There are two species of rhino that can be seen on African safaris, the black rhino and the white rhino. These names are misleading as they are not truly distinguished by their color.
The black rhino is more accurately the hook-lipped rhino as it has a prehensile upper lip used to browse vegetation from shrubs, while the white rhino is the square-lipped rhino with a squared off mouth made to graze the grasses.
Both rhinos are extremely rare and continue to be vulnerable to poaching because of the high demand for their horns.
In some areas rhino have human attendant guards making them easy to find, but not much of a wild feeling.
Many safari areas completely lack rhino, or rhino sightings can be quite rare, so if a rhino sighting is paramount, be sure to discuss this with your safari planner in advance so that they can include an appropriate area on your safari.
Best Places to See Rhinoceros on Safari
The best places to see rhinos are within reserves in South Africa where breeding programs have been very successful. In many of these reserves, the calculated decision to preemptively cut down the horn reduces the temptation to poach the animal.
In South Africa, Hluhulwe-Umfolozi Park became the base of Operation Rhino about 50 years ago and has been the source of rhino for reintroductions throughout Africa. Today, more than 20% of the world’s black and white rhinos still reside here. The park has the highest concentration of white rhino in the world with approximately 2,000 individuals.
Also in South Africa, the Greater Kruger area with its adjacent private game reserves and Madikwe Game Reserve have good sightings. In Namibia, Etosha and the neighboring Ongava Game Reserve, as well as the Palmwag area (for black rhino) have good rhino sightings with unique desert scenery.
In Kenya, Nairobi National Park, Lake Nakuru and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy are places with regular sightings while Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is a good location to sight black rhino.
Other Areas of Note
Botswana has a re-introduction program for rhino. Rhino had been almost completely confined to the exclusive Chief’s Island region but a new project led by Great Plains and & Beyond Safari companies to bring in an additional 100 rhino from South Africa. Sadly, this is a hard-hit area for poaching. The hope was that the reintroduction would lead to increased sightings across a broader area of the Okavango as well as provide further security for the species.
Serengeti, Tanzania & Masai Mara, Kenya
Thouhg not as common, sightings are possible in the Serengeti and Masai Mara.
Kaziranga, India and Chitwan, Nepal
For those looking to tack on another rhino species, the Asiatic one-horned rhino can be seen from the tall-grass parks of Chitwan and Kaziranga.
Tracking rhino on foot is an exhilarating activity that is highly recommended in the company of an excellent guide.
A safari specifically focused on tracking desert adapted black rhino in the Palmwag region of Namibia provides an ideal opportunity to concentrate on rhino.
There are excellent opportunities to track white rhino on foot in the Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia. Other reserve areas offer this experience as well including the Mosi oa Tunya National Park in Livingstone, Zambia.