Wildlife Safari in Africa
Safaris are an incredible way to encounter nature and wildlife. A safari includes sightseeing within the reserves core and buffer area in a Gypsy or a 4 WD vehicle or boat in case of any river or lake or some places even on foot during a walking safari. Any person going on a wildlife vacation would be going to Africa first and then India or even sometimes the other way around depending upon the interest of the traveler. Here’s the latest guide for Safari in Africa vs India that will help in better planning for a wildlife vacation at both these places. India and Africa are on the bucket list of each and every Wildlife Enthusiast because of their variety of species of mammals, birds, and reptiles and serve as wildlife hotspots due to the large variety of fauna and different geographies with different temperatures.
Some parameters on which the Wildlife Safaris in India and Africa can be compared are:
Africa has both the heaviest (African Elephants) and the tallest (Giraffe) land animals on Earth. There are over 1,100 different mammal species, plus over 60 carnivore species, 100,000 insect species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and over 12,600 bird species. Africa is known for its sighting of the Big 5 during the safari.
1. The Big 5 of Africa during safari
The Big 5 of Africa are lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, African bush elephants, and African buffalo. This term was introduced by hunters of big game referring to five animals that are most difficult to hunt on foot. There are also some other animals like Cheetah, African wild dog, Giraffe, Wildebeest, and the Hippopotamus. Flamingos are another top attraction in safari in Africa and can be spotted in larger flocks at Lake Manyara Park, Tanzania, and Lake Nakuru Park, Kenya.
2. The Great Migration
It is also known as wildebeest migration. It is a yearly phenomenon in which millions of Wildebeest, Gazelles, Zebras, and other antelope species migrate all-round every year for food and water. These animals migrate in a clockwise circle between Tanzania and Kenya, across the Serengeti National Park, and through the Masai Mara.
3. Top 3 Wildlife Destinations in Africa
3.1. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is South Africa‘s first National Park established in 1926.after merging Sabi Game Reserve and Singwitsi Reserve. Sabi Game reserve was initially created to control hunting and protect the wildlife of the reserve in 1898. The park is spread across an area of 19,623 sq. Km. and has 9 gates to enter different camps. Later in 2002, Kruger National Park was merged with Limpopo Mozambique’s Limpopo Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park to form the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the largest game reserve or National Park in Africa which is spread across an area of 100000 sq. Km. Kruger National Park an inspiration for wildlife conservation in known for its sighting of Big five, Cheetah, wildebeests, impalas, and bird count of more than 500 birds out of which almost half of the total species are endemic in the savannahs, grassland, and forests that roughly cover over 4.8 million hectares of land bordering South Africa and Mozambique.
3.2 Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is a typical African safari experience with a pristine landscape of swaying savannah, dotted with flat-topped acacia and speckled with great roving herds. This Park’s history starts from 1800 when explorers found a large no. of animals in the Serengeti plains. An area of 2,286 sq. km. was established for hunting in 1930 but in 1937 all hunting activities were stopped and in 1940 it received its protected area status and later in 1951 it was established as a National Park. Later in 1959 Ngorongoro crater and Ngorongoro Conservation area were excluded from the Serengeti National Park boundaries. In 1981 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It is the best place to see “The Migration” or mass movement of almost 2 million ungulates for the search of water and food.
3.3 Masai Mara National Park
It is situated at the North-Western part of Kenya. It is also known as Mara because of the river and is named to honor the people of the Masai tribe, the original inhabitants of the area. It is an important destination as it’s also a part of The Migration were the animals stay here for 3 months between August and October before returning to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
4. The vehicle used during the safari in Africa
Large no. of option safari vehicles such as land cruisers, Toyotas, safari vans, and other 4WD vehicles.
Wildlife Safari in India
India has a total of 104 national parks and 566 wildlife sanctuaries. National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries are protected forests to conserve the fauna and flora, generate tourism as a source of revenue, and support local communities. India has 4 out of 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world which are the Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Western Ghats, and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands. These hotspots have numerous endemic species. There are 46 Ramsar sites and almost 500 important bird areas or IBA are present in India. To date, many new species of invertebrates (mostly insects), and vertebrate species (mostly fishes and reptiles) were discovered in the recent past., 1357 species were recorded out of which 81 are endemic to India.
1. The Big 5 of India during a wildlife safari tour in India
Wildlife lovers who have been to Africa are familiar with a similar term but the mammals are different in the case of India. The Big 5 during a wildlife safari tour in India are Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Elephants, and One-horned rhino. India is known for its Tiger safari tours as it is home to more than 3000 tigers in the wild.
2. Unique & diverse Wildlife
India is known for its unique as well as diverse wildlife. To date, many new species of invertebrates (mostly insects), and vertebrate species (mostly fishes and reptiles) were discovered in the recent past. A melanistic leopard or Black Panther is another unique variation found in the forest of Nagarhole National Park. Some other Mammals are Sambhar, Hard ground Barasingha the Red Panda or Redfox, and Snow Leopard in the Himalayan region. Bears are not found in Africa but in India, there are four species out of the eight species in the world which are Sloth Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown bear, and Sun bear. There are some unique species of Primates out of fourteen found in India are Hoolock Gibbon and Arunachal macaque which are recently discovered in the forest of the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh.
3. Top 3 Wildlife Destinations in Indi
3.1 Jim Corbett National Park
Named after famous hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett from Hailey National Park in 1936 and Ramganga in the mid-1950s. Project Tiger is incomplete without Jim Corbett National Park as it is among the first and the finest National Park in India. Corbett Tiger Reserve has the largest tiger population in any single protected area in the world. This park has close to 275 tigers as per the latest census. Apart from tigers, Corbett is very good with sightings of wild Asian Elephants. There are close to 550 species of birds found in Jim Corbett National Park.
3.2 Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is a jewel in the history of Indian wildlife. Kanha hit worldwide fame when Rudyard Kipling penned “The Jungle Book”. Both in words and illustrations, his tales of jungle lore were explicitly inspired by the flora and fauna of the National Park. It is the largest National Park in Madhya Pradesh state. The resurgence of wildlife is a result of efforts put in by conservationists in 1955. Situated between Banjar and Halon valley, National Park is spread across an area of 362 sq. Km. Kanha National park is known for its tiger sighting in the Evergreen sal forest.
3.3 Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is the oldest park in Assam and covers an area of 430 sq km along the river Brahmaputra in the North and the Karbi Ang long hills in the South. The Park is a world heritage site and was declared a National Park in 1974. The landscape is of sheer forest, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds, marshes, and shallow pools. Kaziranga National Park is famous for the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, the landscape of Kaziranga is of sheer forest, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds, marshes & shallow pools.
The vehicle used during the tiger safari in India
The vehicle majorly used for a tiger safari in India are Maruti Gypsy or larger safari vehicles like Tata Xenon with comfortable bucket seats. There are options to do a boat safari in some parks of India.
Sightings and experience
Both Africa and India vary a lot in terms of vegetation, climatic cycle, different weather condition, and forest rules. In India, there are some rules which one has to be aware of before doing safaris. The rule is much stricter compared to Africa. The forest area is under the state administration and each state has different rules in particular regarding No. of vehicles allowed at a single shift or during morning and afternoon tiger safari.
During a safari tour in India
India has almost one-fifth of the land area as forest and wildlife in India are scattered in small pockets across the country. The best time to spot tigers in India is from November to March due to the temperate climate. But from April summer season starts in India majorly all wildlife is found near water holes. Due to dense forest and a thick undergrowth of plants, it is difficult to track animals inside the National Park of Inda. In India, none of the Tigers are collared except in some parks which had incidents of poaching in the past. Safari tour you would be accompanied by a guide and driver who are assigned by the forest department on the roaster. They track the tiger on basis of alarm calls from prey like Sambhar deer, Cheetal, etc. Coming through the right tour operator would result in being accompanied by naturalists either from the Lodge or from outside as they help in enhancing the experience of the safari.
During a safari tour in Africa
Africa has 12 million square miles of tropical rainforests, deserts, and vast savannas and is home to one million species of animals. Although sightings are good throughout the year best months are between June and October because they perfectly capture all the important events during the Great Migration. In terms of experience, the eastern part of Africa is popular amongst wildlife enthusiasts. Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara In Kenya are some world-famous parks. The landscape consists of large grasslands with less undergrowth making it ideal to spot wildlife in Africa.
In India, there are very selected parks that have high-quality and luxurious lodges inside the park. They are very basic in amenities and they majorly are government-owned. There are a large variety of accommodation in the buffer area of the National Parks. They are available in both the price range from affordable to luxurious lodges. There are also luxurious options with lodges of Big hotel chains like the Taj and Oberoi. The lodges situated at the periphery of the core area are often visited by animals as there is no fencing done to restrict the movement of the animals. It is important to check for the availability of safari before planning a trip here.
The wildlife safari Industry is much older and more mature as compared to India’s wildlife safari Industry. There is a large variety of options for accommodation in Africa starting from basic tented camping that you can carry to five-star luxury wildlife boutique lodges. The price and quality of the lodges are generally high due to numerous years of catering to high standard guest from different parts of the world. There are accommodations inside some parks as well like Serengeti National Park but they need to book in advance due to high demand among tourists.
Forest zones and wildlife management
In India the forest comes under the administration of the States it belongs to. The rule is set as per the laws laid by the forest department of the state. The total area is divided into different zones in National Parks. Zones are divided into two types which are: Core zones and Buffer zone. The core zones are major areas within the National Park that are restricted for entry for tourists as well as local people. Buffer areas are accessible to Local residents and lie on the boundaries of the National Park. There are only a certain no. of vehicles allowed in a single shift during Safari in India. As per the latest rules laid by the Supreme court of India to conserve animals to allow only 20 percent is for tourism rest is for conservation. Generally, there are two shifts in each zone in which safari is conducted in India: Morning (starts from sunrise for 4-5 hours) and afternoon (starts from 2-3 hours before sunset). There are also options to select a full-day safari with fewer restrictions and the option to cover all the zones in a single day. The safari jeeps wander around the set tracks within the same zone and changing zones and routes is not allowed in India. The roads inside the National Parks are not pitched or concrete which makes it inaccessible during the Monsoon months which is also the closing time for these parks.
Africa being one of the pioneer destinations in the field of wildlife tourism eases the rules of the tourist. The National Parks have boards for their administration and the experience is far richer because of the availability of a large no. of mammals. The Parks or games are sometimes owned privately for a better experience and sightings. But this creates an issue of boundaries to travel only within a particular area of the lodge. However, the drivers are well connected with wireless radios further increasing the chances of sight animals. There are also similar rules in Africa in order to control overcrowding.
Tabular Comparison of Safari in India vs Africa
The Big 5 to spot during a safari tour
|The Great Migration: A yearly Phenomenon in which millions of Wildebeest, Zebras, and other Antelope species migrate between Tanzania and Kenya across Serengeti National Park
Mammal species in large numbers
|Land Of Tigers: India is home to nearly 3000 tigers in the wild
The diverse range of habitats: India is a destination with great variety in the landscape that influences not only the culture and the people but also the wildlife in that area.
|Safari vehicles, such as Toyota Landcruisers, Vans, and other 4WD vehicles, are widely available.||Most safari vehicles are Maruti Gypsys, but some wildlife lodges have comfortable Tata Xenons and other vehicles.|
Sightings and experience
|The best months to see the migration are from June to October.
The landscape consists of vast savannas deserts and rainforests
Wildlife sightings are good throughout the year due to the large variety of animals and less dense vegetation.
|The best months for wildlife sightings are from November to March due to the temperate climate.
From April, the summer season starts in India, and all the wildlife can be spotted near water holes.
Due to dense forests and a thick undergrowth of plants, it is difficult to track animals inside the National Park of India.
|There are many different kinds of places to stay, ranging from simple tent camping that you can carry to five-star luxury wildlife boutique lodges.||In India, there are very few parks that have high-quality and luxurious lodges inside the park. They have very basic amenities. They are mostly owned by the government. There are many different places to stay in the area around the National Parks. They come in many different price ranges, from cheap to very expensive lodges.|
Forest zones Wildlife management
|The National Parks have boards for their administration, and the experience is far richer because of the availability of a large number of mammals.
Parks and games are sometimes privately owned for a better experience and better sightings.
|The forest is administered by the states to which it belongs. The rules are set as per the laws laid out by the forest department of the state. In national parks, the total area is divided into different zones. Zones are divided into two types, which are: Core zones and Buffer zone.
According to the most recent rules established by the Supreme Court of India to conserve animals, only 20% is allowed for tourism and the rest is for conservation. Generally, there are two shifts in each zone in which safari is conducted in India
Both India and Africa are two gems in the field of wildlife tourism. Separated millions of years ago due to continental drift both have some species found in both countries. But they are different in terms of physical characteristics. Some examples like Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, etc. are different in terms of size and behavior. Thriving tourism in both places is necessary for wildlife as this creates multiple job opportunities and reduces poaching and generates awareness within the local communities. In terms of experience, both have their plusses and minuses and both places are a must-visit for each and every wildlife lover.