African safari sounds – Animal noises of the bush and savanna

Yawning hippo at sunset, Kruger

Most people go on safari thinking about the sights. Lions, baboons, elephants, hippos! What an adventure!

But visit wild Africa, and you will explore with all your senses. I have as many memories of sounds and smells as I do of the sights.

Out in the bush, you hear strange noises, especially in the stillness of the night. So it’s good to know the African animal sounds before you go, especially if you will be camping in the African savanna.

I personally don’t think any animal sounds beat that of a trumpeting elephant. If a whole herd is blowing their trunks, then it quickly becomes an orchestra.

In this article, you can listen to all the top sounds of the wild while learning how to identify different mammals and birds.

The post includes most of the top safari sounds, those that you are likely to come across on any safari.

I love the nighttime bush sounds – when it’s so quiet, it’s easy to pick up on any noise.

Most Popular African Animal Sounds

Beautiful male lion at night, under the moonlight

1. Baboon

Baboon sound names cannot be summed up with a single word. These primates have a diverse vocal repertoire comprising various calls, barks, and grunts. They also make distressed calls or yaks.

Female baboons also make loud copulation calls, while males are often heard using long-distance screams. Want to hear the various baboon calls yourself? Check out the video below.

2. Elephant

Wondering what sounds elephants make? Let’s start with the one that many people know—trumpeting.

This is the sound elephants make when pushing air out through their trunk. It is usually made when the elephant is excited or distressed.


Another sound in this beautiful animal’s vocabulary is growls or rumbles. This is a lower-frequency sound that is generally used for short-distance communication.


Other sounds that African elephants make include squeaks, roars, grunts, barks, and snorts.

3. Hippo

Hippos make many unique sounds, including grunts, roars, groans, and growls. They’re also known to make loud wheezing and chuffing noises.


Hippos can also communicate underwater. These hippo sounds resonate in the jawbone and neck and include squeaks, croaks, and whines.

4. Hyena

Do hyenas really “laugh”? The short answer is yes. This is one of the most renowned African savanna sounds.

The laughter of a hyena is generally used to communicate and convey excitement, fear, or frustration.


Hyenas also make a variety of softer sounds, including growls, grunts, and squeaks.

5. Impala

Impalas are loud animals, especially when compared to other antelope species. You’ll be able to hear their high-volume roars from up to 2 km away.

6. Jackal

Jackals are very vocal animals. They communicate with one another using high-pitched howls, growls, and yaps. Some are also known to hoot.

7. Leopard

While leopards are usually quiet, they have also made a name for themselves with their long sawing roar. This unique sound is usually repeated for a minute at a time and can travel up to 12 km.

Video 1: Leopard Call Close-Up

In addition to their roar, other vocalizations of these large cats include grunts, growls, hisses, and meows.

Video 2: Leopard Call at Night

Listen carefully to the baboon alarm calls… next you’ll hear a leopard call

More about the sounds a leopard makes.

8. Lion

There’s more to the king of the savanna’s vocal repertoire than just a loud roar. While the roar is certainly the lion’s most iconic sound, it also purrs, hums, moans, grunts, and growls.


Learn more about the sounds lions make.

9. Zebra

Another one of the more common safari animal sounds is that of a zebra. As you make your way through the African plains, you’re sure to hear these striped animals bray, bark, and snort.


Even more zebra noises.

Bird Safari Noises

African fish eagle perched on tree trunk, against fading blue-violet sky

1. African fish eagle

The African fish eagle’s vocabulary comprises two distinct calls. The one is a penetrating sound used in flight and is often referred to as “the voice of Africa.”

The second is a “quock” sound, which the eagle uses when near the nest.


Learn more facts about fish eagles.

2. Crested francolin

The crested francolin makes a variety of sounds, including a repeated series of cheery “cheer kirk-kik” calls. This is often heard as a synchronized duet.


3. Guineafowl

An iconic African animal noise is the “buckwheat” sound made by a confusion of guineafowls. The vocal birds also use a “chee chee” sound.

Typical African Bush Sounds

Interested in hearing more African wildlife sounds? Listen to the unique sounds of the bush below.


African Animal Sounds at Night

Typical African bush scenery in fading light

1. Riverine area

Common safari noises heard within Africa’s riverine areas include the buzzing of cicadas and the croaking of frogs.


2. Creepy hyena calls

One of the most iconic wildlife sounds at night is the creepy call of the hyena. Hear it for yourself below.

Listen to Real African Animal Sounds

Top of a lion's head partly illuminated with a spotlight

Listening through headphones or on a mobile isn’t the same as being out in the wild. You don’t hear these wildlife sounds in isolation. All the sounds mingle together, and you never know what will come next.

At the best safari camps, you drift off to nature’s lullaby. Sometimes you even wake in the night to a strange sound, like baboons nearby or hippos fighting at a distant river.

Then the next morning, you inspect the camp to see what kind of visitors left their evidence in the grass.

Going on safari is the only way you can truly listen to the sounds of the savannah. And don’t forget the smells as well!

If you want to see a lion, you can look at a photo. But if you want to experience a lion, you need to go on safari and come face to face with the apex predator.

You might be able to spot a hippo in a zoo, but only on a safari can you understand how these giant animals live in the wild.

A safari provides a connection with nature. You’re completely immersed, surrounded on all sides by the sights, sounds, and smells of the wild.

And that is a very special feeling that I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their lifetime.

Listen to some of the most popular African animal noises there are. These are the sounds you are likely to hear on an African safari: lion, hippo, baboon, and more.

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3 thoughts on “African safari sounds – Animal noises of the bush and savanna”

  1. Hello,
    I have been on safari three times and do camping in small tents. Even though I am usually there when it is cold at night we keep all our tent flaps open so that we can hear the nighttime sounds. I love hearing hyenas doing their whopping call and the call of a lion in the distance and the jackals. I truly wish someone would make an audio of the night sounds, I miss it so much when I am home and would love to be able to play something at night to help me go to sleep and to dream that I am there.

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