Skip the usual spots and go on safari at these 10 lesser-known African national parks instead

Botswana, Africa

Tourists flock to Africa to see wildlife in such famous national parks as Kruger in South Africa or Serengeti in Tanzania, but this vast continent is home to a network of lesser-known parks that are worth exploring. If you love adventure and visiting places that are off the beaten path, then consider these 10 hidden gems in one of the world’s last wild places.

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana

Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is an ethereal expanse where the earth meets the sky in an endless horizon. The remnants of an ancient lake, the vast salt pans are a geological wonder. During the wet season, the area is transformed into a fertile oasis, attracting a myriad of wildlife, including the awe-inspiring spectacle of zebra and wildebeest migrations. Visitors can explore the arid moon-like terrain on quad bikes, revel in the silence of the desert or observe the park’s resilient flora and fauna on foot.

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar’s Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a surreal landscape of razor-sharp limestone pinnacles known as ‘Tsingy.’ This UNESCO World Heritage site is as dangerous to navigate as it is beautiful, with its jagged formations providing a fortress-like habitat for a host of endemic wildlife. Adventurous souls can explore the labyrinth of limestone via a series of precarious bridges, catching glimpses of rare lemurs and birds that have adapted to this unique environment.

Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

The Moremi Game Reserve, within Botswana’s Okavango Delta, offers an unparalleled wildlife sanctuary. Here, the rich tapestry of lagoons, floodplains and acacia forests teem with life. It’s a place where the water’s ebb and flow dictates the rhythm of nature’s dance. Visitors can embark on mokoro (dugout canoe) trips to glide through the waterways, enjoy game drives to spot the elusive leopard or simply bask in the reserve’s serene beauty.

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Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Nestled in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park is a jewel of Kenya’s conservation efforts. The alkaline lake’s shores often shimmer with the pink of flamingos, while the surrounding park supports a rich ecosystem. It’s a sanctuary for rhinos and provides a habitat for over 450 bird species. The park’s viewpoints, such as Baboon Cliff, offer panoramic views of the lake and wildlife.

Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park is a dramatic landscape of peaks and deep valleys. Known as the ‘Roof of Africa’, it provides a home to unique species like the Walia ibex and the Simien fox. The park’s high-altitude trails offer challenging treks with breathtaking views, while the endemic Gelada baboons provide a unique wildlife encounter.

Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda

Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park is a vast expanse of mountain rainforest, rich in biodiversity. It’s a prime spot for primate enthusiasts, with 13 species including chimpanzees and large troops of Rwandan colobus monkeys. The park’s canopy walkway, suspended above a ravine, offers an exhilarating perspective of the forest.

Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park is a remote wilderness haven, with rolling savannahs framed by distant mountains. It’s a place of stark beauty and abundant wildlife, including many species not found elsewhere in the country. The park’s isolation makes for a truly wild and intimate safari experience.

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

In Zambia, Liuwa Plain National Park is a vast mosaic of grasslands and woodlands. It’s famous for its annual wildebeest migration, which is among the largest in the world. The park’s flat expanse allows for exceptional game viewing, with cheetahs and hyenas among the predators that follow the herds.

Garamba National Park, DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park is an ancient landscape, offering some of the most significant savannahs in Central Africa. It’s a stronghold for elephants and the critically endangered Kordofan giraffe. The park’s biodiversity is matched by its cultural heritage, with indigenous communities living in harmony with the land.

Loango National Park, Gabon

Gabon’s Loango National Park is a unique blend of forest, savannah, wetland and ocean. Known as ‘Africa’s Last Eden’, it’s a place where forest elephants and lowland gorillas roam freely, and humpback whales can be seen offshore. The park’s diverse ecosystems make it a microcosm of Africa’s ecological richness.

ENS Editors

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