by Jemma Brewitt
on November 8, 2017
6 min read

Put a wildlife lover (with a good eye) in Africa, with a camera, and it’s safe to say art will be made. With the diversity of fauna and flora on the continent, you’re bound to leave with a handful of shots you can be proud of and memories to last a lifetime. Many of our photographers from Africa’s Photographer of the Year have brought back exquisite photos from their trips. Take a look at this list of our favourite wildlife photography destinations – places you’ll no doubt fall in love with:

Close up of a lion's face covered in blood and flies

Clement Kiragu: The blood of King Notch runs in his veins

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

This takes our number one spot to take snaps of wildlife due to remarkable populations of predators and, of course,  the Great Migration. Every year, somewhere between the months of July and October, The Great Wildebeest Migration move into the area. Thousands of zebra, wildebeest, and gazelle make their annual pilgrimage from the Serengeti, following the green grasses that pop up after the rains have fallen over the Maasai Mara. This event allows for unbelievable photographic opportunities thanks to the large herds of wildebeest and the reserve’s resident big cats and crocodiles. If you’re really lucky, you may even snap scenes of a Mara River crossing.

Best time to snap: July to October

Cheetah killing a wildebeest together

Clement Kiragu: I’ve never seen a 5 cheetah coalition surviving in the wild. There is this powerful coalition that is taking Maasai Mara by storm. They have a very unique hunting strategy

Sunset as a backdrop to the giraffe family

Chandrashekar Kalyanasundaram: Dreamy evening

A leopard jumping from one tree to another

Carsten Riedl: Leopard jumps from one tree to another

2. The Kalahari Desert, Botswana

This destination makes for extraordinary photography. With expansive rust-coloured valleys, sand dunes, scrubland, dwarf trees and an array of wildlife, you’re bound to get a frame-worthy shot. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is home to giraffes, elephants, white rhinos, buffalos, hyenas, honey badgers, meerkats and yellow mongooses to name a few. Take unique shots with golden grasses, dwarf trees, and scrub bushes as your backdrop.

Best time to snap: December to January / April to October

A cheetah at a waterhole in the Kalahari

Heste De Beer: Kalahari cheetah

A leopard walking in desert sands

Stefano Romei: Take a walk on the wildside

3. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Photographers are bound to leave Etosha with a memory card full of incredible images. One of Southern Africa’s  most beloved and easily accessible wildlife sanctuaries, Etosha is home to over 114 mammal species and 340 bird species. Its name translates to “great white place” referencing its mirage-inducing pan, which was, millions of years ago, an ancient sea. Enjoy snapping the varied vegetation with sightings of zebra, wildebeest, rhino, antelope and elephant. The dry season makes photography somewhat easier, with water sources becoming crowded with competing wildlife. Embark on bush walks with a camera in hand and in the evenings capture sightings at floodlit waterholes.

Best time to snap: July to October

Rhino, springbok and black-backed jackal in Etosha

Mike Walsh: Black rhino together with springbok and black-backed jackal

Elephants lifting dust in Etosha

Jana Scherf Arnstadt: Elephant group in Etosha National Park

A jackal in Etosha Pan

Sebastian Karonitsch: Jackal at Etosha Pan

4. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Some of the most iconic wildlife photography has been taken within Africa’s second-largest park, the Kruger National Park. Home to the highest population of the Big 5 (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo) in South Africa and a number of exquisite rivers such as the Limpopo, Sabie and Olifants. This destination is perfect for wildlife lovers and is filled with history and breathtaking sunsets

Best time to snap: March to September

A rhino in black and white looking at the camera

Adip Singh: Lone ranger

A lion cub walking on a road in South Africa

Dieter-Mendzigall-Germany Young: Lion accompanies us on a morning walk in South Africa

A close up of a lion yawning

Thinus Schoeman: The sharp-end. A male lion giving a late afternoon yawn

5. Rain forests in Atsinanana, Madagascar

For the perfect rainforest shot and for capturing tropical hues, eastern Madagascar is your spot. With six national parks to choose from and each with a unique biodiversity, Madagascar is a photographer’s paradise. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is one of the most popular parks with dense and damp forests home to an incredible diversity of lemur species- with 11 found here in total. Stroll through the forests and capture these exquisite creatures in action. This park is renowned for being home to the Indri, a species of lemur which stands a metre high and resembles a panda bear. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect subject for your next shoot?

Best time to snap: April to May

A conspiracy of lemurs in Masagascar A chameleon in Madagascar

6. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

There is nothing like coming face-to-face with, and snapping shots of, one of our closest relatives, in their natural habitat. Volcanoes National Park is a rainforest and bamboo haven for around 400 mountain gorillas and is home to five volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains. The rare golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, three-horned chameleon, spotted hyena, elephants and over 180 species of birds also make up the national park. Capture this exquisite creatures against the lush forest as your backdrop. This park is also celebrated as the setting for the book and film Gorillas in the Mist.

Best time to snap: mid-December to early February / June to September

A close up of a gorilla behind lush leaves

Harry Skeggs: A mountain gorilla weighs me up curiously from the depths of the bwindi jungle

Gorilla mother and her baby

Jennifer Sawicky: A Mother’s Love

A gorilla sitting in green bamboo leaves

Nick Dale: A gorilla looks down from the top of a bush. Only its head and chest can be seen in the dense green undergrowth of the forest.

7. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti translates to ‘endless plains’, which is fitting when marveling at 1.5 million hectares of plains. This park is known for its variety of wildlife, Big 5 and the annual Great Migration. The Great Migration sees 1.5 million wildebeest, moving to better grazing. This is the perfect opportunity to capture wildebeest making a river crossing or predators lingering nearby. This park has superb game-viewing all year round, a huge predator population and many migratory birds, the perfect setting for a photographic safari.

Best time to snap: July to March

Zebra running in dust

Zhayynn James: Dust Travellers

Serengeti Lioness in tree

Pongpol Adireksarn: Contrary to the general belief lionesses at Serengeti National Park Tanzania can climb and live comfortably in a tree. Full grown male lions however cant climb

Wildebeest crossing a river in the Great Migration

Bethany Ogdon: Leaping into the Mara

8. Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is perfect for nature lovers and leaves travelers with spectacular shots. Take a trip on a Mokoro on the world’s largest inland river delta and enjoy the blissful isolation while you snap away. Wildlife encounters here are usually up-close-and-personal and include elephant, hippo, crocodile, buffalo, giraffe, wild dog, cheetah and hyena.

Best time to snap: May to September

A malachite kingfisher in the reeds in the Okavango Delta

Malachite kingfisher, a very colourful but also a retiring little bird. You need a telephoto lens and patience to take a shot. | Image Credit: Rhino Africa Safaris

A leopard in the Okavango Delta

Chase Wells: Leopardess on the lookout

A fish eagle ctahcing a fish in the Okavango Delta

Sibyl Morris: African fish eagle in the Okavango panhandle

And, when you’ve finished with those incredible shots, show them off to us in Africa’s Photographer of the Year.

Header image photo credit: Alistair Swartz