10 Under-The-Radar Parks To Put On Your Safari List
The Masai Mara often tops the list of celebrated big-name parks, and for all the right reasons, but East and Southern Africa still has plenty of surprises in store, its lesser-known wildlife haunts just as compelling as their more famous counterparts. That’s why travelling on our overland tours and small group safaris really pays off, as you’re seeing the main highlights and also experiencing locations which are more under-the-radar. The bonus? You will be helping to protect a broader range of wildlife, and ensuring a fair distribution of your hard earned tourist cash, local communities and worthy conservation projects across Africa all benefitting from your visit.
Taking you to places you want to go, you can search for your favourite park right here, our website matching you to an ideal list of tours in just one click…
Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa
Located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, this spectacular national park started life as a nature reserve for the endangered Cape mountain zebra. Today, there is plenty of game to go around, plus lion, cheetah, leopard, caracal and brown hyena. Watch out for the Mountain Zebra on the park’s signature mountain slopes – their large dewlap and reddish-brown noses distinguishing them from their plains’ relatives.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
Travel to the kingdom’s Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, and you can expect crowd free wildlife viewing, visitors ditching thess story, its 4,560 hectares are home to hippo, crocodile, zebra, blue wildebeest and kudu – Eswatini’s oldest protected area owned and managed by a non-profit trust. One of the best places to safari on a budget, the sunset and sunrise game drives are an added bonus.
Bazaruto National Park, Mozambique
Nat Geo describes Southern Mozambique, as a global hotspot for shark and ray diversity. Even more support for their claim, a smalleye stingray, a creature which is rarely seen alive, was recently spotted in Mozambique’s Bazaruto archipelago – one of 70 sighted off the country’s southern coast over a 15 year period. Even more, the reason to dive in, African Parks is currently managing its 1,430 square kilometres, their emphasis on creating a conservation-led economy where eco-initiatives benefit local communities.
Go there on our 14-day Mozambique & Zimbabwe Explorer northbound or southbound camping overland tours.
Addo Elephant Park, South Africa
Addo Elephant National Park may be one of 19 national parks in South Africa, but it is the only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” – the Big 5, as well as the southern right whale and great white shark – the predator, often spotted off the Algoa Bay coast. This remarkable wildlife haunt still manages to remain peaceful in peak season, the conservation trailblazer housing one of the densest African elephant populations on earth and protecting the world’s largest Cape gannet breeding population on Bird Island.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
In the Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will find the Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, the home of our distant cousins, the chimpanzees. Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains and offering panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel, the wildlife magnet is a major drawcard for hippos, buffalo, and elephants, while its tree-climbing lions lie in wait above the Ishasha plains.
Zimbabwe: Matobo National Park
Said to be one of the unsung highlights of Zimbabwe, this national park is home to the highest density of leopards in Zimbabwe, one-third of the world’s species of eagle, and it’s also legendary for its rhino walking safaris. On the back of the recent news that the country’s practice of dehorning rhinos to deter poaching is paying off, now is the time to visit!
Go there on our Seven-day Kruger & Victoria Falls, one of many Small Group Safaris visiting Matobo.
Royal Natal National Park, South Africa
Known for its spectacular scenery and fabulous hiking trails, this is THE place to put your best foot forward, or hoof, as there are some rewarding trails to discover on horseback, too. Set off on a trek through the mountains where riders can expect some pretty unique close up sightings of the mountain wildlife.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
One of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries, this park is known for its scenery, variety, and density of animals. More recently it has been recognised by experts for its conservation efforts, its wild dog population increasing significantly. Often given the title of carnivore country, the Luangwa Valley as a whole also hosts Zambia’s largest populations of lions and leopards, making it ideal territory for Big Cat fans.
Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania
At just 325 square kilometres, it may be one of Tanzania’s smaller wildlife reserves, but Lake Manyara certainly packs some punch when it comes to its herds of elephant. A long-time ban on ivory poaching means numbers have been increasing – with more than 300 elephants in the national park. Over 400 species of bird also flock here, and while flamingoes tend to move around the alkaline lakes of the Rift Valley, this is reputedly the best park in Tanzania to see them.
Go there on our six-day Tanzania Wildlife Safari – one of our Short Safaris & Treks.
Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa.
This birder’s paradise is a hub for everything adventure, from wild kayaking and tubing tours to milder nature walks under forested canopies and across the Storms River Suspension Bridge – the structure hanging a mere seven metres above the coursing water as it flows into the Indian Ocean. The perfect location to get your adrenaline fix, the coastal reserve, which is part of the Garden Route National Park, is also a short drive away from the Bloukrans Bungee jump (the world’s highest commercial bungee jump): man of the moment, Prince Harry once taking the plunge.