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Five must-see African safari destinations

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    Adventurers flock to the Kilimanjaro region and see wildlife on the savannah. (Mara Safari Club)

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    You can catch wildlife, like hippos, seen here from a small boat in the Okavango. (Guinnog)

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    Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the world's largest sheet of falling water. (John Walker)

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    Wildlife that you can see in the Kalahari include lions, meerkats (seen here), giraffes, and kudu. (IStock)

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    The Republic of Congo is introducing guests to tracking of the Western Lowland Gorilla. (Odzala Wilderness Camps)

On the great continent of Africa, you can hear a lion's roar echo throughout the savanna or admire majestic grasslands atop a mountain that few mortals would dare climb. 

Excitement pulsates through your veins as you feel the rush of a four-wheel drive speed through the forests, pastures and deserts of the continent, breathtaking and sublime. 

Adventure abounds on African safaris, bringing one closer than ever to the natural wonders of this world and its astounding diversity of wildlife.

Okavango Delta, Botswana
One of the best safari destinations is in Botswana. The Okavango Delta, comprised of many small palm-studded islands, is the world's largest inland river delta. It is one of Africa's last remaining wetland wildernesses, with rivers, lagoons and floodplains. The Delta is home to a large and important elephant population, as well as zebras, blue wildebeests and giraffes. It also has its share of predators: lions, leopards and spotted hyenas.

Abu CampBains Camp and Mombo Camp are located in the heart of the Delta. Vice president of sales at Travel Beyond, Jenny Mikkelson says, "The majority of the camps are small and undetectable until your light aircraft is landing on the grass airstrip. They are built to blend in with the environment, and they surely do." The Chobe and Linyanti regions are other rich areas to explore in Botswana.

Mount Kilimanjaro and Kenya
Kenya pioneered the African safari. Mikkelson says the country is famous for the greatest concentration of free-range wildlife on earth. In the 1930s, safaris in Kenya captured the attention of western audiences with Karen Blixen's "Out of Africa" and Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro."

Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro rises from the beautiful Great Rift Valley. It is, in fact, a dormant volcano with three volcanic cones. Adventurers flock to Kilimanjaro every year to scale its intimidating slopes. 

With great views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, visitors can explore Chyulu Hills National Park, a volcanic field rich with wildlife, including black rhino, buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion and underground caves for exploring. 

Also popular are several national parks, including Maasai Mara National Reserve, famous for its Big Cats and annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest from the Serengeti. Popular lodges in Kenya include Mara Safari Club, Ol Donyo Lodge, and closer to the capital Nairobi, Giraffe Manor.

The Kalahari Desert, South Africa
South Africa has been referred to as "the world in one country."  Mikkelson said that it's easy to combine several different safari experiences, from the Sabi Sands/Kruger area and the reserves along the coast of the Indian Ocean to the Madikwe Game Reserve and the Kalahari Desert.

The Kalahari is a well-preserved wilderness area because its harsh environment does not lend itself to modern urban development. The southern Kalahari receives slightly more rainfall, which spurs diverse and relatively bountiful life. Some call it "Green Kalahari." The Kalahari has a number of game reserves, including Tswalu, South Africa's largest private game reserve covering more than 250,000 acres, Khutse Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Wildlife that you can see in the region include lions, meerkats, giraffes, jackals and kudu.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is arguably the greatest safari destination in Zimbabwe. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, the falls form the largest sheet of falling water in the world, with a width of 5,604 ft. and a height of 354 ft, sprawling into neighboring Zambia.

Around the falls visitors can take boat cruises to see animals, such as hippos and elephants. Take a trip down the Zambezi and stay at Ruckomechi camp, located on the western boundary of Mana Pools National Park, one of Africa's most highly-esteemed wildlife conservation areas. 

For the more traditional game drives, visit Little Makalolo in the secluded in Hwange National Park, the country's largest game reserve and home to one of the world's largest elephant populations.

Victoria Falls boasts plenty of popular lodges, including the colonial-era Victoria Falls Hotel, popularly known as “the grand old lady of the Falls”, and the Elephant Camp, only 10 minutes from the falls.

Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo
The Lango & Ngaga Camps open in May 2012 in Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Located in the north of the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Odzala has the world's second largest expanse of tropical rainforest, with a wealth of biodiversity. Africa's densest population of Western Lowland Gorillas live in this park. 

Since 1992, the European Union has actively supported conservation efforts of the region with the Government of Congo through the ECOFAC program.

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