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These nocturnal mammals employ their powerful claws to unearth termites and ants, consuming thousands each night with their elongated, sticky tongues.

Aardvark Antics in Africa

One reason to make repeat visits to Africa is to improve your chances of laying eyes on some of its most rarely seen, lucifugous inhabitants. Within the fascinating spectrum of African wildlife, the aardvark holds a special place – an elusive nocturnal creature that presents a thrilling challenge for any eco-tourist or wildlife enthusiast. These solitary mammals, with their distinctive pig-like appearance, tread the twilight of Sub-Saharan Africa, far from the beaten path. But why exactly should these little-known animals be on your wildlife watching list, and where can you increase your chances of a memorable encounter?

The Secret World of Aardvarks

The term aardvark originates from the Afrikaans language and fittingly means ‘earth pig’. Despite what their appearance might suggest, aardvarks share a closer genetic relationship with elephants and manatees than with pigs. Roaming across much of sub-Saharan Africa, they spend their nights on the prowl for their favourite meals – ants and termites, which they consume by the thousands, thanks to their specially adapted, sticky tongues.

These remarkable creatures are not just proficient at crafting extensive burrows for their daytime retreat; they’re also excellent at teaching their young to do the same. Within just two weeks of being born, aardvark juveniles accompany their mothers in foraging, showcasing a surprisingly rapid path to independence.

However, all is not rosy for the aardvark. While they are well-equipped to evade natural predators like lions, through their effective digging defences, their greatest threat stems from humans. Habitat disruption and the use of pesticides drastically affect their main food source, making their very existence increasingly precarious.

Tswalu Kalahari

Tswalu Kalahari

Why You Should Seek Out the Elusive Aardvark

Spotting an aardvark requires venturing out into the African night with a guide, transforming your wildlife adventure with an air of mystery and excitement. With their long snouts, prominent ears, and robust bodies, aardvarks are a testament to the curious variety of adaptations in the animal kingdom.

Aardvarks significantly influence their surroundings by controlling insect populations, underlining their ecological importance. On the search for these unusual creatures, you will traverse savannahs, woodlands, and grasslands, enriching your understanding of Africa’s diverse ecosystems. These nocturnal beings also offer unique opportunities for photographers to capture striking night-time images that stand out from typical wildlife portfolios.

Tracking the elusive aardvark at Samara Game Reserve

Tracking the elusive aardvark at Samara Game Reserve

Where to Encounter Aardvarks in Their Natural Habitat
Aardvark sighting at Tswalu Kalahari in South Africa

Aardvark sighting at Tswalu Kalahari

Trip Examples

South Africa’s renowned reserves such as the Kruger National Park and private game reserves are potential hotspots for spotting aardvarks.

The aardvarks’ residency extends to the Namib and Kalahari deserts in Namibia, with lodges offering specialized nocturnal game drives.

Despite their relative scarcity in East Africa, some reserves and conservancies in Kenya and Tanzania are home to these fascinating creatures and organise night safaris to spot them.

Trip Examples

A Top Tip for Aardvark Watchers

To maximize your chances of encountering an aardvark, remember their evening-centric bio-rhythms mean night safaris offer the best opportunity for observation. Though patience and a bit of an adventurous spirit are required, the reward of witnessing an aardvark in the wild is an unforgettable one – a true badge of honour for any guest.


Aardvarks may not be the kings of the African savannah or the iconic face of nature documentaries, yet they embody the mysterious charm and untamed spirit of the continent just as deeply. They are a special sighting to look forward to when you’re booking your African safari, so get in touch with our travel managers to begin planning a unique trip into the untamed, scenic landscapes of the world’s most diverse wildlife haven.

In this article
  • Aardvark Antics in Africa
  • The Secret World of Aardvarks
  • Why You Should Seek Out the Elusive Aardvark
  • Where to Encounter Aardvarks
  • A Top Tip for Aardvark Watchers

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