There’s nothing better than watching a good safari movie to get you excited to visit Africa. Before we went on our first safari we binged watched all of these movies about African safaris to prepare ourselves for what was to come.
Of course, nothing can truly prepare you for the magic you will experience on safari, but while you’re sitting at home packing your safari clothes, may as well sit back and watch some of the best safari movies! Here are some of our favorites.
The Best Safari Movies to Watch Now
I Dreamed of Africa
Set in Kenya
This film certainly didn’t deserve any academy awards, but it did manage to get me excited about going to Africa. The film tells the true story of Kuki Gallman, an Italian woman who relocates to Africa to run a farm. It’s like Under the Tuscan Sun, but set in Africa.
The film is adapted from Kuki’s autobiography, I Dreamed of Africa, and is heartbreaking at times and uplifting in others. It’s definitely one of the best African safari movies you can watch before going.
Love on Safari
Set in South Africa
Love On Safari is a feel-good Hallmark movie classic. The film follows Kira, who has inherited her deceased uncle’s wildlife reserve in South Africa. Of course, she faces many challenges along the way, but well there’s also a boy, a love interest (hence the name Love on Safari).
If you’re looking for a light and cheery romantic safari movie to watch before visiting Africa this is for you.
The Lion King
Set in the Savannah (Likely Kenya or Tanzania)
I grew up in the 90s, and I can’t think of the animals in Africa without thinking of the Lion King. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to stop reading right this second and get on Amazon, hop on Netflix, Disney +, or go about your usual way of accessing movies and watch this tonight.
I mean, cmon that opening scene? “NA SEE WANG YA” and Simba’s christening! I can’t even watch the first five minutes without a tear in my eye. This movie about Africa is forever loved and even though it’s animated, it shows the beauty of some of these countries.
Gorillas in the Mist
Set in Rwanda
One of my favorite movies about Africa that is still very relevant today. Seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda has been high on my list for years (UPDATE: We checked that off), but I never knew the full story behind these beautiful creatures.
Meet Dian Fossey, an American primatologist that dedicated her life to studying the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Gorillas in the Mist, starring the fabulous Sigourney Weaver is an 80’s movie that documents Dian’s struggles and achievements while in Africa.
Into the Okavango
Set in Botswana and Angola
This is a visually beautiful Nat Geo documentary that uncovers the truth about the Okavango Delta water shortage. This is one of the planet’s last wetlands and diverse wildlife areas.
Set in Madagascar
One of my favorite safari movies! If you’re looking for an African movie on Netflix, one of the Madagascar films is always bound to be there. With so many serious films on this list, I had to throw this one in! Madagascar 1, 2, and 3 are some of the funniest animated films I have seen and feature some brilliant song and dance scenes ( I Like to Move it Move it).
Madagascar tells the story of four zoo animals who escape Central Park and get stranded on the island of…Madagascar! With an all-star comedic cast, you will be laughing your way through this 90-minute film.
Out of Africa
Set in Kenya
Oh, Merryl Streep and Robert Redford, you both produced one great African safari movie together when you were young. Out of Africa is a film set in colonial Africa and garnered seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. The film follows the life of Karen Blixen, who establishes a coffee plantation in Africa.
This a one of the movies on this list that portrays parts of an African safari and is based off of an autobiographical book of the same name shows Karen’s complicated life in Kenya, with a side twist of a young love affair with Robbie Red.
Set in the Congo
There’s truly no better safari movie for children to watch than Disney’s Tarzan.
Most of us know the fictional story of Tarzan. A human baby who was raised by apes somewhere deep in the Congo. While there are many movies about Tarzan I think Disney does the best job at carrying it through. This story is entertaining for both adults and kids and is a feel good safari movie with a kick ass soundtrack from Phil Collins.
Set in Kenya
Born Free is about real life, Joy and George Adamson, who raised Elsa the Lioness. Elsa was an orphaned lion cub who was raised to adulthood by the couple who then released her into the Kenyan wilderness.
The safari film starts when George must kill a lion who attacked humans. Three orphaned cubs are now parentless so the Adamson’s take care of the three cubs, before sending all but Elsa off. This is a feel good tale of a friendship forming between human and animal. It helps that it’s true!
The Ghost and the Darkness
Set in Kenya
Set in 1898 this film is the Hollywood version of the Tsavo Man Eaters. Yes you read that right, Man eating lions. It’s a true story of a pair of man eating lion sin the Tsavo region of Kenya. They were responsible for the death of many construction workers who were building the Kenya Uganda Railway in 1898. Although this is the fictionalized Hollywood version of what happened there is no doubt this safari movie is entertaining!
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Set in Kenya
This is a classic safari movie from 1952 based on Ernest Hemingway’s short story under the same name. The story follows Harry Street, who is wounded from a hunting accident in Africa and recounts his time in Africa with the love of his life while slowly dying.
Planet Earth Season 1 Episode 7 (Great Plains) & Season 2 Episodes 3 and 5 (Jungles and Grasslands)
Everywhere in Africa
There are a number of films that left a lasting impact on me, but the short documentary series Planet Earth changed my life. Upon its release, I was just graduating high school and didn’t have any clue about the world around me. But I was able to watch the Planet Earth Series and see the beauty from all over the globe. It certainly helps that Sir David Attenborough is the narrator of the whole series. Head to the episodes mentioned to see footage that will have you dying to go on safari in Africa.
Set Around Africa
Our Planet is very similar to Planet Earth, just a little newer and on Netflix, but still narrated by David Attenborough.
Yes, Our Planet is Netflix’s answer to Nature Documentaries and it is stunning. Each episode features different landscapes and environments. I particularly like the Savannah episode to transport me on safari. Our Planet also has a strong message about the role us humans have the planet and how we are straining it. It’s an important travel movie to watch for environmentalists and eco-conscious travelers.
Set Around Africa
This is a six-part BBC mini-series that focuses on all of Africa’s magnificent locations and is one of those well worthy safari movies to watch. Narrated by who other than Sir David Attenborough we go through the Sahara, Kalahari, and all the way to the Congo and back. If this doesn’t make you want to go on safari in Africa then nothing will!
The Last Lions
Set in Botswana
The Last Lions is another fantastic safari documentary movie that follows a lioness named Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”). She battles her way through the Okavango Delta as she protects her cubs. The film is actually narrated by Jeremy Irons, who voiced Scar in The Lion King!
It’s a beautiful film that truly shows you a mothers love in the wilderness.
Set in Tanzania
Hatari is a classic John Wayne film and one of the best safari movies if I’ve ever seen one! Hatari (means Danger in Swahili). This film follows a group of hunters and a photographer in a race to save baby elephants from life in a zoo. While the film may be a bit dated, there is no doubt it is a great old time comedy safari movie well worth a watch.
Holiday in the Wild
Set in Zambia
This Netflix safari movie came out last year and I knew instantly that I had to give it a watch. The film follows a woman who recently went through a nasty divorce, and decides to take a solo honeymoon to Africa.
What she thought was going to be a typical safari holiday turns into something much larger where she ends up staying in Zambia working with the safari animals at a sanctuary. Along the way she reconnects with herself and is given a second chance of love after all.
Set in the Congo
Congo is a 1995 film, set none other than the Congo! This is a science fiction film loosely based off of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name.
It follows a group of expansionists with different motives who travel to what was then Zaire (now DRC) and along the way encounter unheard of violent gorillas.
Set in South Africa and the USA
I saw Trophy while on safari in South Africa and was immediately hooked. This documentary film explores two sides of the story, trophy hunting, and wildlife conservation. Its main character is John Hume, the world’s largest rhino breeder and his struggles to save the rhino population. It digs deeper into trophy hunting in the USA, and the illegal ban on ivory and the role it plays in conservation. It’s well worth a watch before going on a safari anywhere in Africa so you can understand the rhino’s fragile state.
Set in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Another Netflix original, this documentary focuses on the conservation of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Or at least that’s how the documentary starts until the filmmakers and park rangers find themselves embroiled in the middle of a civil war.
The film showcases heart-stopping footage as conservationist work to protect the park, which is home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas.