Africa has dozens of National Parks and Game Reserves and most of them offer great game viewing and bird-watching. Visitors go on adventure safaris and game drives to see the Big Five – African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros.
Parks also offer views of herbivores in their millions (wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, gnu, eland, giraffe) and hundreds of species of birds (flamingo, ostrich, pelican, raptors).
However, there are a few parks and reserves that are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to wildlife viewing. We have reviewed just three of them here.
Maasai Mara is a legendary National Reserve in southern Kenya and is considered by many to be the greatest game park on earth.
The Mara has great concentrations of birds, animals and plants for everyone to enjoy.
- Safari in Maasai Mara guarantees a sight of the Big Five and large herds of herbivores. Other inhabitants include hyena, fox, cheetah, jackal, zebra, topi, wildebeest, and Thomson’s gazelle.
- The Mara and Talek rivers host large groups of hippopotami and crocodiles plus many species of migratory birds as well as permanent residents. There are over 450 species of birds including raptors such as eagles, scavenging vultures and a wide variety of smaller colorful birds.
- Every year during July/August more than 2 million zebras, wildebeest and gazelles cross the Mara river from Serengeti and enter the Maasai Mara in search of fresh pasture. ‘The Great Migration’ is the largest movement of mammals on earth.
- Maasai Mara gets its name from the Maasai people – a group of semi-nomadic tribe who have coexisted with wildlife in the area for thousands of years. Their brightly colored clothing is just one example of the unique customs and traditions of these fearsome warriors.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Crater Highlands of Tanzania.
Ngorongoro Crater is the the largest intact and unfilled volcanic caldera in the world.
- The area has one of the densest population of Maasai lions in Africa and one can see them hunt wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and Grant’s gazelle that graze in large numbers on the crater floor.
- The crater bustles with wildlife such as eland, warthog, hyena, hartebeest, jackal, waterbuck and 300 elephants and 30 critically endangered black rhinos.
- The Conservation Area also protects Olduvai Gorge, where many of the earliest known specimens of human ancestors like Homo habilis and other hominids were discovered. It is regarded as one of the most important paleoanthropological sites on earth.
Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania is home to some of the biggest concentrations of mammals in the world.
This classic safari destination has 15000 sq km of endless plains filled with all sorts of wildlife.
- Serengeti is host to Africa’s largest population of lions. Visitors get a chance to see these social cats hunt, eat, relax, play and bond with each other from a very close distance.
- More than 500 species of birds are found here, including five species that are found nowhere else on earth. Common birds include owl, ostrich, egret, flamingo, heron, stork, duck, eagle, vulture and woodpecker. Large number of migratory birds also congregate around watering holes and swamps.
- Every year around October, huge herds of herbivores spread out across the northern Serengeti and cross the Mara and Grumeti Rivers into adjacent Maasai Mara. Crocodiles feast on the frantic herds of wildebeest creating great panic and confusion.