10 African Bush Camps to Book for Every Wildlife Bucket list

It’s no secret that Southern Africa abounds in natural beauty. Whether you travel by road or air, you’ll soon realize that diverse ecosystems await in every far-flung corner of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. And as each landscape evolves, the wildlife you can encounter does, too.

When planning an African safari, intrepid travelers often begin with a bucket list of must-see animals, intoxicated by the thought of exploring wild, untamed swaths of wilderness and photographing these up-close moments.

Across our heartlands, we’ve built camps in some of Africa’s most intoxicating wilderness areas that teem with wildlife, from mammals to migrating birds and fascinating plants and insects. We’ve also invested in protecting vast stretches of land and training the industry’s best guides, who hail from the local regions surrounding our camps; two essential elements to offer life-altering safaris that immerse you in the wonder of the bush and guide you towards breathtaking sightings of your must-see animals.

For intentional travel this year and beyond, our guides have recommended six camps renowned for unmatched wildlife sightings of some of Africa’s most treasured wild animals. And you needn’t wait to book!

Where to See Buffalo

In Botswana’s remote north, wet and dry seasons characterize Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, a protected concession that stretches over 1250 square kilometers. Our signature property, Linyanti Bush Camp, is a year-round destination on the edge of the Linyanti Marsh, the only permanent water source in dry months (June to October). Here, buffalo emerge from the mopane thicket, searching for water and mud for wallowing.

Linyanti expeditions, and Linyanti Ebony are another two of our sought-after camps to encounter these majestic beasts. Linyanti expeditions is a seasonal camp that is located right on the southern banks of the Linyanti river. Here, vast herds of buffalo can be seen right outside your tent.

Linyanti Ebony is nestled in between the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, a wildlife haven, especially for travellers looking to see the African Buffalo in their natural habitat.

wildlife buffalo, linyanti wetlands Botswana safari with African Bush Camps

Team up with our expert local guides to enjoy game drives and boat cruises to spot buffalo herds of up to 1,000 as they graze and interact, setting the scene for exceptional photographs.

Best time to travel: May to October (during the dry season)

Where to See Leopards

Set on the banks of the Zambezi River, Lolebezi is a wildly luxurious base from which you can set off to find elusive leopards in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. With a relatively small lion population, leopards thrive on abundant food sources and increased territory, mainly concentrated within the Zambezi Valley. Here, scenery and sightings are plentiful, and you can expect thrilling encounters from land and water.

Leopard on Tree Okavango

Join a morning or evening game drive to explore dense riverine forests, where high termite mounds and tall ana trees with sweeping branches create ideal perches for camouflage leopards. Interestingly, despite being solitary animals, resident leopards in the valley are known to share territories and even kills—something you need to see to believe!

Best time to travel: May to October (during the dry season)

Where to See Elephants

Somalisa Camp is a favorite among African Bush Camps’ guests, and for good reason! Located in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, in the Somalisa concession, this family-friendly camp has just seven luxury canvas tents and endless vantage points for a back-to-nature experience with your family. And while nothing in the wild is guaranteed—that’s the beauty of untouched concessions—large breeding herds of elephants are known to approach the camp’s permanent waterhole in the afternoons and evenings.

Somalisa Expeditions is another one of our popular seasonal camps which brings you face to face with Africa’s gentle giants. In fact you can sit in your armchair and watch nature come alive in front of you at this camp.

If you’re interested in tagging along the whole family to experience the African ellies in all of their splendour, then we recommend considering Somalisa Acacia. A family-friendly camp located slightly west of its sister camp, Somalisa.  Here, you and your family can experience the largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe in your backyard.

Sometimes, they make a grand entrance with trumpeting calls and thundering feet, and other times, their approach will be almost silent; either way, being in the presence of these giants will be unforgettable at any age!

Best time to travel: May to October (during the dry season)

Where to See Rhino

To see Zambia’s last remaining white rhinos, you’ll need to visit Thorntree River Lodge in Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. While relatively small compared to other parts of Zambia, this gem on the banks of the Zambezi River has a very special draw card. Along with game drives, boat cruises and heartwarming community visits, you can join highly-trained trackers to walk beside a crash of rhinos, all under 24-hour protection. In this small pocket of the park, you’ll learn from our local guides and trackers about their work in safeguarding Zambia’s rhino population from poaching and how you can chip in to do the same.

Best time to travel: May to October (during the dry season)

Where to see Lion

With endless palm-fringed islands, snaking waterways and mopane forests, Botswana’s Okavango Delta is like nowhere else on Earth. Even from the air, you’ll struggle to comprehend the volume of water that floods northern Botswana each year to create an alluvial fan that stretches beyond every horizon. On the very eastern fringes of the Delta, boarding the enormous Moremi Game reserve, you’ll find Khwai Leadwood and Khwai Lediba, quietly nestled within the Khwai Community Concession. In this rich ecosystem that extends over 180,000 hectares, nature flourishes to sustain game of every size. And with an abundance of food, predators like lions thrive.

Head out on sunrise game drives to see African lions meandering on quiet tracks or listen out for alarming birds who spot lions wadding through the water to surprise unsuspecting lechwe or thirsty prey. Known as “tau” in Setswana, lions can be heard from 8km away as they let out chest-vibrating roars to communicate with pride members or attract mates.

Best time to travel: May to September (peak of the dry season)

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Where to see Wild Dogs

African wild dogs, or painted wolves, are among the most intriguing and thrilling encounters you could hope to have while on an African Safari. With bird-like calls and an ever-playful nature, packs of wild dogs can entertain onlookers for hours. When staying at Zambezi Expeditions Camp, your expert guide will take you on an exciting walking safari through Mana Pools National Park to track the spoor (footprints) of wild dogs on foot. While we give dens a wide birth during activities, the packs in Mana Pools are comfortable with seeing humans on foot, which means you can not only tick off your wildlife checklist but you can sit in their presence and learn about their inquisitive ways.

Zambezi Expeditions works well in collaboration with a visit to our Kanga, and Nyamatusi camp. All three of these destination camps are ideal for walking safaris and spotting the African wild dogs on a guided walk or game drive. Better yet, at times these packs can be seen just a few metres away from your tent, or right in the backyard of these camps.

These notoriously successful hunters can pursue prey at speed before a swift yet lethal ending that sees the pack quickly tear at their meal. As your guide will explain, wild dogs have curious social behaviors and witnessing this firsthand can be a lifelong dream for many. After a successful kill, wild dogs return to their den to regurgitate food for the young or injured. While here, take advantage of a boat cruise on the Zambezi River for a chance to spot the wild from the water!

Best time to travel: May to September (peak of the dry season)

Speak to our Safari Experts to plan your ultimate African safari tour across Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Can’t decide? Let us create an itinerary that ticks all your boxes!