Which country to choose for your first safari? Africa for beginners

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It’s one of those tasks, that seems impossible at first. You want to go on your first safari and have to select the perfect country in Africa… but there’s so many options! Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana – those might be the first that come to mind?! In this post we’ll give you the gist for every country, that we visited so far (this will be amended whenever we visit a new country) to give you a first orientation.

Lion in the Okavango Delta in BotswanaSo, you finally want to see wild lions with your own eyes?
Let’s see where you could go on your first safari.

Which country to choose for your first safari?

  1. NAMIBIA
  2. ZAMBIA
  3. BOTSWANA

Namibia: Safaris, sand dunes & incredible landscapes

Why to go to Namibia for your first safari

Namibia was our first ever safari destination – that’s why it holds a special place in our hearts. The Etosha National Park is the most famous area within Namibia, but we preferred our experiences in the private game reserve of Erindi. The bonus with Namibia is: It’s very safe, easy to travel (also independently – we rented a 4×4 and drove everywhere ourselves) and also an affordable destination for your first safari! Also there’s more than just safari experiences to discover. You can climb sand dunes, visit flamingo colonies or fly a hot air balloon over the world famous Sossusvlei. Namibia is also a photographer’s paradise because of it’s incredibly diverse landscapes!

Sossuvlei Namibia

Namibia is more than just a safari destination – there’s sand dunes & much more to discover!

Why not to go to Namibia for your first safari

There’s no good reason not to visit Namibia when it comes to safaris. From very cheap self-drive safaris with scenic camping spots to high end luxury lodges for fly-in safaris – Namibia has it all. If you drive yourself you might be turned off by the vastness of the country and long distances spent on the road, but you can always upgrade to flights and select fly-in camps (if money isn’t the issue 😉 ). We loved the road trip as the drives through the endless mars-like landscapes felt like an adventure.

Check our guide for 3 weeks in Namibia!

Namibia Safari Destination

Namibia’s green season in April is particularly exciting!

Zambia: The real Africa – safaris off-the-beaten path

Why to go to Zambia for your first safari

Zambia was the second country we visited for a safari and it’s the polar opposite of Namibia. Here tourism is still in it’s infancy, so you’ll discover one of the last true wildernesses in Africa. There are dozens of National Parks and game reserves that you can visit – all brimming with wildlife and offering small owner-run camps and lodges with truly personal service. Additional to the safari adventures you can (and should) also visit the mighty Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Zambia is also the birthplace of the walking safari, here you’ll really feel close to nature. Therefore Zambia is perfect if you are looking for an authentic wilderness adventure, that brings you back to the roots of Africa’s original and remote bush.

Leopard in South Luangwa National Park Zambia

Seeing a leopard in the wild can come true in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.
It’s also dubbed the “Valley of the Leopard”.

Why not to go to Zambia for your first safari

While Zambia’s tourism industry is only just developing there are already different kinds of accommodations – from very basic fly-camps to luxurious lodges. Yet, they all have something in common: They aren’t cheap! So you might want to skip Zambia if you have a very tight budget. Park fees and internal flights can also add up in Zambia, but the investment is well worth it – you’re supporting the sustainable development of the tourism industry in a country that is still rather untouched.

Check our 9 reasons why Zambia should be on your bucket list!

Hippo in the Lower Zambezi National Park Zambia

Zambia’s National Parks alongside the Zambezi River offer unparalleled river safaris.

Botswana: Luxury safaris beyond comparison

Why to go to Botswana for your first safari

The third African country we visited on a safari was Botswana. Botswana is famous for it’s “high quality, low impact” tourism model. With a rather low volume of tourists they create a huge turnover – meaning, basically, it’s not cheap to travel through Botswana. You can easily spend 10.000 dollars per person for 2 weeks here, but we believe it will be worth it! There are never any guarantees, but we had some of our most successful game drives in Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta (seeing the much-sought-after lions, wild dogs and leopards nearly every day). Botswana also has the biggest elephant population of any African country. The wildlife is really plentiful in the North of Botswana, there are private concessions offering exclusive wildlife encounters – and you’ll be able to stay in some of the most amazing lodges in Africa.

andBeyond Sandibe in the Okavango Delta Botswana

Botswana doesn’t only offer wildlife encounters deluxe, but also some of the most incredible luxury lodges.

Why not to go to Botswana for your first safari

You will definitely spend more money in Botswana than in Namibia, but this will directly result in high conservation efforts, protected wildlife and natural resources and development of the country. Is it worth it? Yes, we believe it is! Alternatively Botswana also offers self-drive and camping options (attention: those need to be reserved well in advance due to the limited number!).

Read all about our 9 day Botswana discovery!

Elephants in Botswana's Chobe National Park

Nowhere you’ll be able to see as many elephants as in Botswana’s Chobe National Park.

What’s next on our bucket list?

Of course there’s a couple of famous highlights, that we are yet to see and experience – from the Kruger National Park in South Africa to the great migration in the Serengeti and Massai Mara.

Mostly we dream about these experiences today:

  • Hiking through the jungle to visit the last remaining wild gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda
  • Discover the conservation success story behind Zakouma National Park in Chad
  • See the last wild white lions of Timbavati in South Africa
  • Witness the great Zebra migration in the Makgadikgadi pan in Botswana
  • Experience the second largest wildebeest migration in the Liuwa Plain in Zambia

A meerkat in the Makgadikgadi in Botswana

Stay tuned as we’re discovering more African countries and keeping this post up to date while doing so!