The lion is recognized as the “king of the jungle”, even if he does not live in the jungles but especially in the African savannah where he reigns supreme. This apex predator is the world’s only social big cat, living in groups of up to 30 or more. Lions spend their lives in a perpetual battle for territory, with proud males fighting to retain their home range and the right to mate with females.
Beautiful to see in their natural environment, watching members of the pride interact with each other is one of the most rewarding experiences on an African safari, especially when there are young cubs involved. Watching them play fight is a real treat and is actually an important skill for them to master, preparing them for adult life by helping them hone both their hunting skills and their social skills.
Africa offers a multitude of destinations where you can encounter lions in their wild domain and get up close and personal with these impressive predators. Here is our “top 10” recommendations…
1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Renowned for the great wildebeest migration, the Serengeti offers a great opportunity to observe lions in action. Its vast grasslands are home to many prides, giving visitors a front-row seat to thrilling lion hunts and social interactions.
2. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Perfectly connecting the Serengeti, the Masai Mara is famous for its high lion population density. The open plains create optimal viewing conditions, making it an ideal place to view lions against the backdrop of a striking African landscape.
3. Okavango Delta, Botswana:
This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to both wetland and desert habitats, attracting diverse wildlife, including lions. Exploring the delta by mokoro (traditional canoe) offers a special perspective on these magnificent predators.
4. Kruger National Park, South Africa:
Kruger, one of Africa’s best-known and most loved reserves, is a haven for lions. Its extensive network of roads and collection of private concessions guarantee visitors plenty of opportunities to spot lions lounging in the savannah or prowling the bush. Or just sleep in a shady spot, which lions tend to do most of the day!
5. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania:
A natural wonder, the Ngorongoro Crater is home to an autonomous ecosystem. This caldera is home to a concentrated population of lions, offering a high probability of sightings thanks to its closed nature.
6. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe:
Hwange’s diverse landscapes, from grassy plains to mopane forests, provide a range of habitats for lions. The park’s many waterholes are excellent places to watch lions quenching their thirst and setting up ambushes.
7. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia:
Known for its walking safaris, the South Luangwa region offers a unique lion watching experience. Accompanied by experienced guides, visitors can appreciate lions from a more intimate perspective, on foot in the African wilderness.
8. Etosha National Park, Namibia:
The arid Etosha Pan region and surrounding grasslands are home to a variety of wildlife, including lions. Sparse vegetation increases the chances of spotting these predators when hunting.
9. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda:
The Ugandan savannah landscapes of Queen Elizabeth National Park offer opportunities to observe lions climbing trees, an unusual behavior not commonly seen in other areas.
10. Tsavo National Parks, Kenya:
Tsavo East and Tsavo West collectively form one of the largest wildlife reserves in the world. The diverse landscapes, from red earth plains to volcanic terrain, provide a unique setting for lion viewing.