Where to see Buffalo in South Africa
One of the celebrated so-called Big Five, the buffalo’s fearsome reputation derives largely from hunters’ tales. Visitors will usually find this big, sociable bovid to be a largely placid animal – although courageous in defence against predators.
Quick facts about Buffalo
|Scientific name:||Syncerus caffer||Habitat:||Floodplains, mixed bush & moist grasslands|
|IUCN status:||Near-threatened||Adult weight:||500–950kg|
The African or Cape buffalo is Africa’s only wild cattle species and should not be confused with the domestic water buffalo. The subspecies inhabiting southern and eastern Africa (S.c. caffer) is the larger of two, the other being the smaller, reddish forest buffalo of west and central Africa (S.c. nanus).
Males are imposing beasts: larger than females, their curved horns meet at the base in a bony shield, called a boss. Buffalos are bulk grazers and must drink daily.
Their social structures are matriarchal, and herds may coalesce in huge gatherings of more than 1,000. Older males form smaller, separate groups. Lions are a constant threat, but buffalo herds co-operate to repel the big cats – sometimes even killing them.
Max. shoulder height (male)
Record horn span (tip to tip)
The top camps for seeing buffalo in South Africa
Based on 14 reports by our travellers since Jun 2018, visitors at these camps in South Africa have the best chances of sighting buffalo.
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Where to see buffalo in Africa
Buffalo require a combination of thick bush for cover and open grasslands for grazing. They are reasonably common in most large parks and reserves across east and southern Africa, except for in the drier south-west parts of the continent.
Top tips for viewing buffalo
A large herd of buffalos on the move, filling the air with dust, is one of the more impressive sights of the bush. During the rainy season, herds move constantly in search of fresh grazing and may quickly disappear, leaving only the evidence of their passing – the trampled ground splattered with droppings. During the dry season, herds throng to waterholes, wading in deep and jostling for position.
Parks with impressive buffalo populations include Tsavo East and West (Kenya), Serengeti, Ruaha and Selous (Tanzania), Luangwa (Zambia), Hwange (Zimbabwe) and Chobe and Moremi (Botswana).
Lions often tail buffalos, so remaining in a herd’s vicinity may produce some action. Old bulls tend to hang out around wallows and waterholes. Vulnerable to lion attack, and thus edgy and aggressive, these individuals require a wide berth when you’re on foot.
Our best South Africa holidays for buffalo sightings
Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for South Africa safaris are likely to give the best buffalo sightings
More information about buffalo in our other destinations
Click here for detailed information about buffalo in other countries, including the places for sighting buffalo.