3. Namib-Nankluft Park, Namibia: 49,768 square kilometres
In the oldest desert on the planet, you will find Namib-Nankluft Park. It is one of the biggest game parks anywhere, and contains the famous Sossusvlei salt and clay pan, dramatically encircled by red dunes. The high profiles of the dunes make for stunning and unusual photographic opportunities. Fauna includes snakes, hyenas, geckos, jackals, gemsboks, and insects.
If you are trying to picture just how big this park is, it is about the same size as Vermont and New Hampshire put together, and covers an area larger than the entire country of Switzerland! The name “Namib” means “open spaces.” The country of Namibia took its name from this desert—“land of open spaces.” It is certainly one of the most striking and unusual environments to explore while you are visiting Africa.
2. Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana: 52,800 square kilometres
This huge park is located in the Kalahari desert in Botswana. Even though the desert is a dry region of Africa, the reserve is the furthest thing from desolate. Here you will find sand dunes covered in bush and grass cut through by fossilized river valleys. Traditionally, this is the home of the San Bushmen. Unfortunately in the 1990s, the government forcibly relocated them, and today they are still unable to return to their lands.
While you are here, take this opportunity to enjoy close encounters with the amazing wildlife of the reserve, including bush elephants, brown hyenas, blue wildebeests, ostriches, plains zebras, Kalahari lions, African leopards, South African cheetahs, and others.
1. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania: 54,600 square kilometres – Biggest Parks in Africa
Finally, let’s head to Tanzania, where we have the Selous Game Reserve in the southern part of the country. Named for conservationist Sir Frederick Selous, it is among the largest game reserves on the planet. In 1982, the reserve was granted the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There are no permanent structures inside the reserve. Part of it is used for game hunting, and part is open to tourists for photography and exploration. Habitats range from grasslands to wetlands to woodlands, with the most dramatic location being the 100 metre deep Stiegler Gorge. Take a walk across the grasslands or a boat ride on the Rufiji River and behold a spectacular diversity of creatures: Masai lions, Cape buffaloes, black rhinos, African bush elephants, crocodiles and more.
Now you are familiar with some of Africa’s largest game reserves and national parks. Quite a bit of the land here is relatively unspoiled, despite the flocks of tourists and game hunters that come through every year.
If you visit these parks, you’ll be able to see many different ecological zones inhabited by hundreds of species of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. A trip to Africa is a must for any animal lover’s bucket list!
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