Going on a safari in Africa is one of the most thrilling adventures in the world. There is nothing more exciting than seeing African animals roaming free on the great plains. We have been on safari in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, and Botswana. We are truly lucky people.
African Safari Animals in Photos
Our first time in Africa was in 2008 when we cycled from Cairo to Cape Town. Our trip took us from the north through Sub Sarahan Africa all the way to the southern tip of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. We saw a lot of wildlife on that six-month trip alone and since then, we’ve gone back four times. These are our favorite moments coming face to face with African animals. .
It wasn’t until going on at least three safaris that we actually saw a proper pride of lions. It was while touring Tanzania with Go Ahead Tours that we had our most outstanding lion encounters. One that sticks out is while on a game drive in the Serengeti.
Lion Chasing Lioness
We watched three male lions try to court a female as a herd of elephants kept chasing them away. It was incredible to see how the lions kept watch on the elephants who drove them away whenever they came to close, yet never took their eyes off the female prize.
Lioness And Her Cubs
This memorable moment consisted of 13 cubs following one lone female lion. Our guide George told us that there were probably three other adult female lions lurking in the grass, but the cubs were following her – the Alpha. As they followed along, this little guy broke away from the pack charging at his mom. He brought her down, nipping at her throat and belly before climbing on her back to tell the rest of the cubs to come on down!
Watch our Wildlife on Safari in the Serengeti Video
Watch all the videos above and at about 1:50 into the video, you’ll see the lion cubs playing with mom.
You can see lions all over Africa: Some of the best places we spotted them were in the Serengeti in Tanzania, Kenya’s Masai Mara, a South African Game Reserve, and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Lake Manyara is the place to see lions sleeping in trees. We also saw them in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Lion And Elephant Fighting For Space
We all thought that lions are the kings of Africa, but if elephants are mad at you, you’re in trouble no matter who you are. T his lion and his brothers were way too close to a herd of elephants and their calves. The elephants were having no part of that and a group of big males split off to chase the lions away.
One of the best places to see elephants in Africa is in Amboseli National Park where there is a huge concentration of elephants. Plus, you get a great view of Mount Kilimanjaro. But we also saw elephants in all the usual places in Africa as well including the Serengeti, South Africa, Addo Elephant Nature Park in South Africa, plus Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia.
Leopard in Tree
Leopards seem to be the most elusive animals in Africa. We had waited for days to find a leopard when on safari and we finally heard that one was sitting in a tree at the end of our trip to the Masai Mara in Kenya. We joined the line of safari trucks sitting around the tree to spy on her, but she never showed her face. It wasn’t until everyone left that we waited patiently by ourselves. Sure enough, when the commotion died down, she lifted her head from the branch and looked right at us. It was a breathtaking moment.
Leopard Jumping Into A Tree
Seeing a leopard in Africa is a rare and beautiful thing. Seeing a leopard jump onto a tree and continue to climb it is nearly impossible! It was the end of a long day of our final day in the Serengeti in Tanzania and we knew a leopard had been hanging out in a tree for a couple of days. We never got a great view until driving back to the lodge near sunset. On our way back to the lodge, Dave asked our guide George if we could swing by the leopard tree to see if she had moved. Sure enough, we caught her walking from one tree to another and snapped this shot just as she leaped to her perch.
Three Rhinoceros – The Whole Family
Getting to see a rhinoceros in Africa is rare indeed. They are the most critically endangered famous species of animal in Africa. Sadly, the Northern White Rhino went extinct in 2019 and the Western Black Rhino went extinct over a decade ago. Why do people think that the fibers from a rhino’s tusk are healing or an aphrodisiac? Leave them, alone people!
Cheetah And Her Cub
One of our favorite moments seeing African safari animals came while leaving Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. We were on our way to the next stop with our safari vehicle’s roofs and windows closed but our guides spotted this cheetah on the hunt with her cub. A herd of gazelles was grazing nearby and she was keeping an eye on them. At one point they made a move to chase one and it seemed like the perfect moment. But the baby jumped the gun bounding ahead giving the gazelle ample warning to getaway.
Keeping Watch Before The Next Hunt
Not to worry though, the mother quickly forgave her child and they cuddled up waiting for the next set of prey to walk by. The cheetah and her cub eye a pack of gazelles. Will they get a kill on the second try? I sure hope so. Mom has a lot of patience, so I think she’ll teach this little fellow how to hunt in no time.
Cheetah In The Grass
Spotting cheetahs on an African safari can be tricky business. Cheetahs are one of the more elusive African animals to see. Our first two safaris we never saw on Cheetah! It was when visiting the Masai Mara in Kenya that we encountered our first cheetah walking through the grass. We followed her for a while in awe. Cheetahs are difficult to spot because they hide well in the long grass, but this beauty was sitting poised and ready as we approached in our trucks.
Baby African Elephants Playing
Seeing baby elephants will melt your heart. When we happened upon a herd of elephants filled with frisky baby elephants, we had one of our most breathtaking Subsaharan animal encounters. Watching the family unite work together and protect their young filled me with joy. Seeing the baby elephants play and show off made me giggle. They are the most adorable creatures and I cannot believe that people have hunted them to the point of being critically endangered.
African Elephant On The Way To The Watering Hole
I cannot get over how quickly elephants cover vast amounts of land. They seem like they are moving in slow motion, but as you sit and watch them approach from the far distance, they are near you within minutes. We watched a herd of elephants walking to a watering hole while on safari in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, all the wildlife seemed to be walking to one place. Processions of elephants, zebras, and impalas were all walking in long lines towards the watering hole. This was the perfect African safari scene and what I think of when I dream of Africa.
The Lone Bull Elephant
When male elephants are too old to be a part of the herd (or when male elephants grow out of their adolescence) they are sent off on their own to either find another herd or spend the rest of their days in solitude. This giant elephant was definitely an old man and he took notice when our safari jeep came near.
While watching this bull elephant from the safety of our truck, he suddenly charged. Elephants are the most unpredictable animals when on safari (in our opinion). They look so relaxed one minute, but they can quickly turn the next. We were enjoying a quiet moment, but the truck next to us suddenly laughed loudly. This guy didn’t like that at all and charged at our truck. Luckily it was just a warning.
Giraffes On Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara is one of the most interesting places to see African safari animals. It’s one thing to see giraffes on the Serengeti, but to see them standing on the beach with water reflecting their long necks is mesmerizing. We counted 18 giraffes standing like statues on the shores of Lake Manyara; an alkaline lake known for its flamingoes and baboon population. It’s not an easy life for the “Ladies of the Serengeti.”
Sadly, we have heard that giraffes are quickly becoming critically endangered in silence. We can believe it, we have always had a difficult time seeing giraffes on an African safari. Other than at Lake Manyara, we have only seen the odd one or pair on our outings.
When you are lucky enough to spot giraffes in Africa, make sure to stop to watch them. They are the most elegant of creatures. Watching giraffes intertwine their long necks while swaying back and forth is like watching a ballet. They swing from side to side in perfect unison coming together for a few moments before beginning the dance again. The movements mesmerize you into a trance as you watch the moment unfold.
You can watch it in our video: The Best Things to do in Tanzania
If you love African animals you will love visiting Tanzania. There are so many animal encounters to be had here. Our video above also highlights all of the other things you can do in Tanzania.
Lake Nakuru is home to one of the largest number of black rhinos in Africa. This sanctuary is under strict guard keeping an eye for poachers and is one of the best places in Africa to see rhinos. More than 100 rhinos inhabit Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya with several different species of rhino living under protection. You’ll find black rhinos and white rhinos in Lake Nakuru.
Hippos are pretty boring to watch. Most of the time they lay in pools of water with only their nostrils and ears sticking out. However, don’t take that mellow feeling for granted, the hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.
They kill more people than lions or elephants. They may be herbivores but just look at those giant mouths. They are very territorial and defend fiercely defend their area. Hippos all pack together protecting one another from the sun as they stay covered in mud. But every once in a while a hippo yawns and it’s the most exciting moment of the day!
I must admit, the warthog is my favorite of African animals. Honestly! they are so odd-looking they’re cute! They also never stop. It’s very difficult to get a photo of a warthog because they never stop moving. They are always scurrying about looking terrified that they are going to be eaten any second. I am always rooting for the warthog to survive. There are two species of warthogs found in Africa and they are related to the pig family. I can see the resemblance, they definitely look like a wild boar.
Flamingoes are found on the salt lakes of African nations. One of the best places to see them is Lake Manyara in Tanzania. We also had an incredible view of flamingoes in Lake Nakuru in Kenya. You will not only see flamingoes at these lakes, but also storks, cranes, pelicans, and eagles all flying and floating on an incredible lake surrounded by rolling hills.
Did we tell you we were excited about the flamingoes? We love this reflection. It literally looks like the flamingo is checking out its reflection. Lake Manyara that we finally saw the thousands of different species of birds and flamingoes gracing its coast.
Okay, one more flamingo photo before we move on. It was spectacular to see flamingoes take flight. Did we mention we were really excited about the flamingos of Lake Manyara and Lake Nakuru?
Morning Light On A Hyena
The poor hyena isn’t the most famous of African safari animals, but seeing one is pretty rare. I think they are cute. Just because they are scavengers doesn’t mean they aren’t fierce. When cycling Africa we often had hyenas circling our camp. We didn’t stray too far from our circle at night with these guys hanging around.
There are two species of ostrich in Africa. The common ostrich and the Somali ostrich. Contrary to popular belief, the Ostrich isn’t the world’s largest bird, that belongs to the albatross. However, they are the largest flightless bird in Africa and they lay the largest eggs of any living land animal. Want some more ostrich facts? They are also the fastest birds on land who can run up to a whopping 70 km/h (43.5 mph)
While cycling Africa, we camped along the Nile and I must admit, I was terrified of an encounter with a Nile Crocodile. Luckily we never encountered one while camping, but we did see them when on safari.
The Nile crocodile is the largest reptile in Africa and they are pretty dangerous too. They kill more people than lions as they lurk in shallow waters on river banks. We were silly enough to go kayaking with crocodiles in South Africa. What were we thinkings? Check it out to see.
Cape Buffalo (African Buffalo)
The African buffalo is one of the big 5 African animals. The Big five were named so because back in the day, hunters shot these beautiful creatures for their trophy heads. The big 5 are buffalo, rhino, elephant, lion, and leopards. (we remember it by using the acronym BRELL) Sadly, many species of animals in Africa are critically endangered today because of hunting. I have an idea, let’s shoot them with our camera lens instead of with a gun.
One of the most common animals you’ll see in Africa is the Plains Zebra. We saw a lot of zebras in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and South Africa. We even went horseback riding with zebras on a safari in South Africa. Our horses were surrounded by wildebeest and zebras and I could feel that the horses wanted to join in the run. When you see them up close, they look as if they’ve been painted with thick chalky makeup.
We saw quite a few hartebeests on safari in Africa. This large African antelope was often hanging out with zebras and gazelles. Their face totally looks like an elongated heart. Sadly, like many African animals, the hartebeest numbers are declining due to human encroachment, hunting and habitat destruction.
Another African antelope is the Impala. Impalas are graceful and beautiful antelopes that I always thought were gazelles. They are fast and can actually run up to 60 km per hour. (37 miles). Only male impalas have horns.
Many people know of the wildebeest because of the famous wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya. It has always been our dream to see the millions of wildebeest cross the African plains. We haven’t been to Africa for the migration, but we have seen many wildebeests. Wildebeests are also calle a gnu. Believe it or not, they are also part of the antelope family.
Another member of the African antelope family is the Springbok.
I started to really fall in love with the zebras of Africa. If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a little bird on this foal’s back. Read more: iSimangaliso Wetlands – Horse Safari
A Chillin’ Baboon
Sitting atop this termite mount, a baboon looks like royalty. A group of elephants had just left the area and this baboon wasted no time jumping on top this mound after they left. You could tell that he was itching to get his spot back.
The Sikes monkey was named after Colonel William Henry Sykes an English naturalist from the 1800s. It’s known for its white throat and we saw this handsome devil in Kenya.
Vervet Monkeys are so cute and are found around lakes and streams in acacia forests and woodlands. We saw this little fellow at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. We also saw a lot of monkeys at Mayanara in Tanzania.
Colourful Birds Of Africa
Dave and I are normally not into bird watching, but our safari mates in our truck were very big birders. Their excitement over birds was contagious and by the end of the trip, I started to know the names of the birds of Africa like this colorful cutie the Lilac Breasted Roller.
Penguins of South Africa
Did you know that southern Africa has penguins? It does! The penguins of South Africa can be found just south of Cape Town near Simon’s town. There is a colony that swims in the cool waters of Southern Africa and they are adorable to see.
If you make your way out to boulders bay beach, you’ll see a colony of cute African penguins frolicking in the sand on the beach
I was very excited to see a stork in Africa. When we were cycling through Ethiopia we saw a lot of them. When I was young I thought storks were made up birds because people always said that a baby was brought in by a stork. However, they are real! There are 8 species of storks in Africa. We saw them in The Rift Valley, in South Africa near St. Lucia, at lakes in Tanzania and in Kenya.
At first, we weren’t too excited about the bird species in Africa, but then on one of our safaris in Tanzania, a truck mate was a full-on bird watcher. She pointed out birds for us to see and we started getting excited whenever we saw a new species. I can see why birding is so popular!
A Late Evening Yawn
The sun was setting and this lion knew it. Almost time for a nap and time for us to head back to the lodge. This was on safari in South Africa at Kariega Game Reserve on the Garden Route.
Lion Looking At Me Licking its Chops
This is the brother of our first lion photograph in the Serengeti. He walked so close to our truck that George told us to get our hands inside. He was licking his chops, so you knew he was ready for lunch!
Lioness On A Rock
One of our favorite African animal encounters was certainly seeing this female lion perched on Lion King Rock. When entering the Serengeti, the first thing we spotted was this lioness relaxing on a rock beside the famous Lion King Rock. And this scene was fitting. This is exactly what we expected to see on the African savanna and the moment didn’t disappoint.
Watch the Big 5 of Africa in Kenya
We can’t wait to go back to Africa to go on more safaris. We haven’t seen the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda, or the Congo yet and we still have yet to see the Chimpanzees at Jane Goodalls sanctuary. But isn’t that what makes travel exciting. We are always adding more encounters and adventures to our list!
More African Animals in Photos
Lions napping in a tree
I’ve always wanted to see lions sleeping in trees. It was a first for us on our Tanzania safari. Lake Manyara claims to be famous for sleeping lions, but we saw lions sleeping in trees in the Ngorongoro Crater and here at Tarangire National Park. Aren’t they beautiful?
Lioness With Her Kill
Watching this female lion carry her recent kill along the African savanna showed just how harsh conditions are for animals. She may have caught dinner but getting it back to her cubs took a lot of hard work. She walked for a few minutes and then dropped the gazelle taking heavy breathes as she caught her breath.
All the while she had to keep an eye out for other predators that could challenge her to take her kill. At one point she saw a lone gazelle and dropped her kill to try for another. It managed to outrun her, but she exerted a lot of energy. I wonder how she would have carried two kills at a time?
When visiting the Masai Mara in Kenya, we only saw one cheetah our entire safari. While on safari in Tanzania, we saw half a dozen cheetahs including moms, cubs, and this adolescent.
At the game reserves in South Africa, they cut off the rhino’s horn so that poachers don’t kill them for it. It is sad to see that this needs to be done, but at least it keeps them safe. I don’t think these two felt too bad about it, they seem to be enjoying life pretty well!
Male Lion In The Ngorogoro Crater
We didn’t expect to see male lions at the Ngorongoro Crater but sure enough, after spending time watching the wildebeest and zebras, we came across two male lions walking steadily to find some shade. We followed them for a bit before they changed course towards a very big and shady baobab tree.
Staring Into The Breeze
Something tells me this lion smells tonight’s dinner.
Close Up Of A Giraffe
Giraffes have a strange mix of being beautiful and dopy looking at the same time. This captures the beauty of the giraffe.
A lioness and Her Cubs
Being on an African safari in August lets you see all the cubs at their cutest. It seemed that every turn in the Serengeti found us at another squad of cubs with mother.
Watch our Safari Tips for Tanzania
Africa is close to our hearts and we were so excited to finally go on Safari in Tanzania. We’ve been fortunate enough to safari in Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana.