Explore 9 African Countries in the Great African Trek Safari
Visiting nine countries in East and Southern Africa in a 57-day safari sounds like the perfect trip to discover magnificent Africa! Stare into the soft brown eyes of the mountain gorilla, watch as thousands of wildebeests, zebras, and other animals trample across the Maasai Mara and Serengeti, and bask in the warm sunshine on the white beaches of Zanzibar.
Further south you can visit the thundering Victoria Falls, the vast wilderness of the Okavango Delta, and slide across the giant sand dunes in Namibia’s famous Namib desert. Lastly explore the Mother City, Cape Town, and all its beautiful attractions.
Let’s take a look at the different places you’ll explore and animals you’ll meet during this epic 56-day adventure safari.
1. South Africa
With its stunning location, tucked into the arms of a broad bay, surrounded by wild, white-sand beaches and set against the canvas of Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Affectionately nicknamed the Mother City, it is the capital of South Africa’s Western Cape Province and the seat of South Africa’s parliament.
Here you can expect activities like climbing Table Mountain, surfing, helicopter rides, sunset cruises, and hanging out with friendly Capetonians, to keep you busy during your visit to Cape Town.
Kruger National Park
Located in South Africa, Kruger National Park stretches from the Crocodile River in the south up to the Limpopo River, which is the international border in the north.
Kruger National Park is flocked by tourists year after year because of its excellent diversity of wildlife and birdlife. The park was opened in 1898 at the instigation of then-president Paul Kruger. After hunters had considerably decimated the originally rich game stock, all the land between the Sabie and the Crocodile Rivers was put under the protection of Nature Conservation to ensure the survival of the remaining animals. Only as recently as 1961 was the extended Kruger Park fenced in.
The best time for observing the animals is the dry winter season, due to the summer rainfall of this area. At this time the grass is low and bushes and trees don’t have leaves, so that one can have an unobstructed view of the wildlife. Because it virtually doesn’t rain in winter, the animals are more concentrated around the few waterholes which allow for good game viewing.
Fish River Canyon
Not just another hole in the ground. Located in Southern Namibia, is the world’s second-largest canyon, after the well-known Grand Canyon situated in Arizona, United States.
Fish River Canyon is a popular terrain where thousands of hikers, bikers, and all-round travellers journey through daily. It’s the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia, after the Namib Desert, which is the oldest desert found on the globe.
The ultimate playground for adventure lovers, Swakopmund has activities ranging from skydiving to quad biking, deep-sea fishing to sand-boarding, and horse riding.
Swakopmund was founded in 1892, two years after Windhoek, by Captain Curt von Francois as the main harbour of German South-West Africa. Increased traffic between Germany and its colony necessitated establishing of own port and with Walvis Bay, already in British possession, Swakopmund was their best position.
With just over 30 000 inhabitants, Swakopmund is characterised by numerous colonial buildings with the Woermann House from 1905 as its landmark. The former trading house with its 25 metres high Damara Tower and its courtyard bordered by arcades, today houses the city library and an art gallery.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. It was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to over 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish.
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago and covers around 25% of the park.
The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River, however, the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time.
This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
Namib Naukluft National Park
As one of the largest National Parks in Africa, Namib Naukluft National Park stretches up to 40 000 square kilometres. As this is such a massive park, it’s broken up into four sections—Sossusvlei and Sesriem, Namib section, Nauklift, and Sandwich Harbour.
The Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park was established in 1964 with the accrual of farm Naukluft as a sanctuary for Hartmann’s zebra. Most of the farm surrounding Naukluft mountain massif was purchased by 1970.
In 1979 the area is known as Diamond Area 2 (south of Kuiseb River, including Sesriem and Sossusvlei) was added to form Namib Naukluft Park.
Mammals like the steenbok, springbok, Oryx, kudu, mountain zebra, dassie rat, chacma baboon, rock dassie, and klipspringer can be spotted in the National Park. Up to 200 bird species have been recorded in the area.
The Okavango Delta was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 km² of the desert, making it the largest inland delta in the world. Each year some 11 cubic kilometres of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami.
The delta provides a seasonal habitat to numerous species. Among these are African elephants, African Buffalo, hippos, Lechwe, Topi, Blue Wildebeests, giraffes, Nile crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, the Greater Kudu, Sable Antelopes, both Black and White rhinos, zebras, warthogs, and chacma baboons.
The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle, the Crested Crane, and the Sacred Ibis.
Chobe National Park
The Chobe National Park is the second-largest national park in Botswana, covering 10,566 square kilometres. The park has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent.
In 1967, the reserve was declared a national park—the first national park in Botswana—because of its uniqueness in abundance of wildlife.
The park is divided into distinct ecosystems: Serondela with its lush plains and dense forests in the Chobe River area in the extreme north-east; the Savuti Marsh in the west about fifty kilometres north of Mababe gate; the Linyanti Swamps in the north-west and the hot dry hinterland in between.
Victoria Falls is situated in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park along the Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is roughly 1.7 km (1.06 miles) wide and 128 m (ca. 420 ft ft) high.
David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer, visited the falls in 1855 and renamed it after Queen Victoria, though they were known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, the “smoke that thunders”. The falls are part of two national parks, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe, and are one of Southern Africa’s major tourist attractions. They are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vastly larger than North America’s Niagara Falls, Victoria is only rivalled by South America’s Iguazu Falls (excluding large rapid like falls such as Livingston de Chutes).
During the wet season, the falls have over 500 million litres (19 million cubic feet) of water falling over its crest line each minute, and spray from these rises hundreds of metres into the air because of the incredible force of the falling water.
South Luangwa National Park
Located in Zambia, South Luangwa National Park is filled with grassy plains, enchanting woodlands, and crowned with the Luangwa River. The park is also alive with an abundance of wildlife.
Luangwa National Park is known to locals as “the South Park”, founded in 1904, and divided into three game reserves by 1938.
The park covers a massive area of 9050 kilometres (5623.4 miles), laying between 500 and 800 metres above sea level.
The main reason Malawi is flocked by travellers is Lake Malawi. This massive lake stretches to around 563 km, making it the ninth-largest lake in the world and the third-largest and second deepest in Africa.
The lake is also home to more species of fish than any other lake which includes 700 types of cichlids. Cichlids are little, colourful fish which flicker in the shallows.
It’s often described as the “Lake of Stars” because of the many fishing boats drifting on the water at night, with their lanterns visible from shore.
Dar Es Salaam
A massive city and commercial port, Dar es Salaam is the second-busiest port in East Africa since it’s straddling the most important sea routes in the world.
Dar es Salaam is situated on the Indian Ocean coast of Tanzania. With over four million people, this city has grown from a small fishing village into a thriving metropolis.
The city’s architecture is a combination of Arab, German, African, and Indian but has lost some of its unique characters because of towering buildings.
Despite being such a busy city, Dar es Salaam has managed to maintain a down-to-earth feel which welcomes all its travellers.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park, well known for The Wildebeest Migration during December through to April, where thousands of wildebeest, zebras and gazelle follow the sweet smell of the rains to find lush feeding grounds for its herds.
The park isn’t just a home for wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles. Here you can spot leopards, lions, and cheetahs as well as a few hyenas.
There are over 350 recorded bird species including species of raptors, vultures, kori bustard Choriotis kori, ostrich Struthio camelus and lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor (LR), and several with a comparatively restricted distribution such as rufous-tailed weaver Histurgops ruficauda.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Beautiful Kenya, an iconic safari destination visited by several travellers and home to the well-known Maasai Mara National Reserve. With a unique culture, diverse wildlife, and unforgettable landscapes, it’s no wonder hundreds of tourists flock to this reserve.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Once one of the top native tribes found in Kenya, the Maasai people are known for their bright red robes and fierce warriors. The Maasai are one of the few cultures around which still continue with their traditions.
They occupy a total land area of 160,000 square km with a population of roughly one million people.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Nakuru in Kiswahili means “Waterbuck Haven”. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs. It has an unusual but beautiful vegetation. The forest vegetation is covered with Euphorbia, tall cactus-like trees and acacia woodland. The forest region is a host to over 400 migratory bird species from around the world.
Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake, fringed by thick papyrus. The lake is almost 13 kilometres (8.07 miles) in diameter, but its waters are shallow with an average depth of five metres.
The highest of the Great Rift Valley lakes, Naivasha lies at approx 1880 metres above sea level. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Naivasha completely dried up and effectively disappeared. The resulting open land was farmed, until heavy rains a few years later caused the lake to return to existence, swallowing up the newly established estates.
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley, mostly known in Kenya as the East African Rift Valley, was formed between 2 and 7 million years ago. It is the longest rift on the surface of the earth. The Rift Valley starts all the way from Jordan, Middle-East, and runs through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, and ends near the coastal town of Solada in Mozambique. The amazing quality about the Rift Valley is that once it reaches the Kenyan border, it diverges into two rifts, which later converge near Lake Rukwa in southern Tanzania.
The prominent mountain gorilla, with its long hair and short arms, is one of the larger, types of gorilla out there. These powerful creatures mostly live in the forests of the Virunga mountains in central Africa and only a few of them still remain in the wild.
You’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the mighty gorilla and see how these animals go about their day in their natural habitat.
Be sure you have a gorilla trekking permit before going on the trip.