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The 8 best African wildlife documentaries to watch

Take a virtual journey through the heart of Africa with our curated list of the 8 best African wildlife documentaries. These films offer a mesmerising glimpse into the untamed beauty of Africa’s fauna and highlight the critical importance of preserving these majestic creatures and their habitats. Perfect for nature enthusiasts and conservationists alike, these documentaries are a must-watch for anyone passionate about African wildlife.

BBC Africa

Directed by the legendary David Attenborough, this six-part series showcases Africa’s diverse wildlife across various regions like the Kalahari, East African savannah, Sahara, and Congo. Key highlights include the unique adaptations of animals and birds in these habitats.

The Last Lions

This poignant film by Dereck and Beverly Joubert focuses on a lioness named Ma di Tau in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It underscores the alarming decline of lions in the wild and emphasizes the urgent need for conservation efforts.

lions

Our Pick of the Top Okavango Delta Tours in Botswana

  • Tour Length 20 days
    Group Size Max 20
    Starts & Ends Starts: Cape Town Ends: Victoria Falls
    Countries South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe
    Overview Craving action and adventure? This 20 day expedition reads like a synopsis for the Amazing Race: scenic flights over the Okavango, white water rafting on the Zambezi, desert hikes, nights under a sprawling blanket of stars — and that’s just the start! We’ve also included wildlife safari drives in Etosha, Moremi Game Reserve and a relaxing sunset river cruise on the Chobe River to give you the best chance of experiencing the diversity of Southern Africa.

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    Cape Town to Victoria Falls Ultimate Tour (Comfort) *Our Most Popular*

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  • Tour Length 16 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg
    Countries South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe
    Overview Pinch yourself; this is the African overland tour you’ve been dreaming about. We’ve put together an action-packed itinerary that hits all the highlights, from camping out in the unfenced wilds, tracking elephants across the Chobe, and hitching a ride in a mokoro to explore the Okavango Delta. Top it off white water rafting, an aircraft flip over the thundering Vic Falls, or bungee jumping to complete your experience of a lifetime.
    • Technically a camping tour, it's a combination of camping and accommodation (6 nights in beds and 9 nights in tents) so you will need to bring your own sleeping bag.
    • While you are in the National Parks of Botswana (Moremi and Savuti National Park) you will be in an 7 seater open safari vehicle, the rest of the time you will use the truck which sits high up making it easier for game viewing.

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    R59,265

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    16 Day Botswana & Zimbabwe Camping Safari (Inclusive)

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  • Tour Length 14 days
    Group Size Max 12
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Livingstone
    Countries South Africa, Botswana, Zambia
    Overview This is your chance to explore one of Africa’s last great wildernesses. Do this 1247 km trip and you’ll see the best of South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia in 14 adventure-charged days. Kick up dust on the sandveld of the Kalahari, get a hippos eye-view of the Okavango while gliding through the channels in a traditional mokoro, and camp out in true African style amid fence free migration routes.

    Price from

    R41,265

    + Local Payment USD 300

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    Botswana Wilderness Camping Safari (Inclusive) – TOP PICK

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    30 Jun 2024 → 13 Jul 2024

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    R41265
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Okavango Delta Tours by length

8 – 14 Day Tours

15 – 25 Day Tours

 

Meerkat Manor

A four-series show on Animal Planet, Meerkat Manor blends traditional wildlife documentary with dramatic narration to produce compelling viewing of a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. The meerkats become endearing characters in the series as viewers followed their everyday antics and life events as if they were actors in a soap opera.


Big Cat Diary Series

A long-running nature documentary produced by the BBC, the Big Cat Diary is a series that follows the lives of big African cats in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve. Each series was about the day-to-day lives of a lion pride, a cheetah family and a leopard family as they make kills, raise their cubs and fight off rivals. The series is called the original wildlife soap opera for its new kind of wildly popular wildlife documentary format.

cheetah

Our Pick of the Top Masai Mara Tours in Kenya

  • Tour Length 31 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Nairobi Ends: Pretoria
    Countries Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa
    Overview
    • Price Beat Guaranteed
    • 10% early bird discount (6 months or more)

    Price from

    R113,290

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    East to South Nairobi to Kruger Tour (31 Days)

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  • Tour Length 18 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Nairobi Ends: Nairobi
    Countries Kenya, Uganda
    Overview 18 Day Masai Mara and Gorillas Explorer travelling around Kenya and Uganda allowing you to see the gorillas in the wild. Ending off with two nights game viewing in the Masai Mara Game Reserve , home to the wildebeest migration - this is a memorable African wilderness experience.

    Price from

    R82,320

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    Masai Mara and Gorillas Explorer Overland (18 Day)

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    13 Jul 2024 → 30 Jul 2024

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  • Tour Length 12 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Nairobi Ends: Nairobi
    Countries Kenya, Tanzania
    Overview Nothing can compare to encountering the legendary wildlife of the Serengeti and Masai Mara in the flesh. That’s why we’ve dedicated 12 full days to exploring this iconic safari circuit. Traverse incredible national parks where golden grasslands stretch onto the ends of the earth, watch wildebeest kick up the rich African dust as they migrate in their millions, and venture off track to isolated regions to meet local tribes world apart. The road is as diverse as it is unpredictable, so be prepared for adventure. Your tour requires participation from all group members. This entails assisting with the food preparation, washing of dishes, keeping the truck clean and the setting up the camp. Please keep in mind that flexibility and an open mind is needed on the trip. All guides are registered with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA).

    Price from

    R57,285

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    Kenya & Tanzania Budget Safari (All Inclusive)

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    23 Jun 2024 → 04 Jul 2024

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    R57285
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Masai Mara Tours by length

15 – 25 Day Tours

26 – 40 Day Tours

 

The Great Serengeti

This National Geographic documentary is set on the huge plains of the Serengeti in East Africa and tells the stories of the wildebeest, gazelles and zebras who make a massive annual circular migration through the Serengeti National Park and neighbouring Masai Mara Reserve in order to survive the dry months.

Our Pick of the Top Serengeti Tours in Tanzania

  • Tour Length 12 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Nairobi Ends: Nairobi
    Countries Kenya, Tanzania
    Overview Nothing can compare to encountering the legendary wildlife of the Serengeti and Masai Mara in the flesh. That’s why we’ve dedicated 12 full days to exploring this iconic safari circuit. Traverse incredible national parks where golden grasslands stretch onto the ends of the earth, watch wildebeest kick up the rich African dust as they migrate in their millions, and venture off track to isolated regions to meet local tribes world apart. The road is as diverse as it is unpredictable, so be prepared for adventure. Your tour requires participation from all group members. This entails assisting with the food preparation, washing of dishes, keeping the truck clean and the setting up the camp. Please keep in mind that flexibility and an open mind is needed on the trip. All guides are registered with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA).

    Price from

    R57,285

    View Tour Check Availability

    Kenya & Tanzania Budget Safari (All Inclusive)

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    23 Jun 2024 → 04 Jul 2024

    From

    R57285
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    18 Aug 2024 → 29 Aug 2024

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    01 Sep 2024 → 12 Sep 2024

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    03 Aug 2025 → 14 Aug 2025

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Serengeti Tours by length

8 – 14 Day Tours

15 – 25 Day Tours

 

Virunga

Nominated for an Oscar, Virunga is part investigative journalism and part documentary. The 2014 film focuses on the conservation work of rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, where some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas live. In the film we see four people fighting to protect these gorillas from poaching, civil war and the imminent threat of oil exploration by a British company. The cinematography is beautiful, the gorillas are amazing to watch and the story utterly compelling, though heart wrenching at times.

Eternal enemies: lions and hyenas

This National Geographic documentary filmed in Botswana is about the daily aggressive conflict between lions and hyenas, capturing the reality of how brutal and violent life in the wild really is. This is not a film for the faint hearted!

Botswana-hyena

A Spy in the Den

Another great documentary narrated by David Attenborough, A Spy in the Den was filmed almost entirely by a remote controlled camera disguised to look like a rock to capture the progress of a group of lion cubs as they grow into young adults. There are some gripping scenes of the lions’ lives in the wild, such as when they try to attack an aggressive hippo, and when they encounter a dangerous cobra snake.

These African wildlife documentaries offer more than just entertainment; they are a powerful tool for education and awareness. They bring to light the vital importance of wildlife conservation and the ongoing efforts to preserve Africa’s rich and diverse ecosystems. By watching these films, viewers can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the urgent need to protect it for future generations.

About Sarah Duff

Documentary filmmaker/ travel writer/ photographer - www.sarahduff.com
Article by: Sarah Duff
on May 27, 2023
Filed under  Africa Blog 
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