for portability.
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On the banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools is wilder and quieter than most South African safari destinations. The name means “four” in the Shona language, referring to the four main basins that make it up