The African nation of South Sudan is only a decade old, and its tourism sector is yet to boom. The landlocked nation still has limited, if not poor, tourism infrastructure, making it among the least-visited countries in the continent.

However, those curious enough to visit this young republic will be amazed at the potential of its attractions, mainly its national parks and protected areas. It’s an exciting prospect to visit South Sudan because it has the second-largest migration of animals in the world. It’s also home to Sudd, one of the planet’s largest wetlands. With such magnificent features, it’s only a matter of time before the country competes with other large national parks in Africa. The nation is yet to be on the list of the safest countries in the region, but in South Sudan, surprises are grand.

9 Boma National Park

Boma is a wildlife watcher’s paradise because it is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the country. It’s an important migration path since the park is as big as Rwanda. Its floodplains and grasslands are home to buffalos, lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, antelopes, zebras, and gazelles, among others. The most common residents of Boma are white-eared kobs. Birdwatchers are in for a treat, too, because they might chance upon black-chested snake eagles and Ruppell's vultures in the area. With that abundance of wildlife, Boma is just waiting for curious travelers.

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8 Bandingilo National Park

For a grand display of one of Mother Nature’s best shows, Bandingilo is the place to be. It should be a part of a wildlife lover’s bucket list because it's where the real deal happens: the second-largest migration of animals on the planet. Just imagining or looking at photos of the migration is already magnificent, what more seeing them firsthand. The bellows and the sounds of the movements work with the majestic views of the Serengeti to deliver a stunning show. The migrating antelopes are waiting for their audience.

7 Lantoto National Park

Those who want to check out elephants in their natural habitat should visit Lantoto because the gentle giants pass through this park to a neighboring park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park features open grasslands, perfect for panorama shots. Lantoto is also home to woodlands and forests, where buffalos, baboons, antelopes, and ostriches thrive. A mountain also rests in the park, the Jabal Mbangi, which adds an accent to the already picture-perfect landscape. Lantoto might not be as big as Boma, but it’s not short on surprises.

6 Nimule National Park

The southern Nimule lies by the White Nile, one of the tributaries of the great Nile River. A safari experience in this park is unique because tourists are given the chance to observe animals splashing down the river. Eager guests might even spot hippopotamuses afar. The park is popular for fishers who want to feast on catfish. Whitewater rafters are welcome, too, thanks to the welcoming rapids of the river. From wildlife viewing to filling the adrenaline cup with water adventures, Nimule means business.

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5 Shambe National Park

Also located by the White Nile, Shambe National Park is another attraction that offers worthwhile safari experiences. It’s perfect for birdwatchers because, thanks to oxbow lakes and wetlands, migratory birds frequent the place. Aside from feathered friends, Shambe is also home to elephants, ostriches, foxes, giraffes, lions, monkeys, and gazelles. It’s one big cornucopia of Mother Nature’s furry ambassadors, and it’s a shame if Shambe is not part of anyone’s travel itinerary. The water is fine, and the landscape is welcoming, so tourists just need to choose where to go.

4 Southern National Park

The swampy Southern National Park is brimming with wildlife, thanks to three rivers that drain here: Jur, Gel, and Ibba. These streams make the park an ideal habitat for catfish, tilapias, bichirs, lungfish, and aba (a type of electric fish). Crocodiles are also spotted in the area. This national park has woodlands, forests, and grasslands where antelopes, buffalos, giraffes, lions, and hogs thrive. If lucky and patient, tourists might also chance upon white rhinoceroses, colobus monkeys, and galagos. In Sudan, going south means excitement.

3 Sudd

There are stunning beaches in Africa but if tourists crave a wet and wild experience like no other, they should visit Sudd, one of the world’s largest freshwater areas. It’s a conglomeration of different vegetation — from lakes and rivers to grass and woodlands. As such, it’s one biodiverse area and is tentatively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sudd is known for its floating plant life like the tall common reed, wild rice, papyrus, southern cattail, and many types of grass. As expected, fish thrive in the area like lungfish, bichirs, Nile Arowana, carps, tilapias, catfish, and tigerfish, among others. Many bird species also frequent the area, and for mammals, there are migrating antelopes, hippopotamuses, and painted hunting dogs. Swamps never looked this good.

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2 Imatong Mountains

For a change of scenery from plains to mountains, tourists should conquer the Imatong Mountains. Located in this brimming area is the country’s highest peak, the Kinyeti. The mountain is remote, making it the ideal place to test anyone’s trekking skills. The greenery of Imatong looks stunning and within lives such species as hogs, monkeys, bushbucks, leopards, hyenas, buffalos, and elephants. Birders, meanwhile, might get lucky recording their sightings of songbirds and ground thrushes. When the call of the wild is strong, maybe it’s the Imatong.

1 Game Reserves

South Sudan has numerous game reserves, and tourists just need to choose where to explore. The savannah areas of Ashana, Chelkou, and Numatina serve as home to elephants and giant elands. Bengangai and Juba are famous for their birds, while Fanikang is proud of its Nile lechwe. Moreover, Bire Kpatuos is teeming with antelopes, African golden cats, elephants, badger bats, and buffalos. Kidepo, on the other hand, has resident wild dogs, big cats, hyenas, and giraffes. Mbarizunga is home to antelopes and bongos, while hippos rule in Ez Zeraf. Wherever tourists go, South Sudan’s reserves know how to impress.