Combining perfectly with a safari in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia or Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls are not only a wonderful place from which to begin or end a trip, but offer enough interest to be a safari destination in their own right. The wildlife in the tributaries is active all year round, and the birdlife is superb.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park is perfect for the wildlife enthusiast who yearns for adventure and discovery. It provides a refuge for 114 mammal species and more than 400 species of birds. A known 16 primate species can be found here, including the western lowland gorilla, one of Africa's great apes.
Velavadar is a peaceful sanctuary consisting of 35 square kilometres of savannah. Set between two rivers a few miles inland from the Gulf of Khambhat, the park is home to a couple of thousand endemic blackbuck. In former times these handsome antelopes were protected for hunting trips of the Maharajas of Bhavnagar.
Comprising some 9,050 square kilometres of unspoilt African wilderness, South Luangwa is undoubtedly the jewel of Zambia’s national parks and a magnet to outstanding wildlife, particularly leopard. Its eastern boundary is the meandering Luangwa River whose regular changes in course leave scenic oxbow lagoons.
This tiny, underrated reserve lies at the foot of Nyika Plateau and makes an interesting contrast to the highlands. Much of it is flat mopane and miombo woodland, and wildlife moves freely between here and the Luangwa Valley in neighbouring Zambia. Its wetlands are a haven for more than 250 bird species.
This rich complex of grasslands, papyrus marshlands, lagoons and forests are often described as one of Africa’s best game-viewing areas. With a dense concentration of wildlife, the perennial waters attract great herds of plains wildlife and predators, but wild dog are undoubtedly the area’s speciality.
The Serengeti supports Africa’s greatest concentration of plains game. Its ranges include wooded highland, grass plains, acacia savannah and rivers. With an estimated three million large animals, most of which take part in a seasonal migration, you can experience one of nature’s greatest wonders.
Selous Game Reserve is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Africa. Its vast tracts of wilderness contain perhaps the greatest concentration of big game on earth, sustained by the waters of the Rufiji River whose tributaries form a network of lakes and lagoons to help create a home for a bewildering array of birds.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Simien Mountains are a place of dramatic scenery. Their rugged landscape was formed over a 3,000 year erosion period of basalt lava, and despite their altitude they sustain a fascinating range of mammals and birdlife, alongside isolated nomadic and rural communities.
A hidden gem, the Caprivi Strip is a long, narrow strip of land along the Okavango. Here the Zambezi’s tributaries form a complex system of waterways, islands and riverine forests – protected by parks and wilderness areas. It is rich in wildlife and makes an ideal combination with nearby Botswana or Zambia.
Yala National Park is Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife reserve and famous for one of the world’s highest densities of leopard. It has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
Destination: Sri Lanka
The Skeleton Coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with soaring dunes and plains to deep canyons, mountains, saltpans and freshwater springs. Wildlife includes huge colonies of Cape fur seals, and travelling by light aircraft provides stunning views of the coastline and its remarkable natural features.
Situated in the huge Okonjima Nature Reserve, the AfriCat Foundation is a key conservation project, researching and rehabilitating hyenas, cheetahs, leopards and wild dogs. There is a good choice of accommodation, and unlimited opportunities to see carnivores in their natural environment on vehicle or walking safaris.
Uganda’s oldest protected area is a 500 square kilometre reserve that lies in the Rift Valley, between the Rwenzori Mountains and Lake Albert. Its diverse habitats of riverine forest, woodland and acacia savannah support a wealth of wildlife, and the area is also rich in birdlife, with some 400 recorded species.
Sasan Gir National Park preserves the remaining population of critically endangered Asiatic lion, whose territory once extended as far afield as Persia. The terrain is one of arid, rocky hills separated by deep, well-watered valleys, with beautiful stands of teak, acacia and dhak trees interspersed with grassy plains.
Tarangire National Park is one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Dominated by the Tarangire River, the landscape is a rich mix of trees, grassland plains, swamps and rocky outcrops providing habitats for superb wildlife. There are vast herds of elephants and Cape buffalo here, and the area is also excellent for birds of prey.
Satpura National Park is one of India’s most intriguing wildlife destinations. Walking safaris are possible here and hides have been built in its meadows, forested plateaux and mountains, which are shared by a number of mammal species, including sloth bear, leopard and bison.
High in the Cardamom Hills in southern India, Periyar has a diverse range of flora and fauna, with 1,800 species of flowering plant, 44 reptiles, 112 butterflies, and a wide range of birds and mammals. A popular activity is a boat trip on the lake to see herds of wild elephants frolicking in the water.
Panna National Park is one of India’s least explored parks and combines very well with Bandhavgarh. Its environment is one of teak and dry deciduous forest, mixed with open grasslands, woodlands and thorny woodlands, that create diverse habitats for many mammals and over 300 bird species.
Murchison Falls National Park is renowned for its scenic beauty and abundant flora and fauna including the fascinating, endangered shoebill. Bisected by the meandering Victoria Nile, the river plummets through a narrow cleft in the rocks, resulting in the thundering raw of the powerful Falls.
Pench National Park, is renowned for the richness of its flora and fauna. Nestling in the Satpura Hills, it takes its name from the nearby river, which winds through the park. Its most famous residents are tigers, but is also home to large herds of Indian bison and four endangered species of vulture.
Nuwara Eliya is in the heart of tea country and its elevation creates a cooler climate making for fascinating birdlife. Nearby Horton Plains is the country’s highest plateau which terminates at the sheer precipice of “World’s End”, and is the perfect environment for a distinctive wild flora and rare highland birds.
Destination: Sri Lanka
Often seen as just a stopping off point on the popular Northern Circuit, this small park definitely warrants a visit in its own right. Mahogany and sausage trees are abundant and well laden with fruit for the wildlife to feed upon, and it is a sanctuary for its most famous residents – the tree climbing lion.
The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world and the wildlife to be found here is extremely interesting and often totally unique, having adapted itself to the harsh environment. However, the most remarkable sight is at Sossusvlei, where the world’s highest sand dunes tower more than 300 metres.