Where to see lions in Africa. 17 African national parks where you can see lions in the wild

Seeing lions is often on most people's list when they are planning to go on an African wildlife safari. While lions are pretty common in the many zoos and confined areas around the world, it is seeing a lion in the wild when you realize the power it wields.

lion and lioness

When you have seen a lion in its natural home, you will know that it truly is the King of the Jungle because of the authority with which it moves. This is why seeing lions in the wild remains a better option than seeing it in captivity.

Lions used to be spread all over Europe and almost all of Africa but their distribution has reduced to less than 10% of that former habitat. This has also come with a great reduction in their numbers. In Africa, lions can be found in protected national parks in Southern and Eastern Africa, as well as some few areas in West Africa.

These protected areas are able to protect the lions and their home through various means, one of which is sustainable tourism. In case you get to visit, you can be sure than you are contributing to saving these big cats for future generations.

In this article, we are going to look at the places where you can visit and easily find lions in their natural habitat.

We have grouped these places where you can be able to see wild lions by country. We have also left out other places where the populations are not significant or the experience might not be purely natural. This includes some private game reserves in some places. 

Other places which haven't been mentioned are rarely visited by tourists because of various reasons especially infrastructure and safety.

Here is the list of the top places you can see wild lions in Africa - organised by country.

1. Tanzania

Tanzania is estimated to have the biggest population of wild lions in the whole world. Besides lions, you can see many other interesting wild animals in Tanzania. Here are some of the national game parks where you can see your fill of wild lions.

Serengeti National Park

 

Serengeti Migration

Serengeti National Park is home to the biggest concentration of lions in a single place. This is why it is one of the top safari national parks in the whole of Africa.

When in Serengeti, you will also be able to see the following fascinated animals. Buffalo, Zebra, Gazelle, Hartebeest, Topi, Hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, leopard among others.

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro crater is the main feature of the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Ngorongoro crater is the worlds biggest intact and unfilled volcanic caldera and covers an area of around 260 square kilometres on its floor.

On the floor of Ngorongoro caldera, you will see many animals as they congregate around water points. Apart from lions, you will see hippos, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, Hyenas among others.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is the largest protected area in Tanzania and East Africa. Ruaha is part of a great ecosystem that supports a lot of wild animals and bird species.

While visiting in Ruaha National Park, you can see lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, hippos, spotted hyenas and wild dogs among others.

2. South Africa

Kruger National Park

Pride of lions on the road in Kruger np

As one of the largest game reserves in Africa, Kruger National Park is a popular tourist spot for wildlife adventures. Kruger has a long history of protecting wildlife that dates back to the 1890s.

While in Kruger, you will be able to see an impressive number of lions - some even lying about on the roads. You will also be able to see a lot of black rhinos, zebras, Elands, Elephants, Giraffe, hippos, impala, spotted hyena and many others.

3. Kenya

Masai Mara National Reserve

lion pride in maasai mara

Masai Mara National Reserve is highly regarded at Kenya's jewel wildlife habitat and is a very popular tourist attraction. Because of the abundance of wildlife, Masai Mara is is regarded among the 7 natural wonders of Africa, and among the 10 wonders of the world.

While in Masai Mara National Reserve, you will see a lot of lions. Besides lions, you will see zebras, leopards, elephants, cheetah, hippos, crocodiles and giraffes among many others.

In the dry months of July to October, you will be able to witness the Wildebeest migration of more than 1 million animals.

Tsavo National Parks

Tsavo National Parks combines 2 game parks that were split in two to allow the construction of a railway from Mombasa to inland Kenya. Combined, the Tsavo parks form the largest national park in Kenya.

In both parks, you will be able to see lions. The Tsavo lions are popular because the males have no manes. Apart from the lions, you will also see buffaloes, rhinos, elephants, leopard as well as many bird species - including Ostriches.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is another one of Kenya's top wildlife destinations. With the towering backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli has pristine views of both wildlife and the landscape.

While you are visiting Amboseli, you will be able to see many lions, elephants, cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras and crocodile among others.

Most of the pictures of wildlife that you have seen with a snowy mountain in the distant background are of Amboseli. Photographers love it.

4. Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is regarded as Uganda's most popular game park because of its rich ecosystems as well as the intimate history with British royalty.

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a great adventure if you want to see lions. This is due to the popular tree-climbing lions of Ishasha towards its border with DRC. While in QENP, you will also see elephants, antelopes, hippos, buffaloes, chimpanzees and more.

The final appeal that makes Queen Elizabeth great for a safari in comparison with other parks in Uganda is its close proximity to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where thousands go each year for a personal encounter with mountain gorillas. It is also near Kibale which is popular for chimpanzees, as well as near mount Rwenzori for the mountain climbers.

Murchison Falls National Park

Uhuru and Murchison falls

Murchison Falls is Uganda's largest National park and was named after the Murchison waterfall in the park. As the Nile river squeezes through a tight gap of 7 metres, the water thunders down 40 metres to create one of the most powerful natural waterfalls.

While you will want to see lions on your visit to Murchison Falls, you will also see the following animals. Elephants, hippos, Nile crocodiles, leopards, buffaloes, giraffes and so much more. If giraffes fascinate you as much as lions, Murchison Falls has plenty of both. 

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda's remotest park located in the northeast on the borders with South Sudan and Kenya. With its seasonal rivers and unending landscapes, Kidepo is a gem that many visitors to Uganda have started flocking.

In the Kidepo and Nurus valleys, you will be able to easily see lions as they rest on the rock outcrops. You will also see cheetahs, leopards, buffalo, elephants, zebras, giraffes, ostriches as well as many other birds of wild birds of prey.

5. Botswana

Okavango Delta

lioness with tongue out

Okavango Delta is one of Botswana's premier tourist attractions. The Okavango River is produced by seasonal flooding and the waters evaporate without draining to any sea or ocean. The delta is dotted with many smaller canals, water holes and lagoons which form the focal points for visitors.

On your visit to Okavango Delta, you will see lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebra, buffaloes, African Wild dogs, hippos, leopards and so many more.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game reserve is located in Botswana's part of the Kalahari desert and covers about 10% of the country's land. It is the second-largest game reserve in the whole world.

Central Kalahari National Game reserve is rich with wildlife and makes for a great Safari. Along with lions, you will see giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, 0striches, zebra, white rhinocerous, leopard and many more.

The vastness of this national park combined with the wildlife is a dream for self touring adventurers. The salt pans are as interesting as the animals and the views.

Chobe National Park

 

chobe river sunset cruise

Chobe National Park is the third largest game reserve in Botswana and among the most popular tourist hotspots in the entire African continent. The national park is named after the Chobe River. Chobe National park is known to have some of the greatest concentration of wild animals in all Africa.

You might be interested in knowing that the lions in Chobe are well known for preying on elephants, mostly the younger elephants though. Aside from lions, you will see herds and herds of elephants, buffaloes, zebra, rhinos, leopards and wild dogs among others. 

6. Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park

lion in hwange np zimbabwe

Hwange National Park is the largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe. The park lies on the western park of Zimbabwe near the various other attractions in Botswana and along the road to Victoria Falls.

Along with lions, you will be able to see other interesting animals such as elephants, wild dogs, buffaloes, brown hyenas, leopards and much more.

7. Rwanda

Akagera National Park

elephants in Akagera np

Akagera National Park is the bonafide savannah game reserve in Rwanda, and therefore the only place you will be able to see lions in the wild. The lions in Rwanda were recently reintroduced in Akagera National park. 

While the numbers of lions in Akagera are very low, you will be able to see other animals such as hippos, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and various antelope.

Akagera National Park is enjoying growing popularity especially with visitors whose visit to Rwanda is mainly to see gorillas, with a side of savannah wildlife.

8. Zambia

South Luangwa National Park

 

south luangwa np zambia

South Luangwa National Park is a well-know wildlife haven. The concentration of wildlife along the meandering Luangwa river with its lagoons make for magical safari experiences.

Along with lions, you will be able to see leopards, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, elephants, buffaloes as well as hundreds of bird species.

9. Namibia

Etosha National Park

 

Animals in Etosha national park

Etosha National Park is one of the most commonly known and visited game reserves in Namibia. It is named after the Etosha salt pan that is so large it can be seen from space. The park has abundant wildlife and can easily be seen congregating around the various waterholes.

Lions are common and you will easily see many of them as they camouflage with the golden colour of drying grass. You will also see other animals such as giraffes, foxes, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, elephants, leopards and the greater kudu among others.

 

Final Thoughts

The purpose of taking the time to create this article in an orderly way is to help you with your planning process. If you are at the start of planning, this could help you chose which country/countries to visit.

If you have already decided on which part of Africa to visit, we hope the list can help narrow down your research process. 

Like any wildlife, the general rule is that you will find animals in places where the ecosystem supports their survival. This is especially so for food and climate. With each place, we have highlighted the other animals and attractions that you can see on your visit. The hope is that it helps you easier decide whether the place will work for you, or the other options are better.

We have many articles to help make your African Safari planning a very easy process. If you meet with any difficulties, you can always ask us - and if we don't know the answer, we'll talk to one of our many tour operator friends and travellers to help.

In some of the larger game reserves and national parks, you will need to specify your interests because they usually have sections that are better with some animals and not with others.

Once again, this isn't the entire list. These are the places where we know that plenty of lions exist and you will easily find them. Given that these are wild animals, we cannot completely guarantee that you will see them or for how long, but we can make a guess with close to certain predictions.

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