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Africa is a vast continent with so much to offer, so if you’re planning a safari where should you begin? William Gray explores the continent’s ecosystems, highlighting the best places to encounter its astonishing biodiversity

The moment you set eyes on the Serengeti, Masai Mara or any of Africa’s great savannahs, it will sear your find forever. The immense tawny plains of find-combed grasses, flat-topped umbrella acacias and rusty, rockpile kopjes; the herds of gazelle, wildebeest and zebra scattered far and wide, quivering in the heat haze or flowing in long, sinuous fines, heads bowed but constantly aware of lion, cheetah and hyena.

From giraffe to gerbils, elephant to eagles, savannahs are big on biodiversity and epitomise our view of the African landscape — and yet this is just one of the continent’s ‘big six’ ecosystems. Forest, desert, mountain, wetland and coast complete the picture — each with its own rich palette of habitats and specially adapted plants and animals. Read on to discover Africa’s biodiversity hotspots and where to go for the best wildlife experiences…

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October-December 2018 (84)
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About Travel Africa

Special Wildlife Issue, celebrating Africa's fauna • Big Cat lovers • Understanding elephants • In praise of primates • Painted dogs • Snakes • Birds • The wildlife in forests, deserts and rivers... and much more!