During most trips, you try to add a national park into your schedule. The protected areas are the best places to see gorgeous, untouched nature all over the world. It’s a little different in Africa. Instead of tacking them onto your travel plans, you plan entire vacations around them. Here are four African national parks—two for newbies and two for well-seasoned travelers—to explore in the new year.
Kruger National Park: South Africa is home to one of the largest national parks in the world. Find the big five, snorting hippos, a large pride of lions, a herd of fast sable antelopes, and a photogenic lodge at the edge of the Sweni River.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park: Zambia has one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Discover the world’s largest sheet of falling water, a curved riverbank covered with ebony groves and a mopane forest, Angolan giraffes, Burchell’s zebras, Cape buffalo, and a remote lodge along the Zambezi.
Deux Balés National Park: Burkina Faso has national parks that have yet to be overrun by tourists. See Sudano-Zambezian savanna, ancient baobab trees, rocky outcrops, and herds of African elephants in one of West Africa’s most stable countries.
Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park: The Central African Republic has a glimmer of hope. The African Conservation Trust has partnered with the government, they’ve established breeding programs to begin reviving wildlife, and, hopefully, the animal population, including the hippos, will start making a comeback on the Central African savanna.