Ever since the coronavirus pandemic forced many millions of people to stay indoors, wild animals have slowly been returning to their natural habitats without the disturbance of humans. There has never been a better time to observe animals in the wild with an online safari, maintaining an ethical and sustainable model that allows animals to be more comfortable in their natural environments.
Many African safari parks and reserves have started live streaming their sanctuaries and game drives for people to observe the flourishing wildlife from the comfort of their own homes. Not only is this safer for the animals, but this is also a wonderful inclusivity initiative for disabled people to whom safaris are normally inaccessible. The wonders of the African safari are now free for all to participate in. Check out these 11 online safaris for some of the best virtual fun you can enjoy from anywhere in the world.
South Africa Online Safaris
Singita Sabi Sand
Ross Couper, one of Africa’s most respected wildlife photographers, leads regular guided bush walks on the Instagram profile of Singita Sabi Sand, using the Instagram live functionality. Singita have streamed their game drives twice a day on Instagram and Facebook since March, pioneering the virtual safari experience.
One of the most recent features on Instagram was some five-month-old cheetah cubs, the firstborn in Singita and testament to the impact that sustainable safaris can have on the visibility of animals in the wild.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is South Africa’s largest private game reserve and like Ngala has partnered with WildEarth to provide online safaris twice a day during the global lockdown.
Exploring the Kalahari reserve, you can expect to see the springbok – the mascot of South African rugby – and the black-maned Kalahari lion.
Tswalu’s YouTube channel also recently featured an incredible rare sighting of meerkat pups feeding at sunrise – an experience that only a virtual safari camera is likely to capture.
Tswalu’s Sunrise stream is at 00.30 am EST and the Sunset stream 9:00 am EST, and broadcasts can also be watched back on their YouTube channel.
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Tau Watering Hole
Tau Game Lodge is situated in South Africa’s fourth-largest game reserve and situated on its border with Botswana. For a tranquil and unguided experience of Africa’s natural treasures, their high-definition safari live stream gives viewers incredible sights of the twenty-seven species of game that feed at Tau Watering Hole.
Tau is also a favourite spot of birdwatchers, and its live camera has been running day and night since November 2019 to capture the hundreds of bird species which gather to drink at sunset. The live stream has also recently featured endangered wild dogs, rarely seen by in-person safaris, once again demonstrating the value sustainable safaris can have on wild animals.
Tembe Elephant Park
The online safari camera for Tembe is located in a region once called the ‘Ivory Route’ for its position in the tusk trade between Mozambique and the Zululand region of South Africa.
This sustainable safari park was established in 1983 to protect the last free-range herd of elephants in South Africa and is home to the largest elephants in the world.
Tembe’s male elephants are nicknamed “tuskers” and the most famous of Tembe’s record “tusker” attracted worldwide media attention. Nicknamed “Isilo” – the Zulu word for the king – Isilo’s tusks measured over 3 meters and weighed 65kg each. Tembe’s success means its 300 square kilometres now home two hundred and fifty “tuskers”. Their commitment to ethical safari practices remind viewers not to use the snapshot feature to share photos of rhinos, targeted by poachers.
Balule Nature Reserve
Providing a leopard’s eye view, the Naledi Cat-Eye camera offers an immersive virtual safari from a perspective even the best park ranger can’t offer. You are likely to spot cheetahs, lions, meerkats, Egyptian geese and waterbuck.
Situated nearby, Rosie’s Pan is a borehole which serves year-round drinking water for thirsty lions, leopards, buffalo and wild birds. The camera trained here is also sustainably solar powered.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge
Tintswalo is situated in Manyeleti Reserve, famed world-wide for Big Five sightings as well as its rich flora and fauna, making it a dream spot for safari lovers.
Tintswalo have been uploading daily ten-minute highlight reels of the animal encounters of safari rangers. Lisa Goosen, head of Tintswalo recently said “in the bush, nature continues undisturbed as it has since the beginning of time.” This reminder of our place in the world has been one of the great draws of online safaris in recent months.
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Owned by Richard Branson and among Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 3 Resorts in Africa, the name Ulusababa translates to “place of little fear.” On Instagram Live, @VirginLimitedEdition offers you the chance to join staff every Monday on a game drive through Ulusaba. This safari live stream takes place at 10:30 am EST.
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Savanna Private Game Reserve
Boasting 24k YouTube followers on their online safari channel, Savanna is located in the Sabi Sand Reserve, where it is not out of the ordinary to see lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos in a single drive with their rangers.
Putting this claim to the test, their YouTube channel offers 10-20 minute edited highlights of each day’s safari Monday to Friday. Savanna Reserve are proud of their highly trained guides and they are the key to the impressive number of rare animals you can see on their live-streamed safari highlights.
Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge
This swivelling safari webcam has been in place since 1999. It is trained on Kwa Maritane, which lies at the base of the ancient volcano at the heart of Pilanesberg National Park, two hours from Johannesburg.
Online safari enthusiasts have happily commented on their sightings of fighting hippos, baboons and families of warthogs on this stream.
Nkorho Bush Lodge
Available via Africam, this live-streamed safari camera is located on a termite mound in the heart of a biodiverse area rich with local wildlife.
The Nkorho virtual safari camera is also equipped with an infrared camera allowing you to see what comes out at night, including famously elusive hyenas. In the daytime you are more likely to see wildebeest, impala and any of the Big Five.
Located in the Sabi Reserve like Singita and Savanna Lodges, Nkorho claims to be one of the greatest places to experience the African Bushveld. The “bushveld” is the type of vegetation most common in African landscapes and the origin of South Africans love for heading off “into the bush”.
Bonus: Gorilla Forest Corridor in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Centre) have launched a 24-hour virtual safari of their gorilla population. Watch how the gorillas play, eat and rest together, as this peek into their lives shows how an ethical safari can work for the benefit of animals in the wild – GRACE is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
If you become attached to a particular primate you can even sponsor a gorilla and receive personalized facts about your new virtual friend.
Inclusive online safari experiences have been an unexpected upside to global lockdowns and an exciting development for those who would not normally be able to experience seeing animals in the wild. Check out Trafalgar’s range of safari tours for when you’re ready to get back out in the wild as well.