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10 Greatest Safaris in the World

A Swahili word for “long journey,” safari adventures afford amazing opportunities to venture deep into the wild and see exotic animals close-up in their natural habitats. Here are ten of the best-in Africa and beyond.

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1. Bandhavgarh National Park, India

Seeing a tiger is an increasingly difficult feat, as the worldwide numbers of this majestic, endangered cat continue to be depleted. Your best bet is at the remote Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which contains (by some estimates) upwards of one per cent of all the tigers on earth-these Royal Bengals can be spotted within the park and, on rare occasions, crossing paved roads outside the boundaries.

(Photo by Tim Johnson)

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2. Etosha National Park, Nambia

Set on a giant pan (essentially an immense flat, dry lake) and a little more than half the size of Switzerland, Namibia’s Etosha National Park provides some of the best opportunities for viewing the wildlife in a raw, natural environment. And most tours are self-guided, so you can view lions, endangered black and white rhinos, exotic kudus and giraffes and springboks as far as the eye can see, all from the comfort of your own car.

(Photo by Tim Johnson)

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3. Kruger National Park, South Africa

This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and perhaps Africa’s most famous wildlife park is one of the best places in the world to view that continent’s famous Big Five: Lion, leopard, cape buffalo, rhino and African elephant, so-named (originally) because these animals were the most dangerous to hunt on foot.

((Photo courtesy by Jo Mur/Flickr)

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4. Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

While Africa’s Big Five may be more famous, they don’t have a monopoly on the term-there’s also an Arctic Big Five. In the north, this refers to polar bear, caribou, walrus, whale and muskox. And the best place to see the biggest of this big five-and the world’s largest land carnivore-is in Churchill, where its Hudson Bay location serves as a launch pad for air, sea and land adventures to spot these white beasts.

(Photo courtesy of Martin Lopatka/Flickr)

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5. Amazon River, South America

The world’s second largest river-which winds through Peru, Colombia and Brazil-teems with life, which can be spotted from a variety of river cruises, from rides hitched aboard basic fishing vessels to five-star luxury ships. You can see everything from sloths to piranha to caiman (a relative of the crocodile) and various types of monkey, but perhaps the most striking and bizarre is the Amazon River Dolphin, a grayish pink freshwater mammal that routinely leaps out of the river’s brown waters.

(Photo courtesy of visionshare/Flickr)

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6. Chobe National Park, Bostwana

Botswana’s first national park, Chobe is one of the finest places in the world to see elephants, with an estimated population of more than 50,000 living inside the park. These grey beasts cluster along the Linyanti and Cobe Rivers during the dry season and migrate to the southeast during the rainy season, while hippos, warthogs and other African favourites can also be spotted throughout the park.

(Photo courtesy of whatleydude/Flickr)

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7. Sundarbans National Park, India

This Bengali park is one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, and home to some of the fiercest tigers on earth. Here, Royal Bengal Tigers (including white tigers) actually swim in the area’s saline waters in search of prey-a unique characteristic-and, due to a scarcity of available food, have become man-eaters, even jumping from the murky waters to sweep local fishermen from their boats. Waterborne expeditions are undertaken in caged boats.

(Photo courtesy of kirainet/Flickr)

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8. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Set on this vast, world-famous grassland, Serengeti is one of Africa’s great wildlife reserves, home to all of the Big Five, as well as hyena, baboon, cheetah, waterbuck and more than 500 bird species, including ostrich, Kori bustard, and various eagles and vultures, who soar across the sky over this classic African landscape.

(Photo courtesy of David Berkowitz/Flickr)

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9. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A cluster of 15 islands that sit some 1,000 kilometres from the South American mainland, the Galapagos are so pristine and unique that they have been compared with the Garden of Eden. Here, endemic animals, some found nowhere else on earth-from the blue-footed boobie to the black marine iguana (which swims and eats seaweed)-are found in abundance. Not fearing man, these exotic animals rarely flee, and those on Galapagos cruises are routinely treated to close encounters with very exotic fauna.

(Photo by Tim Johnson)

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10. Maasai Mara National Reserve

Connected across the border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara is home to one of the most thrilling spectacles in the animal kingdom: the Great Migration. Visitors often view it from above in a hot air balloon, and the scene is unforgettable-that of hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and other game moving across the immense grassland in search of greener pastures.

(Photo courtesy of Wajahat Mahmood/Flickr)