There are many things to see whilst on safari and some ecosystems are more diverse than others but, especially for first time visitors, everyone wants to see the famous Lions. Of course on any truly wild safari there are no guarantees that you will see one of these magnificent animals as they are free to move where and when they want but you can certainly increase your chances if you know where and when to go.
As the largest Predator in Africa this animal is always top of the list. Despite recent declines in their numbers across the continent there are some fantastic places to go that can give you every chance of seeing these social cats. The best areas, like any predator, are where there is plenty of prey species and with Lions the more there are and the larger the prey species is, the bigger the prides.
What do Lions prey on? Well pretty much anything they can catch from small birds right up to the Cape Buffalo and even Elephants (notably in the Savute Marsh in Botswana's Chobe National Park). In certain areas Lions are also the top scavenger and can rival the notorious Hyena in this regard which mainly happens in drier areas.
Botswana - This country is probably the most untouched of all African wildlife destinations and has vast tracts of land where Lions can roam freely. This may sound as though it is quite difficult to see them as you need to be in the right area at the right time, and you would be right but you still have every chance as many people encounter them every year. The best time to see Lion is during the winter, July to mid-September (except in the Kalahari Desert when the best time is the rainy season, December to March), due to the cooler daytime temperatures allowing the Lions to be more active.
Best Place to see Lions - Savute in Chobe National Park - June to October
There are many other places equally good in the National Parks and surrounding private reserves and some of the best places are as follows:
Savute Safari Lodge (Classic Camp) - Chobe National Park
Khwai Tented Camp (Classic Camp) - Khwai private reserve, Okavango Delta
Duba Plains Camp (Premier Camp) - private reserve, Okavango Delta
Kings Pool Camp (Premier Camp) - Linyanti private reserve
Tau Pan Camp (Classic Camp) - Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Namibia - This arid country is one of the driest but has surprisingly abundant wildlife, especially in Etosha National Park in the north of the country. It is also famous for its Desert adapted Lions which survive in the vast areas of arid landscape. These are, of course, much more difficult to see as there are not many of them due to the shortages in prey species, which means they tend to be small prides. Again the best time to see them is the coldest months from July to September.
Best Place to see Lions - Etosha National Park - July to September
Ongava Lodge (Classic Camp) - private reserve bordering Etosha National Park
Onguma Tree Top Camp (Classic Camp) - private reserve bordering Etosha National Park
Okakuejo Rest Camp (Government run with camping and luxury) - inside Etosha National Park
Damaraland Camp (Classic Camp) - for Desert Lions
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp - for Desert Lions
Zimbabwe - There are many National Parks in Zimbabwe and the most accessible ones are the best to see Lions. Again the Winter months are the best to see them and here they can form quite large prides.
Best Place to see Lions - Hwange National Park - July to October
Another great place to see them is Mana Pools National Park but they are smaller in number in this region.
Somalisa Camp (Classic Camp) - Hwange National Park
Linkwasha Camp (Premier Camp) - Hwange National Park
Kanga Camp (Classic Camp) - Mana Pools National Park
Ruckomechi Camp (Classic Camp) - private reserve bordering Mana Pools
Kenya - Again there are many National Parks in this vast country where you can see Lions and it is a good all year round destination as it is on the equator.
Best place to see Lions - Masai Mara National Reserve - January to March
Elephant Pepper Camp (Classic Camp) - Mara North Conservancy
Lewa Safari Camp (Classic Camp) - Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Joy's Camp (Classic Camp) - Shaba National Reserve
Elsa's Kopje (Classic Camp) - Meru National Park
Tanzania - With Many National Park you have a lot of choice.
Best place to see Lions - Serengeti National Park - March to October
Serengeti Under Canvas (Luxury Tented Camp) - Serengeti National Park
Serengeti Pioneer Camp (Classic Camp) - Serengeti National Park
The Manor (Classic Camp) - Ngorongoro Crater
Chem Chem Camp (Classic Camp) - Lake Manyara
Sand River Camp (Classic Camp) - Selous National Park
Martin Smith, Managing Director, Bush Pilot, Lodge General Manager and Travel Agent