From game drives and birding safaris to river trips and lake safaris, we have so many different itineraries to suit your interests. What was once reserved only for the most intrepid travellers in the world, is now much more accessible for anyone who takes an interest in Africa’s incredible wildlife. We even have luxury beach safaris for the perfect honeymoon or safari camps designed for families with children; whatever your bespoke requirements, at Signature Safaris we can find something for you. If you’re interested in seeing a particular wild animal – such as the supreme, reigning lion or the magnificent, elusive leopard – read on to see what can animals can be seen on an African Safari, where they can be seen, and when. Whilst there are never any guarantees, these are the places you have the best chance of getting a glimpse of these majestic animals. Skip to any section using the links below:
The faithful lion is without a doubt the king of the jungle. He can be seen in many safari destinations across Africa and South Africa. But because this early rising predator hunts only at dawn or dusk and rests during the day, he can be hard to spot. In the middle of the day, you will catch sight of lions sleeping under shaded trees if you search hard enough in the right places.
In Botswana you can get very exclusive access to lions from the Duba Expeditions Camp in the Okavango Delta. This is one of the most remote camps near the Okavango Panhandle and features a raised terrace for panoramic viewing.
If you want a guaranteed lion sighting, don’t miss the Great Migration which can be witnessed from Serengeti National Park between the months of July and September. We offer accommodation across various camps including Serengeti Under Canvas, Kleins Camp, Ndura Loliondo and Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge.
Sightings of lions can be seen at Kafue National Park and also South Luangwa National Park. Kafue is the biggest at almost twice the size of South Luangwa but both parks offer an extreme diversity in different wildlife. Within Kafue National Park, there is a very high concentration of lions as well as a great abundance of birdlife.
Unlike the lion which rules supreme, leopards are a little more elusive and therefore harder to spot. They are skilled in nocturnal hunting and can sneak up on their unsuspecting prey in the dark of the night. As they don’t have the stamina for long, drawn out chases, they work with stealth and artfulness instead. Being nocturnal creatures by nature, the leopard is somewhat shy and retiring in the day. Their favourite places to hide are tucked into the shadows of large trees or behind big boulders and crags.
It’s been repeatedly named the “best safari in Africa” by various travel books and with the Okavango Delta, it’s easy to see why Botswana is such as key destination. It’s thriving in wildlife of every kind and leopards are no different here. Additionally, you can find great leopard sightings in the Linyanti Region in northern Botswana.
Both the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area are worth visiting if you want to spot the elusive leopard. Generally, the ‘Big Five’ can be easily seen in the Ngorongoro Conservation but the leopards in the crater are actually few in numbers. However, you might be lucky if you head to Lerai Forest in the south or Munge River in the north.
Luangwa’s leopards are the most abundant, more so than other parts of Africa. So for the best chances of spotting this mysterious animal, book your safari to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. With sightings almost guaranteed, we highly recommend it.
Much like the elusive leopard, the incredibly nippy cheetah has some similar traits in the sense that it’s very much an introvert. Fearing other predators, the cheetah likes to hunt and live alone and is indeed quite shy like the leopard. But as the fastest animal on earth, there truly is little for them to fear for they can outrun any threats. The secretive nature of cheetahs makes them pretty hard to pin down, but just one glimpse of them in their natural habitat is a magnificent sight.
Within Etosha National Park, it’s possible to see cheetahs in the many waterholes dotted around the reserve. But remember – whilst you may catch lions, rhinos and elephants all drinking casually from the same waterhole, cheetahs don’t like to mingle, so you’ll have to look for the more remote locations. The Sueda waterhole and the Salvadora waterhole have had many reports of Cheetah sightings.
Cheetahs can be found in Okavango Delta, the Linyati Reserve or the Kwando Reserves. Within the Okavango Delta, the Chitabe area is most abundant in cheetahs; stay at the Chitabe Camp and wind down in the stunning Meru tents which are surrounded by spectacular waterways and marshland. The camp organises day or night game drives and cheetahs can be spotted nearby.
Rhinos are fascinating animals and they were once fantastically abundant in Africa. In recent years, the rhino population has suffered due to illegal hunting and they have now become an endangered species; to catch sighting now would be considered to be rather rare. Without any natural predators in the wild, the instinctive character of the rhino is quite relaxed, living life with no particular urgency. But beware; as relaxed as they may be, they also have the tendency to be very bad tempered.
Namibia has one of the healthiest populations of rhino, especially the endangered Black Rhino species which has suffered the most from poachers. Stay at Little Ongava in Etosha National Park which overlooks a popular waterhole and you may be lucky enough to spot a rhino from the hide.
In the 1970s, rhinos were almost completely killed off due to the high levels of illegal poaching. Today, the numbers have been drastically reduced but a recent rehabilitation programme in the Okavango Delta has help to reintroduce the species which can be seen at the Moremi Game Reserve. They can also be seen in the Kalahari Desert.
Not only are elephants a favourite with safari goers but they are also easy to spot due to their size, their large herds, and also their friendly nature. They are the most sociable creatures you will encounter on an African safari and because of their ability to adapt to all natural environments, there are plenty of places you might be able to see them. Not so dissimilar to the rhino though, the elephant is also in danger from illegal poaching and this continues to be a problem. However, the African Elephant can still be spotted in large herds and we have a number of camps that are perfect for watching elephants roam free in their natural world.
There are over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, so for the best chance to elephant spotting, we would highly recommend the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park for your next safari trip. Here you will find the highest concentration of elephants by far; they can be seen in woody forests, marshland, or desserts.
Elephants were first seen in Serengeti National Park in the 1930s. By the 60s, it was believed that the new elephants had colonised but later research showed that they had actually inhabited the park since before 1900. So this has always been their home. Today, they are in danger from illegal hunting but they are still quite prominent in Tanzania.
Lower Zambezi National Park is the perfect place to meet the magnificent elephant. These sociable creatures travel in their hundreds together at the pristine and beautifully preserved Lower Zambezi, and they can often be spotted wandering around near the edge of the park.
The rotund and friendly-looking hippopotamus is deceivingly dangerous. According to reports, there are more human fatalities caused by the hippo than any other animal in Africa. Due to their naturally defensive nature, hippos can be extremely territorial; whilst the males can be protective of their land (usually along the banks of lakes, rivers and waterholes), the females can be just as guarded if they feel something is a threat to them or their young. Hippos are best observed from a safe distance – and they can often be spotted bathing in the lakes, rivers or swamps.
By the Shire River is the fantastic Mvuu Camp, a family-orientated safari camp which provides some of the most outstanding sightings of the hungry hippo. With a stunning panorama of the Shire River and surrounding lawns, you’ll have unobstructed views of the resident hippos. If you’re feeling brave, take a boat ride out on the river and get a little closer to these notoriously cantankerous creatures.
The annual flooding of the Okavango Delta in what is largely an arid country is seen as a phenomenon in itself. But with the flood comes rising water levels and this means a prime location for hippos to hang out. The wetland makes it an ideal environment for pods of hippos and there are plenty of swamps, rivers and watering holes for guaranteed sightings.
As hippos love to be in water, you will likely find them to be splashing around in the Zambezi River but beware not to get too close as hippos are extremely territorial especially when it comes to the land surrounding waterways. The banks of the Zambezi River are considered to be their territory and they can be found in groups of 60 strong.
Although not overly aggressive by nature, the wildebeest can be extremely dangerous especially if you get caught up in their line of charge. A wildebeest is extremely vulnerable to predatory attacks so they are prone to stampedes when they become nervous – and it’s definitely in their ilk to panic. Although jittery and anxious much of the time, in their large numbers they can be rather terrifying to an onlooker. But despite their size, these animals are herbivores and they spend much of their time grazing on the plains of Africa and are mostly harmless. And because they spend so much time grazing, they can be easily spotted out on open plains and grassland.
Home to the Great Migration, there really is no better place to see wildebeest than the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Serengeti sees vast numbers of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles pass through each year as the animals repeat their annual move in search of fresh grazing spots. In April, the wildebeest start to move north and by May, areas such as Moru Kopjes and Seronera see hectic movement of thousands of animals. By September, the herds are spread out across the northern parts of the Serengeti and the Mara River often proves to be a confusing obstacle for them and then by October, the herds move back down south.
Chobe National Park is one of Africa’s best game parks and covers over 6,600 square miles. Being even more diverse than the spectacular Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park is the ideal place to spot a whole range of different large animals, including the notoriously nervous wildebeest. Places to sight them in the park include the Savuti Marsh and the Linyanti swamp region.
Gorillas are not only fascinating to watch for all their human traits and features, but unlike the aforementioned hippo or wildebeest, they are neither aggressive nor dangerous. In fact, gorillas are amongst the most gentle of animals in Africa and these primates are known for their kind, affectionate nature. That said, they are also extremely shy and may not be very forthcoming if they feel they are under threat in anyway. There are only 900 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild today so sightings can be rare.
This former French colony is situated in western central Africa and is recognised for its beautiful, untouched forests. The tropical environment makes it ideal for gorillas, and the Western Lowland Gorilla can be seen right in the heart of the Congo Basin. The Ngaga Camp and Lango Camp in the remote rain forest of Odzala Kokoua National Park make great bases for a gorilla spotting adventure.