Place yourself in Africa and hear the mighty roar of a lion
Travelling can have many questions; where to go for this, that or the other. When travelling to Africa, wanting to view your favourite animal is a common question we get from our clients. Lions, forever seen as an animal of dominance, pride and beauty, is one such animal that tourists crave to see. Experiencing them as they should be, wild, untamed and on their terms, is something you just have to see for yourself on one of our safaris.
Fast facts about lions:
- On average, male lions can weigh 190kg (almost 30 stone) and female lionesses weighing 126kg (almost 20 stone)
- Young lions have rosettes and spots on their sandy coats, but these generally disappear as they mature
- Male lions grow manes and are a sign of dominance. The older they get, the darker their manes can go. As well as attracting females, their manes may also protect their neck and head from injuries during fights
- A lions pride is usually made up of related females and their cubs, plus a male or small group of males who defend their pride
- A lion’s tongue has sharp-pointed rasps, called papillae, which are used to scrape meat off the bones
- Lions do most of their hunting at night as their eyes have adapted to the dark and this gives them a huge advantage over their prey
- A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. Lions are the only known cat species where individuals roar together – even young cubs joining in with their meows (cute!!)
- Lions have disappeared from over 90% of their historical range and currently number approximately 20,000 in Africa
So here we take you through a 10 of the very best places to responsibly view wild lions. Enjoy and book your dream safari today with Better Safaris
🦁 Kruger National Park, South Africa
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Treasured by travellers for decades, Kruger is still one of the best.
Kruger National Park is the flagship of wildlife tourism in South Africa and one of the world’s favourite safari destinations. Located in the heart of the safari hub in the north-eastern corner of the country, the iconic national park offers visitors 2-million hectares of unrivaled beauty and outstanding fauna and flora diversity. There’s something for everyone in the vast protected wilderness region, whether you’re a wildlife enthusiasts, avid birder, nature lover or just yearning to swop busy city life for the peace and tranquillity.
Kruger is ideally suited with itineraries visiting the best of South Africa, including neighbouring Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Johannesburg, Durban, Garden Route, Whale Coast for whale watching and shark cage diving, the wine region of Franschhoek/Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
🦁 Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Welcome to the Masai Mara, home to the lions of ‘Big Cat Diary’ and stomping ground of the Great Migration of wildebeest and accompanying zebra.
World famous for hosting the epic Great Migration, the Masai Mara welcomes 1,5 million wildebeests onto its sprawling savannahs each July through October. The Masai Mara National Reserve and conservancies are brimming with life and offer safari travellers a wide variety of activities to choose from. Whether you take to the skies for a high-flying hot-air balloon adventure at sunrise or hit the road for a 4×4 safari, you’re sure to leave the Masai Mara with unforgettable experiences and lifelong memories.
If you think Kenya is all about the Masai Mara, then you’re in for a surprise. Kenya has some spectacular destinations for more wildlife adventures, such as Samburu, Tsavo, Amboseli and the beautiful Diani Beach coastal resort. It’s also a short flight from Nairobi to the spice island (and birth place of Freddie Mercury) of Zanzibar.
🦁 Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa.
Serengeti National Park is a World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife: over 2 million ungulates, 4000 lions, 1000 leopard, 550 cheetahs and some 500 bird species inhabit an area close to 15,000 square kilometers in size. Join us on a safari and explore the endless Serengeti plains dotted with trees and kopjes from which majestic lions control their kingdom; gaze upon the Great Migration in awe or find an elusive leopard in a riverine forest. The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth.
The Serengeti is a treasure trove for lion lovers, but Tanzania equally has some of the best wildlife viewing known to mankind; try other national parks such as Ruaha, Tarangire and Ngorongoro for more lion interactions, along with some amazing wild animal encounters. Off the cost of Tanzania sits Zanzibar for a beach retreat at the end of your safari.
🦁 Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia
Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the 19th century where the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people to be the custodians of the park and its wildlife.
Each year, Liuwa hosts the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent, numbering around 30,000 individuals – this is one of the most glorious spectacles on the planet. In 2008, African Parks began a series of lion reintroductions to reunite this last lioness with her own kind, and thus new life began as she slowly joined a pride that grew to 10 lions. Over a similar period, eland and buffalo were also reintroduced to the park and the plains game began to increase, providing a healthy prey base for the lions, as well as for the cheetahs and hyenas. As a result of effective law enforcement, poaching levels subsided and community land-use plans were implemented along with sustainable fish harvesting and other community projects, providing alternative livelihoods for local people. Sadly, 2017 saw the natural passing of Lady Liuwa who lived to the ripe old age of 18, but she left behind a legacy of a small but growing pride of lions, living their lives together on Liuwa’s flourishing plains.
Liuwa is lesser know to many travellers, but a must visit for those wishing for a natural escape. Plan it as part of a wider Zambia itinerary visiting the likes of South Luangwa, Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Kafue National Park and more. Better Safaris can tailor your ideal bucketlist safari.
🦁 Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana’s Okavango Delta covers 15,000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert. Rich in wildlife, this World Heritage Site is a sanctuary to some of the world’s most endangered animals and birds.
An oasis in an otherwise dry environment the Okavango Delta is known for its superb wildlife, with large populations of mammals and excellent birding particularly in the breeding season. It is home to some of the largest lions on the planet, particularly because of the terrain the lions must deal with; from seasonal flooding to dry river beds, the body/muscle development is slightly larger compared to many other areas of Africa to help them live with their environment. The Delta was the 1000th site to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.
There’s much to see and do around the Delta, including the neighbouring reserves and concessions such as Moremi and Khwai. Botswana is one of the best wilderness escapes you can take. A short flight away also is Chobe National Park and the ever-enchanting Kalahari and salt pans.
🦁 Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds and is set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains.
Do Lions Climb Trees ? It is somewhat uncommon for lions to actually climb trees. It is supposed that these lions climb trees as a way of protecting themselves against the numerous biting tsetse flies on the ground level, whereas other people claim that they actually climb into the branches to escape from the heat on the ground and enjoy the cool breeze. There are no more than 2 populations in whole world of such lions that do actually climb trees as one of their day after day behaviour. One of these populations is found within the Ishasha sector which is found in the south part of the well known Queen Elizabeth National Park. The other is found in Lake Manyara National Park in the Southern part of Tanzania. However, lions can climb trees in other countries, just not as affectively or necessary.
Why not combine Queen Elizabeth National Park with your dream mountain gorilla trek? Uganda is a multi-day itinerary of discovery for a reason.
🦁 Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Akagera National Park, Rwanda, is almost unrecognisable today compared to over 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever. The aftermath of the 1994 genocide had a devastating impact on the environment, making its story of revival even more remarkable. In 2010, African Parks assumed management of Akagera National Park in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), shifting the park’s trajectory from one of oblivion to prosperity and hope.
After practically eliminating poaching in just five years, lions were reintroduced in 2015, followed by black rhinos in 2017 and again in 2019. Wildlife numbers have grown from less than 5,000 in 2010 to over 13,000 and counting. Besides being a haven for wildlife, the park began supporting income-generating enterprises for local communities. Today, Akagera National Park continues to provide for the 300,000 people living around its boundaries, directly benefitting from its existence. And the bonus is that the lions are thriving in Akagera.
Add Akagera to your bucketlist mountain gorilla trek to help you experience more of what Rwanda is about.
🦁 Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa
Shamwari is a multi-award winning and critically acclaimed private game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province that places a high priority on both conservation and hospitality.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is a gem amongst game reserves in the Eastern Cape, both private and national. The private reserve covers 25 000 hectares and includes five of South Africa’s seven biomes within its borders. This means guests have the opportunity to witness incredible biodiversity, all without having to leave a single destination. Guests can also look forward to eye-opening visits to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries to learn more about the plight of injured, abandoned, orphaned and mistreated wildlife.
Along the South African coast from Cape Town (a short flight to make), Shamwari is a dream for solo, business and family travel. Travellers can also make use of the Garden Route if self driving, alternatively short flights can also get you to the towns of George and Durban, and a little further the historical KwaZulu Natal and beautiful Zulu culture.
🦁 Namiri Plains, Serengeti National Park
Before the safari camp Namiri Plains was built, these grasslands were closed for 20 years to allow the cheetah population to restore. But don’t let that fool you!
This area of the Serengeti is one of the best destinations to view lions that have been featured in numerous award-winning photographs and documentaries. You will have the chance to catch sight of lions, wildebeest herds and much other wildlife out on the game drives, or even from the comfort of your own luxury room.
Whilst not a park or reserve specific, Namiri Plains is special. Not only a phenomenal safari camp, but amazing guides and a lion destination frequented by wildlife photographers and documentary makers. It’s a place where you will seldom see other tourists.
🦁 South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Luangwa National Park’s open, grassy plains and mature, mesmerizing woodlands, crowned with the pristine, impressive Luangwa River. This area’s reputation for abundant wildlife and unspoiled vegetation is well earned, so whether driving around or walking through, the intense beauty calls to you from every corner.
South Luangwa supports a very rich flora and fauna, and the key to this is in the valley’s soils. These were originally volcanic in origin, so are often rich in minerals and nutrients, augmented by fine deposits from the river. The main predators in the Luangwa Valley are lion, leopard, spotted hyena and wild dog. Of these, lion are probably the most common, and their large prides are often easily spotted.
South Luangwa is a great leopard destination, but especially lions, as featured in recent documentary Lion Country (UK). Birding is magnificent also, with the park an ideal itinerary addition for a larger Zambia safari. Enquire today for your better safari.
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