In Brief

Best virtual safaris and zoo tours to enjoy at home on YouTube

From Longleat to South Africa, discover the world’s wildlife from your sofa

Elephant and lilac-breasted roller in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Going on safari is often top of many travel bucket lists, but in these days of lockdowns the chance of seeing the world’s rare species seems even further away than usual. 

While nothing will ever beat viewing the animals up close, safari companies and zoos are offering the next best thing: virtual wildlife tours.

UK attractions such as Longleat and Chester Zoo have opened their digital gates, while nature reserves in Africa are also welcoming virtual tourists. 

Here we pick out the best virtual safaris and zoo tours to watch from the comfort of your own living room. The big five - lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo - await your visit.

Longleat virtual safari 

Narrated by Kate Humble, this 30-minute tour of the popular safari park in Wiltshire gives viewers the chance to see the giraffe and zebra of the East Africa Reserve before venturing into the notorious Monkey Drive Through. Using a mix of audio commentary along with video footage and photos, there’s also close encounters with Longleat’s famous lions, as well as tigers, cheetahs and wolves.

Chester Zoo’s virtual zoo

The zookeeper team at Chester Zoo have opened the virtual gates for some animal antics with the popular residents. Watch the baby meerkats enjoy breakfast, share brunch with the eastern black rhinos and get up close with the secretive okapi.

Homeschooling with Knowsley Safari

Knowsley Safari’s home school is an online learning hub where children, parents and teachers can access educational videos, downloadable worksheets and fun animal facts and talks.

Explore’s live stream of Tembe Elephant Park 

Tembe Elephant Park is renowned for having the largest elephants in Africa - and the planet. The wildlife park in South Africa is home to an abundance of animals including more than 340 bird species as well as the big five. Explore has a live feed in place, with the camera situated at one of the waterholes in the area, providing a perfect opportunity to spot the elephants. Look out for lions, rhinos and buffalo joining the elephants for a drink.

Real-time safaris with andBeyond and WildEarth 

During April travel company andBeyond and wildlife broadcaster WildEarth are streaming personalised game drives twice daily. With chances to spot the big five in real-time, viewers will be able to join up to two live safaris a day, each of which will last approximately three hours. People will be able to interact with their safari guides, just as if they were actually on a game drive. The virtual safaris will be streamed from two South African game reserves: andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve.

Shamwari Lockdown Series on YouTube

Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape is bringing safaris into homes with its “Shamwari Lockdown Series” on YouTube. Head ranger, Andrew Kearney, is delivering informative and educational videos around the wildlife such as identifying footprints, spotting the big five and showing the incredible flora and fauna species found on the reserve.

Sabi Sabi’s Elefun Escapes in the Wild

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa is offering educational videos in its new series called EleFun Escapes in the Wild. Sabi Sabi will bring safari to viewers with videos that share fun and engaging facts about the fauna and flora of the African bush.

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