Where to see Leopard in South Africa
The leopard is not uncommon. The most numerous of Africa’s big cats, it occurs in all major conservation areas and across most habitats. Nonetheless, its grace and elusiveness make it a unique safari drawcard.
Quick facts about Leopard
|Scientific name:||Panthera pardus||Habitat:||Savanna, woodland, forest, mountains|
|IUCN status:||Vulnerable||Adult weight:||30–90kg|
The leopard is a powerful and versatile predator that varies greatly in size and habitat. It uses stealth and camouflage to ambush prey at close quarters, typically taking small to medium-sized antelopes, though everything from birds to young giraffes may make the menu. Most active at night, leopards are agile climbers and unique among big cats in using trees as ‘larders’ for prey.
Key identification features include a long tail, usually curled at the white tip, and beautiful rosette patterning (unlike a cheetah’s solid spots). Males are around one-third larger than females, with a larger head and more jowly throat. Adults are largely solitary, though cubs may remain with their mothers for 18 months.
Range countries worldwide
Highest recorded altitude
Max. tail length
The top camps for seeing leopard in South Africa
Based on 9 reports by our travellers since Jun 2018, visitors at these camps in South Africa have the best chances of sighting leopard.
Best chances to see
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Where to see leopards in Africa
Leopards are widespread but good at hiding. By day, you may spy one in a tree. At dawn and dusk, they become more active on the ground. Night drives can be productive.
Top tips for viewing leopards
Leopards occur everywhere from mountains to rainforests but are best seen in savannah and woodland habitats. Highly territorial, they often show up repeatedly in the same area.
Classic leopard country includes river loops with large trees and rocky kopjes surrounded by open bush. Even if invisible, a leopard’s presence is often betrayed by the alarm calls of prey, such as baboons, impala or even guinea-fowl. Be patient and you might get lucky.
Certain locations, such as Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, are famed for leopard sightings. But all major conservation areas, from the Kalahari to the Maasai Mara, offer a chance, especially where guides know the habitats and whereabouts of individual cats. Night drives increase the chances further. Listen out after dark for the distinctive deep territorial call, which resembles the rasp of a saw.
Our best South Africa holidays for leopard sightings
Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for South Africa safaris are likely to give the best leopard sightings
Black Wildebeest Self-drive Safari
19 days • 10 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO WINDHOEK AIRPORT
Journey from South Africa’s cosmopolitan Cape Town to central Namibia’s Okonjima Nature Reserve during this self-driven safari. The route passes through a stunning variety of landscapes, offering access to this beautiful continent’s rich diversity.
US$3,070 - US$3,460 per person
The Highlights of Africa
17 days • 7 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT
An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.
US$14,270 - US$18,120 per person
13 days • 4 locations
VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT TO CAPE TOWN AIRPORT
Victoria Falls, Botswana and Cape Town – a classic southern African itinerary combining luxury, wilderness, safari and culture. We can't think of a better way to spend two weeks.
US$9,160 - US$12,990 per person
Kwandwe Self-drive Safari
3 days • 1 locations
PORT ELIZABETH AIRPORT TO PORT ELIZABETH AIRPORT
An elegantly stylish lodge that is well suited to families, Kwandwe offers a range of safari activities and the chance to sight all of the "Big 5" during exploration of the Eastern Cape.
US$2,340 - US$3,860 per person
Cape Genet Self-drive Safari
20 days • 8 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO CAPE TOWN AIRPORT
Enjoy fine-dining in Cape Town, whale-watching in Hermanus, and a range of walking and water-based activities throughout De Hoop’s Nature Reserve, the Klein Karoo and Plettenberg. This relaxed self-driven safari concludes with stays in The Winelands and Namaqualand.
US$2,750 - US$3,630 per person
Ostrich Self-drive Safari
14 days • 9 locations
WINDHOEK AIRPORT TO WINDHOEK AIRPORT
Great value self-drive adventure through the epic desert landscapes of southern Namibia and South Africa’s Kalahari, visiting highlights such as Fish River Canyon, the ghost towns of Lüderitz and Sossusvlei’s dunes.
US$1,860 - US$2,580 per person
Bontebok Self-drive Safari
12 days • 5 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO PORT ELIZABETH AIRPORT
This varied and great-value self-drive trip visits Cape Town, the Winelands and diverse sections of the Garden Route, staying at great places with real local character. It’s ideal for active couples and families who want to explore the Cape’s stunning locations.
US$1,310 - US$1,610 per person
Cape Mountain Zebra Self-drive Safari
12 days • 4 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO CAPE TOWN AIRPORT
Fine dining, luxurious accommodation and a wide of range of leisurely activities make this a superbly comfortable self-driven safari. Visit the cosmopolitan Cape Town, tranquil coastal retreats, stylish wine farms and spectacularly peaceful nature reserves.
US$3,410 - US$6,330 per person
Meerkat Self-drive Safari
8 days • 5 locations
UPINGTON AIRPORT TO UPINGTON AIRPORT
Explore the wildly remote Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park from four simple, self-catering lodges before concluding with two nights at Augrabies Falls National Park. An exciting safari including varied game and birdlife, well-suited to the autonomous traveller.
US$890 - US$1,020 per person
More information about leopard in our other destinations
Click here for detailed information about leopard in other countries, including the places for sighting leopard.