10 Top Safari Destinations – Travel Bloggers Go Wild

Travel Bloggers Go Wild 

Digital Travel Guru, teamed up with nine fellow travel bloggers to find out their top 10 safari destinations around the world. Read on to see their top recommendations. 

DIGITAL TRAVEL GURU – NAMIBIA

Namibia is a fantastic safari destination to add to your bucket-list, you will experience a incredible wildlife and stunning scenery. Onne of the most famous places to viist os the Etosha National Park. There are elephants and lions here as well as burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and black-faced impala. Other types of animals that can be seen are giraffes, etosha cats, leopards, cheetahs, and rhinos.

One other attraction is the red sand dunes in Sossousvlei where you can see the famous Twyfelfontein sandstone cliffs, which have more than 2,500 rock engravings, these  date back 6,000 years, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The various accommodation options in Etosha National Park are well equipped with, all the types of facilities. There is accommodation to cater to most budgets in the area.

 

SOL SALUTE – SOUTH AFRICA

Self-Drive Safari in South Africa

I always assumed I wouldn’t be able to afford an African safari until much later in life. Surprise! Safaris in South Africa are very accessible for any budget, especially if you’re willing to be adventurous and go on a self-drive safari. While researching safari options, I noticed that the locals all swore by self-drive safaris in the national parks and well, I always trust the locals! Listening to the South African safari enthusiasts, I reserved our rental car with plans to visit Kruger National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. We spent 4 days in Kruger and 2 in Addo. Two nights in Addo were sufficient, it’s a smaller park, however, I don’t think you can ever spend enough time in Kruger. Kruger is as large as Belgium and has so much to explore!

If you are nervous that you’ll see less game without a guide, I can promise that you don’t need to worry. We saw the big 5 multiple times over, even during January when the greenery makes it harder to spot game. The best time to visit is July, during winter, when the bush is dry and the animals are more exposed. However, as I said, we had a great experience in summer. Try to avoid visiting during summer or winter school holidays as South Africans will flood the parks.

We only spent $400 US on a rental far for an entire month and reserved a car for 18 days for our second trip coming up for only $240 US. I recommend staying inside the parks in the rest camps. They are surprisingly comfortable and many offer priceless views of watering holes just outside the camp’s fence. You can spend as little as $100 US a night on accommodation (plus the daily conservation fee). This is all much more within my reach than the thousands of dollars I always assumed safaris cost! So don’t wait any longer, book your South African safari now. 

HUMANITALIAN – UGANDA 
Kidepo Valley National Park (Uganda)

When you say Nepal, most people will instantly think about trekking and mountains. But what they are missing is the fact that Nepal is also an excellent destination for safaris, being home to the famous Bengal tiger.

Nepal has two National Parks where you can spot tigers, Chitwan and Bardia. However, given how crowded Chitwan has become in the past few years, Bardia is a safe and better alternative. The only problem you will face when choosing Bardia will be getting there. From Kathmandu, you have two options – either a short but expensive flight to Nepalgunj, either a long, cheap but exhausting bus trip, around 19 hours.

Once you get to Bardia, you will soon realize why so many people decide to stay longer than initially intended. We spend an entire week there and could surely have enjoyed some extra days. But it all depends on the type of safari you choose.

We opted for a one-night jungle safari, which involved both walking and a jeep drive through the jungle, as well as camping during the night and enjoying the sounds made by elephants in the distance. What you can spot are elephants, rhinos, deer, tons of monkeys, jackals, snakes, leopards, and of course, the mighty tiger. We were lucky enough to spot one together with its cubs, but you have to be patient as it involves a lot of waiting.

We booked the safari through the homestay which we used, Bardia homestay, and it cost us around 150$ per person. Not cheap by Asian standards, but well worth it.

CODDIWOMP – SRI LANKA 

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Yala National Park is located in south east Sri Lanka and is simply sublime. It should most definitely be part of any Sri Lanka itinerary!

On safari here you have the chance to see incredible wildlife including leopards, elephants and crocodiles, plus a huge variety of bird life too.

Respect for the wildlife is paramount here. And according to the Yala National Park website that means certain rules have to be abided by.

No flash photography, no feeding the animals, no smoking and no eating all over the park, to name a few. It’s all for good reason: it is up to us to respect and protect the immense wildlife you have the chance to see here.

You can get to Yala National Park from most major cities in Sri Lanka (think Colombo, Kandy, Galle…) and once there you hire a jeep to take you around for either a half or a full day. Tours can be organised through your accommodation in various places too, but expect slightly higher rates.

The quoted price for 1 jeep (that can take up to 6 people) for half a day is US $40. A full day will set you back $75. Split between the number of people in the jeep and that’s not too bad!

Yala National Park is a real Sri Lankan treasure. If you get the chance to experience it, be sure to jump on the opportunity!

WALK MY WORLD – SRI LANKA 

Yala Safari

It would be amazing if you could link to this post:A safari in Yala National Park is a highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka. Most people visit as it is known to have one of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world. The tour operators state that you have a 90% chance of seeing this elusive cat if you take a full day trip. We managed to see one just as we were leaving the park!

 

However, Yala offers a lot more than just leopards. You can also see the endangered sloth bear (although this can be quite rare, we were lucky enough to see two!), elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, mongooses and many different bird species including the beautiful Malabar Pied Hornbill and Green Bee Eater. Despite being covered in a thick forest, you can often see animals right by the side of the road, as they use it to cross from one side of the forest to the other.

You have three options for a safari in Yala: 4 hours, 6 hours or 13 hours. We wouldn’t recommend taking the 13-hour safari (we learnt from experience) as there is a lot of driving on awful roads and you feel every bone-shaking kilometre in your body by the end! A 4-hour safari costs around $75 USD including the park permits (the permits alone are just under $25 USD per person) for two people (less if you join up with others) and a 13-hour full day safari cost was $150 USD (this was for two but again it would be less if you had more people in your jeep). These costs include pick up and drop off at your hotel and all food and drink.

Getting to Yala is pretty easy as it is situated on the South Coast and is a short drive from Tissamaharama.

Our top tip for the safari would be to visit during low season. We’ve heard that you can get up to 500 jeeps in Peak Season (i.e European School holidays) and it gets very crowded! 

READING THE BOOK TRAVEL – INDIA 
Gir National Park
If you’re looking for a safari that’s a little different, Gir National Park is the place for you. This 258 km2 park in the heart of Gujarat, India, is home to something you can’t see anywhere else on earth: the Asiatic Lion.

 

Gir is located approximately 350 km (or a 7-8 hour drive) southwest of the city of Ahmedabad. Easy to reach by car or tour bus, you will nonetheless need to engage the services of a jeep and spotter to enter the park itself. The park has a variety of differently numbered driving routes, and drivers choose for themselves the best route to take on any given day to keep visitor numbers evenly distributed and maximise sightings of the wildlife.

 

The star attraction of the park, the Asiatic Lion, once spread from Syria in the west to the Indian state of Bihar in the east, but can now only be found in the wild here in Gir. As of the last census in 2015 there were 523 lions in Gir, and the population is steadily increasing. Sightings are common but not guaranteed, although the presence of manmade waterholes helps in the summer months. Other animals in the park include sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, leopard, hyenas and honey badgers. Birdlife is also plentiful, with several varieties of eagles and owls among the highlights.
On the outskirts of the park, the village of Jambur is a little-known secret – a village of African faces who have been in the region for many generations. African in appearance but firmly Gujarati in language and nationality, the villagers descend from the Siddi tribe; some safari routes pass through their village, although at a respectful distance.

 

Gir is well served by a number of lodges and hotels, most located in Gir village close to the visitor’s centre. Jeep safaris cost INR 128,000 (approximately $185) per vehicle for up to 6 people; a camera fee of around $20 applies for anything bigger than a cellphone. Note that the park is closed during the hottest months of the year, roughly mid-June to mid-October.

TRAVEL SORIES AND IMAGES – TANZANIA 

Getting to Serengeti National Park isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth the trip. The park sits in the northernmost part of Tanzania – east of Lake Victoria and south of the country’s border with Kenya. Serengeti NP is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, but border crossings between the two countries are restricted within the contiguous area. The main road into the park is a continuation of highway B144, which originates in Makayuni and runs through both Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. The part of the highway running through both parks is completely undeveloped: natural dirt and gravel, heavily rutted, and winding through the parks.

Because of these conditions, the best access to Serengeti NP is via commuter plane. Our flight on a Coastal Aviation Airlines was on a 12-passenger Cessna C208B Grand Caravan. It was a quick 55-minute hop from the Lake Manyara Airport to the Seronera airstrip in Serengeti NP. The flight affords some amazing views of Ngorongoro Crater and the Tanzanian landscape.

Travelers should expect normal security scans whilst traveling to and from Serengeti – metal detectors, baggage scans, and the like. Also be aware that on most flights your bags will be weighed, as the airline has a limit of 17kg of luggage due to weight and fuel restrictions.

Once your flight lands, your safari guide will likely whisk you away for a full day or afternoon of game drives. We were fortunate enough to see cheetahs, elephants, gnus and hippos on our trip. The highlight of the trip for me was getting to see lions up close and personal – something that I’d always wanted to experience.

Don’t let the flight scare you – Serengeti National Park is definitely worth the trip!

Jim Jones writes about travel and travel photography at Travel Stories and Images. He encourages and inspires people to go travel, take photos and tell stories.

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THE WILDLIFE DIARIES – COSTA RICA 

A wildlife safari in Costa Rica is different from the traditional African safari, mainly because it’s usually done on foot. My visit to Corcovado National Park consisted of three days of walking along jungle trails from our base at Sirena Ranges Station.

National Geographic called Corcovado ’The most biologically intense place on earth, in terms of biodiversity’, and I could see why.

The park takes up almost a third of the remote Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. And because of its remoteness, Corcovado can only be visited with a certified nature guide. We picked Corcovado Expeditions and had a fantastic guide who quickly became our friend.

Getting to Corcovado was an adventure in itself. We took the boat ride from Drake Bay to Sirena, which involved a beach landing and amazing views of the coastline.

Within 20 minutes of arriving in the park we were seeing wildlife. Endangered Baird’s tapirs snoozing in the shade, Squirrel monkeys squabbling in the canopy and Keel-billed toucans perched in the trees.

Hiking the network of trails around the Ranger Station we saw all four species of Costa Rica’s monkeys, sloths, ant-eaters and even tent-making bats, that like to roost underneath the large leaves of the Banana plant.

Collared peccaries and white-nosed coatis ran around in their dozens at the station.

But the best encounter we had, happened deep in the jungle. Our guide took us on a hike to Puma Valley and true to its name, the Valley turned up a family of pumas. We watched them at a very close range for a few minutes until they eventually walked into the thick jungle.

The 3-day wildlife safari in Corcovado cost us approximately $500 per person and was one of the most amazing experiences we had in Costa Rica.

Author: Margarita Steinhardt (The Wildlife Diaries)

 

BACKPACK & EXPLORE – INDIA 

Facebook: Backpack & Explore 

Author: Sinjana Ghosh

We booked our first big safari on a hot summer day at Bandipur Jungle Lodges, a property owned and operated by Jungle Lodges. This is a PPP venture by Karnataka government and Tiger Tops which started in 1980 and became the flag-bearer of eco-tourism in India. At an all-inclusive price of Rs.7500 per person, per night including three meals, accommodation and six hours of safari (split into two sessions), we got an authentic wildlife experience and met the queen of the jungle. As a surprise gift, we got to watch a wild-life documentary shot in Bandipur over years, tracking the life of a tigress nicknamed “Sundari”.

The first safari was scheduled in the afternoon (3:30pm -6:30pm), in which we saw a dash of striped skin blended with the bushes, from a distance of at least 150 meters. Deer, monkeys and peacocks were seen in abundance while we quietly waited for the tiger to wake up. Next morning, we got a wake-up call at 6 am to get ready for the morning safari. Throughout the safari we kept following the tiger’s trail closely, followed the sound of birds but failed to spot the striped beast. Travelers in other jeeps showed us the pictures they took when the tiger came to the lake to quench her thirst, but we couldn’t see anything but birds. We set off to leave the forest with emptiness in heart when right there in the middle of the road, blocking our way, sat the tigress, basking in the morning sun. We were in an open safari jeep and completely vulnerable to be attacked by the powerful beast, but she was least interested in us. The excited humans stared at the unmatched beauty as she got up, did her morning routine and gracefully walked into the deep-woods. The memories of this sighting will be etched in my mind forever.

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Cat
    Reply

    Such an amazing list of experiences. Would love to do some more of these!

  • David
    Reply

    Amazing places, very cool for safaris. Awesome photos!

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