The kings of the jungle may be under threat in Africa, but here are the key places to witness these mighty animals in action...
Duba Plains, Botswana
Animals quickly adapt to their surroundings, and there’s no better example of evolutionary behaviour than the pride of resident lions at Duba Plains. These skilled predators have developed an appetite for hunting buffalo in daylight and their extraordinary behaviour has been the subject of several nature documentaries. The lions in this small pocket of Botswana also regularly swim across waterways making them bigger and more muscular than elsewhere in Africa.
Great Plains manage the only camp within this remote community-owned concession, in the north of the Okavango Delta, meaning vehicle density is low; often you’ll be the only vehicle at a sighting. Natural World Safaris offers three nights at Duba Plains Camp and three nights at Selinda Camp from £6,245pp, including all meals and flights. Visit www.naturalworldsafaris.com
It may not be as well known as the Serengeti, but Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park is teeming with game. It’s home to the second largest lion population in Africa, and contains around 10% of all lions left in the world.
Visitors to the park are encouraged to report any sightings to the Ruaha Carnivore Project, where conservationist Amy Dickman is leading valuable research into a species that’s highly endangered in Africa. Hunting, poaching and community conflict are all causing lion populations to decline. The Ultimate Travel Company offers three nights at Asilia’s Kwihala camp and four nights in Selous from £4,047pp, including meals and flights. Visit www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk
Masai Mara, Kenya
Pussy cats have a habit of scaling trees, but it’s more unusual to find lions curled up in the canopies. Visit Kenya’s Masai Mara in June though, and you’ll find a collection of big cats napping in the branches - climbing trees enables them to escape annoying flies which descend as temperatures rise.
Prides in the Mara’s conservancies have grown rapidly in the last few years, making sightings a sure bet on any safari. Bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve, the conservancies are owned by the local Masai community who lease the land to lodges. By making money from tourism, they have an incentive to protect the wildlife, so this is a great option for responsible travellers.
The excellent Kicheche group have camps in three of the conservancies and also offer specialised photographic tours. Exodus offer a nine-day photographic safari staying at the Kicheche camps from £3,799, including flights. Visit www.exodus.co.uk
They’re not always easy to spot, but catching sight of Namibia’s desert-adapted lions is a real treat. This threatened community have learned to survive in a harsh environment where they live a nomadic lifestyle. Watching them prowl through the vast ochre sand dunes provides some remarkable photographic and video opportunities.
Steppes Travel offer an itinerary designed to track desert-adapted wildlife in the Etosha National Park, Okonjima Nature Reserve and the Hobatere concession. Guests have the opportunity to help researchers with their fieldwork, tracking collared lions and setting up trail cameras. The 15-day trip departs on May 27 and October 7, 2016 and costs from £3,795pp, excluding flights. Visit www.steppestravel.co.ukCompare Quotes Now