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.
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
Average daily inactivity
Adult male’s daily meat consumption
Hunting done by females
The top camps for seeing lion in South Africa
Based on 30 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
No sightings yet
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
The Highlights of Africa
17 days • 7 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT
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$14,280 - US$18,140 per person
Ostrich Self-drive Safari
14 days • 9 locations
WINDHOEK AIRPORT TO WINDHOEK AIRPORT
Great value self-drive adventure through the epic desert landscapes of southern Namibia and South Africa’s Kalahari, visiting highlights such as Fish River Canyon, the ghost towns of Lüderitz and Sossusvlei’s dunes.
US$1,860 - US$2,580 per person
13 days • 4 locations
VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT TO CAPE TOWN AIRPORT
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$9,170 - US$13,000 per person
Meerkat Self-drive Safari
8 days • 5 locations
UPINGTON AIRPORT TO UPINGTON AIRPORT
Explore the wildly remote Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park from four simple, self-catering lodges before concluding with two nights at Augrabies Falls National Park. An exciting safari including varied game and birdlife, well-suited to the autonomous traveller.
US$890 - US$1,020 per person
Kwandwe Self-drive Safari
3 days • 1 locations
PORT ELIZABETH AIRPORT TO PORT ELIZABETH AIRPORT
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$2,340 - US$3,860 per person
Black Wildebeest Self-drive Safari
19 days • 10 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO WINDHOEK AIRPORT
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$3,070 - US$3,460 per person
More information about lion in our other destinations
Click here for detailed information about lion in other countries, including the places for sighting lion.