Every single animal we saw on our African wildlife safari

Four giraffes and one elephant: African safari animals

Our African safari was a feast for our wildlife seeking souls. We went with very high expectations of all the animals we might see and those expectations were absolutely exceeded. Our biggest bucket-list item was to see elephants, and we saw more than we thought possible. But we also saw so many other species of animals and birds, many of which we’d previously never heard of. We enjoyed every minute of every day we spent looking for and then staring at these marvelous animals. We kept a record of every single one we saw, which we turned into this post. We have pictures of most of them, although some did escape the lens. If you’re interested in the types of animals you see on a safari, take a gander.

Note, a version of this post was originally published on our first blog. We loved it so much and remember these animals so well that we wanted to share it here too.

A little bit about our safari

We went on our safari a few years ago, but this is the first we’re writing about it here. So we wanted to give a little context and background before launching into all the pictures of beautiful animals.

In 2014, we spent two days in Zimbabwe and ten days in Botswana. Botswana has the highest population of elephants in Africa, so (given our elephant adoration) that is where we spent most of our time. During one boat ride at Chobe National Park, we had a (very) brief stop in Namibia, where we saw some hippos sunbathing. We chose to travel overland as much as possible, so we went with the same group to each lodge. We had the same (wonderful) lead guide for the whole trip, but he was joined by local guides and trackers at some of the parks.

Animals you see on a safari: selected species from Zimbabwe, Botswana, and the Caprivi Strip, Namibia

We noted of all the animals we saw in small books our guide gave us. It was incredibly convenient and we are so glad we had them on us at all times to record every sighting. Our guide was also helpful in naming a few animals we couldn’t identify (mostly birds) after we got home.

African safari animals: mammals

As we’ve mentioned, we are elephant-obsessed, so had we been on an elephant-only safari we probably would have been happy. But we were enthralled by all the other mammals we saw too: from the cheeky monkeys to the imposing buffalo to the diverse variety of antelope.

Baboon, Chacma

Two African safari animals: baboons picking at each other in Chobe National Park

Buffalo, African

One of the animals you see on a safari: a buffalo staring at you with more in the background


Close up of Sylvester the Cheetah Ambassador in Zimbabwe

Sylvester was an orphaned rescue cheetah who couldn’t survive on his own in the wild. He ended up being a “Cheetah Ambassador” for the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, educating people in the community about his species. He lived at the Elephant Park, where we stayed in Zimbabwe, and we had the pleasure of meeting him, petting him (!), and seeing him walking the grounds. He tragically died in January 2019 after being attacked by a leopard.

Elephant, African Savannah

Our favorite of the animals you see on a safari: an elephant walking in the water with another submerged in the background


Gemsbok staring at you in a desert-like environment in Botswana


Two giraffes, animals you see on a safari, in Botswana

Grysbok, Sharpe’s

Sharpe's grysbok standing in a field staring at you in Botswana


A hippopotamus, one of the most impressive African safari animals, lying down on land in Namibia


Fuzzy, grainy picture of a hyena in the dark in Botswana


16 impala grazing in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Jackal, Side Striped

A fuzzy picture of a jackal hidden by grass in Botswana

Kudu, Greater

Several white striped kudu standing in the forest in Botswana


Two lechwe walking into the forest in Botswana


One of the big five game animals: a leopard stalking prey in Botswana


Big five game animals: a lion stretching in front of a cub in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Monkey, Vervet

A vervet monkey sitting on a wood bridge eating an apple with a bridge in background in Zimbabwe


Steenbok in Botswana standing in the sand staring at you

Warthog, Common

Warthogs grazing on grass in Chobe National Park in Botswana


Waterbuck walking away in a field in Botswana

Wildebeest, Blue

Three wildebeest, impressive African safari animals, walking in Botswana

Zebra, Plains

A herd of zebras, animals you see on a safari, walking up a hill away from the water in Botswana

African safari animals: birds

Going on safari kind’ve turned us into wannabe bird watchers. We were shocked at how many types we saw. All different and beautiful in their own way.

Bee-eater, Little

Seven green and yellow little bee-eaters (birds) sitting on a reed in the Okavango Delta

Bulbul, Dark-capped

Bulbul bird sitting on a reed against a blue sky in Botswana

Cormorant, Reed

One reed cormorant with sings spread sitting on a tree trunk in the water next to another bird in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Coucal, Copperytailed

White and brown coucal bird sitting in a tree in Botswana

Crane, Wattled

One crane standing on a beach in a forest in Botswana

Darter, African

African darter bird with wings spread sitting in grass in the water in Botswana

Fish-Eagle, African

One of the most majestic animals you see on a safari: African fish-eagle sitting on a tree against a blue sky in Botswana

Fishing-Owl, Pel’s

Blurry picture of a Pels Fishing Owl in a tree in the Okavango Delta

Guineafowl, Helmeted

Helmeted guinea fowl in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Hornbill, Southern Ground

Big black hornbill bird with red face in Botswana

Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed

Black and white bird with a big yellow bill in Botswana

Ibis, African Sacred and Stork, Yellow-billed

Many white ibis and several white storks, animals you see on a safari

Kingfisher, Giant

Giant kingfisher bird sitting on a branch in Botswana

Kingfisher, Malachite

Bright orange and blue malachite kingfishher perched on a reed in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Lapwing, Blacksmith

Black and white lapwing bird walking on the grass in Botswana

Openbill, African

Openbill bird walking in water in Botswana

Ostrich, Common

Ostrich with black and white feathers standing in Botswana

Oxpecker, Red-billed

Oxpecker birds sitting on top of a buffalo in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Robin-Chat, White-browed

Yellow and grey robin standing on the floor inside in Botswana

Starling, Cape

Black and blue starling standing on a branch in front of a blue, cloudless sky in Botswana

Stork, Marabou

A marabou stork and two vultures standing on a beachh in Botswana

Vulture, White-backed

Vulture with wings spread on a branch in Botswana

African safari animals: reptiles

Luckily this list is much shorter than the previous two.

Chameleon, Flap-neck

Green chameleon resting on a man's hand in Botswana

Crocodile, Nile

An ominous looking crocodile on a beach in Chobe National Park in Botswana


Shadow of a gecko outside an orange tent in Botswana

Monitor, Water

Water monitor on a tree with a white bird in the background in Botswana

Other African safari animals

Butterfly, Purple Tip

Purple and white butterfly on a plant in Botswana


Man's hand holding a grasshopper in Botswana

Reed-Frog, Angolan

Small reed frog on a reed in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Snake, Non-venomous

Snake on a chaise lounge in Botswana

Not pictured (but still seen!)


  • Antelope, Roan
  • Antelope, Sable
  • Bushbuck
  • Mongoose
  • Porcupine, Cape
  • Puku
  • Springbok
  • Squirrel, Tree


  • Boubou, Tropical
  • Bustard
  • Buzzard
  • Courser, Bronze-winged
  • Eagle, Martial
  • Eagle, Tawny
  • Egret, Cattle
  • Falcon, Lanner
  • Francolin, Crested
  • Goose, Egyptian
  • Guineafowl, Crested
  • Heron, Grey
  • Hornbill, Red-billed
  • Jacana, African
  • Pelican, Great White
  • Shrike, Crimson-breasted
  • Snake-Eagle, Black-chested
  • Sparrow-Weaver, White-browed
  • Swallow
  • Vulture, Lappet-faced


  • Monitor, Rock

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5 thoughts on “Every single animal we saw on our African wildlife safari

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      Yes, our guide tracked the leopard and we watched it attempt (unsuccessfully) to hunt a bird. It was amazing! Thanks for the positive feedback 🙂

  1. Sinjana Ghosh says:

    I feel so sad for the Cheetah 🙁
    I’m yet to see that one in the wild. Love the close-up shots you took of all the birds and reptiles too.

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