Africa is usually portrayed by the media as a savage continent; raged by war, hardship, poverty, illness and crimes. Though this may not be entirely false, the African continent has more than just bad things to offer.
This is proven by the millions of tourist who flood Africa every year to catch a glimpse of the beauty of this extraordinary continent. The sights, sounds, rhythms and even the aromas of Africa are so amazing that people travel thousands of kilometers to take part in the magic.
Some of the most enchanting national parks in Africa
The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The Serengeti National park is one of the most outstanding national parks on the African continent and also counted among the most marvelous animal haven in the world. It is home to an amazing ecosystem; which is the oldest in the world, consisting of over 2 million wildebeests, gazelles, buffalos and zebras. These are just a few of the over 70 mammal species living there. It also houses over 500 bird species; predominantly consisting of the grey-breasted spur fowl, the Kori Bustard, the Secretary bird among others.
The 5,700 square miles park was established in 1951 and runs across the grassland plains, rivers and forest in the northern part of Tanzania, bordered by Kenya and Lake Victoria. The park is most famous for the Great Migration of wildebeests and other mammals; which remains the only unaltered animal migration in the world.
It is worth noting that Serengeti National Park was added on to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, thanks to its biodiversity and ecological significance.
The best time to visit the Serengeti National Park is between December and June, the period of the Great Migration of Wildebeests, Zebras and other mammals. This is the most stunning natural event in the world.
The Kruger National Park, South Africa
The Kruger National park stands out as the biggest game reserves in Africa. The 19,485 square kilometres park stretches through Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the northeastern part of the country.
Kruger is South Africa’s first national park, established in 1926; though some parts of the park were already protected by the government of South African Republic back in 1898. Thanks to its internationally recognized and important ecosystem, Kruger to Canyon was registered under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program in 2001, making it the 411th Biosphere Reserves in the world.
The park is home to over 147 mammal species, including the big the five African mammals (Leopard, Lion, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Buffalo), over 100 reptiles species, 508 bird species and numerous others.
The park also has diverse vegetation, especially the Mopane tree with their green butterfly shaped leaves which eventually turn into a kaleidoscope of autumn, a sight to behold, an addition to the amazing sunset in the park.
The park welcomes about 200,000 tourists during the holidays, thanks to its extensive safari opportunities and comfortable and affordable lodges. The environment is also very child-friendly which is a plus.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The 47 years old park is Zambia’s top game viewing destinations and stands out as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife parks. The park has a unique habitat which is not common in other parks in Africa, and is home to 420 bird species and 60 animal species.
The park covers 9050 square kilomtres and is considered as Africa remaining “ecologically unspoiled wilderness”
The most unique aspect of this park is the massive hippopotamus pods that can be seen all year, the tall elephant specie, the extremely endangered African wild dog, the Thornicroft’s giraffe and Crawshay’s Zebra.
The park offers walking safaris, which is the best way to experience a safari and increase the chances of spotting animals especially the leopards in the night.
Apart from the amazing wildlife, the bush camps in the park offer a back-to-nature feeling thanks to their remoteness. The park also has a wide range of luxurious lodges for the comfort of those who cannot live in tented camps.
Masai Mara Game Reserve
Named after and in honor of the Maasai people, the Masai Mara game reserve is popular for its large population of big cats; lions, leopards and cheetahs and also the annual migration of Wildebeests and other mammals back to the Serengeti Park in Tanzania.
The reserve is 58 years old, and covers an area of about 1500 square kilometres. Apart from the big cats and wildebeests, other animals like hyenas, bat-eared foxes, a variety of antelope hippopotamus and crocodiles. The park is also home to about 400 bird species.
The best time to visit the reserve is July and November, which is the period when the wildebeest and other mammals arrive and leave respectively.
The park offers a wide range of safaris and comfortable accommodation in Masai Mara and the conservancies around it.
Of what importance are these parks to Africa?
Apart from the aforementioned parks, there are parks in other parts of Africa which are not very popular but are as mind blowing as the renowned ones. These parks are of great importance to the Africa economy as they are a source of income and foreign exchange.
They have encouraged the development of the tourism sector in Africa which creates 4.0% of Africa’s GDP. Tourism also creates jobs for Africans, estimated to about 23 million jobs in 2018, and is expected to increase to over 30 million by 2028.
To fully exploit Africa’s tourism potentials, which will be very beneficial to her economy, African governments need to invest in the sector and also allow private investors. They also need to create enabling environments for tourist free of dangers and insecurities, unlike the Virunga National Park in the DRC which no longer welcome as many visitors due to the presences of rebel armed forces in and around the park.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
Credit image/google images/National parks in Africa.