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These mighty cats are one of the most recognised members of the Big 5 and African wildlife at large. The lion is a large carnivorous feline mammal boasting a short tawny-coloured coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. A lion pride consists of related females and cubs residing in a home range or territory and males are typically nomads that have gained custody of a pride through competition with other males.
The Greater Kruger Area is a top pick for lion-spotting in South Africa. Lion prides are particularly easy to spot in Sabi Sand Game Reserve and just north of Sabi Sand, is Timbavati Game Reserve. With only a handful of known white lions in the wild - 5 of which are in Timbavati – you’d be wise to keep a keen eye open for these seemingly otherworldly and mesmerising residents (Tip: another place in South Africa where safari-goers can observe white lion is in Sanbona Wildlife Reserve). Other winning picks in the area include the Kruger National Park, Lion Sands, and Singita’s Ebony and Sweni lodges—both found in the very heart of ‘big cat country’.
The Okavango Delta is a magnificent destination to embark on a lion safari, but there is one place in particular that is sure to astonish even the most seasoned safari-goer, a place where lions take on buffalo — a feat almost unheard of. The remote northern reaches of the Okavango Delta are home to Duba Plains, an intimate camp set in among game-rich grasslands and seasonal floodplains. Only accessible by light aircraft, this camp is renowned for its resident lion prides and their unending battles with the thousands of buffalo that roam the area. These large lions are legendary for hunting in broad daylight and for swimming in the permanent channels that dot the landscape.
The Serengeti is a no-brainer when it comes to lion sightings. Thanks to its rolling plains abundant in prey, lion sightings here are regular occurrences. While most visitors flock to the Serengeti, you’d be mistaken for leaving Ruaha National Park out of your lion safari excursion. Ruaha is not only the largest park in the country — but one of its best-kept secrets, too. Thanks to low visitor numbers, wildlife sightings are largely undisturbed, leaving visitors free to marvel at Ruaha’s impressive predator population — notably lion.
The perennial motion of The Great Wildebeest Migration acts as a bottomless buffet for the Masai Mara National Reserve’slion population. With its grasslands brimming with an impressive ungulate population, it will come as no surprise that a plethora of predators, particularly lions, follow in their enticing wake. The lion population in the Maasai Mara is impressive and sightings are common.
The density of wildlife in the South Luangwa National Park lends itself to sublime game-viewing opportunities, while its savannah grassland, Luangwa River system, and open plains make it an ideal environment for lion. Sightings of Africa’s most renowned big cat are recurring thanks to its thriving population and the abundance of prey.
Our favourite tours showcasing the best of Lion Safari
A selection of our favourite places for Lion Safari
Accommodations for every kind of traveller
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