Best places for cheetahs in Africa - Wild Voyager Blog
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Best places for cheetahs in Africa

Best places for cheetahs in Africa

Most people look forward to spotting lions and leopards during safaris. However, one of the most famed cat species, the cheetah, is also a sight to behold. Since they are categorized as endangered with only 7000 cheetahs left in the wild, seeing them in the wilderness is not easy. Yet, this elusiveness adds more to the thrill of spotting a cheetah in its natural habitat.

A cheetah looks around
A cheetah looks around 

While cheetahs do appear smaller than other big cats, they are nimble and the fastest runners. Regular sightings of this animal during a safari are occasional and local. Hence, they are limited to only a few regions where they are less threatened and have access to food.  

Cheetahs usually reside in open plains, grassland, bushes, and wooded areas. They are native to Africa making it one of the best destinations to spot them. With favorable climate and habitation available for this predator, there are certain popular cheetah hot spots around the continent.  

Thus, we have curated the six best places to spot cheetah in Africa: 

1. Maasai Mara, Kenya 

Maasai Mara in Kenya is undoubtedly one of the best places to observe wilderness. Its open savannahs are home to a good number of cheetahs and regular sightings are recorded during the safaris. 

The Maasai Mara has introduced the Mara Cheetah project which regularly tracks the movement of local cheetahs. This in turn predicts the ideal areas in the Mara where sightings are frequent.  

A group of male cheetahs in Maasai Mara
A group of male cheetahs in Maasai Mara

One of the biggest contributors to the cheetah population in the reserve is the annual Great Migration. During this period, millions of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles come from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Mara. Cheetahs usually stalk large amounts of prey in the area and can be seen more than often. 

Maasai Mara is a classic reserve in Africa that offers an unforgettable safari experience. 

2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 

Adjacent to Maasai Mara and located in the South is the famous and iconic Serengeti National Park. As the park is renowned for having high densities of cheetah population, this place is an ideal location.  

Cheetah cubs spotted playing at Serengeti National Park
Cheetah cubs spotted playing at Serengeti National Park

On the southern plains in the green season (December to May) and in central areas during the dry season (June to November) cheetah sightings are frequent. When the Great Migration phenomena occur, animals making their way to Mara are usually preyed upon by cheetahs.  

The terrain in Serengeti is suitable for these animals due to the open plains and sparse savannah grass. One of the best areas to spot cheetahs in Serengeti is in the Namiri Plain area. This camp has access to East Serengeti’s old conservations where cheetahs thrive.  

3. Kruger National Park, South Africa 

In South Africa, the open grassy plains are not as prevalent as they are in the East. Yet, the Kruger National Park is home to around 200 cheetahs and offers decent chances of sightings.  

A cheetah sighted at Kruger National Park
A cheetah sighted at Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park has 33 percent of Africa’s cheetah population encompassed within its boundaries. You can come across them in the central area of the park or during your stay at one of the lodges, especially Sweni or Lebombo. 

4. Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa 

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is located beside the Kruger National Park and shares the wildlife species of the park. Although it offers an unparalleled safari experience of the big five, cheetahs can also be spotted in the reserve. 

A cheetah spotted in the open grasslands of Sabi Sand
A cheetah spotted in the open grasslands of Sabi Sand

There are several exclusive lodges inside Sabi Sands which allow for incredible wildlife viewing. Along with the rare cheetah, you can spot leopards in abundance from the lodges. 

5. Central Kalahari Game reserve, Botswana 

The Central Kalahari game reserve is the second-largest game park in the world. The expansive Kalahari Desert is located at a remote location and has emerged as a hotspot for cheetahs. 

Cheetahs in Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Cheetahs in Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The sightings of different animals depend upon the season. The green season of Botswana sees an ample amount of grass in Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It not only invites herbivores but stalking behind them are predators like lions and cheetahs.  

Due to the reserve’s flat surface, spotting cheetahs in their natural habitat becomes easier. These animals are often seen in central Kalahari’s Deception Valley area which is accessible from the Kalahari Plains camp. However, the park is only accessible by 4WD.  

6. Kafue National Park, Zambia 

This national park is the oldest and largest park in Zambia. Thus, the Kafue National Park is prominent for holding a diverse range of wildlife. Although the cheetah population in Zambia is small, the park holds a reliable place to spot these animals. It is because of the open terrains which make up for a cheetah’s ideal habitat. 

A Cheetah hunts down a prey
A Cheetah hunts down a prey

The park’s north-western corner known as Busanga Plains has Zambia’s best open grasslands. It is home to large herds of puku, a golden-colored antelope which a favorite prey for cheetahs to hunt. These herds attract cheetahs to the plains which makes it an incredible spot for sighting them. 

You cannot find cheetah in any other parks in Zambia except the Kafue National Park.  

Although cheetahs are an interesting species, they are greatly endangered. Most of the threats faced by cheetahs are caused by humans. Hunting, destroying habitats, illegal trafficking, conflict with livestock farmers, and other reasons are driving cheetahs to the brink of extinction.  

When you visit national parks and reserves in Africa, similar to the ones mentioned above, they are not only limited to sightseeing. Here, you become increasingly aware of the status of cheetahs and can contribute to their conservation by various means. Before you stop by at these places, make sure to adhere to all ethical practices.  

 

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Wild Voyager Team

The blogging team at Wild Voyager. We are explorers at heart and we love to share our travel stories and destination knowledge with you, which often serve as an inspiration for the life changing journeys we curate. When you decide to embark on one such life changing journey, our travel experience designers at letstalk@wildvoyager.com will be happy to get you started.

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