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How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

No trip to South Africa is complete without a trip to a Game Reserve. During a stay at the Ivory Tree Game Lodge in Pilanesberg Game Reserve I had one of the most spectacular Lion Spottings ever. Take a look (fast forward to 1:09 to where the action really begins)

After multiple trips and game drives in South Africa, I can say that this, by far, was the best experience I’ve ever had. So how can you have a similar one experience? Here are some tips…

Find the Right Guide

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

Our guide Jaco, was one of the best in South Africa. I can assure you of that. Your entire experience is dependent on the quality of your guide. Jaco was trained “old school” and could spot insects at night! He studied the surrounding bush to look for clues animals left behind, inspected dung and spotted animal tracks.

Jaco knew the animal’s preferred territories and habits. It took us 3 days of searching, but the payoff was worth it. If your guide is inexperienced or not passionate about animals (and the people he/she is driving), your experience will just be average.

Even Jaco said that this was one of his best encounters after decades of game spotting!

Be Patient

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

Animals don’t come out on a schedule. Just because you see their tracks, doesn’t mean that they are nearby. We traveled up and down paths at hours on end with no luck. On the morning of Day 3 we hit the jackpot. Sure everyone wants to go home spotting the carnivores, but take a moment to appreciate the smaller animals that come across your way on your search for the big ones.

Bring the Right Equipment

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve
Look at the drool!

If you are fortunate enough to encounter those lions, you don’t want to be ill-equipped. See my earlier post on What to Park for a Game Drive.

It would be a shame if your camera ran out of batteries or if you were too cold to fully enjoy the moment.

Sometimes it’s About the Chase

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

If it’s your first game drive, you’ll want to focus on quantity not quality. You’ll want to see as many animals as you can and move on to the next herd, group, etc. But if you’ve already been on a drive or two, use your next trip to track animals. Sure you may miss out on seeing other African Animals, but the adrenaline rush of following those animal tracks, listening for animal noises and smelling their scent(s) in the air makes for an exhilirating experience.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about animal behavior when you study the clues that they leave behind. Even when we came up empty-handed on Days 1 & 2, we felt like it was a fantastic drive.

Enjoy the Moment

 How to Track Lions at a Game Reserve

If you’re fortunate enough to have a close encounter with a lion or two stop taking photos (you can view some of mine on my Facebook Fan Page) and just observe nature at it’s finest. While all of the other groups were busy with Giraffes and Zebras, we had a private moment with just these two male lions; Father and son taking a drink after battling other lions over territory just a few minutes prior.

Jaco was able to track their paw prints so closely that he knew where they would emerge from the bush, what path they would follow and where they would go (the dam for a drink of water). We watched them walk, no further than 6 feet from the jeep along the road. Just us and two lions, bellies full from a kill (them – not us).

Let your encounter sink into your memory and last forever.


So with the right guide, the right attitude and a little bit of luck, you’re as close as you can be to having a spectacular lion spotting. But I’d like to know, What Tips Do You Have for Game Spotting in South Africa? Share by Commenting.

Don’t forget when you return home at night to Check Your Room for Snakes, Spiders and Scorpions.

I’ll see you out there…! Roar


crazy sexy fun traveler

Some adventure, huh? Lions are amazing animals! But patience does not go with me :D


It was spectacular. One of my favorite life moments on the road. But… you have to have patience. With patience, comes reward.

jeff noel

Dude, intuition says you and your social media campaign are humming along rather nicely. Impressed. Congrats.
jeff noel recently posted something special..On My Knees For You


Thank you Jeff!


Brings back so many memories – I do miss the game experiences. And having a good guide is really important. One guide once said it was safe for tourists needing the toilet could go – as three men were standing at the back of the car we spotted four male lions looking very interested…
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The NVR Guys

Amazing video Benjamin!


Thanks NVR Guys. It’s spectacular. Almost National Geographic worthy…almost ;-)


For some reason I especially like the one of the lion walking away :)
Robin recently posted something special..Agua


Robin – hahaha. I had to self-edit some of the others.


Wonderful experience. The guide is truly essential.I was lucky to see some lions really up close and personal on my trip to Africa…25 years ago!!
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inka – 25 years ago! Eish, you must return.


ayngelina – if you want to take photos on a game drive, you MUST have a telephoto lens, otherwise the photos are just bland.


WOW! That is freaking incredible. We haven’t been to Africa or on safari or to a game reserve, yet, but it’s high on our list. I can’t imagine how awesome that must have been. Great video, pictures, and informative post. Well done!
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John in France

Excellent Ben – I could do with another tour guide!!
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John – the guide is really what makes all the difference in the experience.