41 Safari Animals and Where to Find Them

Safari in this day and age is about preserving the land and its inhabitants, that is, African safari animals. The romance of a wildlife safari is unmistakable. It had long been about the hunting of animals for the rich and adventurous back in the day, but with a growing appreciation of conservation, the idea has shifted.

What kind of animals will you see on an African safari? We try to answer this question with a brief overview of all the most popular animals to see in the African bush and its beautiful national parks.

Truthfully it only scratches the surface of Africa’s animals but covers almost all of the highlights. If you want to learn more, you can also check out what animals make the list of Big Five Animals.

But First, What are African Animals?

That answer is simple – safari animals are animals you should keep your eye out for while on safari in Africa. The African animals on this list are some of the most common you will see, although I would not expect to see all of them, especially on your first safari!

In general, if it’s your first safari and you see The Big Five, you should consider yourself very, very lucky. We’ve been on over 100 safaris in our lifetime and still haven’t seen some of the more elusive animals (will we ever see a Pangolin!?)

My best advice to see as many of these African animals as possible is to be patient, get up early, go out on night game drives and bring a pair of safari binoculars

African Safari Animals – The Big Five

African Elephant

Elephants in Dust

For us, every list of safari animals starts and ends with the African elephant. There is no animal more iconic or extraordinary than the elephant. It’s the planet’s largest land mammal and is capable of incredible levels of intelligence, memory, and emotions.

Spending time with elephants is a truly remarkable experience. On our last day in Africa, we spent a good hour with a herd of elephants watching them work their way through the bush. It could not have been a better way to say goodbye to our year-long saga on the continent. We could write multiple posts on elephants and just how much they mean to us. They are humbling and incredibly intelligent with emotions, reminding us of how much we have in common with fellow African animals.

If you want to learn more about elephants we suggest reading The Elephant Whisperer for a great book about Africa.

In one year in Africa, we became well acquainted with the species as they’re widespread throughout the continent. However, do not be fooled elephants are facing a grave threat from poachers. The elephants of Tanzania have lost almost half of the population, with nearly 50,000 murdered elephants, in the period from 2009 – 2016.

The next population count may bring about even greater concern. When visiting the Selous Game Reserve we saw one elephant in four days, and he quickly ran at the sight of humans. Then while on safari in the Masai Mara we came across our first poached elephant on the border with Tanzania. It was a heart-wrenching moment and a painful sight shared with our safari guides. So when you do finally see your first elephant, take note of its grace and elegance. You’re very lucky to be in the presence of one.

Where to see elephants on safari in Africa?

Elephants are a favorite of all safari-goers and can be found on just about any safari. However, if you’re in search of big elephant populations, your best bet would be Botswana.

African Leopard

Big Five Animal Leopard

If we were to pick the most beautiful safari animal in Africa, it would be the leopard. They are cunning hunters who stalk their prey and have the ability to take down African animals many times their size. They’re the toughest of the Big Five to spot and when you do you’re in for a real treat. Leopards spend most of their days relaxing in a tree until it’s time to hunt at night – this is what makes them difficult to spot.

However, it’s still possible to spot the animal during the day as our first sighting happened as a large male stalked two Red Lechwe in the Okavango Delta, our second was in the Masai Mara, and the third was in Zambia’s Kafue National Park. Leopards are solitary African safari animals and you’ll hardly ever spot two together unless they’re mating or with young cubs.

Mana Pools Leopard

Our most notable leopard experiences happened on two separate occasions, and neither one did we see the stealthy hunter. On one of our most isolated nights camping alone, we heard a deep grunt and a leopard stumbling through our campsite and moving by our small ground tent.

Leopard On Bank Of Kafue River

The second experience happened when we heard a commotion underneath an elevated lodge tent at Ruckomechi in Mana Pools when a leopard presumably killed an animal beneath our feet. Of course, we’ve also heard stories of leopards sitting on safari guests’ decks in the middle of the night.

Where to find leopards in Africa?

These are some of Africa’s most successful big cats and can be found on just about any safari – if you’re lucky. There are even said to be some in Stellenbosch, the famed wine country just North of Cape Town.

  • The distinctive blend of plains, woodlands, and untouched vegetation in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park provides an excellent environment for leopards.
  • The expansive savannas of Masai Mara in Kenya provide an ideal habitat for African leopards.

Black and white Rhinoceros

Black Rhino in South Africa

There are two types of African rhinos, the white rhino and the black rhino. Due to their limited numbers, it’s one of the few safari animals we’ve had very little interaction with. The big lumbering giants are grazers and spend most of their time munching away on grass. Don’t be surprised if they’re not grey in person as they love to wallow in mud and dust making them brown.

Interestingly enough they have terrible eyesight incapable of seeing much further than 20 meters. This is why they depend upon their hearing to help navigate and detect a threat. Not that they have many animal threats with their ability to run 50 kph and two formidable horns. They’re a member of the Big Five but are very difficult to find given their numbers. Anytime we have seen them in the wild, an anti-poaching unit is nearby.

Sadly, Rhinos are the one animal on this list that will likely go extinct. The poaching epidemic created by morons in Vietnam and China has led to a war on the species. If you see one while on safari, consider yourself fortunate and hold those memories forever.

Where can you see Rhinos on safari in Africa?

African Lion

Right behind the elephant, the Lion is unmistakable around the world. They are considered the “king of the jungle” and Africa’s top predator. This is despite the fact that lions do not live in the jungle, but prefer grassland environments where they can hunt. As members of the Big Five Animals, man has long feared the legendary hunter (besides Simba and Mufasa – we like them)

They possess a ton of power and work in a pride as cunning hunters. To witness a hunt is one of the greatest thrills ones can have while on safari. Here are some of our favorite African safari pictures of lions.

Big Five Animals African Lion

Your first experience of seeing a lion in the wild is a humbling experience. They are the fiercest predators on earth and the power on display by lions on the hunt is electrifying.

However, don’t get your hopes up too much because they share a lot in common with house cats. Lions spend almost 20 hours a day sleeping and that’s just how you’ll likely find them. Unlike many cat species, they’re very social and live in prides or a family.

Where to see lions on an African safari?

You can find lions throughout Southern and East Africa. They need a lot of territory and distance from humans so they’re found in the major parks and game reserves. While lions can be found across Africa, the optimal sightings occur in Eastern Africa.

  • Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater boasts one of the world’s highest concentrations of lions.

African Cape Buffalo

African Buffalo

It’s hard to pick which of the big five animals would be the most frightening animal to come across in the bush, but for me, the buffalo is the easy choice. They’re known for employing the strategy of charge first – ask questions later. So, when we went on a bushwalk in search of them we made sure to have the right safari clothes for the environment, and that was green in the rainy season.

Buffalo in Ruaha

They can charge at almost 35mph and are one heck of a formidable force. You better pray you never come close to one on foot as they will pummel you between their horns until you are good and dead.  There are almost no predators to these guys other than some very brave (and hungry) lions or a massive crocodile. Don’t worry. You’re at least safe in a game viewer!

Where to find Buffalo around Africa?

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  • Linyanti Concession, Botswana



Impala Giving off a Show at Gondwana

Almost anywhere you go on safari in Africa, you will see impala. They are without a doubt the most common antelope and are often referred to as common “bush meat.”

Just because they are common doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to watch – especially when they are leaping! An impala can jump up to 3 meters over streams, woodlands, and other impala and often covers distances of up to 10 meters. It’s quite impressive to watch!

Where to find the Impala around Africa?

  • All around Southern and Eastern Africa


safari animals

The kudu is a beautiful African antelope that is always a treat to see. There are two species to check off your list; the greater kudu and the lesser kudu. The lesser kudus are mainly found in Eastern Africa while the greater is in both southern and eastern Africa.

The male kudus have beautiful antlers that spiral as they get older. If you see a kudu with three to four spirals you know that the kudu has lived a long life. A nice treat for safari goers is watching two male kudus dual with their antlers, however sadly sometimes they get so entangled they can’t disengage and will eventually die.

Where to see Kudus on safari in Africa?

  • Kudus can be found in many African national parks.

Sable Antelope

A sable antelope in Waterberg Plateau

Not to be confused with the Roan is the Sable antelope. These guys look very similar to the roam, mentioned further down, except they are typically darker in color. Sables can be recognized by their horns which arch backward. They are pretty rare to see in the wild!

Where to see Sable Antelope on an African Safari?

  • Sable antelopes can be found around southeastern Kenya and eastern Kenya. As well as Mozambique, Angola, and Zimbabwe. We’ve also seen them on private game reserves in South Africa! (Where the photo above was taken)


The klipspringer is a very small safari animal antelope found throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. Klipspringers can jump a whopping 25 feet in the air, and they’re less than two feet tall! It may be hard to see them while on an African safari as they are typically nocturnal, and rests during the middle of the day and late at night.

Where to see Klipspringer on an African Safari?

  • Klipspringers inhabit mountainous regions in Eastern Africa, the Cape, and all the way to Angola along river gorges.


The actual name for this African safari animal is gnus in English. However, the more common name that everyone is familiar with is the Afrikaans/Dutch name of “wildebeest.” They’re a member of the ugly five and for good reason, they’re pretty freaking ugly.

However, they put on the most amazing spectacle regarding safari, the great migration. Year-round a monstrous herd of wildebeest roams between the Serengeti and Masai Mara in search of greener pasture. Visitors plan their safaris to watch the herds of animals make river crossings and roam up to a couple hundred thousand.

Most amazingly the average wildebeest will cover up 1,000 miles a year and they can run up to 40 mph to elude predators. You can find them in plains and savannahs throughout Southern and East Africa.

Where to find Wildebeest around Africa?

Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope

One of the largest species of antelope is the roan, they are named for their roan color, which is a reddish-brown and commonly found in woodland and grassland savanna. These safari animals are super similar to the sable antelope mentioned above but are different. If you saw the two side by side you would notice the differences easily. There are six different subspecies of roan antelope spread across Africa.

Out of all our safaris we have only seen Roan antelope a handful of times. They are victim of habitat loss and, sadly, poaching for their meat. They are mainly visible in protected areas.

Where to find Roan Antelope on an African Safari?

Roan antelope are found in woodland and grassland savanna. You can find them in Zambia and Angola as well as South Sudan.


Oryx Kalahari Red Sand

Like the giraffe, there are actually two species of this animal on safari. There is the gemsbok found throughout the deserts and arid environments of Southern Africa and the East African Oryx. Their coats are a light grey color, and they feature distinct black markings around their face. As desert dwellers, they can go long stints without having to consume any water.

Oryx are great distance runners; even at birth, they can run with the herd that has been documented to grow to 600 individuals large. They’ve been given the nickname the “spear antelope,” not to be confused with sable, for their long sharp horns used in defense. Most incredibly, they’ve been known to gore and kill lions attempting to hunt the antelope.

Travel Namibia

While these safari animals are bountiful in South Africa, we saw our first oryx in Namibia. They thrive in the country, and it’s almost impossible to take a road trip through Namibia without seeing the animals frequently along the isolated roads.

If you’re American from the Southwest, it’s possible you’ve seen these animals before! As the New Mexico Department of Game Fish released 93 into the White Sands Missle Range. Since then, the population has grown to nearly 6,000 individuals as they’ve flourished in the desert environment with no predators.

Where to find Oryx in Africa?


It would be tough to pick the most beautiful antelope, but the waterbuck would be in the running for us. If you couldn’t tell by the name you’ll most commonly find these guys around water. They’re most common along riverine woodlands, grasslands, and forests South of the Sahara. Apparently, they taste terrible, which is key to their survival.

For safari-goers, you’ll find them Northeast of Botswana. They’re great subjects to photograph as you can often find them near water sources and woodlands for a great backdrop. We loved spotting waterbucks along the Zambezi and Luangwa riverbanks in Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park.

Where to find Waterbuck on safari in Africa?

  • Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Zambezi National Park & Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
  • Lower Zambezi National Park & South Luangwa National Park, Zambia


African Safari Animal

The largest antelope in the world is one of our favorite safari animals in Africa. The Eland is pretty majestic to see in person as it’s about the size of a small horse with massive spiral antlers.

Your first time spotting an Eland in the wild is pretty unforgettable, especially if you spot one nearby. Our first time was at Gondwana Game Reserve when a habituated herd walked through the lodge. They’re the size of a horse but built like an antelope for an imposing stature.

Elands are tremendous animals as they can handle a wide range of habitats that covers most of Southern and East Africa. However, they’re best suited for plains and grasslands, so you’ll have a tough time spotting them on safari in marshy areas. Since they’re the largest antelope in the world,, you’d think they would be slow and lumbering, but they can maintain a trot almost indefinitely.

Most impressively, I’ve watched them jump clear over a large fence. If you’re trying to tell the difference between males and females, it won’t be the antlers, as both sexes have a pair.

Where to find Eland around Africa?

  • Etosha National Park, Kalahari, Namibia
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa



Giraffes in Ruaha

It’s pretty tough not to love the giraffe. They’re the world’s tallest living land animals and have some funny look faces. For some reason, the sight of a giraffe staring at me with those big eyelashes from behind a tree is engrained in my head. Those long necks swivel around to stare dead at you as you approach.

They have massive necks and legs that can reach over 6 feet tall. What surprised us the most is that there are four different species of giraffes and five subspecies. The most famous is the Masai Giraffe, commonly seen on the Serengeti and the Masai Mara plains.

Giraffes tend to stick together for safety. Females hang out with their young and males together in search of a mate. Fun fact of the day you can share with people while on safari, a group of giraffes is called a Tower or journey. I personally love Tower.

Where to find giraffes in Africa?

  • Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Lake Manyara, & Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa


Zebras in Tanzania

My all-time favorite safari animal fact is that a group of zebras is called a dazzle. I love throwing that Africa fact around to the uninitiated simply because it’s so much fun. What’s great about zebras for safari goers is that they don’t see humans as much of a threat in parks. Vehicles can often approach the animal, and you can find them frequently along roads munching away on the grass.

Three species of zebras live in sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve seen all three: the plains zebra, grevy’s zebra, and mountain zebra. The plains zebra is the most common, and you’ll find them throughout southern and east African grasslands.

See a few of our favorite African safari animal pictures of zebras below.

A Dazzle of Zebra

It shouldn’t be too surprising, but they’re closely related to horses and come from the same family, Equidae. Scientists are not sure why a zebra has stripes, but there are a couple of theories. One of them is the belief that it helps to distract or dazzle predators, so it’s a form of defense. Furthermore, each zebra has a unique set of stripes, just like our fingerprints, so it could also be a social feature.

Zebras are also members of the great migration and have numbers that reach up to tens of thousands. They fall firmly into the category of internationally recognized safari animals.

Where to find Zebra around Africa?

Zebras can be found in great numbers across parks in Africa. Some of the highest densities are in”

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya


Hippopotamus in River

You’ve probably heard the interesting fact that the Hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa. It’s responsible for the highest amount of deaths in humans. That’s not because they’re feared predators because they’re actually herbivores.

However, they are very territorial and look like walking water balloons with stubby legs, but they can easily outrun most humans, reaching speeds up to 19mph. They have poor eyesight but often walk along trails at night to feed. Meaning the unsuspecting human could run right into one and instantly be impaired by a hippo’s razor teeth. It’s the most common reason that locals are killed by the animal in the bush – hence the most dangerous animal in Africa.

Hippos are semi-aquatic mammals and spend most of their time in fresh bodies of water, anything deep enough to submerge themselves. This is to protect themselves from the midday sun and then head out. What’s crazy is they are right behind the Elephant and Rhino, as the third largest land mammal. They may live on land, but their closest living relatives are actually whales and dolphins.

Where to find Hippopotamus around Africa?

  • Almost everywhere you can find a body of water.
  • Zambezi River, Zambia & Zimbabwe
  • Chobe National Park, Botswana


Warthogs in Zimbabwe

Another member of the ugly five is the Warthog. Although Pumba looks cute in Hollywood, the Warthog is far from adorable. The Warthog is a member of the pug family and is most often found in the savanna and grassland area of Africa. The warthog can be found in large numbers throughout Africa, although we saw the most in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

There are four different subspecies of warthogs; the Nolan warthog, Eritrean warthog, Central African warthog, and the Southern warthog. With the Southern and Central African warthog being the most common to see.

Where to find the Warthog on safari in Africa?

  • Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Masai Mara, Kenya
  • The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania



Cheetahs in the Masai Mara

The cheetah is the fastest land mammal on earth and our favorite big cat to spot on safari. They’re the most active of the cats and the easiest to spot as they like to find high ground in grassland areas. This is why they have famously hopped on top of safari vehicles, the highest point in a sea of grass.

At first glance, it might be easy to mistake cheetahs for leopards; however, the size difference and spots between the two is great. Cheetahs are small cats, and their primary prey is small hoofed African animals. This diminutive stature also plays a role in why the animal is not a member of the Big Five, considered to be the most dangerous African animal to man.

Like many of Africa’s greatest animals, cheetahs are under grave threat from humans and habitat loss. World Cheetah populations were around 100,000 in 1990, and 9,000 to 12,000 left. It’s just another safari animal that brings to light the fact that we’re witnessing a global extinction.

Where to find cheetahs in Africa?

  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Approximately one-third of all African cheetahs are found in Namibia, which gives those on a safari in Namibia a great chance at spotting them, Okonjima Nature Reserve in Namibia rehabilitates orphaned cheetahs, offering excellent opportunities to observe these remarkable African animals.

African Wild Cat

The African Wild Cat looks almost identical to a standard house cat. The behavior is like that of a typical house cat too. African wildcats are active mainly by night as they search for prey. This means they are particularly hard to see and your only chance of really catching one on safari is on a night game drive.

Where to find the African wildcat around Africa?

The wildcat has a wide distribution and can be found across Africa!

Serval Cat

The Serval is a medium-sized wild cat commonly seen on the savannas where there is plenty of water. Like most cats, they are successful hunters and lead a solitary life. This is another one you might get lucky and see at night while out on a night game drive. However, they do hunt vlei rats, small birds, frogs, insects, and reptiles during the day as well.

Where to find the Serval Cat While in Africa?

You can find serval cats in the African savannah. Particularly parts of Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.


African Wild Dog

Linyanti Concession - Botswana

If you want to see Africa’s most extraordinary and fascinating predator, look no further than the wild dogs. They’re probably the least known predator in Africa. Much like the wolves of North America, their population numbers have suffered greatly from habitat loss and conflict between pastoralists.

Lions may get all the credit for being Africa’s top predator, but wild dogs are Africa’s most successful hunters – making a kill nearly every time they go hunting. Watching their social interactions is a wonderful safari experience; if you see them, consider yourself lucky.

Wild Dog Chase

However, like all dogs, they sleep a lot! So, if you’re lucky enough to see them, they’ll be taking a nap. Wild dogs operate in packs and have a clear social structure with rankings among the pack with alpha males and females.

They’re one of the toughest African safari animals to spot as they require large territory they can cross at any moment. Even if you head to one of the parks they frequent, it’s likely you won’t spot them.

Where to find African Wild Dogs in Africa?


African safari animals

The African jackal is a medium-sized canine that wanders the bush frequently in search of scraps. The jackal is a carnivorous scavenger often seen alongside other scavengers like hyenas and vultures. Jackals are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk. However, they don’t always scavenge and are still predators to smaller African animals roaming the wild.

The two types of jackals you’ll see while on safari are the black-backed jackal and side striped jackal.

Where to find Jackals in Africa?

  • Jackals can be seen around Central and Southern Africa.


safari animals

Okay, hyenas are not exactly canines, but they aren’t felines, either. Instead, they are so unique that they are actually called Hyaenidae. If you asked us the one animal that does not deserve its bad reputation (the Lion King didn’t help), it’s the hyena. A spotted hyena, or laughing hyena, is an intrinsic part of the safari and the African landscape.

They actually “laugh” in mating season or under periods of stress such as competing for territory or food. Although, you’re most likely to hear their familiar call or a whoop in the middle of the night as they communicate with one another.

African Safari Animals

Hyenas have one of the strongest jaws of all animals. There is a common misconception that hyenas only scavenge for food but are also skilled hunters and like to operate as a pack. They’re intelligent African animals and active at night. Furthermore, there are more than one species of hyena, although the spotted hyena is the one you’ll likely see the most.

If you’re camping in Africa, it’s best to keep food out of your tent as it will attract the animals. We’ve had more than a few meals in the company of hyenas standing just out of the light of the fire, and yes, they can kill a human. However, when alone they mostly keep their distance.

Where to find Hyenas in Africa?

You can find Spotted Hyenas throughout Africa’s national parks and reserves. All the way from South Africa to Ethiopia.


Nile Crocodile

Nile Croc

This African safari animal is the main reason you don’t stand on riverbanks or lakes in Africa. It may be called the Nile Crocodile, but you can find the animal all over the continent, and it is the second largest crocodile in the world, behind the saltwater crocodile in Australia.  They still have the ability to deal with some salt water, so you can even find them in marshlands and brackish water.

These monsters can grow to 5m or 16.4 ft long and weigh 1650 lbs. Nile crocodiles are highly aggressive apex predators who stalk prey in and out of the water. Animals or humans who come too close to the wrong water bank are at extreme risk of being prey to a crocodile. Only adding to their eerie predatory dinosaur mystery, crocodiles can wait for weeks or even more than a month for the right prey.

It’s best not to mess with these guys and stay out of the water. Unless you feel like being crazy and want to try out a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, we’ve done that! If a crocodile ever does grab you between its powerhouse jaws, we’ve heard, you may have a chance by sticking your arm down their throat and pressing down, but I wouldn’t test it.

Where to find the Crocodile in Africa?

In almost all rivers and lakes around Africa.


Mountain Gorilla

Gorilla Trekking Uganda

There are around 1000 Mountain Gorillas left in the world, and they are listed as critically endangered. It’s a frightening number; however, there is a silver lining as the conservation efforts in tourism have led to a stable and increasing population.

This is partly thanks to the strict regulations of 80 people a day visiting only a select number of families and remaining only an hour. To top it off, the permit to see these safari animals fetches a hefty price tag at $700 in Uganda, $1,500 in Rwanda, and $400 to enter the lawless DRC.

We went gorilla trekking in Uganda, unlike any other wildlife experience in Africa. The atmosphere of the trek through the jungle mist is mystical. By all means, you often find yourself cutting a path through the jungle and thick vegetation. With each step, your anticipation builds, and the reward of seeing the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world is spectacular.

While all of the safari animals are aware of us, gorillas actively show curiosity toward humans. So much so that on our last trek in Uganda, I had a sneaky juvenile slide down the tree behind me and grab my arm. You should read about gorilla trekking in Uganda to get all the juicy details.

Where to find Mountain Gorillas in Africa?

  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
  • Mgahinga National Park, Uganda
  • Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
  • Virunga National Park, The Democratic Republic of the Congo


safari animals
Chimp trekking in Uganda

It’s our closest living relative and an amazing animal to see in the wild. They are super intelligent and have readily displayed communication, problem-solving, complex social structures, and even the use of tools. Chimpanzees are extraordinary African animals and will shock you at our similarities.

The experience of taking a chimp trek is nothing like that of gorilla trekking as their behavior is very different. Chimps are far more active than their gorilla counterparts. Chimps do not live in elevations as high as the mountain gorillas and the treks to find them tend to be less strenuous.

Kibale National Park

That is until you find a chimp family who moves quickly through the forest. We ran with the chimps through thick brush and up hills for just over an hour. Cutting through the forest, you’ll come to a stop with a chimp staring at you quizzically. Guests are advised to keep a distance of at least 7 meters, but that distance is often broken by the chimps themselves.

We’ve been chimp trekking in both Rwanda and Uganda. The Uganda experience was much better with easier terrain and more habituated chimp families.

Where to find chimpanzees in Africa?

  • Kibale National Forest, Uganda
  • Nyungwe National Forest, Rwanda
  • Gombe National Park, Tanzania
  • Mahale Mountain National Park, Tanzania


You likely know what a baboon is if you’ve seen The Lion King and loved Rafiki. (Although many think Rafiki is a baboon he is actually a Mandrill, s the largest living monkey). There are five baboon species: the Hamadryas baboon, the Guinea baboon, the olive baboon, the yellow baboon, and the chacma baboon. Baboons have been present in Africa for over two million years and can pretty much be seen everywhere you go.

Sometimes they can be quite a nuisance, as they are intelligent and know how to get into safari tents and wreck African lodges. They vary in size and weight, with the males often being massively intimidating.

Where to find baboons on safari in Africa?

Honestly, we’ve seen baboons almost everywhere, even in Swaziland. However, they prefer semi-arid habitats, like savannas and bushlands, but some live in tropical forests and mountains.

African Birds

Lilac Breasted Roller

Lilac Breasted Rollar

This bird is a favorite of many safari-goers due to its beautiful plumage. It’s the national bird of Kenya and Botswana, and you’ll understand why once you see it for the first time. They’re widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, so you stand a chance to spot the bird just about anywhere on safari. Their most common habitats are savannah and woodland.

Lilac-breasted rollers hunt insects, and they seek vantage points. Most commonly, you’ll find them perched on top of poles or dead tree branches, scanning the savannah in search of prey. Interestingly enough, unlike many colorful birds, both males and females share the same brilliant plumage.

They love grassland areas where insects are abundant, so when approaching grassy areas, keep an eye out on the high points to find the bird. Don’t worry if you miss them, as your guide will be better at spotting them.

Where to find lilac-breasted rollers in Africa?

  • South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Hwange National Park & Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
  • Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa


Vultures in the Masai Mara

There are a large number of vultures in Africa, and they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. They’re the cleanup crew, so to speak, responsible for clearing carrion from the savannah. Eight different species call Africa home, but one of the most common you can spot is the white-backed vulture. No one will confuse the vulture with a beautiful animal, but they are fascinating and extraordinary African safari animals.

Animals have a lot of fantastic names for groups – for example, vultures are called a venue on the ground and a kettle when in flight. Viewed as a nuisance, vultures are critically endangered due to farmers poisoning them and a low birth rate. Vultures only choose one mate a year and lay one egg. Most amazing is their eyesight, capable of spotting prey or food from high above in the sky.

Where to find Vultures in Africa?

You can find vultures throughout Africa, but it’s the easiest to spot them on plains and grasslands.

  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa


African Safari Animal

You’ll find bee-eater birds throughout Africa, with many different species of them. Each one is dazzling and beautiful. Bee-eaters are skilled hunters; you can see them swooping through the air and catching insects mid-air. They often follow behind large mammals like buffalos or elephants and catch insects as they’re disturbed from the ground.

Where to find Carmine Bee-eaters in Africa?

  • South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
  • Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe


Ostriches in Ruaha

I’m still unsure whether I think ostriches are cute or the ugliest birds in the world. The large flightless bird is native to Africa and can be found in almost every national park. Males and females are easily distinguished by their size and color.

Males are black and larger, while female ostriches are mostly brown in color. You’ll often find these birds in pairs, and if you can see them running, you’re in for a treat.

Where to find an Ostrich in Africa?

Ostriches can be seen throughout Africa, especially in South Africa where they are used for meat and leather. There are plenty os ostrich farms across South Africa. In the wild we’ve seen the most in:

  • Etosha National Park
  • Ruaha National Park


Flamingos can be found all over the world, including around Africa. It’s possible to see greater and lesser flamingos while on safari. They are most common around bodies of water. My favorite spot to see them was in Walvis Bay, Namibia!

Where to find flamingos in Africa?

Marabou Stork

Perhaps the ugliest safari animal on this list is the poor Marabou Stork. A lead member of “the ugly five” for its rather unfortunate characteristic, this stork can be found throughout Africa.

This massive bird can reach a height of 152 cm and a weight of 9 kg. Some have a wingspan over 3 meters! They can be easily spotted by their huge body, a long bill, and hairless face. They can eat almost anything and therefore are commonly found near landfill sites and densely populated areas.

Where to find Marabou Storks in Africa?

  • Throughout East and West Africa

Grey Crowned Crane

Crested Crane

The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda. They are quite funny looking, but are still beautiful birds. They are found throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Other Mammals

The Aardvark

safari animals - The Aardvark

The Aardvark is a funny-looking nocturnal mammal that can be found throughout Africa. They are incredibly elusive, but you might get lucky and spot-on at night.

The Pangolin

The Pangolin

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are unique creatures that are covered in hard, plate-like scales. They are among the rarest African safari animals to see while on safari, and if you do find one, consider yourself extremely lucky.

Seriously, some people have spent all their lives in the bush and never seen one. They are most active at night, so your best chance at viewing is on a night game drive. Unfortunately, Pangolin numbers are dwindling due to rampant poaching for their scales.


A rare honey badger sighting in Khwai Game Reserve

Listed by Guinness as “The World’s Most Fearless Animal,” the honeybadger is notoriously aggressive and what some would call “Badass.” You likely won’t see a honey badger, they are extremely sly, fast, and nocturnal.

But if you do see one in the wild, it will be an amazing memory. It took us three years of African safaris to finally see one in the wild, and when we did, the honeybadger was quick and elusive. Thankfully, we were able to snap the photo above!



The Aardwolf is perhaps the cutest animal you have ever heard of. Their name means “earth-wolf” in Afrikaans and looks like a civet and hyena. You’ll likely only see it at night when it comes out to eat little critters.



Another nocturnal African mammal is the civet. These are small cat-like creatures that reside mainly in the tropics. We saw our first civet in Mozambique at night, but they can be found all over Africa.



Perhaps my favorite small African animal is the meerkat. If you’ve seen The Lion King, you likely know what a meerkat is, but to see one in Africa is a different experience. These small carnivores belong to the mongoose family and live in desert environments like the Kalahari and the Namib Desert.



One of the less common safari animals to see is the porcupine. Porcupines are large rodents that are nocturnal creatures. They have a sharp coat of spines, or quills, which protects them against predators. With luck, you’ll see one on a night game drive.

A Safari Animals Checklist

Download your own African safari animals checklist to print and mark off which animals you see on safari!

Book A Safari in Africa

Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggest camps and lodges then present you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.

However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way, you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.

What to Pack for an African Safari

Safari Animals - on safari in South Africa

Packing the right safari clothes is always a good idea, but it’s never essential because you can wear whatever you want. We also go in-depth on the best women’s safari clothes!

Plan Your Trip to Africa

  • Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans. 
  • Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
  • Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
  • Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
  • Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
  • Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
  • Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
  • Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
  • Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
  • Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling to Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
About Cameron Seagle

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

4 thoughts on “41 Safari Animals and Where to Find Them”

  1. I looovee animals! So this post is a gem in a pile of blogs on the web. I’m obsessed with the pictures. My dream is to see big cats in real life, touch them if possible, but I know that would be me having to write my last will. This post brings joy to my heart. I just pray though that parks and people in Africa are doing their best to take of wildlife while reaping rewards from their businesses. Especially giraffes as I’ve heard these majestic animals are on a threat. Your blog reminds us of how beautiful animals are and we should take care of them. Loved it <3

  2. I love mountain gorillas! I went on a safari two years ago and we went on a mountain gorilla trip in Uganda. It was amazing! Seeing these animals up close was so cool.

    Also, love all your travel posts! Wish I could travel more!

  3. The bee-eater is such an interesting looking bird, with its colorful plumage and spiky, black beak. I wouldn’t have known they existed without looking at this. If I were to go on a safari with my husband, I would hope that we would catch a glimpse of this rare bird.

  4. Very insightful blog. There are only 2 updates that are needed to be corrected.
    1. You can also f in nd mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park, Uganda.
    2. The population of mountain Gorillas raised to more than 1000.
    Kindly look into them but, all in all, you have created the most dynamic article I have ever seen. Good job.

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