When you go on safari you could be forgiven for thinking that it was all about what animals you will see…but it’s much more than this. There are the landscapes, the smells…and also, the sounds. So, what are the sounds to listen for on safari?

Here are 10 sounds to listen for on safari (ask your guide to help you identify each on the list):

1. Fish Eagle

Perhaps the most iconic call in Africa, the fish eagle should be first on anyone’s list.

African fish eagle with a catch

2. Lion & Leopard

Of course, everyone wants to hear the roar of a lion in the wild…it goes without saying. But don’t forget to listen out for the rasping call of the leopard (it sounds like someone sawing a piece of wood).

3. Coucal (a Common Family of Birds)

You know you have woken up in Africa when, as you lie in your bed at first light, you hear the loquacious glug, glug sound of a coucal…(often referred to as the ‘bottle bird’ as its call sounds like the water being poured from a bottle – descending as it empties!).

4. Ground Hornbill

Wake up to the sound of “five bob, two and six” as it resonates through the bush emanating from a bird that spends all day on the ground, lives in a family group, shares responsibility for raising its young (cooperative breeding), and has eyelashes that are actually feathers!

Southern ground hornbill

5. Reed Frogs

Like the sound of ice clinking in your glass at sundowner time, the sound of hundreds of reed frogs can be both appealing and calming. Wait for early evening.

6. Spotted Hyena

Not to be outdone by the big cats, the evenings are often punctuated by the sinister ‘whooping’ call of the spotted hyena – ever so eerie but not as spine-tingling as their high-pitched, human-like cackle when approaching a kill!


7. Nightjar

The eerie sound of a nightjar can often be heard late at night as you lie in your bed – smooth and rhythmical.

8. Pearl-spotted Owl

What an enthralling sound this is. It begins as a shrill whistle and then builds to a crescendo before descending seemingly into the distance.

9. Red-billed Hornbill

This is the sound we identify with most when the hot, dry months come to the African bush. The air is still and the midday heat means little is moving, and then the ka’ka, ka’ka, ka’ka of the red-billed hornbill fills the air. Magic.

Western red-billed hornbill

10. Your Early Morning Wake-up Call

The sound of ‘knock, knock’ as your room attendant brings you tea and coffee as the first light of dawn brings in a new day! Followed by the unzipping of your tent and the rattle of cups as he places the tea down…time to face a new day on safari…new experiences and new rewards. Enjoy.

Listen to the Sounds...Firsthand

These are the sounds of Africa. Often, we focus on the sights – the beautiful photo ops of magnificent wildlife and stunning scenery. However, the sounds evoke so many feelings and emotions, like joy, fear, anger, love and serenity. Why not book a safari tour and experience your very own African symphony... under the stars? The experience will be unforgettable. For more information, contact us at SafariBookings.

African Safari Tours

By Patrick Brakspear
Australia AU

Patrick has been an Africa travel specialist, based in Australia, for over 10 years and prior to that was a safari operator in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe.

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