Top Ten Safari Animals According to Research

Top Ten Safari Animals According to Research

Embarking on a safari is a dream adventure for many, offering a chance to witness the raw and untamed beauty of nature up close. Recent research from Audley Travel reveals the top ten safari animals that capture the fascination of British travellers. In this article, we explore these popular animals and provide insights into the best locations to see them in their natural habitats.

Experts from Audley Travel have analysed UK Google search data to uncover the top ten African safari animals British people are researching online. You can read about the full top ten below.

  1. Lions

Lions hold the top spot as the most sought-after safari animals. Known as the kings and queens of the savannah, their majestic presence and powerful demeanour captivate safari-goers. David Katwiwa, a safari specialist at Audley Travel, shares his first unforgettable sighting of a pride of lionesses with their cubs.

To maximise your chances of seeing lions, consider visiting South Africa’s Great Kruger Region, famous for its big cat sightings. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania offers a unique opportunity to observe lions during the Great Migration, while Botswana provides luxurious lion-spotting experiences.

  1. Elephants

Elephants, the largest land animals, rank second on the list. These gentle giants are revered for their strength, power, and emotional depth. Dickie Ashcroft, another safari specialist, highlights the fascinating social structures and behaviours of elephants, from playful interactions to mourning rituals.

For an exceptional elephant encounter, Dickie recommends Kenya, where he once saw a rare ‘super tusker’ bull. Namibia also offers a unique experience with its desert-adapted elephants, showcasing their remarkable adaptations to harsh conditions.

  1. Giraffes

Giraffes, with their distinctive long necks and spot patterns, come in third. Their graceful movements and unique appearance make them a favourite among safari enthusiasts. Kirsty Downing, a safari expert, notes that each giraffe’s spot pattern is as unique as a human fingerprint.

For a memorable giraffe experience, Kirsty suggests visiting Thamo Telele lodge near Maun in Botswana. Here, you can observe giraffes at a waterhole and learn to identify them by their spots, while supporting the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. 

  1. Gorillas

Gorillas, sharing 98% of their DNA with humans, offer a thrilling and intimate wildlife experience. Found in the dense forests of Rwanda and Uganda, these great apes captivate with their human-like behaviours. Guided treks in Volcanoes National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest provide rare opportunities to see gorilla families in their natural habitat.

  1. Flamingos

Flamingos, with their vibrant pink plumage, are a mesmerising sight. These birds congregate in large flocks at saline lakes across Africa. One of the most iconic spots to witness this spectacle is Kenya’s Lake Nakuru, where thousands of flamingos create a striking pink shoreline. Observing these birds, often standing on one leg and feeding with their heads submerged, is both calming and enchanting.

  1. Crocodiles

Crocodiles are common residents of Africa’s rivers and lakes, known for their stealth and power. The Nile crocodile, one of the largest crocodile species, can be seen basking on riverbanks or lurking just below the water’s surface. The Okavango Delta in Botswana and the Mara River in Kenya are prime locations to observe these ancient reptiles, particularly during the dramatic river crossings of the Great Migration.

  1. Meerkats

Meerkats charm visitors with their playful and social nature. These small mammals are known for their upright stance and cooperative behaviour. Watching a meerkat colony in action, especially during their vigilant lookout routines, is both entertaining and enlightening. The Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana offer excellent meerkat viewing opportunities, where you can observe these endearing creatures in their natural habitat.

  1. Leopards

Leopards, often considered the most challenging of the Big Five to spot, are elusive and solitary predators. Their ability to blend into the environment and their nocturnal habits make sightings particularly special. Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa is renowned for its high density of leopards, providing perhaps the best chance to see these stealthy hunters in action.

  1. Buffalos

Buffalos, a part of Africa’s Big Five, are a common sight on many safaris. These robust animals are known for their unpredictable nature and strong herd dynamics. Seeing a herd of buffalos grazing or wallowing in mud can be a powerful reminder of the untamed beauty of the African savannah. The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is a notable location where large herds of buffalo can be easily observed.

  1. Pangolins

Pangolins, though rare, fascinate with their unique scales and shy behaviour. These nocturnal creatures are the only mammals wholly covered in scales, which they use as a defence mechanism. Due to their elusive nature and the threat of poaching, spotting a pangolin in the wild is a rare and treasured experience. Conservation areas such as Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa are dedicated to protecting these enigmatic animals and offer the best chances of a sighting.


Embarking on a safari provides a unique opportunity to witness some of the world’s most magnificent animals in their natural habitats. From the regal lions and gentle elephants to the elusive leopards and unique pangolins, each encounter offers a glimpse into the wonders of the animal kingdom. 

By understanding where to find these creatures and what makes each one special, you can plan a safari adventure that fulfils your wildlife dreams and creates lasting memories.

Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash