Best wildlife viewing in S. Africa or E. Africa?

Old Jul 11th, 2005, 08:30 PM
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Best wildlife viewing in S. Africa or E. Africa?

Where in Africa is the best for the greatest variety of wildlife?---especially the cat family.
I will only make one African trip and don't want to miss seeing the cats!
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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Oh boy, I wonder if there is any serious answer to your question…

Here are my own experiences, based on trips to Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and SA – obviously only the Southern part of the answer.

Chances to see lions are extremely high in central Kruger Park – in particular during the dry season. But you can also easily run into them in other parts of that park as well as Umfolozi-Hluhluwe.
Hwange (ZIM) and Kalahari Gemsbok (or whatever this park is called nowadays) have lots of lions too, but it’s often difficult to come close.

To spot leopards OTOH is a matter of pure coincident, as every experienced ranger will confirm. I know an owner of a guest farm in Namibia, who can easily show you the fresh track of “his” leopard every morning, but nevertheless has not seen the animal itself even once during the last 10 years. Another guest farmer in SA has several leopards on his land and almost lost one of his dogs to them. But personally he also did not encounter a leopard more than twice in his life so far.
In essence leopards live in almost any remote and rocky area of southern Africa, but almost never can be spotted in the wild. If you really want to go for a leopard, Kruger again is probably your best choice – besides of Nyika in northern Malawi, which is famous for large and very dark leopards.

Cheetahs are rare too and probably most easy to spot in EA. I have not seen one myself so far, although they are reported to be seen in several parks in Southern Africa too.

Smaller cats are even more a mater of pure coincidence.

Summary for Southern Africa: One week in Kruger is probably your best choice. You will almost definitely see lions and you have at least some chances to see other cats.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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Just returned from Serengeti and saw many lions very close to our transport, two leopards - one in a tree, one on the ground and two cheetah - one very close. Somebody on the trip thought it was the best place to see animals, and he had been all over the continent.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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Marcus and brian.
Thanks so much for the information. I am just beginning my Africa research and hope to make the trip spring or summer of 2006.
Anyone else have an opinion?
Another question....what is the weather usually like in those regions during that time?
Thanks for taking your time to reply.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 04:44 PM
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My immediate answer having just returned from seeing 3 cheetah, 9 leopards, and a bunch of lions would be - Sabi Sands near Kruger in South Africa. Actually, we saw the lions in Botswana, but they had just seen one the night before we got there in Sabi Sands and had we stayed one more day, we probably would have seen one. We just told a friend the other night that if he was only going to go for a week, he should go to Sabi Sands. In fact, I would highly recommend the camp we stayed in - Elephant Plains. It was reasonably priced (don't ask me how much, it was all part of a package and I don't know the breakdown) and very comfortable. Many of the people there were back for their 2nd or 3rd time. That said alot to me.
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Old Jul 13th, 2005, 07:39 PM
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I can only speak about South Africa and Botswana. Lions were seen almost every day in the Sabi Sand (Singita, Londolozi) and in Botswana (Little Vumbura, Chitabe and Kwetsnai). Londolozi and Leopard Hills were both excellent for leopard, with daily sightings. We saw several cheetah in the Sabi Sand, but only two at Chitabe. As a previous post mentioned, caracal and the smaller cats are chance sightings. There was quite an extensive posting of cat sighting on this board a few weeks ago. You might try to find it using the really was an exhaustive report and very interesting. Have fun with your planning!
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Old Jul 14th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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I can only speak for Botswana. I think at places in the Moremi seeing lions and (to a lesser extend) leopards are almost assured, esp if you stay 3 days. We saw them on every single game drive. Cheetahs I think are more rare.

All that said, I think it's best to just keep an open mind and look forward to all the animals. Elephants, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and the antelops are all fun and beautiful to see. Some of my favorite sightings involve "common animals", eg., a huge fight between 2 warthogs, or a beautiful herd of red lechwes in the water. Even the birds are beautiful and I've never had any interest in birds. If you have you heart set on seeing something that's much more of a chance sighting like cheetahs or wild dogs, you could well be disappointed.
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Old Jul 14th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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Thanks so much for everyone's help.
We do want to see all varieties of animals, just have a special interest in felines, I guess.
You have all given me things to investigate and think about. Really looking forward to the process.
Grateful for any suggestions for a great trip.
Thanks again.
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Old Jul 14th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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I have not been to any area of Kenya recently (20 odd years) but the Mara (2004) so can only comment on viewing there. The Mara, particularly the area by Governor's Camp, where the Big Cat Diary documentaries are filmed, is excellent for cats. I don't think tourists could leave without seeing lions if they TRIED TO! Cheetahs are also very prevalent. Leopards are certainly in the area in reasonable numbers but it's more hit and miss as to whether one sees them. You might be able to optimise chances by hiring a private vehicle and guide and ensuring your guide knows your preferences.
My best viewing experiences for cats have been in Botswana. Mombo has provided incredible sightings of leopards - close up and personal, extended, daytime sightings. We've also spent hours with cheetahs and lions here too. We also had good lion sightings at Tubu Tree. Savuti was excellent for cheetahs and wild dogs. But there are never any guarantees in this stuff.
I have heard that some of the top-end luxury camps in South Africa also offer excellent opportunity to see leopard and lion, though as cheetah isn't one of the big five it's not mentioned as often, so I don't know on that front.
If you choose the right time to go and the right camps and guides you should have great viewing in either East or Southern Africa.
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