It's time to start planning (or dreaming about) your next trip to Africa.
It's very common for hunters to dream of incredible big game hunting destinations, which often means visions of Africa. The Dark Continent is known for having some outstanding big game hunting and best places to hunt in Africa truly provide opportunities for hunters that are unmatched anywhere else in the world.
These countries have a wide variety and abundant populations of game to go along with some very unique terrain.
Here's a rundown of the top five countries worth exploring scheduling a trip to. Keep reading to learn our choices for the best countries for hunting in Africa.
Though a relative newcomer to the safari game due to a long, devastating civil war that finally ended in 1992, Mozambique's wild game populations have made a fantastic recovery, which is why it should now be considered one of the best countries for hunting in Africa.
The government is investing a great deal of time and money to repair infrastructure damaged by the war and their efforts are really starting to bear fruit.
Located on the southeastern coast of the continent, Mozambique offers excellent hunting for many species of big game on the massive, unfenced government concessions that make up most of the hunting areas in the country.
Mozambique is quickly becoming a premier destination for Cape Buffalo hunting. With an estimated population of over 50,000, Mozambique has the second largest population of Cape Buffalo in Africa. As a result, serious hunters should consider booking a Mozambique hunting safari to take advantage of the opportunities for Cape Buffalo hunting in the country.
In addition to buffalo hunting, three other members of the Big Five may be hunted in Mozambique: elephants, leopards and lions. However, elephant trophies taken in Mozambique cannot be imported into the United States.
Hunters traveling to Mozambique can also take advantage of some crocodile and hippo hunting that is among the best offered anywhere in Africa.
Though buffalo are probably the most popular big game animal in Mozambique right now, there are some good opportunities for plains game hunting there as well. Species available include sable, nyala, eland, kudu, bushbuck, reedbuck, waterbuck, warthog, duiker (Blue, Red, and Bush), grysbok, oribi, steenbok, and suni (among many others).
Of the countries on this list, Mozambique is probably the least developed. As a result, some of the hunting concessions may only be reached by air charter. This adds complexity and expense to hunts in the country. Additionally, travel to Mozambique from the United States can be complicated, as there are no direct flights between the countries. Travelers typically must stop in Europe or South Africa first.
The way things stand now, I do not recommend Mozambique as a destination for a first trip to Africa. However, veteran hunters should be able to appreciate the outstanding hunting opportunities in Mozambique, especially for dangerous game.
Zimbabwe has long been a favored destination for hunters from all over the world and offers some of the best hunting for dangerous game in all of Africa (and at a reasonable price to boot).
In addition to buffalo, elephant, leopard, and lion, there is also fantastic hippopotamus and crocodile hunting in Zimbabwe. You can add to that the hunting opportunities for plains game such as eland, zebra, kudu, impala, tsessebe, roan, waterbuck, wildebeest, sable, bushbuck, warthog, and duiker. In fact, when hunting in a well-managed safari area, such as the renowned Bubye Valley Conservancy, hunters may encounter incredibly large and diverse populations of both dangerous and plains game in the same area, which is something few other places in Africa can match.
Unfortunately, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently banned the import of elephant trophies taken in Zimbabwe. It is unknown how long the ban will remain in place, but no elephants hunted after April 2014 may be legally imported into the United States and it does not appear that this policy will change anytime soon. While it's still legal to hunt elephants in Zimbabwe, keep in mind that American hunters may not bring their elephant trophies home.
Though the infrastructure of Zimbabwe tends to be better developed than that of Mozambique, the transportation network still lags behind that of other countries. Some of the more remote concessions may only be reached by air. There are no direct flights to Zimbabwe from the United States and most flights stop in the United Kingdom or South Africa first. The other potential downside to hunting in Zimbabwe is the unstable political situation there.
Though there is good plains game hunting in Zimbabwe, the country is best known for dangerous game hunting. With that in mind, I recommend Zimbabwe as a destination for seasoned hunters primarily pursuing game like buffalo.
Ever since Theodore Roosevelt hunted there during his famous 1909 safari, hunters all over the world have dreamed of a safari in Tanzania. Hunters often conjure visions of vast herds of plains game moving across the plains of Tanzania, and for good reason. Tanzania has a wildlife population that no other country in Africa can match, both in variety and in sheer numbers, which is why it is considered one of the best countries for hunting in Africa.
Among many others (Tanzania has over 50 species of animals that may be hunted), hunters may pursue zebra, wildebeest, eland, impala, warthog, Greater and Lesser Kudu, hartebeest, topi, bushpig, Roosevelt Sable, Fringe-Eared Oryx, roan, waterbuck, and multiple species of gazelle (most commonly Grant's and Thompson's).
In addition to plains game hunting, Tanzania has incredible dangerous game hunting, especially for buffalo. Tanzania is home to nearly a quarter of a million buffalo, the largest population of any country in Africa. Understandably, Tanzania produces some of the biggest buffalo in Africa and the current No. 3 and No. 6 buffalo in the SCI record book were hunted in Tanzania.
The country also offers excellent hunting for elephant (though Tanzania is also subject to the same USFWS elephant import ban as Zimbabwe), lion, leopard, hippopotamus and crocodile.
The biggest downside to hunting in Tanzania is the price tag: on average, Tanzania is the most expensive country in Africa to hunt. However, you really do get what you pay for with the opportunity to hunt a stunning variety of animals with plenty of chances to shoot a nice trophy.
For those that can afford it, Tanzania is a great place for a trip to Africa for either plains or dangerous game. For those on more of a budget, it may be better to hunt somewhere else first.
Located on the west coast of Africa between Angola and South Africa, Namibia was one of the best kept secrets in African hunting for a long time. However, hunters have recently discovered that Namibia has some of the best (and most reasonably priced) plains game hunts anywhere on the continent.
Since the Kalahari Desert occupies much of southern and eastern Namibia, the country is home to some of the largest populations of Kalahari Gemsbok and Springbok in the world. In addition to gemsbok and springbok, Namibia also offers good hunting for kudu, eland, wildebeest, zebra, blesbok, warthog, sable, roan, hartebeest, steenbok, duiker, and klipspringer. Namibia is also among the few countries where cheetah may be hunted, and the only place where hunters may pursue the Damarra Dik Dik and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra.
Though leopard may be hunted in most of the country, lion, elephant, and buffalo are only present in the extreme northern portion of the country. Most of the hunting for these three species is conducted in the Caprivi Strip, a narrow corridor stretching out from northeastern Namibia. Since the Caprivi Strip is so small, only a handful of these species are hunted there each year.
On the upside, Namibia is one of only two countries (South Africa being the other) where elephant may be hunted and their trophy imported into the United States. Additionally, Namibia is the only country in the world where Black Rhinoceros may be hunted, though the tags are rare, expensive, and controversial (as Corey Knowlton found out). Namibia is therefore the only country where a hunter may conduct a "Classic Big Five" safari (Black Rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard).
Namibia also has a very well developed infrastructure. Unless hunting in the Caprivi Strip, virtually all of the hunting concessions in the country may be accessed via road after flying into the capital of Windhoek. As a result, travel around the country is relatively simple and it is not too difficult to hunt at multiple concessions in widely separated parts of the country on one trip.
Though Namibia is not terribly difficult to travel to, travelers from the United States must unfortunately stop in Europe or South Africa first. Fortunately, most of the hunting outfitters in Namibia are very reasonably priced and can provide hunting for a wide variety of species. The Namibian government also recognizes the tangible benefits of sustainable hunting on both an economic and a conservation level. For this reason, the Namibian government is firmly entrenched to fight off attacks by anti-hunters on the practice, thus likely securing the Namibia on the list of the best countries for hunting in Africa for many years to come.
With all of this in mind, I recommend Namibia as a great destination for hunters on their first trip to Africa, especially for hunting plains game.
Long known as being one of the crown jewels of African hunting, South Africa boasts some of the most diverse populations of wildlife on the entire continent and is unquestionably one of the best countries for hunting in Africa.
From deserts to swamps to forests to mountains, South Africa has virtually every type of terrain in existence, along with the wildlife that inhabits those ecosystems. Greater Kudu, Cape Eland, nyala, waterbuck, sable, roan, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Blue Wildebeest, blesbok, impala, springbok, bushbuck, warthog, bushpig, Mountain Reedbuck, klipspringer, Cape Grysbok, duiker, and oribi are among the many species of plains game that may be hunted in South Africa.
In addition to plains game hunting, hunters can pursue most species of dangerous game, such as hippopotamus, crocodile, lion, and leopard in South Africa. There is also incredible hunting for Cape Buffalo in the northeastern portion of the country. Not only does the area have a very large population of buffalo, but the trophy quality of the bulls there is outstanding. Currently, five of the top 10 buffalo in the SCI record book were hunted in South Africa.
Additionally, though not known for exceptional trophy quality, elephant may also be hunted in South Africa and imported into the United States. Finally, by substituting White Rhinoceros (which may be hunted and/or darted in South Africa) for Black Rhino, a hunter can also complete a Big Five hunting safari in South Africa.
South Africa has potentially the best developed infrastructure on the entire continent. After flying into Cape Town or Johannesburg, a hunter can access virtually the entire country via road, or by a regional airline to smaller airports in all corners of the country. South Africa is also one of the few countries on the continent accessible via direct flight from the United States.
Since South Africa is such a well known hunting destination and because the country is so easy to access, the average price of a hunt there is on the high side, though not nearly as high as Tanzania. Even with this in mind, a South African hunting safari is still quite a bargain and is an ideal way to experience Africa for the first time, especially for someone interested in hunting a number of very diverse animals.
What do you think of our choices for the best countries for hunting in Africa? Did we miss any?
Like what you see here? You can read more great hunting articles by John McAdams on his hunting blog. Follow him on Facebook The Big Game Hunting Blog, on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt, and on Instagram The_Big_Game_Hunter.