Big cat safaris, tours & holidays
Seek out these incredible predators in their natural environmentBig cat safaris, tours & holidays available in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Custom designed Big cat safaris in Africa
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Seek out these incredible predators in their natural environment
People come from all over the world to see lion, leopard and cheetah - the biggest felines on the African continent. A safari is hardly complete without seeing at least one of these amazing predators in the wilderness. When searching out the big cats, it's also important to look out for the smaller yet equally fascinating serval and caracal.
Popular Big cat safaris in Africa
These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates
This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta
Fly into the northern Serengeti to view the migration on the banks of the Mara River
Combine Cape Town chic with Africa's most luxurious train and an elegant Big Five safari for a stylish South African holiday
Combine Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands with a safari in the Kruger National Park for a relaxing and exhilarating South African safari
This Southern Africa safari adventure will take you to the tip of the African continent
Enjoy a romantic honeymoon at the Ngorongoro Crater where you can spot the Big Five and experience the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park
Two countries in 8 days may seem like a lot but with this well thought out itinerary you will see some of the regions most iconic destinations without feeling like you are rushing through it at all.
Experience two of Botswana's best safari destinations – Savute and the Okavango Delta – on land-based game drives or in a mokoro that glides along the waterways
From Sun City's hedonistic pleasures to the majesty of nature at Madikwe Game Reserve, this journey combines the best of two very different worlds
Enjoy two of Africa's most magnificent wildlife experiences – mountain gorillas and the Great Migration – on one unforgettable safari
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More on Big cat safaris in Africa
East Africa is by far the best destination to view big cats. It hosts more than half of Africa’s lion population and it's not uncommon to see more than 100 individual lions in the central Serengeti in one day. There are also fantastic leopard areas, the Serengeti’s plains for cheetah and frequent serval and caracal sightings. The open plains and short grass make it far easier to find the big cats, compared to the dense bushveld vegetation of southern Africa
In the Kruger National Park, the Satara area is the best place to see lion and the Sabie river for leopard. Beyond the park, the private reserves of Sabi Sands and Mala Mala are incredible big cat areas. Because of the presence of lion and leopard in these regions, cheetah are less common, but the greater Kruger ecosystem remains phenomenal big cat country.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana has excellent leopard and lion numbers and they are accentuated during the times when the Delta is flooded, as the floods isolate prides on islands. Incredible interaction between buffalo and lion makes the Duba Plains, also in Botswana, one of the most sought after big cat safari experiences in Africa.
Zambia’s South Luangwa sees good lion and leopard numbers during the dry season, when the vegetation is more open on the river. The predator behaviour is fairly predictable, making lions and leopards easy to track down.
Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools is an incredible lion area, and on top of this, you have the opportunity to see them on foot. Mana is not for the faint-hearted and it remains one of the wildest areas in Africa. The stretch between the Zambezi River and Vundu Camp has prolific lion and leopard numbers with lots of wild dog too.
Know before you go
East Africa is considered the best region in Africa if one wishes to see big cats; half of Africa’s lion population can be found in East Africa.
The term big cats is a loose definition based on classifying a selection of larger animals in the cat kingdom, including tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards and snow leopards.
All of the big cats are deemed to be either vulnerable or endangered.
In the lion kingdom the lionesses are the main hunters.
It’s believed that lions are the least productive of the big cats and can spend up to 20 hours a day asleep.
When to go
Dryer conditions enable various wildlife to congregate at waterholes making game viewing a little more easy.
If you plan on visiting the Serengeti for the wildebeest migration, you are bound to see predators descending on a horde of fleeing animals. This is a site to behold and a must for wildlife enthusiasts.
The best time to view big cats in most of the national parks in South Africa is from May until September. It’s advised to avoid the school holidays around December and January.
September is a great time as it starts to warm up from the winter chill but is still cool and dry and great for big cat spotting.
What to pack
Packing will largely depend on what type of safari you wish to take and on a big cat safari it’s advised to pack neutral coloured clothing as not to attract any unwanted attention from any of the wildlife mostly the big cats.
It’s also recommended that you read this article on what to pack on a luxury safari. Or consult a Discover Africa sales consultant for any questions or queries.
Weather and Climate
The climate of Africa is generally dry and hot; however certain areas during certain times of year can become bitterly cold during the night time and early mornings.
These are also the times of year where viewing big cats will become a reality, so bare this in mind; however wear layers which can be removed easily.One might go out on a game drive early in the morning and be very cold, however there is a great possibilty that by midday the temperature will rise drastically. Prepare yourself for varying climates and weather conditions.
Safari / Holiday Styles
The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti
Big cat sighting in the Kruger National Park
Lion watching in Zambia and Uganda
Leopard watching in Zambia, (highest concentration of leopards in Africa) and other regions of South Africa.
Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania for high cheetah populations.
Volunteer to help big cats in countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Where to stay
There really is no shortage of world class accommodation facilities to stay at on a big cat safari, contact a Discover Africa consultant today to find out what your options are.
Our Recommended Accommodation
December to March typically coincides with ‘calving season’ in the Serengeti and Ndutu Wilderness Camp is ideally located so visitors can…
Nasikia North Mobile Camp is set up each year during the migration to maximise the experience of staying in the heart of wildlife action. The…
Roving Bushtops is based in the central Serengeti which is known for its abundant wildlife and fabulous viewing throughout the year. Guests…
Oliver’s was inspired by the trailblazing camps that pioneered the early days of safari. It gives you direct access to the dense…
Frequently Asked Questions about Big cat safaris in Africa
Although wildlife viewing is good throughout the year. The warmer months from October to March are more pleasant - the scenery is greener and this is also the time most of the animals are born. However, the park is mostly about its scenery… go there.
The best time to visit Ithala Game Reserve is during the dry winter months, from May to September. During this season it is easier to spot the wildlife since the grass is eaten by herbivores. Expect to encounter and sight birds - such as… go there.
The best time to visit Tankwa Karoo National Park is from autumn through winter to early summer of April to September. However, this is a perfect place to indulge in blessed idleness. If you want to see the landscape and animals, you'll… go there.
The best time to visit Marakele National Park is during May to September. Since animals tend to seek for reliable waterholes and stay close by during the dry winter months. However, this is the best time for wildlife viewing. Marakele is a… go there.
Augrabies Falls National Park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is between April and September. When the popular three-day Klipspringer Trail is open. However, the waterfall is particularly impressive when in flood -… go there.
The best time to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park in the southern Rwanda is during the drier months of June to August or December to January. Even though June to August or December to January are categorically referred to as drier months… go there.
Reviews on our Big cat safaris in Africa
Discover Africa was the only tour operator I reached out to who wanted to have a Skype conversation to get to know more and my husband & my tastes and preferences. Megan Warrington was wonderful to work with - she crafted our activities and…
from United States of America
All details were covered, all staff and food excellent, service was perfect - would highly recommend for sure.
from United States of America
After shopping around for a couple of months, Discover Africa was the one who had the most diverse options for the price. Megan Warrington always responded quickly and was professional and patient with my endless questions. Discover Africa…
from United States of America
They organized everything for our first visit to Africa, from the airport meet & greet through to the tours, great hotels and locations.
from United States of America
From the first approach to the end, Discover Africa, has been excellent . The hotels, the service and every think has been well above our expectation. The perfect choice ! Thanks to all and specially to Megan.
My trip last August to Botswana was arranged by Discover Africa and I couldn't have chosen better. Everything was well organised and I didn't have to worry about anything. The safari tour was far beyond expectations; the accommodation was…