Masai Mara, Kenya

Picture just one safari destination and chances are it’s this one – if only because many a TV documentary has made Kenya’s teeming savannahs, flat-topped acacias and lazing predators emblematic of a continent.

The Masai Mara is a northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti, and the huge herds of wildebeest and other grazers that arrive from July to October dominate the park’s ecology in a similar way. This jaw-dropping spectacle is a magnet for predators; there is no better place to notch up lion and cheetah in double-quick time, helped by the open terrain and the cats’ ease around vehicles. Other draw-cards include elephant, giraffe and rare black rhinos.

The Mara’s downside is its popularity, sometimes leading to intrusive clusters of minibuses. For a more exclusive experience, head to upmarket camps in the west. Rough roads and seasonal flooding rule out self-drive for first-timers.

Budget: Options at all price levels

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