Are you wondering which are the best places to see rhinos in Africa? These prehistoric creatures once roamed over most of the continent, but poaching has taken its toll in recent decades. Today, rhinoceros are extinct in many parts of Africa, and the survivors need special protection as they are poached for their horns (which are worth a lot of money in some Asian countries). Below are some ideas for where to see this second-bulkiest member of the Big Five.

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1. Kruger NP, South Africa

Rhino crossing a road with vehicles in Kruger National Park, South Africa

South Africa’s flagship national park, Kruger National Park, has by far the largest population of rhinos in Africa. Southern Kruger is particularly renowned for white rhino sightings. You’ll need more luck to spot the smaller black rhino, a browser that tends to lurk unobtrusively in dense thickets.

438 Kruger Safaris

 

2. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Black rhino with young in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro is the most reliable place in Tanzania to see rhinos. A healthy and unusually relaxed black rhino population spends much of the day in open grassland and is easily spotted there. If you miss the rhinos on the plains, try your luck in the late afternoon at the picturesque Lerai Forest, where they usually retreat before nightfall.

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3. Lake Nakuru NP, Kenya

Four rhinos with flamingos in the background. Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park, towered over by the escarpment and hemmed in by yellow fever trees, is a scenic highlight of Kenya’s Rift Valley. It’s a gorgeous setting for seeing white rhinos, and your chances are pretty good, even on a one-night stay. For atmospheric pictures, head out early to find them grazing on the lakeshore in the rising mist. Black rhinos live here too, but sightings are hit-and-miss.

853 Lake Nakuru Safaris

 

4. Etosha NP, Namibia

Black rhino with young walking on the flats. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Though it is usually encountered in thick vegetation, the black rhino also thrives in the open desert environs of Namibia’s Etosha Pan. Sightings of this rare prehistoric animal are common here. Etosha National Park is known for its incredible wildlife viewing at waterholes in the Dry season. Try the floodlit Okaukuejo waterhole at night; with patience, you might see a solitary black rhino come to drink.

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5. Ziwa Rhino & Wildlife Ranch, Uganda

White rhinoceros with young taking a mud bath in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda

Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is home to Uganda’s only rhinos. Here you get the opportunity to track white rhinos on foot. Your experienced guide will keep you safe while you approach these magnificent beasts downwind. Don’t forget to take photos (or to breathe – you’ll get to appreciate what a 2-ton animal really looks like) while your adrenaline is pumping.

121 Ziwa Rhino Safaris

 

6. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

White rhino in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

Ol Pejeta, on the Laikipia Plateau below Mt Kenya, is a great place to see both southern white rhino (introduced from South Africa) and the endangered black rhino. It is also home to the last remaining northern white rhinos in Africa, a pair of cows kept safe in a large enclosure. The survival of this near-extinct subspecies, which once roamed freely in East and Central Africa, will depend on the success of current trials of in vitro fertilization techniques and stem cell technology.

107 Ol Pejeta Safaris

 

7. Nairobi NP, Kenya

Black rhinoceros

Right alongside Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi National Park has healthy populations of both black and white rhinos. Although there are more of the former present in the park, white rhinos are easily seen throughout daylight hours. Sunset and the very early morning offer the best chances to see black rhinos as they emerge from (or return to) the dense vegetation that runs along some of the park’s rivers and valleys.

42 Nairobi NP Safaris

 

8. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi GR, South Africa

White rhino with young in Hluhluwe_Imfolozi_Game_Reserve, South Africa

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is the oldest game reserve in South Africa. It was established in the 1890s as a sanctuary for what was then the country’s last remaining population of southern white rhino. It is where rhino conservation began and where this incredible creature was narrowly saved from extinction. Today, both black and white rhino are common, although the former is easy to miss in the dense vegetation.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Safaris

 

9. Kwandwe GR, South Africa

Black rhinoceros charging. Kwandwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Kwandwe Game Reserve is an exclusive private game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and has only 26 rooms in a vast wilderness area. It offers superb wildlife viewing of all the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino). The relatively open terrain and rolling hills allow for regular sightings of white rhino as well as the more elusive black rhino. While you’ll certainly get some good photo opportunities for the former, black rhinos are less cooperative – they usually run, either to flee or to charge.

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10. Mkhaya GR, Eswatini (Swaziland)

Black rhino portrait. Mkhaya Game Reserve, Swaziland

Mkhaya Game Reserve, in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), is all about intimate encounters with protected species. With the expert guidance of your ranger, you’ll be able to approach both black and white rhino on foot. Both species are impressive. The white rhino is Africa’s second-largest terrestrial mammal but homing in on a black rhino – slightly smaller but more aggressive – is even more exciting.

 

11. Pongola GR, South Africa

Rhino with calf in Pongola Game Reserve. Zululand, South Africa

Deep in the heart of South Africa’s Zululand, on the shore of Pongolapoort Dam, lies little-known Pongola Game Reserve. You won’t get bored here as activities include game drives, boat cruises and – most exciting of all – a very authentic rhino-tracking experience. The rhinos roam around a vast tract of bush so you might be out tracking for up to three hours. But when you get up close to a rhino on foot, you’ll know it was worth it. Afternoons are best spent on the lake: the birdlife is fantastic, the crocs are enormous, and you should spot plenty more rhinos before enjoying a sundowner drink on the water.

 

12. Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Botswana

White rhino with calf

Botswana would hardly have any rhinos at all were it not for this important community-run sanctuary in the country’s east. Set up to restore rhinos to Botswana, the sanctuary has seen white rhinos, in particular, thrive, so much so that some have been released into Moremi Game Reserve in the north of the country. Sightings are common around the salt pans and throughout this compact sanctuary.

 

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By Ariadne van Zandbergen
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is an Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who author many guidebooks to African countries.

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