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MarcM Mar 14th, 2004 11:54 PM

Leopard Hills
Hi there
We're looking at Leopard Hills Lodge for our honeymoon in September. Does the lodge share the viewing or gaming rights with other lodges in the area ? Any advice on this or anything on Leopard Hills Lodge is greatly appreciated.
Regards, Marc & Rossana

safarinut Mar 15th, 2004 05:54 AM


Leopard Hills is situated in the Western sector of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.They share traversing rights with Ulusaba,Idube,Exeter,Dulini,Savanna and Inyati.The traversing area totals 15 000 hectares.

Leopard Hills is a beautiful Lodge but I find it expensive at 5 400 rand pp/night.

You may want to look at Ulusaba who was voted the best honeymoon destination worlwide in 2002 by the price range of 10 800 a night you have a choice of the Elephant rooms at Safari Lodge for 10 000 rand a night or if you choose Rock Lodge the Rock Cliff rooms at 9 500 rand a night.

MarcM Mar 15th, 2004 05:25 PM

Thanks Safarinut for your quick reply.
So I guess it's possible that we will be sharing that elusive Leopard sighting with possibly dozens of other vehicles?
I thought (perhaps somewhat naively) that when you spend large amounts of money on these private game parks you
would have some exclusivity to the game
We really want to go to L.Hills as I believe it gives us a better chance of spotting Leopard.
I do agree with you that It's expensive
however we've managed to get 15% off the price of 4200R p.p.X 5 nights(late Aug).
Marc & Rossana

safarinut Mar 15th, 2004 06:31 PM


Don't worry,you do have a degree of exclusivity when it comes to game viewing as these Lodges strictly number the amount of vehicles to any given sighting.

They generally allow a maximum of two vehicles per any given sighting,an exception for example would be a herd of buffalow where they may allow more vehicles.Really don't worry you won't feel that you are in a National Park with hundreds of people gathering around a sighting!

That is a great price for Leopard Hills!Well done with your quote and I agree for that price worth the booking.

''We really want to go to L.Hills as I believe it gives us a better chance of spotting Leopard''

If you are a leopard fanatic the Sabi Sands Game Reserve will serve you well as this reserve provides the best leopard viewing in Africa.

In the western sector of this Game Reserve there are two dominant males seen on a regular basis,Wally and the Othawa male.

Three females needs to be mentioned as you will surely see them.

1]Makwela,a legendary female who has raised many a litter.She currently has a very young litter of three still hiding in a rocky outcrop.

2]Shangwa,she also has three cubs at present who are three months old.

3]Pinknose -she recently lost her litter to other predators.

The very best leopard viewing on the planet is however at a neighbouring Game Reserve called Mala Mala.
There were an average of 3.7 leopard sightings daily in 2003.
There were 31 occasions when in excess of 8 leopard were viewed in a single day during 2003.
There were only 7 days in 2002 when leopard were not seen on MalaMala.
The most number of leopard seen in a single day during 2002, numbered 11 cats in 7 sightings.
There were only 3 days during 2001 when leopard were not seen on MalaMala.
On the 15th of February 2001, 12 leopards were seen in 8 different sightings.
During the year 2000, Leopard were seen on all but 20 days.
Leopard were seen on 354 days in 1999.
On the 24th of May 1999, 11 different Leopard were sighted in 10 sightings.

Sorry for all the statistics,just want to prove my point.

Marc you have made a great choice in Leopard Hills and will have a super safari here.

If you have any other specific questions regarding your safari feel free to ask.

girlpolo33 Mar 15th, 2004 06:54 PM

Marc, after staying at Leopard Hills in 2002, I can offer a few impressions. We did enjoy leopard sightings almost every day. That was fantastic. However, the first hour of every game drive must be spent on a small parcel of land belonging to Leopard Hills. After that, the ranger can travel on any of the shared properties. In my opinion, a two-night stay at Leopard Hills would be sufficient. Most safari travellers stay at more than one reserve. Everything at the new reserve is viewing, accomodation, cuisine, guides, guests. If possible, you may want to consider another property, as five nights in one place seems like a lot. I'm not sure if you are from the USA, as I am. We tend to go on vacation and stay in one hotel. Safari is a much different experience. Londolozi Tree is wonderful and has great leopard sightings, as well. Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip!

safarinut Mar 15th, 2004 06:55 PM

The Sabi Sands Routine:

When staying in Sabi Sands the routine is a well designed to ensure visitors get the best wildlife experience. A pre-dawn wake up call is followed by coffee and rusks and then its out for a three hour game drive. A gentle mid-morning bush walk follows breakfast. Visitors can then relax until lunch. Afternoon tea leads into the afternoon game drive, which in turn becomes a night drive after a sundowner stop. The rangers and trackers find animals by following their spoor, listening for alarm calls, watching for eagles, vultures or other birds that might mark a kill and using their intimate knowledge of the area as well as by communicating with other vehicles by radio. All the rangers and trackers are well trained and have an enormous fund of information regarding the local wildlife.

Leopards of Sabi Sands:

The resident male leopard in my study area is Wallys, named the farm Wallingford where he was first seen. He has been the dominant male for several years now and there are around five females resident in his territory. Of these three are extremely relaxed with vehicles, being Makwela, Pinknose (aka Day One) and Shangwa. Currently Makwela has three cubs and Pinknose has two cubs. At times other itinerant leopards also cross into the area and may interact with the residents. Individual leopards can be identified by means of their spot patterns. Just above the whisker line are a number of spots on either side of the face. These few spots form a unique pattern which can be used to identify each cat. The rangers and trackers assign names to resident leopards when they attain independence.

The Sabi Sands lodges provide the world's best leopard viewing. Many parts of Africa and Asia describe the leopard as "elusive". In Sabi Sands hardly a day goes by without leopards being seen. I have seen leopards on six out of six game drives and in some cases was able to watch six different leopards in a single game drive!

Lions of Sabi Sands:

The area has three lion prides, Sand River, Othawa and Castleton prides. In addition there are two 10 year old dominant male lions which roam over the whole area and mate with females from each of these prides. The males resident in the prides are still young at four years or so. In time they may be ousted by the dominant males, when they feel they are strong enough to be a threat to their dominance.

Cheetah of Sabi Sands:

Cheetah do occur in the area. However, due mainly to the large number of other predators, they are mostly nomadic, keeping on the move in order to avoid confrontations with the resident lions, hyaenas and

More info for you by Phil Perry,a wildlife photographer, who is currently busy with a project in the western sector of the Sabi Sands.

safarinut Mar 15th, 2004 07:08 PM

I agree with Girlpolo that five nights at one Reserve is too much and to split your stay between two lodges.

SAhoneymoon Mar 16th, 2004 08:56 AM

Five nights would be a long time .. we stayed a Leopard Hills for two nights and had a great time.

In terms of animals, we saw:
lion cubs
several leopards
a huge (20 foot at least) python
many birds
and lots of other critters ....

the rooms were great the food was excellent and I would return. I would split time between two lodges if I were going for more than two nights.

MarcM Mar 16th, 2004 07:34 PM

Thanks once again everyone for your input and advice.
Safarinut,The choice of seeing Leopard actually came down between 2 Lodges, L.Hills and Mala Mala.The coin was tossed and L.Hills won!
Ten years ago I travelled around Africa for 6 months on a Exodus O'Land Expedition (not one Leopard sited in all that time!)where we stayed in Game Parks no longer than 2/3 days. So there were times when I just wanted to stay put and "saviour the moment a bit longer", hence our decision to stay 5 nights.Also, the longer one stays in one place the more(hopefully)chance of experencing a kill, and of course the fact that we are on our honeymoon!
Marc & Rossana

girlpolo33 Mar 17th, 2004 04:51 PM

Marc, you will not be disappointed with your leopard sightings at L.H. In 2002 we spent a lot of time with the local female leopard and her 3 cubs. It was fantastic stuff. If you have the opportunity, you might want to request the house/chalet closest to the lodge. It has a spectacular overlook adjacent to the water hole. Just an idea. Enjoy!

MarcM Mar 17th, 2004 05:37 PM

Thanks very much Girlpolo for your advice, we shall email the Lodge and put in a request, nothing ventured....
BTW. You asked earlier what Nationality
we are. We come from "the land Downunder"!!
Marc & Rossana

safarinut Mar 17th, 2004 05:59 PM


In May 2002 I spent a week at Ulusaba and also had magnificent leopard sightings.The female leopard and her cubs you mention must have been Makwela.

I stayed at Safari Lodge in a river suite.One night after returning to our room I deciced to have a relaxing bath.
While lying in the bath I thought it would be a good idea to open the sliding doors to maybe hear a lion roar,hyena cry...anything !

Well I got more than I bargained for when Makwela and her three cubs walked right by me on our wooden deck!
They were no more than 2 meters from where I was lying in the bath but up to today it is still a guess who had the biggest fright! With my loud cries and displacing all the water outside the bath, she jumped off the deck into the dry riverbed followed closely by her cubs.I have never opened a sliding door,at night,at any Game Lodge since that night.

Anyway..she has successfully raised that litter of three to independence and they have established their own territories.

At present she has a new litter of three less than 1 month old hiding in a rocky outcrop.I wonder if this outcrop could be LH or maybe Ulusaba Rock Lodge?

girlpolo33 Mar 17th, 2004 07:06 PM

safarinut, thanks for sharing such a great story! In May 2002, one of the leopard cubs strolled into the dining area at Leopard Hills and napped underneath a table. We were out on game drive and missed the excitement. The cub eventually ran off. Reading your 'close encounter' made the hair on the back of my neck stand up...what an experience that must have been.

Kavey Mar 18th, 2004 01:01 AM

I am for a moment suggesting a change to your itinerary - just thought I'd add this here since it might be useful to other leopard searchers...

We had incredible leopard sightings at Mombo in June 2001 - we spent hours with a large male called Burnt Ebony and a femaled called Bird Island - we were really close and able to appreciate these animals in their environment.

I'm returning to Mombo this June so will feedback here whether our leopard sightings are as good second time around.

Kavey Mar 18th, 2004 12:20 PM

That should read "I am NOT for a moment suggesting ..."

safarinut Mar 21st, 2004 11:21 AM


Read the following newsletter from Ulusaba{neighbouring LH}See what to look forward to in terms of leopard viewing!

''We have been blessed by the birth of several new leopard cubs, which has kept our guests
(and ourselves) enthralled watching the progress of these very special cats.
The leopard female (Shangwa) who kept her 3 cubs (2 months old) in a safe hiding place
amongst the granite boulders in the Sand River, has now moved them to yet another safe
place in a small dry riverbed. She & her offspring are doing very well & her 3 cubs are
healthy, energetic & very curious about everything around them.
The other leopard female (Makwela) who is dominant in the west & south has given birth
to her cubs on a rocky outcrop northeast of Safari Lodge. We have not, as yet, had any
visual of her offspring, but she is lactating, so we know the cubs have been born. We
believe the cubs were born between the 1 st & 2 nd of February, which means that she will
move them from their birthplace sometime this week or the next. Female leopards
constantly move their cubs around to avoid detection by lions or hyenas that will kill
them instantly to should they discover their hiding place.
The 3 sub-adult female leopard cubs of Makwela who are roaming around without
holding territories are doing very well indeed!
They are giving us endless superb viewing & even hunting larger prey now.
They are 2 years & 2 and a half months old now.
They have been viewed having killed impala, young kudu & duiker antelopes &
mastering the fine art of hoisting their prey to safety in trees, away from scavengers.
As previously explained in last month?s report, leopards have a unique spot pattern on the
upper part of their lips next to the nose area, so we have decided to name one of the sub-adult
cubs with the 2 spots on her right & 3 spots on her left lip. Her name is Sendile,
which means ?the saved one? in the tsonga language of the local Shangaan tribe living in
this area.
The name comes from a recent incident where she almost lost her life when a young male
lion attacked her in order to steal her prey. She was slightly injured during this attack, but
managed to climb to safety and make good her escape. She has already fully recovered
from her injuries, and is back in action We will keep you up-dated on the adventures of
these three remarkable cats.
The Tai dam female leopard, dominant in the north & northeast, still has her cub (6
months old) which is not yet fully habituated towards game drive vehicles. We are
working on this, and with care and sensitivity, we should have the cub more relaxed very

MarcM Mar 21st, 2004 08:37 PM

Thanks Safarinut for the latest news,
and will add Ulusaba report (along with L.Hills reports) to my Fav's list.

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