Your Next Big Trip

Where to Go: The Best Safaris Off the Beaten Track

5 Incredible Safaris (that you’ve probably never heard of!)

Photo by Jessica at the Belle Voyage.

Last week I wrote a post about Where to Go for the Best African Safari. This was based on my experience and the experience of some fellow travel bloggers. After I wrote the post, I received many messages from readers, travel bloggers and even guides, recommending some of the best safaris off the beaten track.

To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of many of these parks and reserves. I did some research and realised that my first post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the incredible experiences that are out there.

While the big parks offer an amazing experience with almost guaranteed sightings, you can find some of the best safaris off the beaten track.

For me, I will never tell you to pass up the Serengeti in favour of a smaller reserve. Some places are famous for a reason. But, if you have a little bit longer, it’s well worth checking out some of the best safaris off the beaten track.

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

by Jessica from The Belle Voyage.


Best Safari off the Beaten Track

Madikwe Game Reserve is a private, lesser-known game reserve in South Africa.  Located on the border of South Africa and Botswana, Madikwe is home to the big five, as well as a host of other bush creatures including the endangered wild dog.  Madikwe is a hidden gem that is far less crowded than other larger parks in South Africa, so as a guest, you feel as though you have the place to yourself!  Due to its elevation, Madikwe is also malaria-free, meaning that there’s no need to take anti-malaria medication while visiting the park.  The reserve is also known for its conservation efforts, as well as its involvement in the local communities.


Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

By Cali from Cali on the Go.


Best Safari Off the Beaten Track

Hwange is well known for being home to the late Cecil the Lion. You may recall the large controversy back in 2015 when Cecil was illegally hunted. On a lighter note, Hwange, the largest National Park in Zimbabwe, also has the second highest elephant population in the world, after Chobe National Park in Botswana. Consequently you are able to get very close and observe these majestic creatures. Also, our guide informed us the only way to safari in Zimbabwe is with a beer in hand! That is a tradition I can stand behind!


Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

By Wendy from World Wide Wendy.


Best Safari Off the Beaten Track

My husband and I were in South-Africa before and we had a few disappointing days in Kruger Park. It felt a bit too much like a big zoo, so we looked for another park.  Finally we ended up in Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The reserve has a high density of big game and you have a good chance to see a leopard (which we did- 3 times in 5 days.) It’s a 65000 hectare reserve that shares a border with Kruger Park.  A part of this border is unfenced, so wildlife can go from one reserve to another.

We stayed for 5 days in Notten’s Bush Camp. It was an extraordinary experience. It’s a high end lodge without electricity and without a fence.  After returning from your evening safari, oil lanterns and candles are already lighting your lodge.  The bath tub is filled and a bottle of cooled champagne is waiting for you.  What more can you want?

The food was amazing. It was served on a beautiful terrace, with a panoramic view. While enjoying your dinner, you see elephants or lions passing by.

After a mesmerizing night one of the staff members accompanies you to your lodge to make sure you don’t bump into a wild animal walking through the camp.

If you are looking for an amazing, but luxurious experience, I can recommend Sabi Sands.


Mole National Park, Ghana

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures.


Best Safari Off the Beaten Track


Western Africa is not so famous for safaris, because they lack some animals such as lions, zebras and giraffes. Still, there are some really beautiful parks around. Going on safari in West Africa means less tourists and more reasonable prices.  My favorite is Mole National Park in Ghana. The best thing about Mole NP is that the main hotel is on top of the hill overlooking a water pond where elephants come to bathe and drink. The hotel has its own pool for the human guests too. Where else in the world can you watch elephants drink and bathe from a swimming pool?

In the morning I went on a jungle safari on foot with one of the guides. We saw a lot of monkeys, antelope, warthogs and more elephants. These are wild elephants and the guides carry guns with tranquilizers in case we get to close and the elephants get angry. Standing just a few meters away from a herd of African wild elephants is not something I will forget.


Pendjari National Park, Benin

By Kyla from Where is the World.


Best Safari Off the Beaten Track

Driving through the savannah’s of Pendjari National Park, in Benin, I sometimes wondered how on earth I was going to see any animals! The elephant grass stood taller than the vehicle, blocking the view of anything that wasn’t right on the side of the road. Suddenly the grass would disappear to offer expansive views of the wide open plains. Further into the park the ground was dotted with a patchwork of smouldering, controlled burn-sites intermixed with fresh, new grass. It was here, amidst the tender new grass, that we found the mane-less West African Lion.

West African Lions are genetically unique from other lions in Africa, and their population is dwindling. The opportunity to view these exceptional beasts in the wild, with no other tourists around, was such a privilege. At first glance it was hard to know if I was looking at a male or female, due to the absent mane. When side by side, the size difference gave it away. Sitting on top of the safari vehicle, watching a pair of critically endangered animals wander off together, was an experience I will forever remember.


Thank you to all the contributors for sharing the best safaris off the beaten track that they have experienced. Have you anything to add? Let me know in the comments!


Your Next Big Trip



6 thoughts on “Where to Go: The Best Safaris Off the Beaten Track

  1. Mariella

    Looking for safari tours that are “good” and “safe” is very overwhelming! I started (tried to start, actually) to look this up and gave up. Thank you so much for sharing ! Very informative and definitely gave me a clearer picture 🙂

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      It can be really overwhelming can’t it? Luckily most places are safe, especially with a guide. For a first time safari I can definitely recommend Tanzania. Everything is very well set up for tourists, and of course you can relax in Zanzibar afterwards which is always a plus 😉

  2. Ama Addo

    Ghana!!!! That’s my home and I’m so happy we made it! I’ve never heard of half these safaris, surprising when I was born on the continent but hey I was only there 9 years! Hoping to go back. next year, now I have something to add to my bucket list!

    Ama Addo / Albatroz & Co

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Ghana has been on my bucket list since I read your post about visiting there. The more I see of this continent, the longer my list gets!

  3. Niina / Bizarre Globe Hopper

    A great list with many parks not often covered! I’m definitely adding Benin and Ghana on my list. I’d love to add more of Uganda (for example, Murchison Falls National Park and Bwindi, of course, for the elusive mountain gorillas) and we absolutely loved Zambia. Our favorites there were Lower Zambezi and Kafue (the most famous park being South Luangwa).

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      I definitely want to go to Bwindi, especially since Rwanda has now double the price of the gorilla trekking permit. I had planned to go this summer but think I’ll be rescheduling to Uganda! Great tip and I’ll definitely add it when I get there 🙂