Here are the Safari Index team’s list of the top parks and reserves to see leopards in their natural habitats on safari in Africa.
Leopards are naturally secretive animals, often only active at night- at the faintest sign of humans, they will disappear without a trace. However, there are a few special parks and reserves in Africa where one has a good chance of viewing relaxed leopards in the wild. In these parks and reserves, leopards do not fear safari vehicles. They have become so habituated to their presence through decades of responsible guiding and monitoring, that you can follow a leopard on the hunt, see a leopard climb a tree, get that great photo of a leopard lying in the branches of a tree, watch a mother playing with her cubs, and, if you’re really lucky, witness leopards mating or males having a territorial dispute. The best places to go on safari to see leopards in the wild are:
Without doubt the best place in Africa to view leopards, the Sabi Sand Wildtuin is a private conservancy of exclusive award-winning luxury game lodges adjoining South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park. In the reserve, guests can experience the thrill of following leopards on the hunt off-road, led by experienced guides and trackers. If you enjoy luxury accommodation whilst on safari, you can do no wrong by staying at one of the game lodges in the Sabi Sands. Aside from leopard viewing, the reserve’s high numbers of general game and Big 5 offer an all-round exceptional safari experience.
Nestled between the Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park, lies the world-famous Mala Mala Game Reserve. With the highest frequency of Big 5 sightings, Mala Mala is a fantastic luxury safari destination to see leopards in their natural habitat. Mala Mala offers its guests a classic safari experience. Several documentaries including ‘Stalking Leopards’ have been filmed at Mala Mala, cementing the reserve’s status as the best spot to view leopards in Africa.
Zambia’s favourite safari destination, South Luangwa is home to one of Africa’s highest densities of leopards. In this national park, leopards are sighted daily. With a host of affordable camping and self-drive safari options available, as well as luxury camps, this is a great destination for those looking to see leopards in the wild. The reserve’s proximity to Malawi makes it a great add-on to any trip to Lake Malawi.
The Kruger National Park is one of the most well known natural regions in Africa, and indeed the world. Famous for its awe inspiring abundance of natural wildlife species, as well as stunning diversity of plant species, the Kruger remains one of the best destinations to enjoy an African safari. The park is also one of the best places to see Africa’s Big 5, which includes, of course, leopards.
Sharing an unfenced border with the famous Kruger National Park, the Klaserie Private Game Reserve is a wonderful region for spotting large wildlife species, including the Big 5, of which leopards are a member. The Klaserie River attracts large concentrations of game to its banks, and the reserve does not get very crowded, an added bonus.
Like the Klaserie, this private reserve does not get overcrowded with vehicles, which allows guests to enjoy its abundance of wildlife in comfort. The Timbavati is home to a large variety of game species, including the Big 5; there are also large concentrations of other game, as well as a diversity of flora species. Leopard viewing is excellent here, and the area is home to many herds of elephant and buffalo.