Six of the biggest and best safari parks around the world

From spotting tigers in India to watching elephants in Africa, here are some of the best places to witness wildlife in its natural habitat

Lion in Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. Photo credit Scott Macmillan.
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It's hard to find a travel bucket list that doesn't contain a safari of some kind, and rightly so. There are few travel experiences that can top seeing wild animals roam freely in their natural habitat.

From spotting tigers in India to watching the great migration in Africa, there are myriad ways to experience a safari. If you are looking for inspiration, here are some of the biggest and best safari experiences from around the world.

Ranthambore National Park, India

A tiger walks past a vehicle carrying tourists at Ranthambore National Park in India.

Located near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India, Ranthambore is one of the best places in the world to spot tigers. The area, which spans about 1,335 square kilometres, is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the south by the Chambal River, with the historic Ranthambore Fort, after which it is named, located within the park.

The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including Indian leopard, Indian elephant, wild water buffalo, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, spotted deer, striped hyena and Bengal fox. Its biggest draw, however, is its Bengal tiger population. Thanks to Project Tiger, an initiative started by the Indian government in 1973, the area has a designated tiger sanctuary. The year 2021 was a record one for breeding at the park, with 21 new tiger cubs born.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

A leopard in Yala National park. Photo: Chandika Jayaratne

Covering an area of about 979 square km, Yala is Sri Lanka’s most visited national park. The area, which was first designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, is made up of six separate national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries. Among the animals that can be found there are sloth bears, saltwater crocodiles, wild water buffalo and more than 215 species of birds. The park is also important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants and Sri Lankan leopards, both of which reside at Yala in strong numbers.

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

A group of elephants and giraffes walk near a watering hole inside Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Measuring about 14,600 square km, Hwange National Park is the largest nature reserve in Zimbabwe. Founded in 1929, the park, which sits to the north-west of the country, close to Victoria Falls, is home to 100 mammal and 400 bird species, including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores.

The park has a particularly high number of elephants, thanks to successful breeding programmes, and also has two national protection programmes, one for leopards and one for African wild dogs. Within the national park, there are dozens of public and privately operated camp areas, to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock here each year.

Masai Mara, Kenya

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at a waterhole - remote camera. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.

Located in the south-west of Kenya, Masai Mara is one of the best-known wildlife conservation areas in the world. It spans about 1,510 square km and is home to spectacular diversity in terms of wildlife. Large numbers of lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and more can be found in the park, unconfined and free to roam the vast wilderness that stretches for miles on end.

The Pantanal, Brazil

A jaguar at the Pantanal in Brazil. AFP

The Pantanal is part national park, part Unesco World Heritage site, and covers about ​​195,000 square km in Brazil. It competes with the Amazon as the premier wildlife destination in South America. However, as the world’s largest tropical wetland, it also boasts the highest concentration of wildlife on the continent. Expect to see everything from birds to jaguars and giant anteaters to green anacondas.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Impalas are seen at Kruger National Park. Reuters

Kruger National Park is located in north-eastern South Africa and is one of Africa’s largest game reserves, known for its high density of wild animals, including lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes. It spans 19,633 square kilometres and has 21 rest camps, two private lodge concessions and 15 private safari lodges on site. Kruger Park offers something for everyone; from budget-friendly accommodation to luxury safari lodges in private concessions.

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Updated: February 21, 2022, 6:52 AM
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