Large, heavy cow-like creatures, you might think Cape buffalo are just an African version of your local farm animal. However, notorious for being one of the most dangerous animals on the continent, buffalo are anything but docile. Protective and territorial, they are able to stand up against prides of lion with their sharp horns and impressive strength. For the best places to see Cape buffalo in Africa, check out our top national parks and game reserves below.
The best places to see buffalo in Africa
Seeing buffalo on an African safari is probably the easiest of the Big Five members to spot. However, just because they are prevalent and move in large, obvious herds, doesn’t make them any less fascinating. Here’s our favorite places to spot them:
1. Katavi National Park, Tanzania
There is something wonderful about being in the middle of a herd of hundreds of buffalo. Safe in the comfort of your vehicle, they mill past you as if you were part of the scenery, giving you the opportunity to watch how buffalo move and interact. However, place one of these animals alone and against a predator and you’ll see a totally new side. With the ability to fight off lions and other formidable carnivores, a lone buffalo can often turn from being prey to being the aggressor, something that has become quite the showdown in places like Katavi National Park. Located in Tanzania’s western corner, Katavi may be rarely visited because of its remote location but what an experience it offers for watching lion-buffalo interactions. If you are considering to include Katavi in your Tanzania adventure, then take a look at our suggested property, Chada.
2. Chobe National Park, Botswana
Come the dry season in northern Botswana, hundreds of buffalo congregate on the Chobe River floodplains, which guarantee a permanent water supply and plenty of nutritious grasses. These herds disperse into the interior of Botswana with the onset of the rains, so the best time to see these mega herds is from June to October. Though the larger herds move between Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta fairly regularly, there are groups of bachelor buffalos – termed dagga boys – who tend to stay in the same area throughout the seasons. Many lodges with have their own old bulls that hang around for the safety that the camps provide from predators, so pick a lodge in Chobe and you will likely encounter either the large female herds or the smaller but still impactful male counterparts.
3. Kruger National Park, South Africa
As buffalo really are quite prevalent in Africa, chances are quite likely you’ll see this Big Five member when travelling through a national park (though please note there are no buffalo in Namibia’s Etosha National Park). However, the most famous encounter that involves a buffalo must be the unreal footage taken of the “Battle of Kruger”. The short 8-minute video shows the confrontation between a herd of Cape buffalo and a small group of lions and one crocodile. If the resilience of the whole species hasn’t been made clear, then this video will surely make you aware of how strong buffalo are. This video also shows the kind of wildlife encounters possible in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, so if you are after a showstopping safari, definitely consider this park. And our recommended lodges? Find out our list of favourite lodges here.
And finally… some fun facts about Cape buffalo:
- Both male and female buffalo have horns; however, the male horns can grow larger -sometimes measuring to nearly 4 feet across
- Cape buffalo herds can reach numbers in the thousands when the grazing is good. They literally shake the ground if they move off with speed.
- They may look slow, but Cape buffalo can reach up to speeds of 35 miles per hour.
- Cape buffalo have four times the strength of an ox
- Buffalo are actually fantastic swimmers. They will swim through deep waters to find better grazing areas.
If you are interesting in a safari that focuses on Africa's Big Five wildlife, in particular buffalo, and would like more information, feel free to contact us here. Alternatively, take a look at our guides below for more inspiration: