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Mention the word ‘safari’ and most people will envisage the open plains of the Masai Mara or Serengeti that we often see on television.

However Africa offers more than the grassy savannahs, with arid desert, lush deltas and thick forested bushveld. All of these are home to the amazing animals that we associate with a safari holiday. The animals are adapted to live in certain conditions which means that some areas have animals unique to that region, such as the Gerenuk Antelope of the Samburu National Park. This is a quick guide to the best places to see some of the most popular animals in Africa.

The Big 5
Comprising of Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard, the Big 5 can be found in reserves in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.
Some of the smaller reserves, do not have the larger herbivores such as Elephant and some do not have the large predators. Almost all reserves will have the other popular animals such as Giraffe, Zebra and Antelopes.

Big Cats
Cheetahs favour open spaces, where they can use their speed to wear down their prey.

For this reason places such as the Masai Mara, Serengeti, and Namibia are the best places to view them. Leopards use an ambush technique and need trees, making them harder to spot. Wildlife film makers often travel to the Sabi Sands Reserve in South Africa where Leopards are found in large numbers. Lions are common all over the east & southern continent and can be found in most reserves. For something a little different, visit the Black Maned Lions of the Kalahari, or the tree climbing Lions of Lake Manyara, Tanzania.

Birds
Africa is a “twitchers” paradise. Choose from the many game and nature reserves, national parks, lakes, lagoons, wetlands and bays – habitats are very varied and specialist guides are available. We recommend the Okavango Delta in Botswana, South Luangwa in Zambia, and St Lucia Wetlands, South Africa.

The Annual Migration
Nowhere other than Kenya and Tanzania gives you the opportunity to view the spectacle of the Wildebeest migration. Whilst rain dependent, the migration is all year round. The Wildebeest lead this annual exodus followed by the Zebra and lesser Antelope with the ominous presence of the carnivores. The best times to observe this event, is during the months of May to June in the Serengeti, Tanzania, and from July to October in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

Meerkats
These adorable members of the canine family, can be found in Namibia, southern Botswana and the Karoo in South Africa. They favour a hot, desert terrain, where they can easily construct their burrows. There is an ongoing research project just outside Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route, South Africa.

Gorillas & Chimpanzees
Gorilla Permits are like gold dust and must be purchased by anyone wishing to see the Lowland Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. To view these magnificent apes requires at least a couple of nights which can be combined with a stay in Kenya or Tanzania.

Chimpanzees can be found in Uganda, western Tanzania and on a large sanctuary in Ol Peteja Conservancy in Kenya.

With thanks to Lucy, Africa Travel Specialist at Visions of Africa, a preferred partner of Full Circle Travel.