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5 National Parks You Should Check Out in Africa for Amazing Wildlife Sightings

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A family of giraffes photographed by the author at Kissama National Park

A family of giraffes photographed by the author at Kissama National Park

Africa is an exciting place to be these days. The continent that is filled with natural beauty is also filled with natural resources. Lots of them.

Natural resources fuel booming economies such as that of Angola's, where I've lived for the past half year. People are flocking to Angola for work, especially Portuguese who are emigrating by the tens of thousands.

These days, Africa isn't only a place for natural beauty but it's also a place for opportunities. But if you want to see the natural beauty that Africa is traditionally known for and have an adventure packed experience, where should you go?

Africa's safaris really differ from country to country with landscapes such as desert plains or lush forest. What kind of adventure are you looking for?

Below is a list of some of the most famous national parks in Africa as well as one that's making a comeback - Angola's Kissama National Park which I had the pleasure of visiting.

The sign when entering Kissama!

The sign when entering Kissama!

Kissama National Park

Angola's national park, called Parque Nacional do Quiçama (in Portuguese) is the site of a modern day Noah's Arc story. Angola was ravaged by civil war for 27 years during which much of the wildlife had been killed. Now that the country is finally at peace, Operation Noah's Ark brought pairs of animals from neighboring Botswana and reintroduced them to the national park. The operation has been a success and I was lucky enough to see its progress with a family of giraffes, a family of elephants, and herds of zebras, deer, and antelope.

Kissama is located right outside of Angola's capital of Luanda. At this moment, there appears to be just one tour company offering safari trips to Kissama but it's an awesome one! Tours to Kissama not only drive through the bush in search of wildlife, they also include a boat ride on the majestic River Kwanza where monkeys make their way toward the water and birds fly overhead, and a stop at Miradouro de Lua ("Lunar Viewpoint" in Portuguese).

Kissama was an awesome initiation into wildlife safaris for a gal whose only other "safari" experience was the "Wild Safari" at Six Flags in New Jersey! In real game parks, animals don't appear on command with giraffes sticking their heads in your window or monkeys jumping on your car's hood but it's actually really exciting to go out and search for them in the wild where they roam free.

Now I'm hooked and can't wait to check out some of Africa's most popular national parks. Let's take a look at what they are.

We spotted the Giant Sable Antelope - a national symbol of Angola, even depicted on the airline's logo and mula!  The herd ran away after we spotted each other but then they stopped and turned back to take a look at us and we snapped pictures of them

We spotted the Giant Sable Antelope - a national symbol of Angola, even depicted on the airline's logo and mula! The herd ran away after we spotted each other but then they stopped and turned back to take a look at us and we snapped pictures of them

Botswana's Chobe National Park

Botswana is semi arid and desert, providing vast areas for animals to roam freely.

Chobe National Park is located in the northwestern part of the country and known for its large variety of wildlife. The largest elephant population in Africa both in number and size (the Kalahari) is in this beautiful park. Furthermore, you can see four of the Big 5 at Chobe: elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo. There's also antelopes.

There are a number of tours to Chobe National Park, most of which are full day - half day by 4-wheel drive and half day by boat.

Victoria Falls is located just 60 km (37 miles) at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Etosha National Park in Namibia

Etosha National Park was established back in 1907 when it became the world's largest national park.

Located in the northern part of Namibia, it takes up 8,600 square miles (20,000 sq km). The park is home to 114 mammal species including elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and the endangered black rhinoceros.

A deer at Kissama

A deer at Kissama

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, located in South Africa covers a staggering 20,000 square kilometers. At Kruger, you can see the Big Five, hippos, crocodiles, cheetah and more.

Adding to this park's popularity is the fact that it's the best maintained park in all of Africa. If you're looking to be your own tour guide on a safari, Kruger is the place for you.

Amboseli with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background

Amboseli with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background

Amboseli National Park in Kenya

You know that iconic image you have in your mind of a wildlife safari with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background? It was probably taken at Amboseli National Park.

Mt. Kilimanjaro with its snowy peak is actually located in Tanzania but it dominates Amboseli National Park.

This park is known for its many herds of elephants.

Best Time to Go on a Safari

Are you psyched to go on an African safari but wondering when the best time is to go? Well, there are a number of things to consider.

The weather differs depending on where in Africa you want to go. For instance, in southern Africa you can expect dry winter months from May through August when the animals congregate around bodies of water. Wintertime is also the most popular and expensive time of year to go on a safari.

The rainy season lasts from November through March and the weather is very hot and humid. During this time of year, it's least expensive to go on a wildlife adventure although the weather is very uncomfortable and you're on a higher risk of getting malaria (which you definitely want to avoid!).

National Parks in Africa

Comments

Anna (author) from New York, NY on March 03, 2015:

Thanks for the kind words, Di Robinson! I'm glad you found my hub about the parts inspirational. I'm looking forward to reading you work on the Big 5.

Di Robinson from Sydney, Australia on March 03, 2015:

What a lovely hub, thanks very much. I've just completed my first hub on the Big 5 animals of South Africa, and am inspired by your work. Cheers

Thomas Harry from San Antonio on October 30, 2014:

Great hub and content. I really enjoyed the read and would someday like the opportunity to visit southern Africa. Thanks for opening up the excitement to the community.

Uday Patel from Jabalpur, MP, India on August 10, 2014:

Thanks for wonderful information on African Nature Preserves.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 03, 2013:

I would so love to do this one day. Scared of the malaria since my cousin went to Africa and came back with it, but this has been a dream of mine for many years. Your descriptions are vivid and I can't believe you are so fortunate to have such a life of travel. Well done. Voted up and more.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on July 17, 2012:

You did a beautiful job on this hub. The pictures were wonderful. I have great memories of my family sitting around a three-sided fireplace in Masi Mara after the late afternoon safari. Love the giraffs.

Anna (author) from New York, NY on July 17, 2012:

Thank you GClark, algarveview, Amethystraven, Angelo52, bdegiulio, and prasadjain for stopping by and your comments!

Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD from Tumkur on July 16, 2012:

Avery fine hub,both in content and in formatting.Voted beautiful

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 11, 2012:

Hi Anna. Great hub with very good information. I would love to visit Africa someday to see the animals and this Hub would certainly come in handy. Very informative with great photos. Well done.

Angelo52 on July 11, 2012:

Nice tour of these African parks. Amazing the variety of large animals you saw on your trip.

Amethystraven from California on July 11, 2012:

I love nature. On my list of places to see before I physically go from this planet, is a to visit Africa. To see land and animals untouched by civilization would be a treat. Alaska is another one on my list.

Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on July 11, 2012:

Hello, great hub, full of interesting information and great photos. Voted up and interesting and sharing! Stay well!

GClark from United States on July 11, 2012:

Wonderful hub that should be a great inspiration to others planning their next trip. Terrific photos and information. GClark