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

Updated on May 12, 2016
A family of giraffes photographed by the author at Kissama National Park
A family of giraffes photographed by the author at Kissama National Park | Source

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! | Source
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This Imbondeiro tree in Kissama is huge!  Here's the author and her boyfriend underneath itThat's a long yellow road going across Kissama!Miradoura da Lua (Lunar Viewpoint) on the way to Kissama from Luanda
This Imbondeiro tree in Kissama is huge!  Here's the author and her boyfriend underneath it
This Imbondeiro tree in Kissama is huge! Here's the author and her boyfriend underneath it | Source
That's a long yellow road going across Kissama!
That's a long yellow road going across Kissama! | Source
Miradoura da Lua (Lunar Viewpoint) on the way to Kissama from Luanda
Miradoura da Lua (Lunar Viewpoint) on the way to Kissama from Luanda | Source

Kissama National Park

Angola's national park, called Parque Nacional do QuiƧama (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 | Source
A herd of elephants at the Chobe River
A herd of elephants at the Chobe River | Source

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.

Black rhinos at Etosha National Park
Black rhinos at Etosha National Park | Source
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Birds by the Kwanzaa River in Angola
Birds by the Kwanzaa River in Angola
Birds by the Kwanzaa River in Angola | Source
Source

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.

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We spotted a herd of zebras at Kissama
We spotted a herd of zebras at Kissama
We spotted a herd of zebras at Kissama | Source
Source
A deer at Kissama
A deer at Kissama | Source

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 | Source

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.

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Chasing wildlife on a four-wheeler!The author on a rest stop during a safari
Chasing wildlife on a four-wheeler!
Chasing wildlife on a four-wheeler! | Source
Source
The author on a rest stop during a safari
The author on a rest stop during a safari | Source

Which one of these national parks would you like to visit most?

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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

show route and directions
A markerKissama National Park -
Parque Nacional do Quicama, Angola
get directions

B markerChobe National Park -
Chobe National Park, Botswana
get directions

C markerEtosha National Park -
Etosha National Park, Ombika, Namibia
get directions

D markerKruger National Park -
Kruger National Park, South Africa
get directions

E markerAmboseli National Park -
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
get directions

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    • GClark profile image

      GClark 5 years ago from United States

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

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

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

    • Amethystraven profile image

      Amethystraven 5 years ago from California

      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.

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

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

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 5 years ago from Tumkur

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

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

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

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • pateluday profile image

      Uday Patel 2 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India

      Thanks for wonderful information on African Nature Preserves.

    • envllc profile image

      Thomas Harry 2 years ago from San Antonio

      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.

    • Di Robinson profile image

      Di Robinson 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      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

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 2 years ago from New York, NY

      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.

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