Guide to Big Cat Safaris: Lions
When most people think of lions they think of Africa, but you might be surprised to learn that you can find lions in India.
The best time to see lions
AFRICA: You can see African lions all year round. They are slightly less willing to show themselves if it’s very rainy, but otherwise in most large African reserves you stand a good chance of seeing a lion no matter the season of time of day.
INDIA: The best time to see the lions of Gir National Park is roughly November to March. April and May are excellent for wildlife viewing, but just too hot for most visitors. The park closes from mid-June to mid-October.
Planning a safari to see lions
AFRICA: Below, you will find just a few of our favourites places where you can see lions. This is not a definitive list by any means. Ideally, talk to us about what kind of a trip you want and we can work with you to give you the best possible safari for your needs and wishes.
INDIA: Gir National Park is not really on the way to anywhere, so it takes effort to come here. The nearest airport is about 70kms away but you might want to plan a road trip in the area to take in this special park. We’re always happy to plan such an itinerary.
AFRICA: Masai Mara, Kenya
If we had to choose just one place to go and see lions, we’d choose the Masai Mara. Anywhere in this reserve is very good for big cats, especially lions, but there are also two private conservancies on the edge of the national park which we’d strongly recommend too: Olare Motorogi and Mara North Reserve, with Naboisho hard on their heels.
Suggested Places to Stay
INDIA, Gir National Park
The only place to see the Asiatic lion in India.
Whether you head for the Savuti region of Chobe National Park which is famed for its predators including lions, or choose the watery Okavango Delta where you might even see lions swimming, Botswana is a superb place to see lions. There are even places where you might see lions hunting buffalos during the day (in the Duba Plains region).
Suggested Places to Stay
AFRICA: Kruger National Park, South Africa
The two million hectares of Kruger National Park are home to the ‘big five’ including a healthy population of lions. Whether you stay in the national park itself or head out to one of the private game reserves, you’re almost certain to trip over a few lions.
Suggested Places to Stay
The experience of seeing lions in the wild
As with all wildlife experiences, seeing a lion can be very different each time you see one. They might be in ‘lazy cat’ mode just lying around, perhaps having just eaten or ensuring they get their 15-20 hours of daily shut-eye. However, you might come across them with a young family where the cubs are in playful mode and it’s a total delight to watch their antics. Or you could even be witness to them stalking or catching prey.
Whatever mood you find them in, you’ll possibly be surprised how close you can get without disturbing them. Don’t worry, just keep your arms inside the vehicle, don’t break the line of an open vehicle by standing up, and keep the noise right down (even if others do not). Your guide should know how not to bother them, and how long you can stay with them. We strongly recommend not staying around if the animal is looking stressed, perhaps by too many vehicles. Enjoy chilling with these kings and queens of the wild.
Wildlife viewings were off the scale! We saw 79 lions! And loads of other species - way beyond our expectations. Absolutely loved going to sleep with the sound of lions roaring a few feet away. So exciting.
The Tribes Foundation
Simply by booking with Tribes, you are making a difference. Every booking helps with The Tribes Foundation, the charity we back with admin and funds. Most clients give additional donations which we always put to very good use with one of the wildlife, environmental or social projects we support.
Sadly, humans still hunt lions. Many are killed each day, either as trophies or body parts. Some of this is because of traditional beliefs of local communities and some is down to worldwide criminal syndicates.
Lions are also attacked and killed due to fear when they get too close to human populations. Human-wildlife conflict is on the rise as wild lands shrink.
There are many charities working to try to mitigate these issues, for example Ruaha Conservation Project in Tanzania, so if you’re keen to help the plight of lions, do get in touch as they willingly accept donations.
We were sitting 10 yards from pair of lions roaring a challenge across the plain to an incoming lioness.
8 days from £3650pp plus international flights.
A rare chance to accompany members of the Zambian Carnivore Programme as they track lions, hyenas and wild dogs in the Luangwa Valley, interspersed with safari activities.
- Spend time with the Zambian Carnivore Programme
- Witness animal tracking and identification
- Enjoy game drives and guided walks
- Watch elephants in the river from your private deck
- Cool off with a refreshing swim
11 days from £3300pp plus international flights.
Enjoy the vast plains of the Masai Mara and all the wildlife found here. This is big cat country. End your holiday relaxing on a beach on Zanzibar. The perfect combination.
- Game drives in Kenya's Masai Mara
- A must for cat lovers
- Stay at Governor's Camp of Big Cat Diary fame
- See the wildebeest migration (July to October)
- Relax on Tanzania's tropical Zanzibar island
- Go snorkelling, diving and kayaking
11 days from £9400pp plus international flights.
Get right off the beaten track with this safari to some of Tanzania's most remote, but spectacular locations
- See regions of Tanzania that few people visit
- Spend time with chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park
- Experience the stunning wildlife and gorgeous scenery of Ruaha
- Enjoy game drives with experienced professional guides
- Watch elephants and buffalo from your camp in Katavi
- Stay in small camps with friendly, welcoming staff
Read more in our Tribes blog
The Tribes blog brings you regular articles written by our specialists, travellers or partners and conservationists in our destinations. We have a big collection of articles now, so have a mooch to find some interesting short reads.Explore more
Black-maned Kalahari lions
From our cosy beds, we listened to the roars all night. They seemed to be getting closer as dawn broke.
A Safari Camp for all Seasons South Luangwa Safari Camp Bliss at Nsefu.
Sometimes words just aren’t enough. And that’s a big statement coming from a travel writer who is as besotted with descriptions and story-sharing through words as myself.