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African Parks wilderness areas
African Parks works with local communities and governments to manage Africa’s protected wildernesses. It’s a not-for-profit conservation organisation. Safeguarding the wildlife so that the areas are thriving wildlife destinations. Evidence of their work can be seen in the 12 Parks which they now manage.
Akagera National Park, Rwanda
This is an area of diverse landscapes and habitats: Lakes, marshes, savannah, mountains and woodland. The scenery is spectacular!
- Wildlife: Akagera is Rwanda’s only Big Five park and is home to lions and rhinos. The birding is exceptional with 482+ bird species including the rare and prehistoric shoebill.
- Best time to go: temperatures sit at 20 – 30 degrees all year round. December to February is the short dry season. March to May is the green season, great for photography with clear blue skies and lush green vegetation. June to September are the warmest months and a good time for viewing game when the wildlife congregates around the water. October to November
The Bangweulu Swamps and Wetlands, north-eastern Zambia
Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky”. This community-owned protected swamps is one of the most extraordinary wetlands in all of Africa. This area is unique for African Parks because it’s a game management area and not a designated national park. The partnership ensures that communities benefit from using the land for conservation.
The Luangwa Valley is just a short flight from the park so it’s an easy day trip into Bangweulu.
- Wildlife: one of the best places to see the shoebill as well as hundreds of other bird species. The only place in the world to see the black lechwe, there’s a population of more than 50,000 living in the park
- Best time to go: visit during the wet season between February and April. It’s a birder’s paradise. May to July is drier and cooler and a good time to see lechwe and shoebills. August to December is very dry and good for camping and game drives. It’s also the best time to spot the nesting shoebills.
Zakouma National Park, Chad
Zakouma sits between the Sahara Desert and the fertile rainforest regions. It’s a safe-haven for wildlife thanks to African Parks management since 2010.
- Wildlife: high concentrations including the Big Four. Increasing numbers of Kordofan giraffe and a flourishing elephant population with over 500 individuals. Roan antelope and Lelwel’s hartebeest can also be seen and there’s been a huge increase in the number of buffalo from 220 in 1986 to over 10,000 today! Excellent birding destination with spur-winged geese and white-faced whistling ducks and black-crowned cranes.
- Best time to go: November and December is the cooler dry season, there’s still water remaining after the rains, a draw for the pelicans who fish in the rivers. Game viewing is generally good all year round lathough the game is more dispersed during these months. During January and February the wildlife and birds gather and become more concentrated around the pans. 1,000 strong herds of buffalo and antelope congregate at the water. March, April and May is the hot dry season with temperatures rising to 40°C – 45°C! But it does offer some of the best wildlife viewing around with African buffalos, roan antelope, Tiang and Lelwel hartebeest.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo
Sitting in the middle of one of the largest tropical rainforests in the world. Odzala is home to some 22,000 western lowland gorillas, elusive forest elephants. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognised by Bird life International as an Important Bird Area with around 444 species.
- Wildlife: great for gorillas but the park is also home to chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, sitatunga, duiker and Forest buffalo who all thrive in this rainforest eco-system.
- Best time to visit Odzala: from December to February and June to September at the driest months and less humid. Good time for gorilla trekking and observation when the gorillas feed from the fruits of the trees.
March to May and September to November is slightly wetter but temperatures don’t fluctuate much because Congo sits on the equator.
Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia
Liuwa Plain dates back to the late 19th century when Lubosi Lewanika, the King of Barotseland, appointed his people as custodians of the reserve.
The Liuwa has been an African Parks project since 2003 when there was just one female lion, the famous Lady Liuwa. The park introduced additional lions and now there’s a growing pride of eight.
- Wildlife: home to the second largest wildebeest migration. Plus lion, cheetah, eland, tsessebe and over 500 spotted hyena. Liuwa also has some incredible bird life including the wattled crane.
- Best time to go: May to July is when the park is most accessible. Short dry season when large flocks of cranes can be seen, a favourite with photographers. Temperatures rise to around 22 decrees C between January and April when the plain is flooded, wildebeest and zebra move out of the park and the people move to higher ground. There’s an abundance of bird life across the park. August and October is the long dry season when wildebeest return to the northern sector of the park and birds tend to flock to the large fishing lakes. November to December is the start of the rainy season, the park is green and flowers bloom. The wildebeest migtations takes place. Best time for predator -v- prey interactions when the hyenas prey on the young calves.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Beautiful and very productive seascape just off the Mozambique coastline. The Bazaruto Archipelago includes 5 islands and all their land and sea habitats. A unique ecological site which came under the management of African Parks in December 2017 – it’s their first marine reserve. And together with the ANAC (National Administration of Conservation Areas) they’re working to revitalise the coastal ecosystem.
The coastal dunes, mangrove forests, rocky and white sandy shores are surrounded by coral reefs and seagrass meadows.
- Wildlife: fish, birds, reptiles, dolphins, whale sharks, whales, manta rays, sea turtles, sharks. The Western Indian Ocean’s last viable population of dugongs, the only marine herbivorous mammal listed as vulnerable to extinction can be spotted here
- Best time to go: the island has a year round warm tropical climate but June to October when the weather is warm
February is the cyclone season so avoid this part of Mozambique at this time.
Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Lying in the south-western part of Malawi, Majete’s story is one of restoration and resurgence. The reserve has been restored from an empty forest with little wildlife. (The elephant and rhino had been poached in the 1970’s and even the trees were illegally cut down for charcoal.) Leaving just a few antelope. African Parks entered into a 25 year agreement with the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to manage the park.
- Wildlife: African Parks have reintroduced, black rhino, then lion and elephant, leopard, sable antelope, buffalo and impala. Today Majete is Malawi’s only Big 5 park with 12,200+ animals living there
- Best time to go: The park is open all year round. November to March is the wet season. April to October is the dry season. Temperatures generally between 11-40 degrees C.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Sitting below the Chipata Mountain and stretching between the Great Rift Valley to almost the shoreline of Lake Malawi. Nkhotakota is a landscape of miombo forests, wooded hillsides and rivers. Once home to 1500 elephants, the park saw a sad and sorry decline to less than 100 in 2015 when African Parks assumed management. Since then 1,400 game animals and 520 elephants were translocated from Majete and Liwonde in an initiative to restore Nkhotakota as a major wildlife sanctuary.
- Wildlife: elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, sable, kudu, impala and warthog
- Best time to go: April to October is the dry season and the best time to see the park. Novebmer to March is the rainy season with spectacular storms over and around Lake Malawi. Animals reproduce so game viewing is good. Migratory birds arrive. The rains end in April, vegetation is lush wildlife are active. September and October are the hottest months but offer good game viewing opportunities with the wildlife coming to the water sources to drink.
To the south of Malawi, the reserve is a fertile landscape of borassus palms and baobab trees. Floodplains, dense woodlands and lagoons attractings 400 bird species and home to the largest population of elephant in the country. Prince Harry joined African Parks for the historical elephant translocation, part of the 500 Elephants initiative.
- Wildlife: crocodile, river based elephant, crocodile, hippo, buffalo, sable antelope and the rare and critically endangered black rhino. Liwonde has some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa!
- Best time to go: April to October is the dry season and the best time to visit when game easier to spot. November to March sees the onset of the rains. September and October are hot and dry, excellent for game viewing.
Chinko, Central African Republic (CAR)
Little known Chinko Reserves lies deep in the heart of the Central African Republic (CAR). The park is refuge for wildlife. A unique area of tropical forest and savannah with extraordinary diverse wildlife.
- Wildlife: The reserve is home to 10 species of primate with a good population of chimpanzees. 5 species of big cat including the Central African lion, serval and leopard, the rare golden cat. 19 species of carnivore including African wild dog and 9 mongoose species. 23 even toed ungulates including the Bongo and Lord Derby’s eland.
Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
One of the oldest Parks in Africa, Garamba was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 with unique biodiversity. Sitting in the far northeast corner of the DRC.
- Wildlife: Garamba is home to the only surviving population of the critically endangered Kordofan giraffe in the Congo and the largest population of elephant. Great for birding with over 400 species including large colonies of carmine bee-eaters nesting on the riverbanks
- Best time to go: constant average daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees C. February to May is the best time to visit when there’s plenty of game activity. May to November is the rainy season so game viewing is more challenging. December and the end of March there is little rain.
Pendjari National Park, Benin
African Parks’ recent addition in 2017, Pendjari sits between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) complex. It’s West Africa’s largest remaining natural intact ecosystem.
- Wildlife – Not generally on the safari map but Pendjari is a major stronghold for elephant in West Africa. But it’s also home to cheetah, lion, buffalo, antelope and diverse small mammals, species of fish and 400 species of birds. 19 Carnivore species including 9 species of mongoose including the very rare Pousargues mongoose and African Wild Dog. Lord Derby’s eland, bongo, forest and savannah elephant.
 The only remaining living representative of the once diverse family Dugongidae. The Stellar’s sea cow hunted to extinction in the 18th century closest modern relative.
 Even-toed ungulates have two weight-bearing toes on each foot.
More about African Parks
Zakouma National Park, Chad – an Africa of intense heat and rugged terrain, away from the mainstream tourism. Courtesy Rob Janisch. More at https://goo.gl/N7ZGNs
Posted by Zambezi Safari & Travel Co Ltd on Tuesday, 30 January 2018
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