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African Wildlife Safari Options as Tourism Recovers

When the USA, UK, and other countries set new records for daily Covid-19 cases and deaths, the situation in Africa was looking relatively positive. If you have an African wildlife safari on your bucket list for the future, you might be take advantage of the fact that the industry still hasn’t recovered there. 

As you can see from the World Health Organization map of cases below during the height of the pandemic, with darker indicating higher case numbers, the continent of Africa was looking good. So some of the countries were still open to visitors when most on other continents were not.

travel to Africa

While many African nations closed their borders last year for quite a while, those have tended to be the ones that didn’t depend much on tourism anyway, with the exception of Madagascar, which wanted to protect its island. As in other island nations like Fiji, Taiwan, and New Zealand, they probably felt they had a better chance of keeping the spread at bay. 

There continue to be restrictions and extra rules to abide by if you are looking into African safari holidays and wildlife vacations. It’s not as simple as looking up the application process for a tourist visa to east Africa and booking a ticket. In many countries, you’ll need to arrive with a negative test and follow specific protocols after arrival.

Sometimes those protocols have seemed rather contradictory to the idea of travel itself. In Uganda, for a while the rule was, “tour operators and local partners have been asked to make sure their travelers proceed directly to their accommodation and do not mix with Ugandans.”

Even if you don’t feel safe flying or traveling around right now, which is certainly prudent, you may want to put an adventure like this near the top of your travel resolution list for later when a large percentage of people are vaccinated. It’s going to take a while for travel to ramp back up everywhere. If you’re one of the early bookers, you won’t be competing with so many other Land Rovers chasing the same family of lions as you would have had a year or two ago.

African safari holidays can include giraffe spotting

Remember too that wildlife all over the world is in danger and the big promise of eco-tourism was that the animals could provide more jobs alive rather than poached. With tourism dried up for a year or more, that whole premise is in danger, so this is a vacation that can do some good. You’re helping the employed humans and the protected animals both. 

Here’s a quick rundown on the tourism situation in some of the most popular Africa vacation spots for wildlife viewing. 

Kenya Safari Travel Outlook

Kenya is one of the most popular destinations for a safari tour and it’s easy to see why. This is The Lion King country, with a wide variety of wildlife in stunning locations. The country boasts large parks like the Masai Mara, home of the wildebeest migration, and Lake Nakuru, where the pink flamingo population can hit a million. 

Other parks scattered around the country offer opportunities to see elephants, hippos, rhinos, leopards, zebras, and many other beasts in their natural habitat. For the budget traveler, this is one of the best options and Nairobi is an easier airport to get a reasonably priced flight to than some others. 

Tanzania Africa Tours

African safari adventure in TanzaniaTanzania is another popular African safari destination, especially the classic Serengeti National Park. Rhinos are rather rare here, but you can reasonably expect to see plenty of other mammals such as giraffes, hippos, gazelles, impalas, and monkeys. This park is estimated to have the largest lion population in Africa, numbering in the thousands. Some 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest and 250,000 zebras move through this vast plain on an annual migration, which joins up with the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. 

The Serengeti alone is 5,700 square miles, so you can get a true wild Africa feeling here, away from the crowds. Tanzania has other wildlife areas too, and chances are good in this country for spotting hyenas, baboons, cheetahs, and cape buffalo. 

Lots of Nature, Not Many People in Botswana 

Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries of the world, with just 2.3 million citizens in an area the size of France. A majority of the land is desert, however, with most of the wildlife being in the lush Okavango Delta. 

This delta is where I explored on my first African safari trip, including a few nights in the Moremi Game Reserve. I didn’t see a leopard, but I saw most of the other animals you’d hope to spot on a safari adventure. There were lots of lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, baboons, and more. It was especially spooky to go on a night drive and see all the red eyes caught in the lights. 

African wildlife safari in Botswana

The tented camp lodge I was staying in had a staffer escort us from our room to the dining hall each night for dinner. This seemed a bit silly to me until one evening a giant hippo went barreling through the grounds, on the flagstone path we used to go from our rooms to dinner.  

Seeing the Mountain Gorillas and More in Rwanda

Tourism is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings in Rwanda, so 2020 was a tough year for the economy. Volcanoes National Park is the prime place to spot mountain gorillas and since it’s only two hours from the international airport, it’s easily accessible. Hikes there can also lead to waterfalls and bamboo forests, with sightings of golden monkeys and various birds along the way. 

Rwanda is also home to lots of hippos though: there are an estimated 20,000 of them in Akagera National Park. In the various wildlife areas of the country you can spot chimpanzees, elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, buffalos, leopards, and more. 

crocodile on Africa wildlife holiday

Other African Wildlife Safari Destinations for Later

Namibia is technically open, but flights are only arriving from a few countries. Anyone entering the country must do so with proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival. 

South Africa suspended all international direct flights just before the end of 2020 and several countries (including the UK and Israel) had banned them anyway due to the case numbers being the highest in Africa. Check the current entry requirements for the latest Many restrictions are in place within the country that hinder movement. 

Zambia has been on again, off again for two years, so check on the latest to see when you can enter and move around freely. 

For the latest travel restrictions on any country in Africa, check out this TravelBans site with frequent updates. 

Check rates for various epic African wildlife safari adventure tours here

Ruth

Saturday 23rd of July 2022

Thanks for this. I've just been thinking I'm ready for another safari. 25 years ago some friends and I did a private safari in Tanzania and it was amazing. I am thinking perhaps in 2023.

Flora

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Wildlife watching is one of my best adventures that I experience in my life

leesa daisy

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Hi there! thanks for the great post

Curious Kasturi

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Africa's wildlife is the main attraction for travelers. Your blog is very much interesting.