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keah05 Apr 11th, 2008 12:42 PM

Best viewing for Cheetahs - which Country?
Author: keah05
Date: 04/11/2008, 01:16 pm
Which is the best country/area for cheetahs? I am a long way off my next safari so I'm just dreaming really, but just in case my numbers come up where would be the best place to go for a glimpse of cheetah I appreciate nothing's guarranteed, just wondering which were the best options. Promise I won't cry if I don't see them.

Author: tockoloshe
Date: 04/11/2008, 01:59 pm
To get close to cheetahs try the Africat Foundation in Namibia - you can visit the 'welfare' cheetahs which cannot be released for some reason, though Africat do their best to rehabilitate other cheetah and leopard which are captured and/or injured on farmland. One of our best sightings was when we were leaving Africat along the gravel road (about 10 km from their property) and we stopped and got out of the car to double-check we had all the camera gear in the back - only when we got back in the vehicle did we see the wild leopard watching us from about 10m away!
See for more information. We have been a couple of times and are really impressed by the work this dedicated team do (and we sponsor one of the leopards which can't be released)
We haven't been so lucky to see them totally in the wild, only a glimpse from some distance in the Kgalaghadi NP and Etosha.

Author: tuckeg
Date: 04/11/2008, 02:37 pm
For lodges, Phinda is probably the best and you can be resonably sure you will have many opportunities to see them there.

Author: keah05
Date: 04/11/2008, 03:17 pm
Thanks to both for suggestions will definately check them out, love the idea of getting close.


Is Phinda in Bots?

Sorry about title these crosses all appeared in title box and I couldn't get rid of them

Author: keah05
Date: 04/11/2008, 03:19 pm
I seemed to have messed up everybodies title....... anybody help me put it right ?

Author: sandi
Date: 04/11/2008, 03:34 pm
Since only a few posts, you can copy your original post and the answers and enter them into a new thread with "spaces" between words, such as: Best viewing for Cheetahs - which Country?

Continuous words/characters is what causes this.

Then send to Fodor's and ask them to delete your original thread.

Author: kimburu
Date: 04/11/2008, 04:11 pm
Phinda is in South Africa.

Other places where people seem to have had consistent luck with cheetahs, and where the documentaries are often made:

The Mara Triangle and the area north and east of there in the Masaai Mara.

Ndutu and the Southern Serengeti (do a search for Bill H + cheetahs)

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - best accessed through South Africa.

Lebala in Kwando, Botswana

I'm sure there are more.

tuckeg Apr 11th, 2008 12:52 PM

Phinda is in South Africa:

a CCAfrica property.

Patty Apr 11th, 2008 01:16 PM

Author: Bill_H
Date: 04/11/2008, 04:39 pm

Which is the best country/area for cheetahs?

We've had great luck with cheetahs in the south Serengeti area around Ndutu the past three years, go between mid-January and mid-March to catch the wildebeest migration and see a lot of cats. Also a lot cheaper than the fancy places in SA, should be around $400/night for two people with a private jeep (maybe a bit more next year).

Just to put numbers on it, in 2007 we saw 20 cheetahs and 100 lions, in 2008 27 cheetahs and 74 lions (plus leopards, honey badgers, elephants etc). On the 2008 trip we had 16 encounters with 8 different groups of cheetahs.

Cheetahs leaping on the roof of our jeep, cheetahs making gazelle and wildebeest kills, cheetahs with cute cubs, cheetahs fighting honey badgers etc etc. Here are some links of pics from those trips:

I appreciate nothing's guarranteed, just wondering which were the best options

A guy on Fodors last year was there the same time as us and complained that he didn't see cheetahs ... he was paying about 5x as much as us but staying at the wrong lodges, so location is important. And one of the travel agents on Fodors said she had seen one cheetah in 12 years in Tanzania ... so you need to go with the right company and you should be OK.


keah05 Apr 11th, 2008 01:56 PM


I thought I had seen all your photo's but totally missed the ones of the honey badger they were incredible what a fantastic stroke of luck and what beautiful, awesome shots.
Ndutu will definately be high on my agenda.
Last year I saw 5 cheetah and I was really chuffed at that as we went in June. I will certainly be looking at the earlier time of mid Jan- mid March.
I am going to refresh myself on your trip reports.
Thanks for reminding me.

PredatorBiologist Apr 11th, 2008 02:09 PM

It would be hard to imagine that there is a better place than Ndutu in that mid-January to mid-March period for a variety of individual cheetah and the opportunity to see hunts and feeding.

atravelynn Apr 11th, 2008 02:49 PM

I agree with the previous suggestions of Phinda, which is a fenced reserve in South Africa not far from Durban; The Serengeti, and if you choose Ndutu you'd want to go late Dec to mid-March; the Mara triangle, the only place I've seen cubs; or Okonjima, the fenced sanctuary in Namibia where Africat is housed.

If you found yourself in Johannesburg, you could do a day trip to DeWildt, a cheetah park. It is not open to the public each day of the week, so you'd have to plan ahead.

At Spier Winery near Cape Town, there are domesticated cheetahs that you can pet.

Cheetahs are one of my favorite animals too!

An itinerary of these places would be quite a trip and hopefully filled with cheetahs.

Hope your #s are due.

pippa13 Apr 11th, 2008 03:25 PM

which operator did you chose and which lodges did you stay?
would very much appreciate your advise on that because 400$pd for 2 incl. car is a bargain!
thx in advance!

Patty Apr 11th, 2008 04:10 PM

That wasn't my trip. I copied and posted Bill's response from another thread here (due to the title formatting of the other thread). I believe Bill used Roy Safaris for all of his trips and I think he actually means $400pppd not $400pd (Bill please correct if I'm wrong).

HariS Apr 11th, 2008 06:21 PM

Having seen Bill and Carolyn's pictures from different trips to East Africa, i am pretty certain nowhere in Southern Africa can match those numbers, but, all the reports of poor guiding there is pretty concerning. Not just re the quality of the sighting, but, in terms of the long term safety of the species.

atravelynn Apr 11th, 2008 06:26 PM

I wondered how long it would take the cheetah loving Hari to respond. The longterm safety thing concerns me too.

HariS Apr 11th, 2008 06:42 PM


HariS Apr 11th, 2008 06:45 PM

Kimburu mentions Lebala- i guess that applies to the whole area in general right from Lagoon,Lebala,Selinda/Zib,Duma Tau/Savuti. They can be anywhere on a given day.

Bill_H Apr 12th, 2008 07:32 AM

<b>400$pd for 2 incl. car is a bargain!</b>

Sorry, the way I worded it was misleading, it's roughly $400/night per person or $800/night for 2, with the airport xfers and first night in/near Arusha not counted as a 'safari night'.

The variables are the park fees, which range from $35 at Manyara (I think) to $100/day for two at Ndutu and Serengeti to $300/day to descend to Ngorongoro crater floor.

Lodges we used had rack rates posted on the web for two people with all meals from $325 at Ndutu to $550 at Serenas. I think Sopa is about mid-way between these (the only Sopa we use is at Ngorongoro). Outfitter negotiates something better than the rack rate, of course.

So the actual cost will vary depending on which lodges you use and which parks you visit, plus whatever your outfitter charges.


Bill_H Apr 12th, 2008 07:50 AM

Hari - <b>all the reports of poor guiding there is pretty concerning. Not just re the quality of the sighting, but, in terms of the long term safety of the species.</b>

Hari, I agree that the incidents seen this past year were disturbing, but one reason they were disturbing is because they are rare and definitely not the norm.

Regarding your comment &quot;in terms of the long term safety of the species&quot; I would just point out that the population of cheetahs has been stable in this ecosystem since the first census by Schaller in the 1960's, at around 400-600 cheetahs. It seems it can't get much higher because of competition from lions and hyenas (which kill most of the cubs) and the seasonal variations in the number of gazelles, most of which migrate. But the number of cheetahs is pretty much unchanged for the past 40 years and they are not threatened by tourism thus far.

Finally, I know the incidents and reports of overcrowding stand out, but I checked my notes for this most recent trip to refresh my memory about the crowds.

We had 16 cheetah 'encounters' and at most of them we were either alone or had one other jeep sharing it (10 of 16). The best photos of the mom+3 small cubs was when we found them and had them for 3 hours alone (including the ratel fight), the best shots of the mom+6 cubs was when we found them with one other jeep we had agreed to work with.

So the first sighting (mom+6) was a mess with 18 jeeps and bad behavior from 8 jeeps that blocked a mom from hunting, but people were outraged and reported this to the Rangers. The second sighting of this same group the next AM had 12 jeeps but the Cheetah Watch volunteer was there talking to drivers and everyone was on good behavior.

After these two encounters (we REALLY wanted to see the mom+6 as this is rare or would not have even stopped) we decided not to join any more big gatherings around cheetahs and went off on our own, finding the mom+3 tiny cubs (the first people to find them as they were just out of the nest). So it pays to do-it-yourself.

So we had 7 cheetah encounters with zero other jeeps present (ie we found the cheetahs ourselves, did our thing and left before another jeep even saw us), 3 encounters with one other jeep there, 4 encounters with 2-4 jeeps. In none of these 14 encounters did the drivers harass the cheetahs.

One last thing, a Fodor friend sent me a DVD of two trips he made to South Africa, staying at several fancy places. Some of the guiding there was not exactly exemplary either ... in the movie clip you can see guests whistling and banging on the door of the jeep to get lions to look up. In others leopards are surrounded by vehicles at close range, and a monitor lizard was grabbed up by the tail and head and brought to the jeep so the guests could touch it.

Maybe this is the norm in SA but it would be considered poor guiding in East Africa. Some of the shills on Fodors who appear to work in the SA tourist industry would have you believe all the EA guides are low quality but I don't think that's accurate or fair.


sniktawk Apr 12th, 2008 08:21 AM

If you want to see interference in Cheetah hunts go to the Mara.
Things are bad everywhere but not particularly in SA.
I have never seen this sort of behaviour in Kwando where I have seen 5 cheetah kills.

tuckeg Apr 12th, 2008 08:31 AM


Since I and others mentioned Phinda in this thread as a lodge in South Africa where cheetah viewing is the norm, I would like to be very clear about your last message. Did the DVD you mentioned showing bad behavior at South African lodges show any at Phinda? I would be very, very suprised if it did. I've spent several months there over a three year period including a week or so at Inkwazi, their ranger training center. During that time, I have never seen anything like what you describe and I know that any CCAfrica ranger (in Southern or East Africa) who did that would be severely dealt with.

You complain that SA &quot;shills&quot; are unfair because they paint EA rangers with a broad brush. Aren't you doing the same thing?


Bill_H Apr 12th, 2008 09:06 AM

<b>Did the DVD you mentioned showing bad behavior at South African lodges show any at Phinda?</b>

No, Phinda was not one of the lodges on the DVD. But some of the others were ones whose names I see bandied about on Fodors regularly.

<b>You complain that SA &quot;shills&quot; are unfair because they paint EA rangers with a broad brush. Aren't you doing the same thing?</b>

The shill post I have in mind stated that 99% of the EA guides were doing something bad (I forget what). This is from one of the three SA lodge managers who have posted on Fodors complaining about the low quality of their guests.

I think my brush is a bit less broad. My point is that poor guiding is not the norm in EA and that it occurs in SA too. Would you disagree with that?

Are you in the travel business? In SA? I'm not in the business and it would be fine with me if fewer people went to my favored areas when I'm there, but I do think people coming to the forums for information should get accurate, unbiased information.


DonTopaz Apr 12th, 2008 09:40 AM

<b>I wondered how long it would take the cheetah loving Hari to respond.</b>

I had fun parsing that comment a couple of different ways.

atravelynn Apr 12th, 2008 10:36 AM

Rizzuto, Oops, you're right, that is a good one. Let's hope Hari sees the humor in that <b>unintended</b> double entendre.

The one cheetah kill I saw was in the Mara and while lots of vehicles came to watch after the fact, there was no obstruction during the hunt. But it was a quick ordeal that did not take long. The cheetah even chose our vehicle's shade to pull the carcass to and rest. There was no other cover anywhere nearby. That's when some other vehicles were getting annoyed because our vehicle was ruining their photos. We moved away and the cheetah followed us.

The only mother and young cubs I've seen was way north in the Mara and when we were there, she was not being harassed by other vehicles. In fact, the 3-4 vehicles spent about 20 minutes and left. We spent much of the day with her but our guide (Felix from Origins) insisted we back off to about 100 meters for the majority of the time, with occasional excursions up next to them. We were happy with the viewing. We were also concerned at the scarcity of game in that general region. We figured she was there on purpose but were not sure if it was to avoid other predators who would not be hanging around an area with little prey or if it was to avoid the busier vehicle routes. Maybe a bit of both.

At Phinda I never saw a single questionable act by anyone or any vehicle with cheetahs or any other animal during my weeklong stay. In the Getty region of Phinda, we could not even go off road to see a cheetah that had been spotted. We also did not go as close to the cheetahs there as I have elsewhere. Close enough, but a more respectable distance.

atravelynn Apr 12th, 2008 10:37 AM


To put some reality into those dreams, you can check prices on the e-gnu site to get a ballpark figure of accommodations in some of these places that have been mentioned.

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