Best place to see leopards?


Feb 12th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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Best place to see leopards?

After 10 days in Tanzania, we're already strategizing about future Africa trips. During that time we saw 2 leopards, well, mostly we saw their tails hanging out of trees. Where have people had the best luck with leopard encounters?
Toshi is offline  
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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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mombo camp botswana
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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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Mombo. We saw several leopards and followed some for hours while they ate, hunted, or interacted w/other predators.

Here's a link to our leopard video from Mombo (Click "k" after you get to the link).

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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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One more Mombo. But I've never been to Mala Mala.
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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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This last September 2005: Zambia- saw no leopards, Botswana- saw one leopard one time, Mala Mala- saw seven different leopards, at least one on each game drive. (Over 4 nights there) I have just a few photos of them on -
We probably took 400 leopard photos all total. And a short video of the leopard eating in the tree. He, the Manyelethi male, was only about10 yards from us on a very low tree branch. Outstanding it was!!
regards - tom
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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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Mombo is also one of the most expensive destinations in Africa. A much more affordable destination would be any of the lodges in the Sabi Sands, which offers a range of prices, or even Kruger National Park.

I also saw several leopard in Samburu NP in northern Kenya.

South Luangwa NP in Zambia has a reputation as a prime leopard-spotting park, but I was unsuccessful.
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Feb 12th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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My top five:

- Mala Mala/Londolozi (South Africa);
- Mombo(Botswana);
- Tena tena (Zambia);
- Moremi national park (Khwai river section) (Botswana);
- Seronera valley (Tanzania).



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Feb 12th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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South Luangwa (Zambia), Sabi Sand (South Africa) and Timbavati (South Africa)(like the Sabi Sand Timbavati is a private reserve with an open border to Kruger National Park, but like the Sabi Sand this border is only open to the wildlife and not guests) and South Luangwa would be a great alternative to spending $2,400 per night at Mombo.

You would be able to stay at a 5 star lodge like Leopard Hills for about $1,000 per night less between May - August.

Or, you could stay at a place like Kings Camp in Timbavati. For example, according to their August 2005 report, there were 72 separate leopard spottings by Kings Camp guides and guests in August 2005 alone. This represents about 2.5 leopard sightings per day. Lions also enjoyed a whopping 98 different sightings, while there were 15 rhino sightings, 3 wild dog sightings and 7 cheetah sightings.

From May to September, Kings Camp is only R2,200 per person per night sharing, or about $360 per person per night sharing. While not as over the top on luxury as Leopard Hills, Kings Camp is still more luxurious than most East African lodges.

Here is that August 2005 report and link to the Kings Camp website:

Personally, I have had my best leopard sightings to date in the Sabi Sand at Singita (priced similar to Mombo at around $2,300 per night for a couple), Simbambili in the Sabi Sand (about $1,300 per night) and in South Luangwa.

My single most fantastic leopard sighting occurred while staying at this excellent lodge:

The owner of Luangwa River Lodge and I were out by ourselves on an evening game drive, and although we were following a leopard who seemed to be hunting, we saw no prey in sight. So, there we were, just enjoying our Mosi Beer and chatting, only paying half attention to the leopard, when all of a sudden we heard a shrilling cry from a Puku. Just like that, in what seemed to be a single second, the leopard had killed the puku. Of course, the leopard now had our attention!

The leopard was then dragging the puku in one direction, but then all of a sudden the leopard reversed its course and took this puku and it dashed up a towering nearby tree. It seemed like the leopard went up 30 feet high into the tree, but even if it was only 20 feet, it was still an awesome display that I will not soon forget.

Within ten seconds from darting up the tree, a couple hyenas were onsite, quickly followed by three more hyenas. Fortunately, for the leopard, the tree was high enough that the hyenas quickly gave up and left. However, the leopard stayed put and was there even until the next morning. I was able to get a photo the next morning of the leopard.

If you follow this link to my photogallery and look at the last photo of the first row and the first photo of the second row, you will see the actual magnificent leopard who made this kill and then had the strength to dart 30 feet up a tree within a couple seconds:

Luangwa River Lodge is an excellent value at only $900 per night in high season.

Also, I did enjoy multiple leopard sightings daily while at Puku Ridge in South Luangwa. Here is a link to Puku Ridge's website, and Puku Ridge at $880 per night in high season, is also an excellent bargain compared to similar places in Botswana and South Africa, other than Kings Camp, which is a fantastic value.

Good luck.
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Feb 12th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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I second Rocco's destinations, Sabi Sands & SLV have got to be the finest areas to see leopard.
I am not a fan of nominating a partcicular lodge because the game moves etc making no one particular lodge more or less productive for leopards.

Perhaps it is true that really anywhere in Africa is arguably choice territory for leopard, I think one has to narrow down the factors that optimise the frequency of sightings.
Such as:
The ability to drive at night.
The ability to drive off the road.
The ability to track sppor on foot.
The number of vehicles in the area.
radio contact between vehicles.

The latter two points enhance the chances.
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Feb 12th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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Jao Camp.
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Feb 12th, 2006, 07:51 PM
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My best leopard viewing is in the Sabi sands.......i have been to Mala Mala and lion sands on two different trips. Great leopard viewing at both. IMO, any of the reserves in the SSGR should be ideal leopard viewing.

The only other place, where i hv had good viewing is at Mombo in 2004.

As Johan mentioned, Seronera valley, serengeti (but you won't have long sightings). I have had one good sighting at Governor's camp, Mara.

Other times, i've had fleeting glimpses at Kwara and Duba Plains......

Yes, definitely go to any of the Sabi Sands reserves.....for guaranteed viewing

I hv no experiences with Zambia, but from what i read......highly recommended
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Feb 12th, 2006, 08:52 PM
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Mombo is extraordinary for leopards--that is why so many wildlife films are made there. I've seen a scazillion leopards, but Mombo is the only place I've seen young cubs, and we had extended leopard and cub viewing every day.
Mala Mala also delivered significant leopard action. Chitabe in Botswana was good too, with several leopards per day sometime, though we didn't get as close as at the former two.

In all of the above, many of the sightings were during the day, which makes for good photography.

Zambia is excellent for leopards, and I have several times seen leopards hunting here. Both the lower Zam camps and South Luangwa have major populations. Although I've seen some leopards during the late afternoon or around dusk, most of the leopard viewing here seems more concentrated on night drives. But South Luangwa may be the least expensive place per leopard sighting: I've sometimes seen 3 leopards in one evening, and sometimes 3 during a $25 gamedrive at Flatdogs and Wildlife camp! Since these camps only cost $30 pppn, this comes to a whopping $33 per leopard/day sighting!

If you stay in South Luangwa any amount of time, and do night drives, the probability of seeing a leopard is really high, and often the action around the sighting is very exciting: leopards & lions, leopards and hyenas, leopards hunting...Sorry a few people didn't have luck with these cats, I guess you'll just have to visit again...maybe my name brings me good luck with the big felines?

leopard action (
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Feb 13th, 2006, 02:07 AM
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I'm planning my first trip to Kruger from end of Sep - early Oct. I am looking at staying at Londolozi Tree Camp along with Kings Camp and Jock Safari Lodge. Has anyone stayed at either of these lodges? Any recommendations would be great.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 02:18 AM
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Mombo here too but, as others, haven't been to Mala Mala/Londolozi so can't compare.

We first went to Mombo in 2001 and spent hours and hours with a number of individual leopards. When we went back in 2004 we were able to spend time with others, though not quite as much time as previously. It's wonderful to see them pootling about during the day as they do here.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 02:21 AM
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PS The Jouberts were based at Mombo when we last were there, they had been there for almost a year and were filming a documentary on leopards at the time... gotta be a good reason they chose Mombo, no?
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Feb 13th, 2006, 02:40 AM
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I have not YET stayed at Kings Camp, but I am so intrigued by it after reading their reports and researching Timbavati further, that I will be adding it to my November/December educational/familiarization visit.

I was so impressed with what I have read on Kings Camp website, that I am even shaving a night off of Kwando and a night off of Leopard Hills, each of which are more expensive than Kings Camp and each very highly regarded.

Have you also considered Singita in place of Londolozi Tree? For high season, they should be the same price and I do think that Singita may offer a more exclusive experience.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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In order of quantity and quality of Leopard sightings

Mala Mala
Kings Pool
Kwando Lagoon
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Feb 13th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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I should have added most leopards on one game drive

7 - Mala Mala

Though I understand an unofficial record to be eight Leopards before a single Impala was seen.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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The official leopard sightings of individual leopards on one afternoon/evening game drive was 9. This was at Simbambili.
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Feb 13th, 2006, 08:18 AM
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Sabi Sands was a phenomenal place to see leopards. We saw a total of 8 in the three days we were there. Many of the camps there can be a bit pricey, but we stayed at Elephant Plains which was a bit more moderate (don't know the exact cost since it was all part of a package). It was a very nice place to stay and the game viewing was fabulous.
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