World Safari Destinations

PHOTOS: 9 Bucket-List World Safari Destinations

Africa gets the lion's share of the attention when you're considering a safari, but it's far from the only place you can see exotic animals in the wild.

For most of us, the idea of seeing the Big Five—lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo—in the wild is one of those things we can only dream about. Of course, Africa is number one when you think of safaris, but if that seems unattainable, there are plenty of other places in the world you can get up close and personal with these wild animals in their wild habitats.

East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania)

World Safari Destinations


This region is the classic safari destination, with the famed national parks Ngorongoro Crater and the Masai Mara offering good chances of seeing the Big Five (the animals deemed long ago to be the most difficult to hunt). Masai Mara prides itself on being home to "the Big Nine," which adds cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and hippos to the list. Here's where the magnificent Great Migration happens, when two million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of other animals traverse the landscape, looking for grazing opportunities. You'll have a good chance of seeing predatory animals like lions and crocs lying in wait.

Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

World Safari Destinations

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If you can only go to one region, these countries have something for everyone: beaches, wine country, terrific golfing, and world-class cuisine. And of course, wildlife safaris! Kruger National Park in South Africa is on the more affordable side, though it's surrounded by luxury lodges like Richard Branson's award-winning Ulusaba. You're almost guaranteed to see the Big Five here; Sabi Sands Game Reserve offers an excellent chance of seeing the shy, nocturnal leopard. Chobe National Park in Botswana has more elephants than any other place as well as its own zebra migration.

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The Amazon

World Safari Destinations

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The Pantanal in Brazil, the world's largest wetlands, is a sprawling home to many endangered species you won't see elsewhere, like the giant anteater, giant otter, and marsh deer. You're almost guaranteed to see a jaguar in the wild here, too. Amazon fishing tours offer opportunities to catch peacock bass along with piranha, which can grow a foot long in the Guyana Shield region. You might also spot pink river dolphins, manatees, and caimans dozing on shore. Keep an eye out for jaguars, scarlet macaws, and howler monkeys in Peru's huge Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.


For big-cat lovers, a visit to India cannot be downplayed: in Ranthambore National Park you'll see a thankfully increasing population of Bengal tigers alongside leopards and other cats. Kaziranga National Park in Assam has the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world.


World Safari Destinations

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Asia's largest island is home to one of the world's oldest rainforests, so you can believe the biodiversity is incredible. Expeditions are available in places like Bako National Park, where you might spot silvered leaf monkeys, wild Bornean bearded pigs and macaques, or the Danum Valley, where if you're lucky you'll glimpse the rare clouded leopard.


World Safari Destinations

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This Indonesian island has lost half of its rainforest, so come quick if you want to see its rarest species including the great Sumatran tiger and Sumatran orangutan. Some ecotours even offer up-close experiences with the critically endangered primates, only found here.


World Safari Destinations

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Somewhat closer to home, Nicaragua is less visited (and more affordable) than Costa Rica, making it a perfect place to eco-tour. Around Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, you'll find a pristine refuge teeming with iguanas, caiman and toucans, with jaguars lurking through the trees as sloths laze in branches above. Sit still enough with your camera and a curious tree frog might come closer to check you out.


World Safari Destinations

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Dubai is on a major migratory route, so in spring and fall more than 320 bird species pass through it. Ecotours through the desert give you a look at the native Arabian oryx, desert fox and hyena. Take a vintage Land Rover to lakeside sanctuaries, and camp under the stars at a private oasis.


World Safari Destinations


For a one-of-a-kind wild animal experience, head to the land Down Under, where you can go bush-walking through Wolgan Valley to see koalas and red kangaroos in the wild. Or explore the Outback by camel safari and hike the mountains in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You can even feed emus and kangaroos yourself and hold a koala at Lone Pine Animal Sanctuary near Brisbane, one of the only places in the world that it's legal to do so.