Unlike many other big cats, lions are extremely social creatures, and often do everything from hunting to resting as a pride. And on the right safari cruise, you can visit them in their natural habitats! But where do you go to see these beautiful creatures? Ready to reverence the king of the jungle? These are the best places in Africa to spot a lion.
1. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Want to check out a region with one of the highest concentration of lions in the world? Tanzania should be your first stop. Tarangire National Park is just outside the city of Arusha, and has about 1,000 square miles (2500 square kilometers) of land, ranging from swampy areas and rivers, to dry ground for the animals to roam in their natural habitat.
The park is home to thousands of animals and over 550 species of birds. The lions in Tarangire, unlike the majority of lions, tend to climb into the trees, rather than lie in the shade below the trees. This is thought to be because the ground is home to many flies, sending the lions into the trees for refuge.
2. Maasai Mara Reserve, Kenya
This famous reserve is located on Kenya’s border with Tanzania, just across Serengeti National Park. Maasai Mara is home to about 580 square miles (1500 square kilometers) of open grassland and is named after the Maasai people of Kenya, who inhabited the area between Kenya and Tanzania.
The reserve is particularly famous for the large populations of lions that can be found there. These lions are celebrities! They’re the stars of various lion documentaries, including Big Cat Diaries, on BBC. Watch the kings of the jungle as they seek shade and rest under the few Acacia trees. For more lions, follow the Mara-Serengeti area into the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. This park houses the oldest lion research project in Africa.
3. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Northern Botswana is another area known for large populations of lions. Near the city of Maun, Moremi Game Reserve is located, with nearly 2,000 square mile (5000 square kilometers) plot in the Okavango Delta. Tours through the reserve are offered in 4x4 vehicles or in a dug-out canoe known as a mokoro.
Moremi Game Reserve’s lion prides vary - some are very accustomed to humans as regular guests, while other prides are much less accustomed to human activity, and tend to be much wilder. Moremi Game Reserve, and the overall Okavango Delta, is home to one of the world’s largest populations of lions, giving you plenty of opportunities to see these majestic animals.
4. Etosha National Park, Namibia
Lions in Namibia are quite unique. Contrary to living in grassland climates, lions in this area are accustomed to living in desert climates. Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia, has the easiest accessible place to view lions, however, it isn’t in the desert region. Etosha’s lions are also extremely important to conservation.
To visit these lions, check out the remote Kaokoland or Damaraland regions of the country. The lions here live near the dry Skeleton Coast and are accustomed to the barren vegetation and dry sand dunes, not to mention the general lack of water. The best time to visit the lions of Namibia is during the winter months of June through October.
5. Kruger National Park, South Africa
In the Northwest corner of South Africa, Kruger National Park is set against the border between South Africa and Mozambique. The park is roughly the size of New Jersey and is home to large populations of wild lions. For the best sightings, head to the central area of the park, home to large, open plains where lions are more likely to be on the prowl or just lounging around.
Note: In any of the countries, be wary of lion petting zoos. Many of these places are said to breed lions in a safe environment for conservation, when in reality, many of them sell the lions when they become too big. These lions, often with little fear of humans, are sold to business where they can be much more easily hunted for sport. That’s why safaris are a great way to ensure that your experience with these great creatures is not doing harm.
Looking to snap unforgettable pictures of these breathtaking cats in their natural habitat? Check out our awesome selection of photography safaris!