True Travel Times
One of Africa’s most beautiful and elusive big cats, Leopard are a highlight on any safari. From cubs the size of house cats to huge males blending invisibly into the woodland these Big 5 animals can be found almost everywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa but, where is the best place to find these top predators?
As the most adaptable and resilient of all the big five this is not a particularly easy question to answer. Their home range, which stretches from the subcontinent to the rainforests of West Africa is vast but there are certainly some stand out destinations for those travellers looking to track down these big cats.
1) Kenya – The Masai Mara
The Masai Mara and Ngare Serian Camp is certainly one of the best destinations in Africa to find leopards in high concentrations due to the vast herds of plains game that call these grass plains home. The thick woodlands that run along the edge of the Mara River and its tributaries make for the perfect ecosystem for leopards with plenty of high trees to stash their kills out of reach of other predators and the tall grass of the plains provide the perfect cover for hunting. Meaning it is a must for anyone on the hunt for leopard.
2) Kenya – Samburu National Park & The Northern Frontier District
Samburu is an arid, rugged game reserve in North Kenya and this magnificent country offers travellers a chance to see just how adaptable leopard are. Surviving in areas with very low rainfall and much less prey, these adaptable predators not only make do but thrive. For guest staying at Saruni Samburu or Sarara Leopards can be seen frequently perched up on top of huge granite boulders or kopjes sunning themselves or hunting in the early morning before the heat of the day.
3) Kenya – Laikipia Plateau
The stunning foothills to Mt Kenya or the Laikipia Plateau as it is more commonly know is one of Kenya’s most important wildlife areas, with the second biggest concentration of wildlife in the country. With grass plains and huge cedar forest, it is the perfect home for these big cats. With the flexibility that comes with carefully managed conservancy’s night drives are a fantastic addition to your average day on safari and dramatically increase your chances of seeing these all the different nocturnal cat species. Borana Lodge, located within its very own private conservancy allows guests a fantastic chance to see these big cats in their high-country element!
4) Botswana – Okavango Delta
Another of Africa’s most diverse and varied ecosystems the Okavango Delta is a haven for wildlife. Considered by many to be the top wildlife destination on the continent these floodplains have long been home to a plethora of predators and prey alike. Duba Plains Camp is perfectly positioned to explore the crossing channels of water that are the lifeblood of the area and the vast array of predators that inhabit it. Top amongst those predators are Leopards who can be found here in huge numbers compared to almost anywhere else in Africa.
5) Botswana – Linyanti
A Classic dry season safari destination, the Linyanti is formed from three different private conservancies so for guests staying at any number of different camps including King’s Pool Camp there is a fantastic chance of seeing a leopard. The night time game drives are a must when staying here as they give guests a chance to see these mostly nocturnal cats in their element. The area is also characterised by some of the best camps in Africa which superb guides making it a top-notch safari destination.
6) South Africa – The Kruger & The Sabi Sands
Perhaps the best of all the different areas the Sabi Sands in the Greater Kruger area of South Africa is home to possibly the greatest density of leopard anywhere in Africa with one of the most stable populations anywhere. With lower concentrations of other big cats such as lion and cheetah, this woodland habitat is the perfect place for leopards to thrive. With daily leopard sightings from any number of top safari lodges, including Dulini River Lodge & Singita Ebony the Sabi sands offer one of the most comprehensive safari experiences as well as almost guaranteed leopard sightings.
7) South Africa – Cape Town
The Cape Leopard is one of Africa’s most unusual Leopards weighing only 35 kilograms for Males and 20 kilograms for female, half of what leopards weigh in the Kruger. These smaller cats are even more elusive and survive in the harsh cape mountain conditions on a diet mostly consisting of Dassies and Klipspringer, but they are no less impressive for it and whilst they are very rare and difficult to see a cape leopard sighting is an unforgettable experience.
8) South Africa – Madikwe
The Madikwe is the perfect Family safari destination with big five game viewing and no malaria. Jamala Madikwe lodge is the perfect place to base your family and spend days exploring the game reserve. Leopard sightings are common here and for those lucky enough to see them as a family there is no better family safari experience!
9) Tanzania – Ngorongoro Crater
This giant caldera or crater which dates back some two and half million years has long been considered one of East Africa’ safari highlights and it is easy to see why. Home to the big five in startling numbers it is rightly dreamed a “wonder of the world”. Leopard can be found in impressive numbers here, hunting on the crater floor and retreating up its sides by day, but for those lucky enough to see a Leopard here, there is no more impressive backdrop. Guests staying at Entamanu Camp or The Highlands are perfectly positioned on the edge of the crater rim.
10) Tanzania – Northern Serengeti
Bordering the Masai Mara the Serengeti is an extension of the same ecosystem and as such is also home to a phenomenal number of animals and in particular big cats. The light woodland country of the northern Serengeti and Lamai Camp & Sayari Camp are particularly good for this providing the perfect landscape for the stealthy hunter and the huge quantities of herbivores ensure that the leopards avoid coming into conflict with their bigger feline cousins.
11) Tanzania – Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National park is one of Africa’s most important national parks when it comes to big cat conservation. Home to almost 10% of Africa’s lion population as well as a very large population of wild dog and of course leopards. Jongomero Camp is especially good during the drier months from June to October when the wildlife is concentrated close to the remaining water, making for spectacular predator and prey interactions.
12) Namibia – Okonjima Reserve
Home to the Africat Foundation this sanctuary for wildlife has run one of the most successful rehabilitation programs for big cats anywhere in the world. Leopards and Cheetah from all over the country that have been displaced or rescued are brought here and rehabilitated before being reintroduced to the wild in the reserve. Meaning that Okonjima Bush Camp offers some of the best big cat viewing in all of Namibia at the same time as giving guests a rare insight into how best to conserve and protect these big cats, a must for those travelling to Namibia.
13) Zambia – South Luangwa
Without question one of the best game viewing in Zambia the South Luangwa remains a pristine and still wild reserve that boasts a huge amount of wildlife. Known as one of the best places for walking and as having possibly, the highest standard of guiding anywhere in Africa. The Luangwa and Luwi Bush Camp offers some of the best walking safaris in Africa and for any thrill seekers, there is nothing that compares to a walk through truly wild country. But it is not only about walking and stands amongst the best as a traditional game drive destination with excellent big cat populations.
14) Zimbabwe – Mana Pools
A UNESCO world heritage site and without questions Zimbabwe’s best national park. The huge attraction is the Zambezi river and the teeming herds of game. Whilst top predators are not as commonly found here as they are in the Masai Mara or the Sabi Sands, they are certainly present and if you are lucky enough to see one in this uniquely special area there is very little that can compare on safari.
15) Zimbabwe – Hwange National Park
Another of Zimbabwe’s best wildlife areas Hwange is not only a superb safari destination but it also holds the added advantage of being just a stone’s throw from Victoria Falls and works perfectly as a combination to a visit to the falls. Which is a must for all visitors to Africa. The dry Kalahari sands that make up a large portion of the national park and the limited water also work for visitors to the park. By supplementing the water levels with man-made water holes that are topped up over the dry season the park ensures that there is a constant population of plains game that in turn supports a substantial number of top predators including good numbers of Leopards. Somalisa Camp is one of the best in the park and game drives with its fantastic guides allow guests an excellent chance of spotting leopards in the wild.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Start planning your truly bespoke itinerary by contacting one of our destination specialists.
Call +44 (0)203 137 1247