Big male African lion (Panthera leo) lying in the grass - and the best virtual safaris to see one from home
Outdoors and Active

The best virtual safaris

While people around the world are stuck in lockdown, there’s nothing to stop the world’s wild animals continuing life as normal – and an increasing number of virtual safaris are helping transport us to them.

Because although a trip to Africa isn’t an option right now, a mix of live cams, a live virtual safari, 360-degree videos and virtual video tours mean you’re spoiled for choice when you’re looking for the best virtual safaris.

Live safaris with WildEarth

South African travel company andBeyond has joined up with WildEarth to stream this twice-daily live safari directly from South Africa, with guides heading out to hunt for the Big Five – and other African wildlife – in vehicles armed with remote cams.

Each lasts for around three hours, with the sunrise game drive starting at 6.30am and a sunset safari from 3.30pm local time (UTC+2). And rather than just watching, you can interact with guides and ask questions by using #wildearth on Twitter or via YouTube.

There’s even a version for kids which lasts 45 minutes, covering the first part of the afternoon game drive – guides only answer questions asked by children during this time, and parents need to sign them up at wildearth.tv/kids, with questions emailed to kidsquestions@wildearth.tv to keep the experience age appropriate.

You can also sign up for special (paid) experiences as well as catching up on previous day’s safaris around Kruger National Park, Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve if you don’t fancy an early morning start.

Singita live safari, South Africa

Head out on a live safari with a guide and resident photographer from Singita Sabi Sand in South Africa, which take place at least twice a day.

Added to the Singita Instagram page, you can see tips on how to identify and track animals as well as spotting lions and baby elephants.

Virtual safari at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

Part of the luxurious Virgin Limited Edition collection, the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa runs a virtual safari on Instagram once a week, with the chance to see the area’s leopard cubs, as well as lions.

The virtual safaris take place on Mondays but you can also watch the highlights afterwards too.

Tembe Elephant Park

You can find the largest elephant population in Africa in Tembe Elephant Park, not to mention spying hippo and buffalo using a live feed from Explore.

Focused on a watering hole in the reserve in South Africa, it’s also a great spot to see some of the park’s other creatures, including a chance of spotting lions and rhino as they head down to drink too.

You can also check out the Sanparks live camera at Addo Elephant Park – one of several live cams, as well as versions updated with new photos every few minutes if you’re struggling to stream.

Naledi Game Lodge, South Africa

There are a string of webcams dotted around Naledi Game Lodge, in the Balule Game reserve at Kruger National Park in South Africa. Home to the Big Five, it’s a great place to discover a range of African wildlife as there are cameras covering watering holes as well as the savanna.

The Cat Eye Game Lodge livecam is one of the best if you’re hoping to see leopards – for another highlight, watching a pride of lions drinking, including their cubs, is unmissable.

Or the Africam livecam at Naledi Dam sees a variety of wildlife, including birdlife, plus elephants and antelope.

Lion cubs at Manyeleti Game Reserve, South Africa

If you want a guarantee of animal sightings on your virtual safari – or don’t have two hours to watch – Tintswalo Safari Lodge in South Africa’s Manyeleti Game Reserve creates a 10-minute edit of the day’s safari highlights to look at.

Uploaded to their Facebook page late afternoon or early evening, along with weekly highlights, there’s the chance to see some of the cute lion cubs playing.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Savanna Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Sabi Sand reserve also creates a regular ‘Stay@Home safari’ on its Facebook page, uploaded towards the end of the day with 10 to 20 minutes of highlights.

Don’t miss a very close encounter with a bull elephant and the chance to see leopards in the long grass and up a tree.

Or Nkorho Bush Lodge, also in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, has some great options if you’re looking for a nighttime view of the savanna. The camera uses infrared technology at night to see the wildlife as it passes across this unfenced stretch into Kruger National Park, as well as for a chance to see nocturnal species.

Asilia Africa

For the complete safari at home experience, check out the 360-degree videos from Asilia Africa where you can transport yourself to one of the company’s luxurious tented camps as well as seeing wildlife.

Get a close-up of a lioness investigating the camera while another one works through a carcass in the background, a lone hyena in Tanzania’s Selous National Park or elephants eating baobab in Ruaha National Park, among others.

Gorilla corridor

The chance to spot gorillas in the wild is on many bucket lists, but a live cam from Explore can whisk you directly to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Here, a forest corridor connects the apes’ night quarters with their forest habitat at the gorilla rehabilitation and conservation programme, GRACE. Keep an eye out for some in the trees, others relaxing in the grass.

Crocodiles at Madikwe Game Reserve

Waterholes are always a great place to see wildlife, and the Tau Waterhole in South Africa’s Groot Marico region, near the border with Botswana, is no expection.

The fifth largest game reserve in the country with a variety of different habitats, it was populated with 10,000 animals from other national parks to help conservation efforts, when it opened in 1991. Expect to see zebra and elephants drinking, while the waterhole is also home to the Nile crocodile.

Boost your safari knowledge at Shamwari Game Reserve

If you’d like more from your virtual safaris than animal spotting – however tempting – you can learn more about the area with the head ranger at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

The Shamwari Lockdown Series on YouTube covers everything from how to identify tracks and prints to the plant life found on the reserve, not to mention some highlights videos of the big five found in the area.

Longleat virtual safari 

If you want a taste of a safari that you might be able to see in real life before long, there’s a 30-minute tour of Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire to tide you over.

The virtual safari, which mixes video footage and photos, and is narrated by Kate Humble, lets you head into the East Africa Reserve to see giraffe and zebra as well as Longleat’s lions, plus tigers, cheetahs and wolves.

You even get to venture virtually into the Monkey Drive Through without any risk to your own car!

Check out our other posts for more great virtual wildlife experiences as well as some fun zoo cams from around the world and aquariums to visit from home.

Main image courtesy Depositphotos

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