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African Holidays: A Safari Checklist

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African holidays have the ability to provide travellers with a wealth of experiences. Hiking in the rainforests, discovering pristine beaches, exploring local bazaars and cruising down the Nile are all must-do adventures on your African holiday. And then there’s the African safari.

Heading out on safari is one of the main reasons tourists desire to go on an African holiday. It’s a chance to see some of the world’s most amazing animals, such as lions, elephants, giraffes and gorillas. If you are planning an African holiday with a safari included, here is a checklist of the “Big 5” and other animals you must see.

1. Lions

African holidays consistently revolve around the “Big 5” (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo) and viewing prides of lions in their natural surroundings is one of the most rewarding things about going on safari. A guided tour in one of the National Parks is your best chance at safely finding and approaching lions on holiday.

See them in: Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania

2. Leopards

African leopards are one of the most difficult animals to spot on safari, particularly since they hide high up in the trees and are mainly active at night. Leopards can mostly be found in the sub-Saharan regions of the continent. They are highly versatile creatures, with the ability to climb trees, swim and run up to speeds of 35 miles per hour.

See them in: Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

3. Rhinos

Like the leopard, the African Rhinoceros can also be hard to find on safari and many rhinos (especially black rhinos) are in danger of becoming extinct due to frequent poaching. Both white and black rhinos dwell in various areas around the continent, though they will mostly be found in protected reserves located around South Africa. Although their eyesight is poor, their sense of small and sound is exceptional!

See them in: South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe

4. African Elephants

No African holiday is complete without seeing a wild elephant and these huge mammals can usually be found in Africa anywhere where water exists, including rainforests, woodlands and the savannah.

See them in: Almost anywhere in Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania

5. Cape Buffalos

Cape Buffalo are also included in Africa’s “Big 5” due to their sheer size. Buffalo tend to reside in huge herds of 1,000 animals or more and often prove to be one of the lion’s most powerful adversaries. Dwelling near water holes, they can be found in many regions throughout Africa.

See them in: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa

6. Giraffes

Giraffes are one of Africa’s most iconic animals and – as you may have guessed – they are also the world’s tallest mammal. Giraffes are generally easy to spot in Africa thanks to their unique appearance and their propensity to hang about tree-filled grasslands in small herds.

See them in: South Africa, Kenya and Somalia

7. Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are declining in world numbers and African holidays may provide travellers with one of the last opportunities to glimpse these incredible creatures. An individual gorilla tour or safari will usually need to be organised, as gorillas mainly dwell deep in the mountains in the centre of the continent.

See them in: Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo

8. Sharks & Whales

Commonly included in Africa’s “Big 7,” the great white shark and the southern right whale are also easily viewable during your African holiday. Whale viewing tours are common, as are swimming with shark experiences.

See them in: The coastal waters of South Africa


Read our magazine

Our Discover Magazine provides great travel advice to help you find your next perfect holiday. Visit ancient Umbria in our Autumn issue.

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