Southern African Safaris
By Carissa Hickok
The most famous safari park in South Africa is Kruger National Park, which covers 2 million hectares of rich wildlife. Kruger boasts 507 bird species, 336 tree species, 147 mammal species, 49 fish species, and 34 amphibian species. Kruger has a variety of lodging options for travellers of all types – 12 main rest camps, 5 bushveld camps, 2 bush lodges, and 4 satellite camps. To get to Kruger, you can fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa and then take a connecting flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP).
In Botswana, there is no place more exciting than Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. Around 70,000 elephants live in and around Chobe. Chobe is where Lion King comes to life as you watch animals clash. Take a boat cruise to get an closer view of some of the animals. Accommodations in Chobe vary from open campsite to private lodges. The public campsites are unfenced so animals are free to roam through. The closest airport to Chobe is Kasane Airport (BBK), which you can reach via a connecting flight from Johannesburg, South Africa.
A World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta, is a sight to behold. Okavango is home to elephants, buffalos, lions, hippos, giraffes, zebras, leopards, wild dogs, and antelopes. The Okavango Delta has been virtually untouched by all things bad and is a freshwater wetland at the intersection of the Okavango River and the Kalahari Desert. The best time to visit the Delta is during the winter months of July and August when the floods come from the rain in the Angolan mountains. The floods make the dry season of July and August the best time to explore the Delta by mokoro, the traditional Delta dugout canoe. To get to the Okavango Delta by air (which is highly recommended for the aerial view), you have to fly into Johannesburg before taking a connecting flight to Maun.
Hwange National Park, the largest safari in Zimbabwe at roughly 14,650 sq. km, is known as elephant country. While it boasts a great variety of wildlife with more than 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds recorded, elephants are its crown jewel as it has one of the largest elephant populations in the world.
Zambia boasts South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park. South Luangwa is famous of its walking safari. Though South Luangwa has approximately 60 animal species and 400 bird species, its rhinos are extinct as a consequence of poaching. Lower Zambezi hosts the fish eagle, lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and waterbucks among other animals. Canoeing on the Zambezi River is highly recommended as you get a chance to catch some animals up close. Best of all, you only have to canoe one way as your lodge will pick you up in a speedboat at the end of the day to bring you back to the lodge. You can also fish along the river as the park lodges will provide fishing rods.
Carissa enjoys traveling so much that she left the corporate world to work as a freelancer, which allows her to up and go on a regular basis. She lives with her dachshund, Daphne in central Florida.
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