Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Top 10 Game Parks to Photograph in Eastern and Southern Africa
10. Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia
This park is located along the western part of Namibia. Thought to be the oldest desert in the world and one of the driest, it's landscape though devoid of larger African animals like the elephant and giraffe, is an amazing place to photograph. Even though it's a desert there is beauty everywhere. The park is home to the largest drifting sand dunes in the world, some reaching 1000 ft high, which creates beautiful ripples and knife blade edges that cast cool shadows. The orange rust colored dunes makes for a interesting contrast with the blue sky as well. Make sure to hike dune 45 to watch the sunset.
9. Mgahinga National Park, Uganda
Located in the southwest tip of Uganda, along the slopes of one of three extinct volcanoes, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, borders Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga connects to two other parks making up the Virunga Conservation Area, that was set aside to protect the last remaining mountain gorillas. Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda and Parc National des Virunga in the DRC, are home to the majority of the estimated 700 remaining mountain gorillas.
The volcanoes make for a stunning back drop and add to the mystique as you hike up their slopes through thick rainforest, in search of the gorillas. While travel through the rain forest can be slow and challenging, it is worth it when you come face to face with a male silverback gorilla and look into their soft brown eyes. It is an experience you will never forget.
8. Etosha National Park, Namibia
Etosha meaning "great white place," because of the big white mineral pan that takes up 25% of the park, is a beautiful place to photograph animals because of the unique white back drop. Located in Northern Namibia, this park is one of the best National Parks in Southern Africa. The park is off the tourist grid so you will not feel overcrowded. Camping in one of the three campgrounds within the park will leave you with an amazing African experience. Lay in your tent and enjoy listing to the many sounds of predators hunting in the dark. Great place to see the unique Oryx.
7. Okavango Delta, Botswana
World's largest inland delta and one of the most amazing parks in all of Africa. If you want to see one of the last unspoiled places left in Africa, this is a must. Get transported into the park by mokoro,(wooden dug out canoe) and sit back and soak up the amazing diversity of wildlife and crystal clear waters of the wetlands. It's even possible to drink right from the water. Bush camping is one of the highlights, as you get the chance to have wildlife walk right past your tent. Great chance to get up close to hippos and African Bush Elephants. If you want everything in one park you can't miss this gem. See it before development spoils this place.
6. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
One of the most famous game parks in the world. If you time it right and visit this park during February to June you could get lucky enough to witness one of earths last large animal migrations. Around a million Zebras and Wildebeest migrate through the Serengeti, followed by more predators than you will see anywhere else in the world. This park has everything you want in a game park, except the crowds which can dampen the experience. If you get lucky enough to watch a lion walk past your safari vehicle with no other vehicles in sight it will capture your heart and make you realize why this place is so famous. Watching a lion, leopard, or cheetah stalk its prey though the tall grass, will get your heartbeat pumping, as well as make for great photos.
5. Chobe Reserve, Botswana
The Chobe River is an amazing place to photograph hippos, elephants, and crocodiles. The Chobe River makes for a beautiful river cruise as well and will allow you to view hundreds of elephants from the water. Bring along your own alcohol and sit back and have fun photographing wildlife from the river. Although elephants have overrun this park damaging the forests, if you want to get good pics of elephants this is your place. Lions, leopards, and Hyenas are seen in large numbers, so make sure to camp within the park to get the best chance of seeing them. Only place I saw a honey badger. May to October is the dry period so animals will congregate along the river in large numbers.
4. Kruger National Park, South Africa
Located along the eastern border of South Africa, Kruger is one of the largest parks in Africa, and one of the best parks to view a large verity of African animals, such as the disappearing wild dog. If your lucky you may see some of the large tuskers roaming the park. Take time to visit this park for it's size give you one of the best remaining chances of seeing the big five. Though the dry landscape isn't visually appealing the chance of photographing leopards, wild dogs, and rhinos will leave you wanting to never leave. The lodges and private game parks bordering the park are also amazing.
3. Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Like a smaller version of the Ngorongoro Crater this park is tucked into the rim of an ancient volcanic crater. Though pretty small in size, this park gives you a large chance to photograph both white and black rhinos. Probably the best chance to photograph rhinos in all of Africa. I saw over 20 rhinos on one game drive. You have a great chance of seeing the resident leopards and lions as well. Those interested in bird life, will fall in love with the sight of thousands of pink flamingos and other birds which can be seen here year round.
2. Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
Travel here between Late July and Early August and you will experience the largest migration of land animals in the world, as they make their way north from the Serengeti. If you get real lucky you may witness the migration crossing the Mara River and dodging the huge crocodiles waiting to ambush them. One of my favorite places to photograph, has the animals numbers of the Serengeti, but with a more photogenic landscape. The sight as your safari vehicle drives through a sea of Zebras and wildebeest numbering in the tens of thousand, covering the rolling hills is an experience that will leave you breathless.
1 Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater is my favorite game park in Africa. The moment you reach the crater edge you are completely overwhelmed by the beauty of this park. This park alone makes you want to return to Africa over and over. The steep cliffs and lake in the middle are a photographers dream. The park's crater is home to large herds of wildebeest and Zebras. When you drive down into the crater you enter a breathtaking world that you hope stays untouched by man forever. Stand with your head out the safari vehicle and have fun viewing the wildlife within the walls. Huge big male Tuskers are often seen. You will leave this park with tears in your eyes and a hope Africa continues to protect places like this and finds a way to hold back the increasing human population.
Visit this link
or my eastern Africa Album on my website to view photographs from these parks and other places I fell in love with while traveling to eastern Africa.