Wanting to see lions in Africa? No doubt! A safari to Africa would be incomplete without the sight of the wild African lions—the kings and queens of the jungle. Exhilarating sights and sounds of their thunderous roars echoing across vast landscapes throughout the day only add to the epic journey that is a safari in Africa.
The dry season is the best time to spot and photograph all of the lions in Africa because the grass is shorter and the bush is less dense. Because lions in Africa are territorial, their movements can be tracked all year but of course, some locations provide a better chance of a sighting than others. Your guide at the camp or lodge you’re staying at will be out on safari every day, so they’ll be aware of the various lion prides’ current movements, increasing the likelihood that you’ll see them.
Despite their widespread distribution, lions are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Since the early 1990s, the African population has declined by 43 per cent, owing primarily to habitat loss and hunting. Seeing these bush kings and queens remains a true privilege. Visit safari destinations known for their healthy lion populations to increase your chances of an encounter. We’ve got five of the best places to see lions in Africa.
01 Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, Tanzania & Kenya
The Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in southern Kenya are both parts of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Thousands of lions live in the region, including prides like those seen in the film Big Cat Diaries. If you can, plan your safari holiday during the yearly Great Migration, when enormous herds of zebra and wildebeest travel across the ecosystem in search of suitable grasslands. Lions pursue them, making the most of the plentiful prey. Additionally, visit the southern Serengeti between December and March to witness lions in action during the calving season.
02 Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater, famous for its black-maned lions, is one of the world’s natural wonders and the world’s largest inactive and intact volcanic caldera. The balance of lion and hyena populations on the Crater floor has shifted. During a particularly wet spell in the 1960s, a plague of Stomoxys biting flies decimated the lions. The lion population recovered over time, and there are now approximately 60 lions living here. The towering Crater wall and diverse wildlife provide the ideal photographic backdrop for lion’s landscapes.
03 Greater Kruger Region, South Africa
The Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship park, is located on the country’s northeast border with Mozambique and is home to approximately 1,800 lions. The southern section of the park is generally thought to be the best for lion sightings due to a higher concentration of prey animals. If you’re driving yourself, the tar road between Skukuza and Satara has a reputation for frequent lion encounters. However, some of the best places in the Kruger area to spot lions are in the unfenced private reserves that border the national park, including Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Manyeleti Game Reserve, and Timbavati Private Game Reserve. Timbavati is famous for its extremely rare white lions.
04 Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is often referred to as the Kalahari’s Jewel, a vast river system of palm-fringed islands and winding tributaries that eventually disappears into the sands of the Kalahari. The wet and dry landscapes are an exciting contrast to the wonders of the Mara-Serengeti. The Okavango Delta in Botswana has one of the world’s largest lion populations, with over 2,300 lions thought to live in the Okavango-Hwange area. During the June to October flood season, these lions have adapted to the Delta’s aquatic ecosystem and can frequently be seen swimming between islands in search of prey.
05 Etosha National Park, Namibia
While lion sightings are at the top of most safari-goers’ lists, they spend most of their time sleeping in the shade, but when they do get up, they make up for it. Witnessing a lion kill is exciting as they display their full power and might, and even looking into the eyes of a sedentary lion is enough to get your adrenaline pumping. The Etosha lions are critically important for conservation because they are one of only a few populations worldwide that are free of the Feline Immuno Deficiency Virus, which threatens lions across the continent. These incredible Big Cats are known to hold court around the Okondeka, Aus, Rietfontein, Goas, Kalkheuwel, Groot Okevi, and Klein Okevi areas of Etosha National Park.