The Best Safaris in Africa

When driving through the scenic savanna landscape, tall grass and pristine acacia trees dot the horizon. Animals sightings are overwhelming. At first glance you will rush to your camera to take a photo of the grazing animals; giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, impala, waterbuck, and oryx. It is incredible to think how many centuries they have roamed these lands. The real hunt while on safari is searching for the Big Five. Find elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopards and of course lions, all come with time. On some safaris, they may come in one day.

Have you always wanted to go to a safari, but imagined an incredibly high price? If you are looking for a good safari on a budget, some are easily accessible, self-driving is allowed, and entry fees are friendly to the wallet. What about packing for a safari. There are a few essential items not to forget. With our top picks in Africa, you will see all the expected animals, including a good chance at the Big Five.

What Animals Will I See on Safari?
It is normal to see a lot of wildlife and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Expect to see A LOT of wildebeest and antelope. Some parks have a lot of elephants and giraffe. Depending on your luck and patience, seeing Lions is common, but you may only see a few. Seeing Leopards and Rhinos are rare. They are at many parks, but they are elusive. Leopards tend to hide in the trees while Rhino’s stay far from the vehicles.

Can I Go on a Safari on a Budget?
Yes, you absolutely can! Safaris in East Africa cost the most, starting with the Serengeti and Masai Mara. If you are on a tight budget, scratch your plans to visit those parks, because they will rack up a cost of several hundred each day you visit. While they are worth it, they are not budget friendly. Safaris in South Africa and Namibia are great, which have very cheap entry fees and you can self-drive in a small sedan. Renting a car is cheap in those countries, making a safari very affordable. Another way to save money on safari is to bring or rent a tent. National Parks in Namibia and SA have campgrounds and it gets expensive if you do not intend to camp.

Which is the Best Safari in Africa?
Each safari is unique. The landscapes create a different environment for what you are looking at each day. Some make it very difficult to spot animals, while others are wide open and much easier. Some safaris need 4×4 and typically you need to hire a driver, especially those in East Africa. Self-driving is allowed at most safaris in Southern Africa, great for those independent travelers or backpackers on a budget. Finding the best safari in Africa for YOU depends on what you are looking for, but you likely will find it at one of these park:

Best Safaris in Africa:

Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

What to Expect:
This iconic park, when one thinks of safari, rolling savannas filled with animal life unlike any other, the Masai Mara fits the bill. Popular for decades as the premier park in Africa, the action here cannot be beat. Within minutes you can see lions, rhinos, a leopard, and some cheetahs. The big 5 are all in this park and you have a good chance of seeing all of them, possibly even in one day. Come during the Wildebeest migration between July and early September for the most action and the famous river crossing, with the best time to come in early September.
• Self-driving is an option. The park requires 4×4 only.
• Park entry cost is $80 per day.
• Camping is available from $7 – $15 per person outside the park gates.

Norongoro Crater National Park, Tanzania

What to Expect:
The Norongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive and unfilled caldera, with the floor itself over 100 square miles (260 sq km). The wildlife is impressive. Elephants, buffalo, giraffe and lions graze within the crater. Elephants spend their last days in the Norongoro Crater. They travel hundreds of kilometers just to make it there. Views are stunning with crater walls surrounding the flat plains, and the wildlife is dense considering the size of the crater. It is a common side excursion as a day trip while on safari at Serengeti.
• Self-driving is an option. They require 4×4 only.
• Park entry cost is $60 per day plus 18% VAT and $40 per day for the vehicle.
• Camping costs $30 per night per person.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

What to Expect:
When most think of big game parks and some of the most iconic parks in Africa, Serengeti is often the first to roll off their tongue. This famous park in Tanzania borders Masai Mara to the South and is an enormous park. Hosting over 3,000 lions and 1,000 leopards, Serengeti is home to what most say is the largest population of big cats in Africa. There are also over 2 million wildebeests, of which over 1.5 million annually migrate North into Masai Mara as part of the Great Migration. Come during the migration between July and early September for the most action and the famous river crossings, with the best time to come in early September.
• Self-driving is an option. They require 4×4 only.
• Park entry cost is $60 per day plus 18% VAT and $40 per day for the vehicle.
• Camping costs $30 per night per person.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

What to Expect:
This gem of a park in Namibia, not far from the scenic Namib sand dunes, is one of the top parks in Africa. It is a very large park with a central salt plan that floods during the rainy season. The park has excellent drives along the salt pan and savanna, as well as through the forest. Many natural and artificial watering holes help the animals congregate, especially during dry season. There are three main camping areas with watering holes for night viewing. The park is dense with wildlife. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, antelope, and elephants. all call Etosha home. We had several close encounters with lions. A momma cheetah attempted a kill of antelope with her two young cubs. Hundreds of giraffes would congregate for some water. Etosha was one of our favorite safaris, and is an excellent option for those on a budget. For the quality of animals and accessibility, this might be the best budget safari in Africa. The best time to visit is from May through October during the dry season.
• Self-driving is an option and 4×4 is not needed.
• Park entry cost is $6 per day plus $2 per car per day.
• Campsites up to 8 people cost $18 per night.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

What to Expect:
Mountain gorillas can only be found in four National Parks all bordering the Virunga Mountains. You can visit Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in Congo, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has the most mountain gorillas of all the parks, home to nearly 400 of the 900 mountain gorillas alive. Viewings are daily, and you often can track large families with several large male silverbacks as well as young gorillas. This is unique to most African safaris, that you are in search of only one species and it is entirely on foot, but the memories of this may beat all the rest.
• The best time to visit is from May to September when it is not rainy season. Prices are lower during the rainy season, making this a good time for those on a budget.
• Bwindi mountain trekking costs $600 per person during the main season and $450 during the low season (April, May and November).
• Camping is $5 per person in the national park and $7 -$10 at rest camps outside of the park.

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

What to Expect:
This highly underrated park is possibly the most diverse of these parks. It hosts the Nile Rivers greatest waterfall, Murchison Falls, along with excellent game drives and Nile River scenic boat cruises. The delta here next to Lake Albert provides for excellent hippo and bird viewing. The savanna is stunning with rolling hills. We loved the unique landscape at Murchison which was littered with palm trees, a rare occurrence in the savanna. The park is home to many giraffes, hippos, exotic birds, lions, antelope, buffalo, crocodiles and the occasional leopard. There also are chimpanzee treks available. The best time to visit is from May to September.
• Self-driving is an option and 4×4 is not needed.
• Park entry cost is $40 per day.
• Camping is $8 per person at Red Chili Rest Camp.

Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

What to Expect:
Moremi Game Reserve in northwest Botswana sits next to the Okavango Delta, worth a visit when going to Moremi. This park is one of the best safaris for self-drive enthusiasts. Thick sand roads make for fun but tough driving conditions through forests and smaller open plains. You can drive in for a couple of days, or make the longer trek through Moremi on to Chobe for a 5 to 7-day Safari. Wildlife is very dense with elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, antelope, lions, leopards, hyenas, and the rare wild dogs. The best time to visit is from June through September during dry season but when floodwaters are at its highest in the Okavango River Delta.
• Self-driving is an option. They require 4×4 only.
• Park entry cost is $11 per day plus $5 per day per vehicle.
• Camping ranges in cost from $15 to $50 per person depending on each campsite.

Chobe National Park, Botswana

What to Expect:
Chobe National Park is one of the premier parks in Africa and has some of the densest animal concentrations in Africa. They host the second most elephants in Africa. Animals come for hundreds of miles to make the journey down to the Chobe River. Joined with Moremi, this park is excellent for self-drive enthusiasts. Their game drives are excellent, but the real bonus is the Chobe River. Take a sunset boat cruise and watch as elephants cross the river, hundreds of hippos eating, exotic birds, crocodiles laying out, and many other animals can be spotted. The occasional lion might be found on the banks of the river grabbing a drink. The best time to visit is from May to September.
• Self-driving is an option. They require 4×4 only.
• Park entry cost is $7 per day.
• Camping ranges in cost from $15 to $50 per person depending on each campsite.

Some Unique Adventure Holiday Destinations In India And The World

Today there is a growing trend which is seeing more and more people take time out of their hectic lives and opt for an adventure trip. While it is a great way to reconnect with nature, the adrenaline rush which people feel in such trips is enough to lure them to go on such trips again and again. In fact there are many benefits, mental, physical and even spiritual, associated with going on adventure trips. These provide ample incentives by way of:

• Discovering a great way to challenge your limits and successfully overcome shortcomings, fears and other inbuilt notions,

• Reinvigorating and reinventing yourself and coming back with fresh ideas and a clearer mind,

• Acquiring incredible memories and unique experiences which can be talked about and relived again and again,

• Feeling a true sense of freedom which is both overwhelming and overpowering.

In fact today, more and more tour operators are coming up with such tours to places which are as yet unexplored and almost virginal in their beauty. Some of the places in India which are worth a mention and have all the ingredients for a having some of the best adventure holidays are:

• Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh: Providing ample subjects for a picture perfect painting the rolling meadows and hills of this region make it one of the best paragliding destinations across the world.

• Rajasthan: The rich panorama of the desert sand dunes, the picturesque forts, the awe-inspiring sunrise and sunsets and much more can be experienced in adventure trips taken in this beautiful state. In fact the state is becoming famous for providing some of the best hot air balloon rides one can ever hope to experience.

• Rishikesh: Situated in the lap of the Himalayas, this place offers multiple instances of adventure and truly deserves being rated the top adventure destination in India. From river rafting to cliff jumping, from rock climbing to rappelling, from camping to much more, this place has it all. In fact this is the only place in India where adventure enthusiasts can experience real hard-core bungee jumping.

• Ladakh: Scenic beauties and the opportunity to purge ones soul in the innumerable monasteries dotting the place make Ladakh one of the best trekking grounds in India. Freezing temperatures, life-surviving experiences and much more await enthusiasts who opt for Ladakh adventure tours.

• Sikkim: For people wanting to experience the thrill of extreme mountain climbing the Kanchenjunga presents the most thrilling, death defying and insanely beautiful treks one can even hope to ever experience.

Not just in India, even off-beat foreign locales are becoming famous for the numerous adventure opportunities that they present. Some of the best adventure holidays across the world can be experienced at:

• Lake Louise in Banff Canada: This lake is surrounded by 6 glaciers which in itself presents a mesmerising sight to people taking a ride in the Gondola at 6850ft. But this place becomes a haven for ice skating during winter when it freezes and magically transforms into a natural rink.

• Moab in Utah: The great earthy canyons present along river Colorado make sure that the ‘Old wild West’ is kept very much alive here. In fact the diverse topography presents some of the best known challenges to mountain bikers and marathon runners. Slick rock biking is the greatest attraction of this place.

• Cayman Islands: Presenting great water activities like snorkelling, deep sea diving etc., the Cayman Islands present to adventure seekers a panoramic and ever changing aquatic feast. In fact so dynamic is its natural underwater beauty that no to visits to this place can ever be the same.

• Rio de Janeiro: Experience hang gliding like nowhere else in this diversely beautiful and picturesque city of Brazil. With Christ the Redeemer standing tall, this city presents one of the best opportunities for adventure tours.

• Queenstown in New Zealand: This place is very famous for the adventure sports it offers. Every extreme sport be it heli-skiing to jet skiing, from bungee jumping to rafting, mountain biking, paragliding, sky diving, river boarding and much more can be done here.

There are many more such places which exist both in the world and even in India. There is so much to explore, so much to see, so much to experience and so many destinations to visit that avid adventure sports lovers are absolutely spoilt for choice.

Ramakalmedu Viewpoint

Ramakalmedu is a hillstation and stands at a height of 3,500 ft above sea level. Ramakalmedu offering a panoramic view of hills and picturesque view of villages of Tamilandu. Ramakalmedu access by Thekkady – Munnar route.

Ramakalmedu include places like frog rock, turtle rock and the highest twin-statue in Kerala; called kuravan and kurathi. The place gets its name from the impressions of the feet found on the rock surface here, which is believed to be of Rama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as told in the Indian epic Ramayana.

Although Ramakkalmedu has potential for it to become an international tourist destination, and already attracts more than 100,000 visitors. However, as of 2015 not much had been done for the improvement of basic facilities nearby. The government of Kerala has announced plans to develop this tourist station by improving transportation facilities with buses, upgrading of the Kerala police and other measures.

Ramakalmedu is a historic site with a Monument to Kuravan and Kurathi – a large statue that depicts the Sangam Period and Sangam landscape of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The monument provides a panoramic view of Tamil Nadu villages and towns, including Cumbum, Theni, Kombe, Thevaram, Uthamapalayam, Bodinaykannor and Vaiga. Rolling green hills and the fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu an enchanting retreat. The view is striking at dusk when all these towns are lighted. Rama – kal – medu literally means “Land of Rama’s Stone” or “Land where Rama kept his leg” (Rama is a Hindu God in the epic Ramayana). One story says that Lord Rama kept his feet at the tip of Ramakkalmedu to search Ravana the King of Lanka, who abducted his wife Sita.

The statue by C.B Jinan was erected on the top of the hill in the year 2005. The statue depicts two historical characters behind the construction of the Idukki Dam. The rocks between the Idukki dam are named after Kuravan and Kurathi, who helped authorities to find the right place for constructing the dam. Constant wind is another factor which makes Ramakkalmedu unique. Wind blows at a speed around 35 km/ hour at Ramakkalmedu throughout the year irrespective of the season and time.

Villages like Pushpakandam and Kuruvikanam near Ramakkalmedu is the second place in Kerala where wind energy farm is installed,though it is private holdings. Currently the capacity is at about 14.25 MW of NEG MICON Make Wind Mills. This electricity is distributed to Kerala State Electricity Board. Even though Ramakkalmedu has potential to produce much electricity, as it is said to be one of Asia’s largest wind blowing area.