Where to go and when – country comparisons and ratings
We are able to arrange safaris to an exciting array of African destinations: From the flame trees of Thika, to the vast hunting grounds of the famed explorer Selous; from the Mountains of the Moon to King Solomon's Mines.
For most of our clients the main reason for visiting Africa is to view the incredible wildlife and wilderness areas. In order to help you decide which country or countries you may want to visit we have developed short briefs on the most popular wildlife destinations coupled with a rating system which will allow you to compare each destination by the selected criteria - see below.
In terms of wildlife, wilderness, safety and stability Botswana reigns supreme. Botswana provides travelers with brilliant wildlife including the highest density of lion and of elephant in all of Africa in addition to a great number of species including wildebeest, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and more. It also offers remote, unspoiled wilderness areas. Botswana has a stable government, a small population (Botswana is the size of France with less than 1.5 million people) and thriving economy - it is the highest quality safari destination in Africa.
Tanzania is also a wonderful safari option. Travelers may view the 1.5 + million animal wildebeest migration, track chimpanzees on foot and explore Ngorongoro Crater – a microcosm of Africa’s ecosystems and wildlife. The spice island of Zanzibar, off Tanzania’s coast, is the perfect safari extension and offers incredible culture / history along with superb beach resorts and water activities.
Due to it’s proximity to Europe and mass tourism infrastructure Kenya is a popular destination for inexpensive European tour groups looking for a bit of safari and sun (a few days wildlife viewing and a few days on the beach). In general Kenya does not rate well in terms of the wildlife and wilderness experience. On our August 2010 visit to the Mara we counted 28 vehicles around a single leopard... simply outrageous! In addition Kenya’s wildlife is on the decline. A 2001 report by Kenya's Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development noted wildlife in Kenya’s premier wildlife area, the Masai Mara, had declined by 58% in the past 20 years. Wildebeest numbers fell 81% from 119,000 in 1977 to 22,000 in 1997. The Center attributed these to changes population growth (Kenya is home to over 35 million people while Botswana (which is nearly the same size) is home to less than 1.5 million people) and increased land use outside the park (where grazing pasture has been turned into farmland). Overall the study noted that Kenyan wildlife declined by one third between 1977 and 1996. For example, Kenya's elephant population dropped by 85%, to approximately 20,000, between 1975 and 1990. In addition to the mass tourism and wildlife issues there is an US travel warning advising Americans to avoid all non-essential travel to the country. This warning invalidates travel insurance terrorism coverage and for that reason Ultimate Africa is not entertaining bookings to Kenya. In all fairness many Kenyan tour operators and hotel / lodge / camp owners are pulling out all the stops to attract discerning travelers - there are now many high quality safari options, typically within scenic private wildlife reserves (normally farms that have been returned to their natural state and stocked with wildlife. The downside is that most of these reserves do not support masses of wildlife as can be seen in wilder areas of Africa).
South Africa has a lot to offer, from penguins and whale watching, to wines and scuba diving, however due to the strength of their currency it is not the great value it was in the early 2000’s. Cape Town is considered one of the world’s top 10 most romantic cities and is a must!
Zambia continues to offer consistently good wildlife viewing and value. If you want adventure this is the place to visit – from multi day canoe safaris on the Zambezi River to week long treks through the bush.
Zimbabwe is once again on the map. We have had a good number of clients visit and they have been thrilled with the wildlife experience, the awesome scenery and tremendous value.
Namibia's scenery and remoteness are breathtaking and it appears the secret is out. The number of traveler's booking to this southern African hotspot has grown by leaps and bounds. Must sees include Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast.
Malawi is incredible in terms of scenery and the warmth of the people – a great cultural destination…
Mozambique, despite its hugely limited tourism infrastructure is the place for a tropical beach experience.
To view country ratings please click on the links to the left.