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Bucket list – 10 of the most unique national parks in Africa

Besides safaris, the variety of national parks on the African continent offers more than you can imagine.

Africa National Park

Spot unique animal life while staying in luxurious locations a mere stone’s throw away from the Big Five. Alternatively, climb to the top of breathtaking mountains or canoe past crocodiles if you fancy an adrenaline rush. You can do it all – and much more – in this humble but exciting continent.

Here are 10 of the most special national parks to visit and how to enjoy them.

1. Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

The open savannah and game drives are highlights, but it’s fantastic to be in Kenya for the great wildebeest migration when the animals endure a 2.000 kilometer journey across the Serengeti. Visit between July and October to give you splendid sights of this natural marvel known as the World Cup of Wildlife. You’ll also see other animals, including zebras and gazelles.

2. Kidepo Valley Park – Uganda

Over 50 years old, this Park is full of wildlife, including buffalos, and has an interesting history. It was once late President Idi Amin’s getaway and the lodge ruins are still there, making it the perfect holiday destination for history and nature buffs.

3. Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area – Tanzania

The beauty is in its name – the area is a crater-like shape caused by collapsed ancient volcano cones. But animals are thriving. Be sure to spot the “Big Five”, an African classic on your travel itinerary that everyone should get to see at least once.

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4. Kruger National Park – South Africa

The Kruger Park is South Africa’s first national park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It’s renowned as being the best place in the world to spot a leopard, plus it’s a thriving tourist spot – the equivalent of over two billion dollars are being spent on new Kruger Park accommodation. Perfect if you want a slice of luxury in the wilderness.

5. Mahale Mountains National Park – Tanzania

Tanzania makes the list again because of this unusual mountain getaway. Home to the last wild chimps in the world, the park offers breathtaking views of the Mahale Mountains and walking safaris in the forest where you’ll get up close and personal with birds and chimpanzees.

6. Akagera National Park – Rwanda

This park contains lakes, forests, savannah plains and spectacular mountainous lands, so there’s something for everyone. You’ll spot elephants, buffalos, zebras and almost 500 bird species, including the rare, brightly-colored papyrus gonolek that’s restricted to papyrus swamps.

7. Loango National Park – Gabon

Here you’ll be treated to one of the last living sanctuaries in the world. Gems include the 230.000 hectare of forest, wetlands and savannah, combined with white-sand beaches of its 175 km coastline. You’ll see dolphins, whales, elephants and other mammals while you watch the gorgeous sunset on the water from your lodge.

8. Hwange National Park – Zimbabwe

If you love waterfalls, you have to visit the Hwange National Park as it houses the world’s tallest waterfall, Victoria Falls. You can also find hundreds of bird and animal species. Surprisingly, the ecosystem thrives right on the tip of the Kalahari Desert, like a fairytale oasis.

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9. Namaqua National Park – Northern Cape, South Africa

It’s hard to believe that when author Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Earth laughs in flowers” he wasn’t talking about the Namaqua National Park. Home to thousands of plant species with 40 per cent of them unique to the park, Namaqua is a must-see in the springtime (September) when the landscape erupts in color.

10. Okavango Delta – Botswana

On the grassy plains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll enjoy watching giraffes, lions and rhinos. Or, be more daring and get on the water in a mokoro (a type of canoe) so you can float past the lagoon’s variety of animal life, such as fish, frogs, elephants and even crocodiles.

Africa is home to some of the most amazing national parks. Whether it’s safaris you’re after, spectacular mountains or hidden natural treasures, you’ll find it on this intriguing continent. Source: Travelwires

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