I'm trying to decide on the best place in Africa to go on Safari.
As far as the multitude of the animals and there not being too many tourists, I have heard that Botswana (Okavango and Chobe) is a top pick. Can anyone confirm this from experience?? How about a comparison between Botswana and South Africa (Krueger Park)? Has anyone experienced both??
Unfortunately the places with lots of (different) animals are as well the most touristy. But don`t let that be a problem.
Haven`t been to botswana or krueger NP. Etosha in Namibia is very very nice and more relaxed, you can drive yourself as well.
But the best places are probably Ngorongor Crater, Serengeti and Masai Mara, with lots of different animals and easy to spot, well apart from the elusive leopard, you have to have a little bit of luck for that great animal!
My personal recommendation is the safari at "Masai Mara" in Kenya.
Don't forget South Luangwa NP in Zambia. regarded by many as one of the best in Africa and oiverlooked by many.
Also I have been to Etosha, Chobe and Kruger and thought that they were all fantastic. Kruger probably easiest to get to if you fly into Jo'burg and has the best infrastructure. But it is big enough to get away from the 'crowds' if you aim to stay at the more remote acmps.
Hope this helps
I happen to have been to both the Okavango and the Kruger Park with only three months in between...
Both regions have their charms, pro's and con's. Kruger is indeed rather 'touristy': Well kept tarred roads and restcamps. But they only allow a certain number of tourists in every day (the park can host about 2500 sleeping tourists) But if you compare that number with the mere size of the park, it is not a lot. Yes, around the gates and camps you will encounter other cars, but we drove for hours (especially the more remote dirt roads) without seeing any other people, only loads of game. We spent five days in the park, and saw the whole big five and much more. (We even got bored by elephants, zebra's and giraffes at one point...)
The Okavango is still a true wild area. No fences, no roads, no people. The only way to explore it is by boat (it's 18 000 sq kilometres of marshes and wetlands). Don't take a motorboat, take the traditional canoe, called moroko! The animals can get really close. we were visited by a group of elephant in our small two-tent bush camp. Those big African Elephants are very big and quite intimidating when they're only 10 meters away, with only a four-inch tree between them and you. If even the guides run away, dead scared, you know you're in the wild... But the experience was awesome. We only saw some other people passing by our camp in other canoes, but for the rest it were some truly tranquil days. But we saw not even close as many animals as in the kruger park. (though we found tracks of hyena, lion and leopard very close to our tents).
So, if you go for the wild-life: do Kruger, if you go for the experience of being in the wild: go to Botswana (wich is in general much less touristic than south africa).
My personal favorite is the Serengetti followed closely by Ngorongoro Crater (great concentration of animals in a smaller area) I wasn't so keen on the Masai Mara as there seemed to be more white mini vans in the Mara than in Nairobi and they drive everywhere and anywhere, rather than stick to the tracks as they are supposed to.
Etosha is great. The camping grounds have the dimly lit waterholes beside them so you can sit there at night and watch the animals but you really need to go there during the dry season. When there has been any rain about you probably won't see much.
Okavango was fun but we didn't see much, and I saw even less in Chobe - although it was the only placed we saw the wild (or painted) dogs. Apparently there are 40,000 elephants in Chobe - I saw 2. The only lions we saw were tagged, but sunset on the Chobe rive is spectacular.
Kruger is a good option if you really want to see everything. Good wildlife spotting, it is a huge park so the crowd is spread out, the roads are good. A number of different places to stay inside the park. There are water holes you can sit watching while you indulge in a "sundowerner" or two.
I didn't do any safaris while in Zambia but have heard lots of good things about Sth Luangwa NP.
While I only saw Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania from the Train which goes along the edge, there was an amazing collection of wildlife.
It doesn't matter where you go, there weather will have a big impact. At the end of a dry season the animals are easier to spot but because of this, the tourists tend to be around at the same time. If you go during/just after the rains the animals are hard to see through the vegetation and have a greater choice of places to drink so don't come into the waterholes near the roads. But there aren't many tourists about.
The only place I have been to that you can still see a lot if there has been rain is Ngorongoro Crater. I went in the wet and the dry and the biggest difference was the colour of the grass. You see just as much after the rains but there are less tourists - roads aren't so good but that was part of the fun.
It is a big choice, one I couldn't make so I just stayed for 5 months.
I would suggest you visit Uganda where you can trek the Gorillas and then take on a launch cruise on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National park. Many who have experienced it consider it to be the high light of any visit to Africa. You can contact Geoffrey at African Pearl Safaris for more information on Uganda tours
A lot of what you will see will depend on what time of year you go. In June I saw a huge number of elephant and buffalo in Chobe but few lion or other predators. The Serengeti and Ngoragora were full of wildlife in early April with the migration already started there were several times we saw lions making kills near the river that the other animals had to cross to head north. Krueger is so big that you can spend a week there and never travel the same road twice. In one day in January there we saw all of the big 5 by noon although that is not common. 5 minutes in the Krueger gate we saw a pair of lepards on a dirt road, lions lazing on a rocky outcropping, elephants, buffalo in fairly small numbers and black rhino. That was also the only place we saw the wild dogs and were suprised at how close they let us come to them, just a few feet from our cars door, before they trotted off. I don't think you can miss with any of these places but pick the right time to see what you want as Demian said.
Okavango, Hwange, Ngorongoro, Mana Pools. In that order.