Traveling to Africa: all about nature & animals

You want to travel to Africa, but can't see the forest for the trees. You love nature and bounty beaches but also don't want to let your Africa trip go by without coming face to face with one of the Big 5. In this article you will find all the answers to your questions about the nature, animals and other beauties of the African continent.

Sustainable travel with Charlie's Travels

At Charlie’s Travels, we not only want you to discover Africa in a unique way, but we also strive to take sustainable travel to the next level. We will take you to hidden gems, places not yet overrun by tourists, and all with great respect for Mother Nature. We work with eco-lodges, support local communities and do our bit for conservation by working with partners such as JustDiggit. At Charlie’s Travels, adventure and responsibility go hand in hand. If you love to explore and make the world a little better at the same time, we are your ideal travel company!

Animals in Africa

Imagine being awakened in the morning by the roar of a lion instead of your irritating alarm clock. Welcome to Africa, the continent where animals are the real VIPs and where even the term “zoo” just means a normal day. Here camels stroll peacefully across the crosswalk and savannahs bustle with action. Let’s take a look at the wildlife of Africa.

What kind of animals are there in Africa?

To list all the animals of Africa, you would need a book as thick as the Bible. Let’s face it; you don’t feel like reading such a thick report and I don’t feel like writing such a thick animal book. But Africa is home to some celebrities such as the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – also known as The Big 5. But this gigantic continent has much more to offer: from giraffes and zebras to chimpanzees, gorillas, whale sharks, penguins, crocodiles and all sorts of colorful birds. Africa has an impressive animal kingdom, even when we can’t name all the stars of the show.

What is the rarest animal in Africa?

Africa’s wildlife is incredibly diverse, and this vast continent is home to some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species. Really naming one animal as the most rare is difficult, but below you will find a list of four African animals that are difficult to spot for various reasons.

1. The endangered rhinoceros

The rhinoceros is one of these rare African animals, especially the black and northern white rhinoceros that are threatened with extinction. In fact, there is only one left of the Northern White Rhino, this one found in Ol Pejeta. The horns of these yokels of beasts are like nuggets of gold on the black market. Some people consider them status symbols and others think they have magical powers.

2. The African wild dog

The African wild dog is one of the lesser known inhabitants of the African game. These creatures are quite mysterious, mainly because they are masters at avoiding tourists. They retreat to their vast habitats and usually hunt in small groups. Unfortunately, their species has declined dramatically due to the loss of their natural habitat and conflicts with humans. In Mkomazi in Tanzania they have a sanctuary for the wild dog, where you can definitely spot these little dogs. In the
Moremi Game Reserve
the Kruger Park
you can also find them.

3. Gorillas and chimpanzees in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorillas and chimpanzees are like the mysterious rock stars of Africa – super rare and hard to spot! These primates mostly hang out in central Africa. They love the wilderness, which means they hide in remote areas that you can’t just walk into. But if you really want a close-up, its
Rwanda and Uganda
The best places to see a gorilla and chimpanzee.

The Big 5 in Africa: everything you want to know

The famous Big Five. These five are like the superstars of the wilderness, the Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s among the animals and the heroes of African adventure. Let’s see who they are:

  1. The lion – the king of the jungle, with its wild mane and the roar that makes the savannah tremble.
  2. The elephant – the big, friendly giant with his “I-have-the-world-under-control” attitude.
  3. The leopard – the mysterious and cunning ninja of the wilderness, a master of hiding and emerging at dusk.
  4. The buffalo – with its massive stature and impressive horns, a symbol of fearless strength.
  5. The rhino – the magnificent horned giant, with both white and black appearances, and a sadly endangered existence.

Why is this group called the Big 5, anyway?

The name comes from the days of adventurous hunters who sought the largest and most difficult animals to catch. So the point is not necessarily that these are the largest animals, because then the giraffe and the hippopotamus should definitely be in this list as well. The “Big 5” consists of the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino, as these animals are known to be dangerous and difficult animals to hunt. This designation has created a certain myth around these animals, which unfortunately has contributed to poaching and endangering their populations in the wild. Today, fortunately, more attention is being paid to conservation and protecting these iconic species from illegal hunting and trade.


Forget the Big 5: meet the Wet 5 and the Little 5!

Spotting the “Big Five” is great, but have you heard of the “Wet 5” in Mozambique and the “Little 5” in Namibia? The beautiful, clear blue waters of Mozambique are teeming with wildlife, and if you look closely among the grains of sand of the Namibian desert, you’ll encounter the “Little 5” just like that…. A hidden paradise which is also well worth discovering!

The best African countries to spot animals

Yes, Africa is SO insanely big and you can spot animals everywhere – but where can you spot the most animals and thus best go on safari? We have compiled a top 5 for you with the countries where you can spot the most animals and where the best safari parks are housed. Ready? Go! ⬇️

1. Animal spotting in Kenya

Imagine waking up in the morning to the sound of roaring lions and the sight of curious giraffes greeting you. It’s all possible in Kenya! Known for wildebeest migration, the Masai Mara is home to so much wildlife that it’s a wonder if you don’t spot an animal here. But don’t forget Lumo Conservancy: Here you can encounter a variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other savanna enthusiasts. The elephant-rich parks, Tsavo and Amboseli are also well worth a visit.

2. Animal spotting in Tanzania

Tanzania is also a true safari paradise – but don’t let this blind you. Beyond all of Tanzania’s beautiful parks, the country has so much more to offer. So feel free to first spot the Big 5 in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, but also be sure to visit the off-the-beaten-track wildlife paradise of Mkomazi, or jump on the back of a motorcycle on a motorcycle safari in Enduimet.

3. Animal spotting in South Africa

There are also plenty of chances to spot the Big 5 in South Africa. Lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and so many more all roam the famous Kruger Park. No appetite for three more million jeeps around you? The area surrounding the Kruger Park, also known as the Greater Kruger Park, is rich with a number of insanely beautiful and small-scale Game Reserves such as the Hluhluwe Park and Pongola Game Reserve. Don’t forget South Africa’s Marine Wildlife, either. This country is the perfect travel destination for anyone who loves snorkeling and diving.

4. Animal spotting in Botswana

Botswana, where the wilderness reigns and the Okavango Delta enchants you! Float peacefully in a traditional canoe surrounded by grazing hippos and exotic birds as the sun sets. Are you a true zebra lover? Then don’t forget to include Makgadikgadi during the annual zebra migration. Or visit Chobe and Moremi with Africa’s largest elephant population. Throw down your tent in one of the game parks and sleep among the wildlife to process all the day’s impressions.

5. Animal spotting in Namibia

Last but definitely not least, Namibia, the land of vast deserts, is sure to amaze you. Etosha National Park offers a salt pan like no other, where wild animals gather at the water holes and you can witness this fat spectacle. Curious about a unique safari experience? You can do that too – especially check this page for all the possibilities.

Spotting felines during a safari in Africa

Cats and cats: who doesn’t love them? Everyone melts for Garfield and even Grumpy Cat, with his grumpy head, makes everyone happy. We’ve already talked about the continent’s rock stars, but did you know that Africa also has an entire feline cast? The continent is home to a whole gang of big felines and small felines that would make even Garfield purr with envy.

What does feline actually mean?

The word “feline” refers to traits and (external) characteristics that resemble that of a feline animal (ok Sherlock), such as a cat but the lion, tiger, leopards and cheetahs also belong to the feline family. They all share common characteristics such as claws, whiskers and a stealthy way of moving when chasing their prey.

What is the fastest feline?

The cheetah is the fastest feline animal. They can run up to 112 kilometers per hour and use this speed to catch their prey while hunting. The cheetah is a true sprinter, but cannot run as long as some other felines such as lions and leopards.


Where in Africa can I spot felines?

We keep saying it, Africa is a gi-gan continent. So you can probably imagine that one of these impressive felines can be spotted in every country. Below is a list of three parks in Africa that are home to some popular felines.

1. Kenya, Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Tanzania

Heh, these two together in first place? Yes! They may be two parks in two different countries, but if you look closely at the map, you will see that this is just the same natural area. You can spot many lions in both the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Mara is known worldwide as a top destination if you have lion spotting on your bucket list. Lions are especially active during the cooler times of the day, so a morning or evening safari is perfect for spotting this feline.

But besides these Simbas and Mufasas, you can also find (Hunting) leopards here. Make sure your eyes are on edge, though, because these beautiful kitties are stars at playing hide and seek. An experienced guide can help you spot them.

2. Botswana, Kalahari Desert

When you think of a desert, you most likely do not immediately think of lions and leopards. Yet these wild felines have made the Kalahari Desert their home. In addition, this place in Botswana is also home to the somewhat lesser-known, smaller feline, the Caracal. He looks pretty cute with his big, fluffy ears – but don’t be fooled. This cat’s sharp eyes make it a masterful hunter.

Primates: gorillas & other apes in Africa

Africa is home to an incredible diversity of apes, but the absolute stars of the show are the (mountain) gorillas, chimpanzees, meerkats and bonobos. Those first two, the gorilla and the chimp, may not be so easy to spot because they are found only in a handful of African countries and are hidden deep in the lush jungle. But no worries! Charlie’s Travels is ready to take you on an unforgettable gorilla trekking and chimp safari in Uganda or Rwanda, allowing you to admire these impressive apes up close.

Disclaimer: Seeing such a gorilla or chimpanzee in its natural habitat is obviously a once in a lifetime experience, but be aware that this is a very pricey activity.

Fluttering and singing: the African birds

Africa’s soil is not only home to countless wild animals, the skies are also adorned by an incredible diversity of birds. From beautiful singing of a Nightingale to the irritating squawking of an Ibis and from colorful feathers of the Fork-tailed Warbler to the slightly less handsome African Marabou – on this continent you will find birds of all colors, shapes and sizes.

Place to be for bird watchers: South Africa and Tanzania

Tanzania and South Africa are great places for bird watchers, and for good reason. Tanzania’s famous Lake Manyara attracts thousands of flamingos, while Lake Victoria is inhabited by an abundance of ospreys. The vast savannas of Serengeti and Ngorongoro are also home to a stunning variety of birds, from colorful bee-eaters to secretary birds.

The Kruger National Park in South Africa is home to an impressive number of bird species, including the African osprey and the crimson bee-eater.

Psst… Also not to be forgotten is Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda – literally translated “place with lots of little birds. This says enough to convince the bird lover!

Nature in Africa: all about vegetation and landscapes

We’ve mentioned it several times, of course: Africa is a super large continent and therefore enormously diverse. The nature of Africa is truly breathtaking. From vast savannas to green rainforests, imposing mountains and mirror-smooth lakes – this continent offers an incredible variety of landscapes and biodiversity. The vegetation ranges from dense forests to colorful fields of flowers and vast grasslands that the Keukenhof and Veluwe cannot match.

What is the most beautiful country in Africa?

A question often asked: what is the most beautiful country in Africa? We can only give one answer to that: it is subjective and depends on personal preference. South Africa has already received the award for most beautiful country in the world several times, but as far as we are concerned, all countries in Africa are beautiful. Each country has its own unique charm and natural beauty. Tanzania has a richly assured culture, atmospheric towns, not to mention the gigantic Kilimanjaro. Namibia enchants with surreal landscapes no matter how far your view reaches and the red sand dunes at Sossusvlei. We could go on and on about the tea fields in Kenya and the wine lands in South Africa, but you get the idea….

What makes South Africa so special?

It was briefly mentioned above, but one of the things that makes South Africa so special is its wine country. This country is so large and its landscapes, culture and climate so diverse that it has also been nicknamed “The World in One Country.

From bustling cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg to spectacular natural wonders like the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa has something for everyone. The flora and fauna are remarkable, with the “Big Five” attracting safari enthusiasts. In addition, South Africa’s history, with the end of the apartheid regime and Nelson Mandela’s rise to power, plays an important role in world history.

What are the most beautiful natural parks in Africa?

As for beautiful nature parks and conservancies in Africa, you are spoiled for choice. The world-famous Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya let you witness the Great Migration, and in Botswana, the Okavango Delta awaits you with a unique ecosystem of swamps and channels, where wildlife thrives in abundance. Of course, not forgetting the (Greater) Kruger Park in South Africa, which is home to the Big 5, other impressive wildlife and where the most beautiful birds fly around. For a special piece of conservation and an encounter with gorillas and chimpanzees, you must be in one of Uganda and Rwanda’s parks.

What are the most beautiful natural parks in Africa?

In Africa, impressive trees such as the Mugumo are often forgotten. On safari, you see a range of animals and creatures, but except for some strange sand dwellers, almost no one in Africa relies on anything but the protection of huge forest giants, tens of feet tall and the age of your great-great-great-grandfather. Are you curious about all the trees? You can read about it here.

Mountains in Africa

From tall trees we go to tall mountains, and there are plenty of them in Africa! Here is a list of our four favorite mountains in Africa.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Kilimanjaro is not only a delicious beer, it is also Africa’s highest mountain at a neat 5895 meters. What makes the Kili even more special is that it is the only one of the seven summits you can tackle without a whole mountain of climbing training.

2. Mount Kenya, Kenya

Mount Kenya: the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro! Whether you’re a climber at heart and know how to hoist yourself to the top, or you prefer to stroll around the base of the mountain on pole: Mount Kenya offers the most beautiful and diverse landscapes and you’ll just about be knocked over by the wildlife. The climb to one of the three highest peaks is a three- to five-day climb through forests, yellow grasslands and an increasingly Bob Ross-like looking environment.

3. Drakensberg, South Africa

Dramatic mountain peaks alternate with gigantic open plains, hidden valleys, bizarre rock formations, sandstone cliffs, grasslands, forests and crystal clear rivers. The Drakensberg wasn’t Tolkien’s greatest inspiration for LOTR for nothing! Hikers, mountain bikers, mountain and rock climbers can spend days enjoying the remote valleys, steep cliffs, sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, rocky trails and mist-shrouded forests of the Drakensberg Mountains.

4. Mount Meru, Tanzania

From the highest mountain in Tanzania and all of Africa, we now head to the second highest mountain in Tanzania: Mount Meru. For all hike enthusiasts, this relative hidden gem is the ultimate addition to a Tanzania trip. Not only because of the insane views, but also because of the opportunity to spot different wildlife.

The waters and lakes of Africa

Waters and lakes are also plentiful in Africa! Let’s dive into our four favorite waters of East Africa. ⬇️

1. Lake Victoria in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Lake Victoria in Kenya is not only the largest freshwater lake in Africa, but it also takes the silver medal for second largest in the world. With its stunning landscapes, bustling coastal cities and incredible biodiversity, Lake Victoria has something for everyone.

2. Lake Magadi in Kenya

This pink, mysterious lake is the ultimate spot for anyone who loves a fun Instagram snapshot. Due to the extremely high salt content, this lake has a pink glow that Barbie would still envy. Not only Barbie and Ken love this place, but flamingos also come here only too happy to make things look even pinker.

3. The Great Lakes Region, East Africa

Let’s cheat a little in our top four, because our bronze medalist is the Lake District – or rather, a collection of several lakes. This vast network of lakes, including Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi, despite its interconnections, is a magnificent and diverse spectacle of waters and is home to diverse flora and fauna. Definitely worth including in your travel plan!

4. Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mutanda in Uganda

If we’re cheating anyway, we can keep it up for a while. The shared fourth spot is for two magnificent gems in the Ugandan jungle: Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mutanda. Lake Bunyonyi, affectionately translated as the “place of many little birds,” offers 29 enchanting islands with views and accommodations that will enchant you. How about an adventurous canoe trip among these green paradises or a brisk hike along the border between Rwanda and Uganda?

And then we have Lake Mutanda, hiding at the foot of the mighty Virunga Mountains. Uganda’s beloved mountain gorillas live here, making this place even more special. The Virunga volcanoes in Mgahinga National Park offer adventurous hikes and a unique chance to meet these gorillas.

What is the largest lake in Africa?

Whether you want to know this for a game of 30 seconds, or because you are a real water rat: the largest lake in Africa is Lake Victoria! This natural wonder stretches across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, offering not only beautiful scenery but also an abundance of fish species and a wealth of birds. Oh, and also not to forget: with its size of about 68,800 square kilometers, the lake is not only the largest lake in Africa, but also a true wonder of the world.

The most beautiful beaches in Africa!

After all those cultural discoveries, adventurous long hikes (with breathtaking views as a reward) and exploring the local culture, it’s now time to sit back and relax on one of Africa’s beautiful beaches. But which beach should you definitely not miss?

1. The Kenyan coast

Naming all the beautiful beaches on the Kenyan coast became a bit of a long title, so here goes. The Kenyan coast is a veritable treasure chest full of beautiful beaches and unique coastal towns. Each place has its own unique charm, and here we reveal some gems of this enchanting coastline.

2. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Well, we won’t win an originality award, but we can’t ignore the fact that Zanzibar is the most popular kid in the class. Many a tourist who travels to Tanzania ends the Africa trip on one of the beaches of Zanzibar. This island on the Tanzanian coast is popular for one reason: it truly excels in its paradisiacal beaches. And there are quite a few of them. But if you ask us, skip Zanzibar and opt for Pembe, where you don’t have to fight for a spot for your towel. This island is just as beautiful and not as extremely touristy.

3. The coast of South Africa

South Africa has it all! No bounty beaches and palm trees, but rugged coastlines, romantic coastal towns or ultimate relaxation because there is no chicken in sight. Okay, a chicken on the beach is a little crazy anyway – but that’s not saying everything! You wouldn’t expect penguins and cows on the beach either, but you can find them on some beaches in South Africa, too. Know where? You can read about it here.

Family Kids

What is the weather like in Africa?

The weather and climate in Africa depends very much on which region you have in mind. In fact, the climate in Southern Africa can again be very different from the climate in, say, Eastern Africa.

The climate in Kenya and Tanzania

In Kenya, our beautiful homeland, we do not have traditional seasons such as summer, winter, spring or fall. The climate in both Kenya and Tanzania consists mainly of dry and wet periods. Because of the constant changes in climate, it is sometimes difficult to predict exactly when the rain falls, but in general, the rainy season usually begins around April and lasts until about the end of May.

During this rainy season, most of the precipitation falls mainly at night, making travel during this period definitely possible. However, you should note that some unpaved roads may be difficult to traverse. Nature blossoms and turns beautifully green, as it does in the months following the rainy season. The capital city of Nairobi can also experience some showers in November and December. The weather in Kenya is particularly pleasant during the two main Dutch vacation periods: the summer vacations and the public holidays.

The climate in Rwanda and Uganda

There are also dry and wet seasons in Rwanda and Uganda. Because Rwanda is a lot higher than Kenya and Tanzania, for example, the temperature here is a bit cooler – high in the mountains it can even freeze at night! Still, traveling during the dry periods is just a little more comfortable – from mid-May to mid-October, nature in both countries is super green and it rains less.

The climate in South Africa

Because Kenya and Tanzania are on the equator, you won’t actually find winter here. But South Africa is a lot farther from the equator, so there is a clear distinction between summer and winter here. Interestingly, the seasons here are exactly the opposite of those in the Netherlands. When the Netherlands bring out the hawaii blouses again, winter begins in South Africa!

The climate in South Africa

So, you have now taken in a whole Bible of information and probably the first travel jitters are already bubbling. Are you curious about an Africa trip and would like non-binding travel advice from one of our Africa experts? Then make a free application here and let the adventure begin!

Add your header here


Do you have questions for our Africa experts?

You will also enjoy these blogs:

In search of wildlife in Kenya: animals in the spotlight!

Natural beauty in Tanzania: everything you want to know about nature in Tanzania

Traveling to Africa: all about nature & animals