The best places to see leopards

By Ashworth Africa, February 15, 2019

Leopards are by far the most elusive member of the so-called Big Five. Shy and solitary, these big cats will not let you see them unless they want you to. So where is best to ‘spot’ one? Although it’s all down to luck, there are a handful of safari destinations with more chance of leopard sightings than others. Here are our top suggestions.

Leopard
A leopard in Kruger National Park. Credit: Royal Malewane.

Where to see leopards in Africa

Sabi Sands, South Africa

Easily the best place on the whole African continent for seeing leopards is South Africa’s Sabi Sands Private Reserve, on the border of Kruger National Park. Here the leopards have become so used to safari vehicles that they’re seen regularly and make little attempt to hide themselves. The Sands is known as a place where you’re almost guaranteed to see the full Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and leopards) and much more within 24 hours – a great first safari destination.

Leopard
Leopards are one the most photogenic animals you’ll see on safari.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

The delta is an amazing place for wildlife viewing and there’s a good chance of seeing leopards here, too. Nowhere is quite like the Sands for ease of leopard sightings, but this is definitely a good second choice and considerably wilder. There are lots of leopards living around Moremi Game Reserve in the delta and due to the healthy tourism industry, they are habituated to vehicles and thus easier to approach.

Leopard
Leopards are easiest to spot in places they’ve become accustomed to vehicles.

South Luangwa, Zambia

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is another of the best places in Africa to see leopards. The park reportedly has the highest concentration of these cats on the continent – partly because there’s so much forest cover. Your best chance to see leopards will likely be in the dry season when they can be found around permanent water sources.

Leopard
Leopards are often found resting in trees.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara are known for their big cats, especially lions and cheetahs. But there are also plenty of leopard sighting to be enjoyed here too, usually in the more vegetated areas of the Mara, particularly along the river banks. As an area used to lots of tourism, animals such as leopards are well habituated and relaxed around safari vehicles.

Leopard
A leopard in the Masai Mara. Credit: Hidde Rensink, Unsplash.

Fun facts about leopards

  • Leopards live all over sub-Saharan Africa, in the Middle East, central Asia, India, Sri Lanka and China.
  • African black leopards – also known as black panthers – are the same species, but a melanistic variation.
  • They are solitary and mark their territory with scratches on trees and urine scenting. Cubs will stay with their mothers for two years, during which time they will learn to hunt for themselves.
  • They usually rest in trees, where they’ll also drag their kills, keeping their meal out of reach of lions, hyenas and wild dogs.
  • Leopards stalk their prey, getting close enough to pounce without first being seen. They’ll typically go for small antelopes such as impalas, as well as monkeys, fish, rock hyraxes (dassies), reptiles and many other animals, depending on their habitat.

Related Itineraries

From US$ 8950 pp
Migration
The Great Migration
7 days/6 nights
Kenya, Tanzania

Enjoy a front-row seat to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the annual...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4000 pp
Tanzania Bush and Beach
8 days/7 nights
Tanzania

Safari in unspoilt Selous Game Reserve and incredible diving on Pemba Island...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Western Tanzania
8 days/ 7 nights
Tanzania

Take the road less travelled in remote Western Tanzania, one of East...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4500 pp
Kenya Romance
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Safari in unspoilt Meru, then indulge in a tropical Kenya Coast...

View Itinerary
From US$ 3000 pp
Kenya Family Safari
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Experience the safari of a lifetime in the wild heart of Africa...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Northern Mozambique
8 days/ 7 nights
Mozambique

Escape to untouched tropical waters and some of the world's best diving...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Namibia
11 days/ 10 nights
Namibia

Experience the highlights of one least populated countries on Earth. in comfort...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Best of Zimbabwe
9 days/8 nights
Zimbabwe

From the natural wonder of Victoria Falls to the game-rich wilderness of...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Kenya
8 days/ 7 nights
Kenya

Big 5 safari through classic safari territory and following Great Wildebeest Migration...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
Best of Tanzania
9 days/ 8 nights
Tanzania

Tanzania's Northern Safari Circuit offers thrilling Big 5 and Great Migration viewing. ...

View Itinerary
From US$ 6000 pp
East Africa Family Bush & Beach
9 days/8 nights
Kenya, Tanzania

Make lasting memories with a thrilling Kenyan safari and Zanzibar island escape...

View Itinerary
From US$ 4000 pp
Whales, wine & wilderness
11 days/ 10 nights
South Africa

Leopards are by far the most elusive member of the so-called Big Five. Shy and solitary,...

View Itinerary
From US$ 2500 pp pp
South Africa Family Adventure
9 days/ 8 nights
South Africa

Leopards are by far the most elusive member of the so-called Big Five. Shy and solitary,...

View Itinerary
From US$ 5000 pp
Rwanda Primate Safari
7 days/ 6 nights
Rwanda

Encounter endangered mountain gorilla, chimps and 12 other primate species in Rwanda’s...

View Itinerary

Create your own itinerary

Bring your wildest dreams to life – contact Ashworth Africa to start creating your bespoke safari vacation.

Enquire now