There’s no need to spend big bucks on a trip to the African Serengeti when you can download hundreds of new safari clips from our library. But in case you can’t resist the call of the wild, we compiled our top destinations for “footage safaris”—the video equivalent of photo safaris—to help you hunt down the perfect shot.
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Africa is the undisputed land of awesome safaris, but it contains a wide range of countries to choose from depending on the animals and terrain that interest you. From the mountain gorillas of Rwanda to the giraffes of Kenya, here are the ten places we’re itching to visit for incredible wildlife footage.
Okavango Delta is heralded as one of Africa’s foremost wildlife regions. Located inland, the large mass of water draws all sorts of animals to its fertile shores, including hippos, elephants, lions, and wildebeests. Game viewing is easier in the dry season, but insiders recommend the “green season” from November to March, when clouds make for better filming conditions and prey animals are drawn to the lush grasses.
Fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas still live in the wild, and more than half of them reside in the Virunga Mountains that stretch across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. You’ll need to pack your hiking boots for a gorilla-trekking safari if you want to capture the intelligent gaze of a silverback in his natural habitat. Use of flash photography is not allowed and you’ll need to protect your equipment from heavy rain, but visitors call the experience “magical.”
You’ll want to be in Tanzania during the annual migration of animals across the East African Serengeti. Picture the opening scene of the Lion King, but in real life. From January through March, wildebeests, zebras, lions, and many other species move from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to greener pastures—creating the optimal environment for filming these incredible creatures in action.
The desert landscapes of Namibia make it unlike any other safari destination. Aloe forests and massive red sand dunes evoke an alien environment, not to mention the stunning stars at night. In Etosha National Park, you don’t drive around looking for wildlife; you simply wait by one of the few waterholes, which the animals must visit to survive. Guides promise serious predator versus prey drama when the two cross paths.
In mainland Africa, you need to avoid the hungry jaws of hippos, lions, and hyenas. But in Madagascar, the only thing that might kill you is a cuteness overload. Go there for the lemurs and strange primates and you’ll never have to worry about venomous insects and snakes. The island of Madagascar split off Africa’s eastern coast 160 million years ago, allowing it to develop its own bizarre breeds of animals and plants. About 80 percent of its species are endemic, so there’s truly nowhere else like it in the world.
Many know Zambia for its breathtaking Victoria Falls, but this country also offers a wilder kind of safari than many better-known destinations. The elusive leopard populates some of Zambia’s many national parks, and you can often opt for a walking tour instead of sitting inside a Jeep. The small safari lodges tend to be family-owned and more individualized than those of other destinations—perfect for filmmakers and photographers that dislike crowds.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been off-limits for a long time, and with good reason. The depiction of the Heart of Darkness by Josef Conrad has been burgeoned by recent wars and violence. But for true adventure-seekers (and rare footage seekers), there is no greater draw than unspoiled forests teeming with life…and possibly danger. You might see wildlife unlike anywhere else, but you also might not make it out alive.
Quite the opposite of the Congo, Kenya provides well-trodden paths to guaranteed wild game footage. You can sit in the lap of luxury at upscale safari lodges to recover from your daily excursions or bring the whole family along for a kid-friendly trip. Either way, tour options abound and you’re sure to get amazing shots of elephants, giraffes, and other animal staples.
9. South Africa
There are plentiful reasons to visit South Africa, from the history to the varied landscapes to the beguiling cultural wonders. Not least among these is an impressive array of footage safari options. For those seeking a budget-friendly option, it’s also one of the more affordable destinations in Africa, with package deals including air often available for U.S. departures.
It’s not just fun to say—Zimbabwe also offers some of the richest wildlife in Africa. Impalas, kudu, and black and white rhinos all abound in this landlocked nation. Political duress kept tourists at bay from 2000 to 2010, but now Zimbabwe is once again ready to welcome camera-wielding travelers on superb safari tours.
Camera Checklist for Your Safari
When you jet off to your African adventure, you’ll want to make sure you bring the right photo and video equipment with you. In addition to a great backpack and some insurance for your camera and other tools, these are some of the must-have features for a footage safari.
- Super-Telephoto lens (Focal Length 300mm+)
- Zoom functionality
- Image stabilization
- Fast lens (wide aperture)
- Camera body with a big ISO range for evening shooting
Or, your hunt for awesome wildlife footage can stop right here. Take a virtual safari through Africa with this collection of videos.
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