Planning a Multi Country African Safari – First-time safari planners often mistakenly assume that all wildlife reserves in Africa offer the same experiences. They might envision witnessing herds of elephants crossing roads or seeing tens of thousands of migrating wildebeest, thinking these scenes are commonplace across the entire continent.

There are several compelling reasons why multi-country African safaris are among the most popular and fulfilling travel experiences. Each country offers a distinct adventure, often with unique wildlife and landscapes that cannot be found elsewhere. By combining visits to multiple destinations across two or more countries, travelers can craft a comprehensive and varied itinerary.

While planning a multi-country safari in Africa is not as challenging as it might seem, it’s important to be mindful that infrastructure can be limited in some areas. Even when distances are short, travel from one place to another can take time. Considering Africa’s immense size, a bit of logistical planning is necessary.

Every year, countless enthusiastic adventurers embark on unforgettable safaris across Africa. With expert advice and helpful tips, you can join them in experiencing the journey of a lifetime.

1. Create your Africa safari bucket list by noting down the experiences you most desire!


Every nature and wildlife enthusiast likely has a list of must-do African experiences. What are yours? Perhaps you long to spot the Big Five, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the vast savannah, or witness the Great Migration. Whatever you dream of, jot down your must-see or must-do experiences and focus on them first.

For many, encountering the Big Five—lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhino—is at the top of the list. Each encounter offers a chance to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitat. A hot air balloon ride at dawn provides a serene and stunning view of the savannah, while witnessing the Great Migration—a natural spectacle featuring herds of wildebeest, zebras, and other animals—is an awe-inspiring experience.

Beyond these highlights, there are countless other adventures to consider. From tracking gorillas in lush forests to exploring the Namib Desert’s sweeping dunes or enjoying a cultural visit to a Maasai village, your African safari can be customized to your interests. So, make your list and prioritize the experiences that truly captivate you for a memorable journey.

2.Know that there are multiple ways to experience a safari in Africa.


Game drives are undoubtedly the most popular and well-known way to experience an African safari. But there are many other incredible ways to explore Africa!

Here are some of the top ways to experience Africa in all her beauty:

Game Drives

The quintessential safari experience, game drives allow you to traverse wildlife reserves in specialized vehicles designed for rugged terrain. With professional guide/driver teams skilled in tracking wildlife, game drives provide a fantastic opportunity to observe animals in their natural habitats.

Walking Safaris: Add a walking safari to your itinerary for a more personal and exhilarating experience. Available in several wildlife reserves, primarily those without large predators, walking safaris immerse you in the savannah’s ecosystems and let you appreciate the diverse flora and fauna.

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Safaris

One of the most sought-after experiences, hot air balloon safaris offer stunning aerial views of the African plains at sunrise. Drift peacefully above the savannah and witness herds of animals from a unique vantage point. The tranquility and breathtaking views make this an unforgettable adventure.

Gorilla Trekking

Explore the highland forests of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda for a chance to see mountain gorillas up close. This extraordinary experience allows you to observe these gentle giants in their remote natural habitat, making it one of the most life-changing safari adventures.

Boat Safaris

Eastern and Southern Africa boast remarkable water-based ecosystems where wildlife flourishes. Boat safaris provide access to deltas, rivers, and lakes, allowing you to explore these habitats with ease. Observe hippos, crocodiles, and a plethora of bird species from the comfort of a safari boat for a truly unique safari experience.

Sundowner Excursions

A classic safari tradition, sundowner excursions involve sipping your favorite drink in a scenic wilderness setting—often by a popular wildlife watering hole—as you watch the sunset and listen to the evening sounds of nature.

Cultural Visits

Africa is home to a rich tapestry of diverse cultures. The most fulfilling safari itineraries include cultural visits where you can engage with local communities, explore villages, and learn about traditional lifestyles. These encounters offer a deeper appreciation of Africa’s rich heritage and fascinating people.

3. Research where all those experiences are offered


Once you’ve crafted your personal ‘Africa safari bucket list’, it’s time to determine where you can best experience your chosen adventures. For instance, head to Botswana for a chance at spontaneous elephant encounters on the road. South Africa offers the highest likelihood of seeing the Big Five in one reserve, while Kenya boasts herds of wildlife with the stunning backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak. Tanzania is perfect for hot air ballooning and witnessing the magnificent wildebeest migration.

To streamline your itinerary planning, consider sharing your bucket list with one of Africa Travel Hub team. They can help you create a customized itinerary that includes all your desired experiences and makes the most of your time in Africa.

As you familiarize yourself with what’s available and where, you’ll begin to see clusters of experiences in specific regions of the continent. This knowledge will help you decide which areas to focus on and how to combine different destinations for a seamless and fulfilling safari journey. Now, it’s time to dive into the finer details and start piecing together your unforgettable African safari adventure.

4.Focus on two or more countries in one region of Africa


Planning a multi-country African safari by region is the most efficient and popular approach. For exceptional wildlife encounters, focus on Eastern or Southern Africa. Since travel can take time, it’s best to choose neighboring countries for easier and faster transfers.

In Eastern Africa, you can seamlessly combine Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania (including Zanzibar) for a comprehensive safari experience. These countries offer a range of adventures, from gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda to witnessing the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania.

In Southern Africa, consider combining South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia with Zambia and Zimbabwe. These destinations provide a variety of wildlife experiences, from South Africa’s Big Five to Botswana’s rich biodiversity and Namibia’s striking landscapes.

With enough time, you can combine all nine countries for an extraordinary and unforgettable safari itinerary. This expansive journey allows you to experience a wide range of ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural encounters, making your African safari an adventure of a lifetime.

5.Pssst! Remember that beyond the well-known reserves, lodges, and destinations, there are many equally special places to explore.

Planning a Multi Country African Safari

When researching the best spots for extraordinary experiences, you’ll quickly find that there are usually one or two highly recommended ‘top’ places. However, this doesn’t mean they are the only locations to enjoy those experiences. For instance, while a hot air balloon ride in the Serengeti is the most famous and popular safari activity, you can also have an incredible ballooning experience in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Kenya’s Masai Mara, Namibia’s Sossusvlei Desert, Zambia’s Kafue, and Tanzania’s Tarangire national parks.

For every well-known and sought-after destination, Africa offers countless other options that may fit more seamlessly into your specific safari itinerary. If you’re interested in a particular safari experience but unsure where to include it in your itinerary, feel free to ask us for assistance. We’ll help you find the perfect spot for your desired adventure, ensuring a memorable and personalized African safari journey.

6.Get familiar with the most popular and effective country combinations.


To inspire your Africa safari planning, here are some popular combinations of countries that work exceptionally well:

  • Kenya and Tanzania: Witness the Great Migration as millions of wildebeest and other herbivores traverse the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Both countries offer top-notch national parks and reserves, including the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Amboseli, and Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Botswana and Zimbabwe: Botswana’s Okavango Delta is renowned for its stunning waterways and diverse wildlife. A multi-day canoe adventure in this unique area is unforgettable. Combine with Zimbabwe to visit the legendary Victoria Falls and explore Hwange National Park, known for its abundant elephant population.
  • South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia: This trio provides a comprehensive range of African experiences. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is known for its rich wildlife. Botswana’s Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta offer unique game viewing options beyond 4WD safaris. In Zambia, experience walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park and visit Lower Zambezi National Park.
  • Uganda and Rwanda: Perfect for mountain gorilla trekking enthusiasts. Explore Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, home to these magnificent and endangered creatures. Additionally, Uganda offers opportunities for chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest and wildlife viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Tanzania and Rwanda: This combination creates the ultimate wildlife safari in Africa, combining the Great Migration with gorilla trekking. Add a side trip to Madagascar to see lemurs for a well-rounded African wildlife experience.
  • Namibia and South Africa: This mix offers breathtaking landscapes and wildlife encounters. Namibia’s Etosha National Park features diverse wildlife, while the Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast boast stunning scenery. In South Africa, experience the wonders of Kruger National Park and adjacent private reserves.
  • Zimbabwe and Zambia: Combine Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park and Hwange National Park with Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Add a visit to Victoria Falls in the middle of your journey for a spectacular and well-rounded itinerary.

7. The best time to go on a safari in Africa 

High Season

The generally accepted best time for an African safari is between July and October. This peak period aligns with the Great Migration in the Serengeti—a top attraction for most visitors—and the dry season, which aids in travel and wildlife viewing. During this time, wildlife tends to gather in larger groups around the limited watering holes in the parched savannah.

While going on safari during peak season offers optimal wildlife viewing and the chance to witness spectacular events, there are drawbacks. These include higher costs, larger crowds, limited availability, reduced flexibility, potential disruption to wildlife behavior, and fewer opportunities for genuine cultural experiences.

Ultimately, your choice to visit during peak season will depend on your personal preferences and priorities. Some travelers prefer to balance optimal wildlife viewing with a more tranquil experience, and there are options that offer the best of both worlds.

Shoulder Season

Off-peak travel to Africa offers a wonderful compromise and numerous rewards. Shoulder months, which vary depending on your safari destination, are the best-kept secret of all. Traveling outside the peak period results in lower prices, increased availability, and greater flexibility for last-minute changes. You can also enjoy exceptional and intimate wildlife encounters, often finding yourself alone at a watering hole or spotting an elusive animal on a walk.

You’ll receive more personalized attention from guides, resulting in a more exclusive experience. Although you might encounter a few downpours, they usually last only a few hours and help cool the air while supporting the growth of flora and smaller fauna.

Avid photographers also appreciate the dramatic landscapes and unique light conditions during the off-peak season.

In Eastern Africa, the prime shoulder months for safari are March, April, May, and November through early December. In Southern Africa, April, May, and September to October are excellent times for safari, offering a perfect balance between avoiding crowds and experiencing unforgettable wildlife viewing.

8. However, don’t stress too much about perfectly timing your African safari.

While there may be an optimal time for every type of traveler to embark on a safari, most people may not have the luxury of flexible schedules. If you must travel at a specific time of year, don’t abandon your Africa safari plans because you think it won’t be worthwhile. Instead, reach out to Viva’s Destination Specialists for alternative safari options that align with your preferred travel time—there are always plenty!

It’s important to remember that there are nuances regarding specific experiences. For instance, if you want to see as many baby animals as possible, plan your visit earlier in the year, around February to April. Additionally, keep in mind that when planning a multi-country safari in Africa, you are subject to the whims of Mother Nature and her wildlife, both of which are unpredictable. No one can guarantee a specific experience anywhere on the continent. So, if planning your African trip during July to October isn’t possible, don’t worry—Africa offers a wealth of incredible, unforgettable experiences all year round.

Ready to start planning your own Africa safari itinerary? Contact our Specialists today to leverage their expertise and find the safari experience that suits you best.

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