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Containing some of the world’s most dizzying landscapes, highest peaks and rarest wildlife, national parks hold a special gooey place in the hearts of nature lovers.

1. Serengeti, Tanzania

There wouldn’t be enough room in a shelf of books to cover all there is to explore in the Serengeti National Park, a massive 14,750km² of grassland plains and savanna in the north of Tanzania, boasting one of the oldest ecosystems on earth.

The area that now makes up the park was first stumbled upon by outsiders in 1908. Stewart Edward White, the American game hunter who found it after setting out from Nairobi, wrote: “We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise.”

The park is composed of three key areas (the wider Serengeti region spills over into Kenya), There’s the Serengeti plains, where zebra, gazelle, topi, buffalo, waterbuck and more hoofed animals live during the wet season. Then there’s the swampy Western corridor, where “black cotton” (black clay) soil covers the land. The Grumeti River is the part of the park which the toothy Nile crocodiles, monkeys and eagles call home. Then the Northern Serengeti is where all the open woodlands lie.

The Masai tribespeople, who now live in the Masai Mara National Reserve on the edge of the park, call it ‘Siringitu’ – which means ‘the place where the land moves on forever.’

If that poetic description isn’t already tickling your feet, then how about this: it’s one of the places where you can see the Great Migration. More than a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras thunder from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November. This migration pattern has held for more than a million years and draws thousands of tourists every year. Park entrance is £16.50 per day. 

serengeti.org

2. Yellowstone, US

One of America’s most popular national parks, Yellowstone has it all – geysers, lakes and hiking trails.Over the vast parkland (it stretches across 350km²) you’ll be able to spot everything from wolves to bald eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. The geysers are also an amazing sight, with the famous ‘Steamboat’ erupting 300m in the air for the first time in eight years last week. Park entrance is priced from £16.50pp. 

nps.gov/yell


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Top 5 national parks: From Serengeti to Yellowstone, the best nature reserve travel destinations
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