Lions are truly the royalty of the African wilderness. There is something universally exhilarating about witnessing politics amongst the pride, their lazy regal manner, the commanding way lions strut over the savannah – and, of course, the excitement of potentially witnessing their mating ritual.
So we have shortlisted the 5 best African lion safaris based on seeing prides with slightly fewer crowds and from a slightly offbeat perspective.
1. Tree climbing lions in Lake Manyara
Lions rarely adopt the habit of climbing trees (this is more particular to leopard), but in the verdant Lake Manyara National Park near Arusha Tanzania, lions have developed the habit of climbing trees. The small size of the park ensures that sightings are fairly regular, and it makes for an easy stop on your first day of safari in Tanzania.
2. Lion tracking in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
A few of the lions in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, are fitted with collars so that researchers can follow their movements. Guests are able to go out with specialised trackers and identify members of each pride by scars, whiskers, facial patterns, etc. All the research gathered by guests and trackers on this expedition is sent back to the Laikipia monitoring authorities who then use this data to help resolve issues threatening the conservancy’s lion populations. Quite a cool thing to do!
3. Secluded lion encounters in Ruaha National Park
The Southern part of Tanzania is somewhat off the beaten tourist track, as most safari itineraries focus on the Northern parks and the Great Migration. Ruaha Park is a remote landscape replete with Baobob trees and a diverse landscape of kopjes, semi-arid riverbeds, and savannah – all within a relatively small area. The low volume of tourist activity and thriving lion populations make this an ideal destination for uncrowded lion safaris. In our opinion, this would be the absolute best lion safari in terms of maximizing the chances of seeing large prides of lion in relative seclusion.
4. Searching for desert adapted lion in Kaokoland
In the remote Kaokoland area of Namibia, fierce lions survive the harsh desert conditions and roam wild between Etosha and the Skeleton Coast. The desert-adapted lions are more difficult to find, but adventurous safari travellers may be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime and usually completely private encounter with the lions.
5. Walking safari in Luangwa Valley
In South Luangwa, the large population of lion virtually guarantees sightings. Some clients have reported encounters with up to 30 lion in a pride. Nothing could be better than experiencing these predators in their natural habitat on a professional (and safe!) walking safari. For those seeking seclusion, North Luanagwa offers a more remote walking safari experience, with healthy lion prides.
It can be difficult to know which type of African lion safari is right for you, so we have designed a quiz to help you get to know your ‘travel personality’ a bit better. Alternatively, feel free to contact us to design a tailor made safari itinerary including an unforgettable interaction with the lions.