For all the wild beauty and exclusive experiences, it’s the wildlife that really makes an African safari. Wildebeest splashing on the riverbank, a leopard’s blue eyes shining in the forest, a lion’s mane fluttering in the breeze - you’ll find that there’s a continual reel of the famous animals. Yet it’s often the unusual and unknown that provide the finest memories; tsessebe, colobus monkeys, fishing owls, black rhinos. On any multi-day safari you can expect to see far more than you can possibly imagine.
Classic Wildlife Spotting
The largest mammals provide the most compelling allure. You’ve probably heard of the big five and there’s no doubt that these majestic giants are amongst the most impressive: elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino. Add these to a collection of iconic constants and you have a good idea of what’s going to dominate the camera roll: giraffe roaming the trees, hippos playing in the river, hyenas scampering around, baboons shouting at sunrise, hundreds of zebra huddled together, plus too many antelope species to get your head around.
These are all classic safari sights and on a multi-day multi-park holiday you have a good chance of encountering the majority of them. They are highly adapted species widespread across the whole continent, so whether it’s a private reserve in South Africa or a massive park in Tanzania, you’ll be getting intimately acquainted with this resplendent cast.
Immerse Yourself in their World
Just remember that this isn’t a zoo and nothing is guaranteed. You won’t see them all together on the same game drive, or even in the same reserve. The longer you spend the more chance you have of seeing the more elusive characters, notably leopards and rhinos. We’d also exercise caution over having a tick list of wildlife; the safari experience is about being immersed in the wildlife world, not merely getting a glimpse of different animals.
Naturally, dreams of an African safari are dominated by these large irrefutable figures, the captivating wonders that bring goosebumps to your arm and can really get the heart racing. But Africa’s beauty is celebrated through diversity and everyone at Africa Sky has their own favourites.
Chimpanzees and gorillas light up mysterious forests. Wild dogs and nocturnal caracals are enchanting predators. Cheetahs chase gazelle across open plains and you’ll love the energy and exuberance of wildebeest on their morning canters. Gerenuk antelope have elongated necks like a giraffe, nimble klipspringer seem to dance on rocks, Thompson’s gazelle congregate in their thousands, and the horns of East Africa’s beisa oryx defy the imagination.
The only thing you’re definitely not going to see is a tiger – they’re not native to Africa. And despite the famous song, lions live on the savannah, not in the jungle. That doesn’t mean they don’t climb trees, take a safari in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara and whole prides are draped across the high branches.
An Element of Surprise
Across Africa there are hundreds of different wild mammals to discover, plus over a thousand bird species. Every park has a distinctive habitat that suits an idiosyncratic collection of animals. Every safari activity is suited towards intimate encounters with different mammals. And every species is more active at a particular time of the day. So the beguiling brilliance of an African safari comes from its surprise. Ultimately, you’ll see different animals in different places at different times.
The Best Way to See Wildlife
Go for a one-day safari and you’ll enjoy a glimpse of this wildlife world. We’d recommend a compact private reserve – South Africa has some excellent options – for a short safari like this.
By going on a multi-day safari and visiting different parks, you’ll be fully tuned in to the world of the wildlife. Our knowledge of Africa enables us to recommend destinations that seamlessly complement each other, ensuring you really discover the diversity. If you’ve got a passion for a certain animal then we know the best parks for making your safari dreams a reality.
We’d also recommend trying out a variety of activities, such as walking safaris and night time drives. These allow you to see wildlife from a completely new angle, and it’s quite something to be standing next to springbok herds or staring at a rumbustious buffalo.
Watching Wildlife in Africa is Spectacular
And remember, all these animals are never seen in isolation. Everything is interacting. We’ll never forget waking to cacophonous baboons close to the lodge. They were warning an impala herd of a leopard hiding in the grass, which also sent a zebra herd galloping away and attracted a cackle of hyenas. Within 20 minutes, three elephants had turned up and two male hippos were bellowing because they couldn’t get any peace. We watched it all from the lodge balcony overlooking the river!
This is why safari is such a life-changing experience. All the animals are truly wild, defined by the need to survive. Antelopes lock horns, predators chase prey, and majestic elephant bulls become melancholic nomads as they’re kicked out of the herd. Safari isn’t about the idolised photos or snapshotted glimpses of an animal. Every animal you see is part of a resplendent jigsaw and the longer you spend, the more you unravel the beauty of the landscape.
There's Truly Nothing Else Like It
We love the delight of discovery. On your first day it’s mind-blowing. Even after two weeks on safari you’ll still be spotting new and enchanting animals. There is no script and every day creates its own special memories, because everyone gets to enjoy intimate sights that nobody else discovered.
Then after the day’s adventure comes the charm. As sunset paints the sky and the campfire crackles, we can’t get enough of recalling the majestic wildlife that was spotted. At times like this, we know that you’ll be as smitten with Africa as we are.