Best New Safari

Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo

Wildlife viewing     Photo: Mike Meyers/Wilderness Collection

Next month the Wilderness Group will open the first two camps in the Republic of the Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua National Park, introducing travelers to a creature few people have ever witnessed in the wild: the western lowland gorilla. Rwanda has long been known as a gorilla-watching hot spot, but in Congo you’ll see few other visitors. (The peaceful country is often confused with its more tumultuous neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) Local Mbeti trackers lead hikes through forests and savannas to observe these close evolutionary relatives foraging, socializing, and caring for young. By evening guests retire to one of two lavish camps, each with six low-impact bamboo suites. It comes at a price ($6,000 per person for a six-night safari), but the experience is singular.

RUNNER-UP
Ngoma Safari Lodge, Botswana
Because of a prescient commitment to conservation, Botswana has some of the largest concentrations of wildlife in southern Africa—herds of hundreds of elephants aren’t uncommon here. The newest addition to Botswana’s safari offerings is the luxurious community-run Ngoma Safari Lodge, which opened last spring near Chobe National Park. Each of the eight thatched suites, with atrium ceilings and canopy beds, looks over the Chobe River floodplain, which is dotted with elephants, zebra, and buffalo. From $495 per person per night, all-inclusive.

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