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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.

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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)


Today’s population

11 months

gestation period

The top camps for seeing buffalo in South Africa

Based on 22 reports by our travellers since Jun 2018, visitors at these camps in South Africa have the best chances of sighting buffalo.

Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for buffalo

% of travellers who saw buffalo

Top 10 camps for buffalo

% of travellers who saw buffalo

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 Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous) (Tanzania), Luangwa (Zambia), Hwange (Zimbabwe) and Chobe and MoremiMoremi (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

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The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$14,400 - US$18,270 per person

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Leopard Safari

13 days • 4 locations

Victoria Falls, Botswana and Cape Town – a classic southern African itinerary combining luxury, wilderness, safari and culture. We can't think of a better way to spend two weeks.

US$12,230 - US$18,010 per person

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Kwandwe Self-drive Safari

3 days • 1 locations

An elegantly stylish lodge that is well suited to families, Kwandwe offers a range of safari activities and the chance to sight all of the "Big 5" during exploration of the Eastern Cape.

US$2,850 - US$4,430 per person

View all holidays to South Africa

More information about buffalo in our other destinations

Click here for detailed information about buffalo in other countries, including the places for sighting buffalo.

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