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Where to see Lion in South Africa

Lions are at the top of most safari wishlists and a sighting may be seen as a safari prerequisite. Today, with numbers falling fast, any encounter with Africa’s largest predator should still be considered a privilege.

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Quick facts about Lion

Scientific name: Panthera leo Habitat: Savanna & woodland
IUCN status: Vulnerable Adult weight: 120–225kg

The lion, Africa’s largest cat, is a formidable predator. Working together, a pride may down prey as large as buffalo and giraffe. Prides vary in size from fewer than 10 to more than 30 individuals. Each typically comprises adult females with cubs and yearlings, plus one or two adult males.

Distinguished by their heavy mane and greater size, males devote much of their energy to securing territory – advertised with a far-carrying roar (a series of resonant grunts). Females do more of the hunting but leave the pride to give birth, their litter of 1–4 cubs being vulnerable to attack from interloping males.

Though often seen by day, typically resting in the shade, lions are more active at night.


Population decline since 1990

20 hours

Average daily inactivity


Adult male’s daily meat consumption


Hunting done by females

The top camps for seeing lion in South Africa

Based on 36 reports by our travellers since Jun 2018, visitors at these camps in South Africa have the best chances of sighting lion.

Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for lion

% of travellers who saw lion

Top 10 camps for lion

% of travellers who saw lion

Where to see lions in Africa

Africa’s 20,000-odd wild lions are largely confined to conservation areas. Sightings are fairly reliable in most parks, with the best viewing generally at dawn or dusk, when the cats come to life.

Top tips for viewing lions

Lions are most easily seen in open terrain, such as the Serengeti-Mara. In denser habitat, you may find tracks and hear roars but locating the cats can take more work.

Tanzania has nearly half Africa’s lions. Significant numbers also occur in the Okavango/Chobe (Botswana) and Greater Kruger (South Africa), while Hwange (Zimbabwe), South Luangwa (Zambia) and Etosha (Namibia) all offer reliable viewing. Circling vultures often reveal lions on a kill.

A pride spends much of the day snoozing but may become more active as temperatures fall. Night drives offer a chance to watch lions hunting, and the great Serengeti migration promises kills galore. No lion experience is more thrilling than tracking them on foot, with South Luangwa and the Zambezi Valley offering outstanding opportunities.


Our best South Africa holidays for lion sightings

Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for South Africa safaris are likely to give the best lion 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$14,300 - US$18,160 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$12,070 - US$17,830 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$2,720 - US$4,240 per person

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Black Wildebeest Self-drive Safari

19 days • 10 locations

Journey from South Africa’s cosmopolitan Cape Town to central Namibia’s Okonjima Nature Reserve during this self-driven safari. The route passes through a stunning variety of landscapes, offering access to this beautiful continent’s rich diversity.

US$3,160 - US$3,640 per person

View all holidays to South Africa

More information about lion in our other destinations

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

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