Wildlife Highlights

- Namibia

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights of Namibia

Namibia is predominantly a desert country and the range of wildlife that can be seen throughout much of the country reflects this. Species best adapted to the desert conditions include oryx, springbok, ostrich, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, meerkat and Hartmanns mountain zebra. Nocturnal species (only likely to be seen on night drives) can include shy creatures such as Brown hyaena, Cape fox, aardvark, aardwolf and caracal.

In the north-west of the country, in particular northern Damaraland and southern Kaokoland, desert elephant and desert rhino survive in surprisingly harsh conditions. Rhino are more limited in their range but ongoing conservation efforts are continually extending their protected habitat. It is possible to track black rhino on foot, a rewarding and potentially thrilling experience.

Key predators include lion, leopard and cheetah, though outside of the protected big game regions such as Etosha National Park, predator populations are relatively sparse. Cheetah and leopard do actually roam throughout the country, often coming into conflict with local farmers. For an interesting predator-based experience, Okonjima in the Waterberg region is home to the Africat Foundation and offers various predator orientated activities.

Along the coast, Cape fur seals can be seen in large numbers, with the seal colonies at Pelican Point (Walvis Bay) and Cape Cross being particularly accessible. Heavyside dolphins can be seen on boat cruises from Walvis Bay. Sighting brown hyaena would be a major highlight along the any stretch of the coastline.

In Etosha National Park, a wide range of wildlife can be enjoyed. In particular, the floodlit waterhole at Okaukuejo Restcamp is very productive in the evenings, with many rhino visiting to drink in the dry season. Lion will also use the waterhole as an ‘ambush point’ during the height of the dry season when game has little choice but to drink there. The elephant are particularly large, and Etosha is also home to the rare black-faced Impala.

Meerkats exist throughout much of Namibia, but are not prolific and are very difficult to get close to. Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, near Mariental, has a habituated family which is arguably the best option for seeing them in Namibia.

The Caprivi region is much less arid, with several great rivers bringing a vast amount of water through the region, and this is the best part of Namibia to see more aquatic species such as hippo and crocodile, and wildlife that relies more heavily on water, such as buffalo. Wild dogs can also be seen in this region.

The varied habitats of Namibia make for very interesting birding. There are a number of sought after endemics, including Hartlaubs francolin, Ruppels parrot, Herero chat, dune lark and rock jumper. In Etosha, there is a vagrant blue crane population. The different regions offer very specific and individual birding opportunities.

- South Africa

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights of South Africa

South Africa offers such diversity of habitat, from harsh desert and high mountains to dense woodland and coastal fynbos, that it is home to an enormous variety of natural wildlife, from the classic ‘big five’ (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) to colourful birds and ‘marine’ species such as African penguins, whales, dolphins, seals, turtles and sharks.

South Africa is known for offering fantastic big-game viewing and various private reserves such as Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Madikwe and Phinda are the best places in Africa to view the ‘big five’ in a short period of time. The animals are very habituated to vehicles, allowing superb photographical opportunities. In particular, Sabi Sands is amazing for leopard viewing, whilst Timbavati is home to a lion population with a recessive gene, making it one of the few places in the world where you can see ‘white lions’ in the wild.

Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth is one of the best spots in Africa to view and photograph elephants. The Kruger is excellent too. Elephant-back safaris are possible in a few places.

Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, in the Kalahari region of the northern Cape, is one of the best places in Africa to see and photograph meerkats in the wild, and to see the shy and elusive aardvark. Meerkats can also be seen in the Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier Park (also exceptional for raptor species) and in the Karoo Desert.

The Hluhluwe/Imfolozi game reserves in KwaZulu/Natal are synonymous with the protection and breeding of both black and white rhino.

The coastline is also home to a wide array of wildlife. Dolphins are prolific along the whole coastline. African penguins, Cape fur seals and great white sharks can all be seen year round close to Cape Town, whilst Southern Right whales visit the southern coastal areas from July to November to calve and raise their young. Hermanus, near Cape Town, offers the finest land-based whale watching in the world.

Other marine species, including humpback whales, ragged tooth sharks and whale sharks can be found (seasonally) further north off the KwaZulu/Natal coast, where Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles can also be seen nesting (October to December) and hatching (December to March). June/July usually hosts the ‘sardine run’ along the Wild Coast between Port Elizabeth and Durban.

South Africa is a renowned birding destination with around 900 species to be seen. Specialist birding guides can be hired throughout the country, but most notably in the Cape, KwaZulu/Natal and the Kruger regions.

Please see our ‘regions’ section for more detailed information on South Africa’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.

- Botswana

Wildlife Highlights

Specific Wildlife Highlights of Botswana

Botswana is home to a very wide range of wildlife, from the great herbivores and elusive predators to the smaller antelopes, colourful birds, reptiles and nocturnal species. The varied habitats of Botswana and the variety of different activities on offer allow visitors on safari to enjoy a very wide-ranging game-viewing experience in a relatively short period of time.

Elephants favour the mopane and mixed woodland which stretches across much of northern Botswana and gather in huge numbers during the dry season when water sources are most limited. Boat cruises on the Chobe River are especially productive for elephant viewing and photography. In the Okavango Delta, elephant-back safaris and specialist ‘elephant interaction’ experiences are possible. Mashatu is also excellent for elephant.

Botswana is arguably the best country in Africa to see wild dogs in the wild. The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park are home to several packs of wild dogs, though it is perhaps the Linyanti region where sightings are most regular.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are home to a meerkat colony which has been habituated and provides an intimate and amazing meerkat experience. The same region is also home to Brown hyaena which although previously studied for several years, are still rare and very hard to see. From December to April, the plains around Makgadikgadi attract a great zebra migration, which in turns brings the predators, whilst nocturnal creatures such as aardvark and aardwolf can be seen all year round on night drives.

The Okavango Delta is a great birding destination and home to many wonderful species such as black egret, purple heron, Malachite kingfisher, carmine and blue-cheeked bee-eaters and black coucal. In particular, the Delta is arguably the best place in Africa to view Pels fishing owl. From September onwards, huge heronries can be visited from a few specific camps. The Okavango Delta is also home to the rare and shy sitatunga, an antelope specially adapted for life amongst the extensive papyrus reed-beds which have formed along the margins of permanent water.

Red lechwe and tsessebe are common on the Okavango Delta floodplains, whilst the beautiful and fairly rare sable and roan antelope are found throughout the woodland areas of the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe. In Chobe, puku and Chobe bushbuck can be seen along the river frontage, whilst oryx, red hartebeest and springbok inhabit the drier Kalahari regions.

Big cat viewing is excellent, with lion and leopard prevalent through all regions, and cheetah thriving in the Okavango, Linyanti, central Kalahari and Tuli Block regions. Night drives are especially productive for leopard sightings, as well as some of the smaller cats such as serval and African wild cat. Other nocturnal species which are often seen include honey badger, large spotted genet, porcupine, white-tailed mongoose, civet and the crepuscular bat-eared fox.

Please see our ‘regions’ section for more detailed information on Botswana’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.


- Zambia

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights of Zambia

Zambia is home to an abundance of wildlife, from the great herbivores and elusive predators to rarer antelopes, colourful birds and more unusual nocturnal species.

The riverine plains and mopane, miombo and acacia woodland habitats that form much of Zambia’s national parks are home to a wide range species, from the common impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, greater kudu, zebra and giraffe, to rarer species such as roan and sable antelope, Litchenstein’s haartebeest, Cookson’s wildebeest, oribi, puku and Thornicrofts giraffe.

The great rivers of Zambia are home to a wide range of birds and huge populations of hippo and crocodile, whilst also attracting large numbers of buffalo and elephant. The wetland region of Bangweulu is home to vast numbers of black lechwe, whilst the Kafue lechwe is found in Lochinvar. Both regions have significant numbers of water birds, including Shoebill in Bangweulu.

Night drives are common in Zambia and permitted in the National Parks, and species such as large spotted genet, bushbaby, serval, aardvark, honey badger, white-tailed mongoose, civet, porcupine and African wild cat are often seen.

Whilst there are healthy lion populations in all major parks, it is fantastic leopard viewing that Zambia is best known for, especially in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks. Cheetah can be found in Kafue, principally around the Busanga Plains, and in recent years wild dogs have been making a reasonable recovery throughout the major parks, but you should not ‘expect’ to see either species.

Birding is superb in Zambia, with approximately 750 species recorded. Particular highlights include the rare shoebill found exclusively in the Bangweulu Swamps, the endemic Chaplin’s barbet, and Pels fishing owl, found in both Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks. These parks are also two of the best places to view and photograph white-fronted and carmine bee-eater nesting sites. Waterbirds are very well represented along the great rivers and in the wetland regions.

Kasanka National Park is home to the rare sitatunga antelope and also plays host to the bat migration each November, where literally hundreds of thousands of fruit bats converge on the park for several weeks. In the remote west of the country, the vast open Luiwa Plains play host to Africa’s second great wildebeest migration in November/December.

Sadly, you are unlikely to see rhino in the wild. There are a few individuals under protection in Mosi au Tunya National Park, close to Victoria Falls, though this park does not offer an authentic safari experience. There are ongoing plans to re-introduce rhino to the Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Valleys, and although there are isolated populations, you cannot currently expect to see them. There are also no giraffe in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

Please see our ‘regions’section for more detailed information on Zambia’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.

- Tanzania

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights of Tanzania

Tanzania offers wonderful big cat viewing (lion, leopard and cheetah), especially in the renowned Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. Other regions such as the Tarangire, Ruaha and Katavi are also excellent for lion and leopard (cheetah are harder to find outside the Serengeti and Ngorongoro eco-system).

Elephant viewing is excellent in Lake Manyara, Selous, and Ruaha, though the stand out park is Tarangire, particularly during the dry months from June through to October. Towards the end of the dry season (October), spectacular elephant viewing can also be enjoyed on the open plains of Katavi, with elephants usually coming together in huge numbers.

Whilst rhino are found in a few areas, the best place to see them is in the Ngorongoro Crater, where there is a good population of black rhino.

The rare African wild dog can be seen in small numbers throughout much of the country, but sightings are not common. In recent years, dog sightings in the Selous have become more regular and there are several packs thriving in the reserve. The packs travel huge distances which makes sightings difficult to predict.

The best ‘wild’ chimpanzee viewing in Africa can be enjoyed in western Tanzania where the forested mountains of Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains national parks tumble down to the shores of Lake Tanganyika. In addition to chimpanzee viewing, other primates include red-tailed monkey, red colobus, black and white colobus and blue monkey.

However, the main wildlife highlight in Tanzania is the annual wildebeest and zebra migration which can be seen in the Serengeti year round. The herds tend to settle on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti in December, after the November short rains have created fresh grass and filled seasonal drinking spots. The wildebeest calve in late January/early February on the open plains. Between late April and June they drift westwards and north through the central and western Serengeti, before arriving in the northern Serengeti in late July. Many wildebeest will spend August to October across the border in Kenya’s Masai Mara, but those who do not feel the need to travel that far can be seen along the Mara River region in the northern Serengeti. In November the herds start to move south through the park to reach the southern plains in time for Christmas! River crossings, when the herds ‘swim the gauntlet’ across the croc-filled Mara and Grumeti rivers, can be seen from June to early November.

Birding in Tanzania is superb, with over 1100 species found through a variety of different habitats. Specialist regions such as the Usambaro and Udzungwa Mountains, Mikumi and Lake Natron can be considered in addition to all the key safari regions. Migrant species are most likely to be seen from September to March. Greater and lesser flamingo populations migrate between the Rift Valley lakes throughout the year, but not to a set pattern, though Lake Natron is home to one of the world’s most important lesser flamingo breeding grounds.

Please see our ‘regions’ section for more detailed information on Tanzania’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.

- Kenya

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights of Kenya

Kenya offers wonderful big cat viewing, especially in the renowned Masai Mara, home to the BBC’s Big Cat Diary. Other good areas for the cats include Samburu, Nakuru, Amboseli and the Lewa Conservancy.

Elephant viewing is excellent in Amboseli, Samburu and The Mathews Range. Specialist elephant safaris are possible at a few camps in these areas, where your hosts are passionate and knowledgeable about elephants.

Some of the best viewing of black & white rhino in Africa is found in Nakuru, Lewa Downs, Ol Pejeta and various other private conservancies. The rare African wild dog can be seen throughout the country, but are not common.

The north of the country is home to some special species more adapted to arid conditions such as gerenuk, Beisa oryx, the very rare Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe.

The Masai Mara, perhaps the most famous wildlife area in the world, supports an incredible variety of mammals. The plains are dominated by large herds of herbivores of which the wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle are the most numerous. Eland, the largest antelope, mix with the other giants – elephant, buffalo, hippo and giraffe, usually under the gaze of the predator species – lion, leopard, cheetah, hyaena and crocodile. The smaller species are well represented too – dik dik, bat-eared fox, serval, caracal, aardwolf, a variety of mongoose, baboon, monkey, warthog etc.

The main seasonal wildlife highlight in Kenya is the annual wildebeest and zebra migration which usually arrives in the Masai Mara in late July, and stays until mid-late October. River crossings, when the herds ‘swim the gauntlet’ across the croc-filled Mara and Talek rivers, can be seen during this period.

Birding in Kenya is superb, with over 1100 species found through a variety of different habitats. Migrant species are most likely to be seen from October to March. Greater and lesser flamingo populations migrate between the Rift Valley lakes throughout the year, but not to a set pattern.

Please see our regions section for more detailed information on Kenya’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.