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Planet Earth Three Filming Locations – Episode 3 Leopards

Spotting Leopards in Africa - 7 Key viewing sites

There are many reasons why leopards are at the top of African safari request lists and Planet Earth wildlife documentaries. Breathtakingly beautiful, charismatic, powerful, elusive, mysterious, and endlessly unpredictable – no one adjective can fully capture the wild essence of these impressive cats.

Undoubtedly the most elegant of the Big Five this sinuous feline is a creation of grace and beauty. Spotting a sleek leopard draped across the lower branch of a sausage tree, eyes half-closed, seemingly oblivious to your presence, will be the highlight of your early morning game drive.

Even more exciting is being on a night drive and hearing a rustle close by before your spotlight picks out a muscular form leaping down from a tree, padding softly across the road, and heading out on its nocturnal expedition.

Why Do Leopards Climb trees?

Adult leopards will climb trees to hoist kills (stashing them out of the reach of hyenas and other scavengers), or to evade predators like wild dogs, hyenas or lions. Leopards rest in the branches of trees with dense canopies in order to escape the heat of the day with a cooling breeze and increase their sense of safety.

This apparently languid cat weighing around 60 kg can race across the plain, kill an adult antelope and then drag it in its jaws 30 feet up into a tree for safe keeping. Keep your eyes peeled, as you may well spot a tree with a half-eaten meal protruding from a fork of the trunk.
Over time, as they become experienced adults, leopards learn that climbing trees unnecessarily is a waste of the precious energy that they will need to hunt and mark territory. Younger leopards, however, may climb trees for play or to hone their climbing ability. Most of a leopard’s time is actually spent terrestrially; they live a far less arboreal life than many people think.

7 Secret Places to Spot Leopards in Southern and East Africa

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite leopard viewing destinations for the best chances of guaranteed sightings.
1 Laikipia,
Kenya - is for the leopard photographic connoisseur
Loisaba Conservancy, in particular, is home to unusual black leopards. These mysterious cats have a rare genetic mutation that results in melanism and are believed to be more common in forested areas where their atypical colouring works to hide them in the shadows.

Spot a black leopard in Loisaba Conservancy - we still have places on our Kenya Conservation Safari to view the black leopard.

Find out more on the Small Group, Big Impact Trip: 2024 Kenya Safari for Conservation
2 Mara Serengeti Ecosystem,
Kenya and Tanzania
The key draw is the action packed encounters with the Great Wildebeest migration and the expansive great plains scenery. Leopards move in open grasslands and densities are significant and with little cover in dry season, sightings are good.
3 Samburu,
Samburu’s arid rocky outcrops and striking riverine trees provide perfect vantage points where leopards can strike the typical photographic pose. Off the beaten safari circuit track, you won’t have to share your sighting with other tourists in this remote region.
4 Sabi Sands,
South Africa
Private reserves like Sabi Sands Game Reserve have a long history of leopard habituation, and the leopards here are probably the most relaxed in the presence of humans on the continent.
5 South Luangwa,
South Luangwa National Park is a haven for leopards. The verdant floodplains, oxbow lakes, and riverine forests along the Luangwa River, are perfect leopard territory. Guests are regularly treated to multiple leopard sightings in a day.
6 Okavango Delta,
The wetlands and grasslands of the Okavango Delta teeming with wildlife and predators in this rich habitat. While wildlife viewing in Moremi Game Reserve is at its best during the dry season, wild dog and leopard sightings are the norm year-round.
7 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park,
South Africa and Botswana
With breath-taking beauty against the ochre and gold palette of the Kalahari Desert the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an exquisite backdrop. Naturally, the leopard population here occurs at lower densities, and sightings are not necessarily a given. However, the sparse vegetation works to the advantage of eagle-eyed visitors.
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