The Best Game Reserves and National Parks for Safaris and Bush Holidays in Africa

Arguably the most common question in the safari industry is “where are the best game reserves, national parks and safari areas to go to on an African safari?” The Safari Index team has visited all the famed safari hotspots in Africa (and many more) and have compiled a list of their top destinations for safari holidays, from African savannahs to game-rich grasslands. This is a list of the best game reserves and top parks in Africa for viewing African wildlife in their natural habitat: from the great migration in East Africa, to the Big Five in South Africa, to the vast herds of elephant and buffalo of Tanzania, to the impressive lion prides of Botswana


Click on any of the links to read more about each park, and to have a look at what lodges and camps are situated in these parks. Email us at any time if you are interested in putting a tailor-made African Safari together.

Serengeti and the Masai Mara – home of the Great Migration

The vast open plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya host what is one of the greatest natural wonders on the planet – The Great Migration: the annual migrations of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle who follow the rains in search of better grazing with an abundance of predators hot on their heels.

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Kruger National Park

 Due to its sheer diversity in terms of habitat types, the Kruger National Park hosts healthy populations of big game, a plethora of affordable national park accommodation (self-catering chalets and campsites), as well as some of the finest private game lodges and safari camps on the planet. These are located on private concessions and private game reserves surrounding the Kruger, such as Singita Lebombo.

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South Luangwa

If it’s leopards and hippos you are after, then you can do no wrong in heading to the Luangwa Valley.  Additionally, large numbers of lion, elephant, buffalo and general game are found here in the crown jewel of Zambia’s national parks. South Luangwa is a great destination for travelers looking for luxury lodging, or for the budget safari traveler looking for an affordable safari option. A number of tours pass through the park and this makes a great add on to any Malawi trip.

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Selous and Ruaha, Tanzania’s ‘Southern Safari Circuit’

 If the crazy safari crowds and day visitors to the Serengeti and Masai Mara are not your thing, head to either Ruaha or Selous National Park. They are found in the south of Tanzania and are easily accessible from Dar es Salaam via road or flight. Very rewarding game viewing can be expected in the wild untouched wilderness areas. Big cats, scores of elephants, and buffalo herds so large they can’t be counted, make the Ruaha and Selous National Parks worthwhile safari destinations.

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Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Sabi Sands is the best destination for luxury Big 5 game viewing on the planet. It is known as the best place to view leopards in the wild. These leopards are so relaxed in the presence of game viewer vehicles that one is able to often follow them on the hunt. The Sabi Sands is a conservancy of private game lodges and luxury bush camps adjoining the Kruger National Park. They are particularly popular with upmarket luxury safari travelers in search of top quality game viewing combined with world-class accommodation and service.

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Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is one of planet earth’s finest big game refuges, with one of the highest concentrations of Africa’s big game, as well as birdlife. The Okavango is an inland delta where the river’s waters spill over into what was once a desert, and now forms a vast oasis of life. Best explored by traditional canoes (called ‘mokoros’), game drives, or on foot, the Okavango will leave a lasting impression. There are numerous luxury lodges in the Okavango and the Moremi Game Reserve to choose from, although these are in the luxury to super-luxury rate bracket. However the Jumbo Junction camp is a great affordable option for those on a budget wishing to experience the Okavango Delta.

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Mala Mala Game Reserve

Wedged between the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, lies the mercurial Mala Mala Game Reserve. It has long set the bar for consistent Big 5 game viewing. Guests visiting Mala Mala can expect to see the Big 5 in a 2-3 day stay at one of its acclaimed lodges – Mala Mala Main Camp or Rattray’s on Mala Mala.

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Hwange National Park

Located very close to Victoria Falls, Hwange is an easy add-on to any trip to Chobe or Victoria Falls. Hwange is Zimbabwe’s premier national park and does not disappoint. Dense populations of elephant, lion, buffalo and other quintessential African game roam the woodlands, open areas and Mopane belts. There are a number of superb private lodges operating on concessions within the park, and Hwange is best explored on a guided safari led by some of the finest guides in Africa.

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