Top 21 African Safari Animals & Where You’ll See Them

What are the best animals you will see on safari? We must start off with the “Big Five”: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. Wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, hippos, wildebeests, gorillas are also thrilling. Finally, there are a lot of different birds, including flamingos, that will bring excitement to any birdwatcher. Where to find them in particular? Find it out in this article!

21 African Animals You Must See on a Safari

What animals live on the safari? It’s almost impossible to list them all since the African wildlife is so diverse! Nevertheless, there are some most popular (or thrilling) ones that you just must see. Let’s look at them now.

The “Big Five”

Let’s start with the “Big Five.” This name was originally given to the five most dangerous and difficult animals to hunt in Africa. Nowadays, it refers to the most sought-after animals that you can see on a safari. What are they?

  • Lions,
  • leopards,
  • rhinos,
  • elephants,
  • buffalo.

You’ll find some of the “Big Five” in almost every national park, but if you want to see them all at once, we recommend Ngorongoro Conservation Area – you’ll likely admire all of them in one day if you go to this national park!

Animals in the safari


Now, let’s get to the birds, since there are many fantastic national parks that offer you bird watching as one of the attractions. What birds are worth your attention?

  • Flamingos,
  • African fish eagles,
  • black bee eater,
  • Rwenzori nightjar,
  • black billed turaco,
  • montane oriole.

Most are in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, though you might need to visit other national parks to find others. For instance, the best place to watch flamingos is actually the Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.


Naturally, we must mention the primates if we are creating a list of the top African safari animals. Which ones can you find on your adventures, and where to look for them?

  • Gorillas,
  • chimpanzees,
  • golden monkeys,
  • mountain gorillas.

There’s no single place that you need to visit to see the great apes in full glory. Instead, we will recommend two whole countries: Uganda and Rwanda. Both have several national parks where you can admire gorillas and chimpanzees. What’s more, you can even engage in gorilla trekking – a thrilling adventure on foot on which you will get the opportunity to see the magnificent great apes up close.

Other Animals

Apart from those main categories, there are plenty of other animals that you can and should meet in your safari adventure. What else is exciting in the African fauna? In our opinion:

  • wild dogs,
  • giraffes,
  • zebras,
  • hippos,
  • wildebeests,
  • antelopes.

Where to find these animals? For wildebeests and wild dogs, we strongly recommend visiting Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Kenya is also the best country to see hippos – you can combine your aquatic safari with a gorilla trekking excursion. The same goes for giraffes, though you might also find them in Tanzania, near the border with Kenya – for instance, in Serengeti NP. What about the zebras? Here, we recommend:

  • Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
  • Masai Mara (Kenya)
  • Lewa Conservancy (Kenya).

For antelopes, travel to the Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda.

The Takeaway

These are what we believe to be the top 21 animals you’ll see on a safari in Africa. But the truth is that even if you visit just one national park, you will see many more than just 21 species – probably somewhere near a hundred of them if we count the birds. So, just find a region where your favorite animals are, and get ready to embark on your East African adventure. Also, check out our East African safari tours and let us organize your trip for you.

You might also read: Trips to Africa: 10 Unforgettable Adventures in East Africa


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