Five Jaw-Dropping Natural Wonders You Can See on an African Safari

POSTED ON 28th October 2015 BY

Top 5 Natural Wonders To See On An African Safari

You’ll feel like you’ve travelled through time…

Our world is increasingly overrun with urban landscapes and dense populations. It seems that natural wonders are disappearing at a rapid rate.

But not in Africa.

This vast continent is one of the last and strongest bastions of natural beauty, from expansive lakes to alien dunes and vast mountains. On your African safari holiday, you’ll encounter some of the biggest, most beautiful and most fascinatingly paradoxical geological formations and natural features on the planet. You may in fact feel that you’ve left Earth entirely, or at least gone back in time.

While on safari, be sure to visit at least one of these spectacular sites…


1. Victoria Falls

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Victoria Falls Moonbow Time Lapse

As you approach Victoria Falls, you’ll see the mist rising out of the gorge and hear the roar of crashing water before you properly see the first wonder on our list. This spectacular self-announcement is what gives Victoria Falls its local name: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”

Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is not just one of Africa’s top five wonders, but one of the seven natural wonders of the world. At 2 kilometers wide, it’s the world’s largest falling curtain of water. 300,000 gallons of water pour over the falls every second during the rainy season.

But it’s not for sheer size that we count Victoria Falls as a must-see on your safari. The Zambezi River’s heart-stopping plunge into the basalt gorges below exudes beauty. Iridescent mist catches the sun’s rays and transforms them into rainbows—and, when you’re lucky enough to catch the rare phenomenon, “moonbows” appear over the falls on cloudless nights, creating the perfect photo opportunity.

As you take your photos (expert advice on making them as good as they can be can be found in another article on this blog, here), don’t forget to close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported into meditative stillness by the sounds of water endlessly rushing over the edge.


2. Sossusvlei

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Walk through the salt and clay pan known as Deadvlei and you may feel that you’re dreaming. This landscape is one of stark contrasts—which is saying something for Namibia, a remotely populated country of flat desert and high dunes.

Sossusvlei is often described as bizarre or surreal, which has made it the ideal setting for fantasy or dream sequences in films like The Cell and The Fall. Red dunes rise over the flat pan, and the landscape beneath them is punctuated by leafless, contorted acacia trees that stab upward into a sharp blue sky.

Since this area can only be navigated by foot, the rugged landscape of Sossusvlei is relatively free of tourists. You’ll be free to wander through the dunes and take photographs without a single soul in sight. With all this solitude in such a barren land, prepare yourself for the possibility of being overwhelmed by intense spiritual feelings — you wouldn’t be the first.

Namibia holds other spectacular wonders, as well. The region of Damaraland, in the inner portion of the Namib, is famous for its volcanic rock formations. Namibia is also where you’ll find an ancient petrified forest and its fossilized trees, which predate human civilization by millions of years.


3. Kalahari Desert

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Kalahari - African Safari #2

The Kalahari Desert is spectacular. Although technically a savannah and not a true desert, the region more than earns its name for its hot and arid climate. The vast red plains of the Kalahari are covered in acacia trees and scrubby grasses, all beneath an expansive, seemingly endless sky.

But the real wonder here isn’t so much the landscape as its inhabitants. Despite conditions that most travelers would find trying after a few days, the Kalahari Desert is home to a diverse population of native wildlife.

Lions, leopard, hyenas, wildebeest and antelopes have all found a way to thrive in this harsh environment. To this day, researchers are still working out the mysterious ways that wildlife — both predator and prey — have managed to sustainably interlink themselves in this complex African ecosystem. This abundance of wildlife makes the Kalahari ideal for wildlife photography (just make you use the right tactics when looking for them), and also for marvelling at the contradictions of the continent.

The Kalahari covers much of Botswana. In this country, you’ll find another wonder on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Okavanga Delta, the largest delta in the world, is as green, lush and vibrant as the Kalahari is dry and stark. Only in Africa could two such polar extremes brim with the same rich diversity of flora and fauna.


4. The Great Migration

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The Great Migration FilmConvert

Each year, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra journey across Tanzania to Kenya in search of richer pastures. The Great Migration is the largest annual mass movement of mammals in the world. In a country already known for its spectacular game viewing, the Great Migration is the ne plus ultra of the Tanzanian wildlife experience.

During this incredible event, you can witness the dramatic sight of hundreds of animals crossing the Mara River, risking their lives to answer the call of a natural rhythm. Even if you miss a river crossing, the sight of the Tanzanian landscape swarming with animals makes for an unforgettable photo album.

The location and route of the migration changes from year to year, depending on the rains. Our team of experts at Safari Drive can advise you on the best time of year to see this incredible event on your self-drive safari – just ask us during your safari consultation.


5. Lake Malawi

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Malawi - Nkhata bay, on the lake Malawi

At 47 miles wide and 350 miles long, Lake Malawi is one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. It’s also one of the deepest lakes in Africa, with some of its bed resting over 2,000 feet beneath the water’s surface.

Lake Malawi is renowned for its crystalline waters, as well as the gently sloping mountains that surround it. Serenity characterizes this part of Africa: the lake is home to both quiet fishing communities and the famed schools of cichlids by which they make their living

As you travel through Malawi, come for the breathtaking view of the lake, but stay for the surrounding national park. This forest is home to a rich ecosystem of flora and fauna.


Over to You

Even if you can’t manage to see them all in a lifetime, you’d be remiss not to cross at least one of these natural wonders off your bucket list.

Let Safari Drive help you plan your route with self-drives itineraries tailored to every interest, we’ll help you to discover Africa exactly how you want to. To start designing your trip today, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

For a taste of what safari in Africa is like, get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes chapters on camping safely in the bush, crossing rivers, and even how to tell giraffes apart.

Photo by Tee La Rosa

19 Responses to “Five Jaw-Dropping Natural Wonders You Can See on an African Safari”

  1. Edith Bliese says:

    You forgot the rock churches in Ethiopia!

  2. Man .. would I love to be there. Can you imagine the animals ?

  3. Vic falls as per the pic and Namib desert

  4. The only way I’d recommend Victoria falls, is by seeing it from the air. Very underwhelming from the ground.

  5. Amazing, ld totally LOVE IT!!!!

  6. Two trips there…fantastic

  7. Done three, time for another trip I think.

  8. Another high, fishing for Tiger Fish on the Zambezi, surrounded by Praticoles, (Grey Waders)!

  9. Beautiful there is nothing like it

  10. Edith Bliese says:

    Rock churches in Ethiopia!!

  11. Amazing. I want to go back.

  12. They are all inmissable.!!!

  13. I want to see all five…im greedy.

  14. 4 out of the 5, yet to see the migration, next trip tho

  15. Been there seen that and got very wet from across the other side of the river. Was amazing

  16. Read my page research learn the truth push share..thank you

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