Africa is famous for its big cat species (lion, leopard and cheetah). These are some of the best places to see the big cats in the wild
Africa is notorious for its incredible diversity of wildlife species, and perhaps the most famous of these are the big cat species. Many people visit Africa on safari hoping to see one of these incredible creatures in the wild. Africa’s big cats include the elegant cheetah, the world’s fastest land mammal, the mysterious leopard, a highly elusive animal, and of course, the king of them all, the majestic lion. Several national parks and game reserves are home to populations of these big cats. These are the ones where you have the best chances of seeing an African big cat in the wild.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is located in South Africa‘s Greater Kruger Lowveld region, which is notorious for being one of the the world’s top wildlife destinations. The reserve is bordered by the Sabi and Sand Rivers, and is made up of 65 000 hectares of thornveld, open plains, and savannah woodland. The Big 5 viewing is unparalleled, and the Sabi is one of the best places in the world to see leopards in their natural habitat. Several world-famous luxury lodges are found in the reserve, ensuring a world-class safari experience.
Timbavati Nature Reserve is found in South Africa, in the country‘s famous Kruger Lowveld region. It is made up of a host of private conservancies that have come together with a common shared conservation aim. The reserve‘s 53000 hectares consist of open woodland and mopane tree belts that are home to a wealth of wildlife species, including the Big 5. There is good leopard-viewing in the Timbavati, and the reserve is also famous for its population of rare white lions. These lions have been the subject of many books and documentaries. The reserve has a low density of lodges and and safari vehicles, allowing for a less crowded and more exclusive safari experience.
Phinda Private Game Reserve is located in South Africa, in the country‘s KwaZulu Natal province. This vast reserve is 23000 hectares in size and is made up of a number of diverse habitat types that include grassland, savannah woodland, sand forests and marshes. These ecosystems are home to a diversity of wildlife species, including the legendary Big 5. This includes lion and leopard, with cheetah also prominent on the reserve. The birdlife is excellent, and there are a number of luxury lodges for those who wish to enjoy a safari in style.
The incredible Okavango Delta is found in Botswana, and is one of Africa’s premier safari and wildlife destinations. The Delta is formed where the Okavango River flows into the Kalahari Desert, forming an inland delta. This unique ecosystem is home to an astounding diversity of wildlife species. The region‘s wetlands, islands, grasslands and savannah woodlands are home to large predators, including the big cats, as well as a wealth of birdlife species. Traditional mekoro canoe safaris offer a unique way of exploring the region‘s waterways. Fishing enthusiasts can also try their hand at catching the elusive Tiger fish.
The Masai Mara is situated in the south of Kenya, one the border with Tanzania‘s famous Serengeti. These two parks are known for the legendary spectacle of the Great Migration, when herds of wildebeest and zebra migrate between them in their thousands. These herds are closely followed by large predators, which include the big cats, making for exceptional game-viewing. The Migration occurs from July to October, but the wildlife-viewing is excellent throughout the rest of the year as well. Numerous lodges and camps are found in the Mara, and more budget-friendly safari tours are also available.
Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. This massive expanse of grassland, savannah woodland, thornveld and other habitat types supports a staggering array of wildlife, birdlife and flora species. The Great Ruaha River and the Great Rift Valley combine to provide stunning landscape views. The park is home to the Big 5, with lion prides being particularly prevalent; the cheetah is also found in Ruaha. The remoteness and isolation of the park adds to its allure.
South Luangwa National Park is located in Zambia, and is known as one of the world’d greatest wildlife sanctuaries. This incredible park is made up of 90 500 hectares of bushveld, riverine habitat, and open and savannah woodland, and is home to an astounding diversity of wildlife species. The park is a leopard hotspot, with lions and cheetahs also found here. South Luangwa is where walking safaris originated. This is one of the most unique and thrilling ways to experience an African safari and encounter nature and wildlife first-hand.
The Serengeti is a destination that embodies the true essence of wild Africa. This legendary region in Tanzania is made up of vast open plains of savannah and grassland, home to an incredible diversity of wildlife species. The predator populations in the Serengeti are superb, with the big cats found in high numbers. The region is also the site of the phenomenal Great Migration, an annual migration of thousands of game species that move across the plains and rivers, closely pursued by predators. The game-viewing also remains excellent throughout the rest of the year.