Jackie Edwards reveals Africa’s 10 most alluring national parks to help you solve your destination dilemma
he rich diversity of landscapes, wildlife spectacles and geological features found in Africa’s national parks is truly extraordinary. This one continent hosts sweeping savannah plains, dense lush rainforests, awe-inspiring mountains and cool coral seas. As Africa opens up to tourism, these reserves are becoming increasingly accessible. Here we explore 10 of them, helping you to choose your next holiday destination.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
As one of the largest game reserves in Africa, Kruger is a top safari destination. It boasts an abundance of safari animals, making it easy to spot the Big Five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. Conservation in the park extends beyond the wildlife to include archaeological sites that illustrate the role of man in this historic landscape. Kruger was made South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe
Widely regarded as the largest waterfall in the world, the majestic Victoria Falls is undoubtedly worthy of its status as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Known by locals as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ (meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’), the 100m cascade throws out spray that helps nourish the surrounding evergreen forests. Crocodiles inhabit the Zambezi, and safari animals, including elephants, hippos and Cape buffalo, can be spotted in the park.
Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania
At 5895m, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. The vast, snowy-peaked volcano is a breathtaking sight, standing isolated above the surrounding savannah plains. The mountain attracts climbers keen to reach the summit and explore the rich variety of montane species en route.
Masoala National Park, Madagascar
Masoala is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Its habitats include coral reefs, mangroves, and rainforests, the latter home to lemur, fossa and chameleons. The park is reached by boat, offering an incredible coastal view and the opportunity of kayaking and scuba diving.
Ahaggar National Park, Algeria
Located in the Saharan Algeria Region, Ahaggar is a spectacular, arid landscape dominated by the jagged volcanic Hoggar Mountains. Biodiversity is impressive as woodland offers a refuge from the otherwise harsh desert climate. Internationally important species including Saharan cheetah, Dorcas gazelle, and Barbary sheep can be seen here.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Amid the savannah of Etosha lies a massive saltpan that attracts an abundance of wildlife. Thicker vegetation is home to elephant, black rhino and leopard, while grasslands host lion and giraffe. Many species gather around the waterholes here, offering almost guaranteed sightings for visitors.
Ras Muhammad National Park, Egypt
Renowned for its spectacular coral reefs that support a huge range of flora and fauna, Ras Muhammad is a major attraction. Located between the Red Sea and the desert of the Sinai, it is a hotspot for divers who come to explore the explosion of life beneath the waves.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
The oldest national park in Africa, this place is sanctuary to the mountain gorilla. Travellers trek through thick rainforests to view gorillas in their natural habitat. This outstanding ecosystem is also home to golden monkeys, spotted hyena, buffaloes and elephants.
Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
Tourists flock to the spectacular Murchison Falls to see the Nile’s headwaters explode through a narrow gorge. Hippo, buffalo and crocodiles and buffalo frequent the banks of the river, while elephant, lion and giraffe make their homes further inland.
Table Mountain National Park, South Africa
This coastal park houses the iconic Table Mountain, famed for its biodiversity. The Cape Floral area is one of the richest floral regions in the world, and its fauna is also impressive, including caracals, rock hyraxes or chacma baboons. The park offers outstanding views across the Cape of Good Hope.