Game Warden

What camps in what countries for Cheetahs.

32 posts in this topic

Following on from the revealing What camps in what countries for wild dogs thread, let's do something similar for Cheetahs.

Including best times of the year.

Please lets make just a list of the camps, parks/reserves and countries where one can confidently expect to see cheetahs on Safari.

(Always remembering nothing is 100% guaranteed).

Please do feel free to include website of said camps and recommended guides there.

Matt

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In my five African safaris I have only seen cheetahs in the wild in one place, the Mara. We stayed at Mara Simba Lodge, we had a mother and five tiny cubs, and a few sightings of lone animals.

 

We tried for ages to spot cheetah in Kruger, but to no avail. They are there's, but in very low numbers I think.

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In my experience, the best cheetah spots have been:

 

1) Mombo concession, Botswana: 13 different cheetahs in 4 days (3 nights). But that was in 1997. i had very good cheetah sightings in a few subsequent visits, but these days Mombo is no longer a productive place for cheetah.

 

2) southern Serengeti (Nomad's mobile camps), Tanzania: 18 different cheetahs in 10 days during my last visit

 

3) Masai Mara (Rekero and Alex Walker's mobile camps at Nkorombo and in the Mara Triangle), Kenya: excellent and plentiful cheetah viewing

 

I also saw cheetah in 2 or 3 other concessions in Botswana, as well as in Tarangire, Manyara and Ngorongoro in Tanzania, Kafue (Busanga) in Zambia and Lewa in Kenya, but not on the same levels as the above mentioned location.

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My most voluminous sightings were at Serian's south Serengeti camp. Lost count but into the 20s, individual animals including cubs. Some very wild, some more habituated.

 

Mara North Conservancy and the Reserve also excellent sightings but not on the level do the South Serengeti.

 

Also seen cheetah at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ngorongoro.

 

Sorry but I can't give links at the moment as I'm out.

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Posted (edited)

I've seen a single cheetah on each of two visits to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The first time I managed to get several good photos before it moved away. Last month, it was so far away that even with a 400mm lens, I had to crop the photo as far as possible to be sure what I was seeing. Both times I stayed at Kalahari Plains Camp.

Edited by spartan21

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I'm tempted to suggest that we not encourage people to seek out places where cheetah sightings are most likely and the time of year. Those places are already much to crowded anyway (sometimes to a worrying extent now) and the stupid desire to see "only the best" is making it worse. Unfortunately they are too well known for it to make a difference so I'll share most of what I know.

 

I think there are very few places where you can be truly confident other people would see cheetahs nowadays. They are getting rarer and rarer I think. The only places you could be really confident about seeing cheetahs are the Mara area and the Serengeti - well really only the Central Serengeti for the latter - although the plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area around Ndutu are still delivering good sightings outside the dry season, and if you arte willing to put in the hours i am sure they are still very good. But I am pretty sure you have to work for it a lot more that you did. Although sightings may be frequent in certain parts of the Mara/ Serenngeti, nearly all of your sightings will be via the bush telegraph (even if you don't know it) - everyone is seeing the same animal. Your chances of just coming accross a cheetah during a game drive seem to be slimmer nowadays.

 

Maybe I am being overly pessimistic!

 

I don't think the time of year matters much except that if the prey species are not within 5km, then of course the cheetahs won't be there, and if lions move in the cheetahs will move out. Since cheetahs can survive on a variety of prey, I doubt time of year will be a factor at all unless there is a massive concentration of young animals,(like during certain phases of the migration) when it may increase the chances a bit.

 

The camp doesn't matter unless it is synonymous with a particular concession and there is no alternatiive- cheetahs have large ranges and those of males can be huge.The guide you have can make a difference though - but I think you need a patient and determined guide more than an incredibly knowledgable one..

 

I have been lucky enough to see cheetah nearly everywhere I go... or if I don't then someone I share the campfire with does, even Meru and Tsavo. Moremi and Etosha are the only places that aboslutely failed to deliver but we were self-driving/ mobile camping then and out of our "comfort zone" of East Africa, so I don't think it is meaningful. I don't expect my luck with sightings to continue, though.

 

As far as "making luck goes, I would say that if you go looking for leopard or hang with lions you are highly unlikely to see cheetah - so spend time in the flattest, most boring places where there is little other wildlife and you have the best chance. If there are elephant or bufflao or in fact almost any game around, there is less likely to be a cheetah - although of course there are exceptions. Cheetah can be spotted throughout the day as they generally prefer to sleep somewhere that they can see some distance from, so the short grass under a tree is a favorite. Flat, short-grass plains on cloudy days are of course prefect, since you can see for miles and cheetahs do like to trek around. A sharp- eyed guide is a big, big help.

 

I hope I am wrong and stays like Paolo's in the Southern Serengeti will become common again!

 

Sighting locations I can remember (in order over the years)

 

Mara Conservancy (Mara Triangle)

Mara Reserve (Narok side)

Meru NP

Buffalo Springs Reserve

Okonjima (does that count?)

Ruaha NP

Mara Conservancy

Olare Orok Conservancy

Mara Reserve

Mara North Conservancy

Mara Conservancy

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

DeWildt (That definitely doesn't count!)

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Olare Orok

Mara Reserve

Central/ Southern Serengeti

Northern Serengeti (Lamai Wedge)

Tarangire (missed the sighting, but we were close to cheetah on both visits there so I mention it)

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For botswana, can add both the kwando and kwara concessions ..... Have had some fabulous viewing over the years.

 

Loved Mara plains in the olare orok conservancy ..... Had several cheetahs right close to camp.

 

I hope to bring back positive comments from the Serengeti soon.

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Posted (edited)

I've had good cheetah sightings in the CKGR, Mombo (a long time ago -I have seniority over Paolo-1996 vs 1997), Sabi Sands (unusual luck?), and hit and miss in the Savuti/DumaTau/ Kings Pool area of Bots.

Edited by Pangolin

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Mombo (a long time ago -I have seniority over Paolo-1996 vs 1997)

 

I guess that 1996 was the last year when the 30+ wild dogs pack was regularly seen, correct?

 

Back to cheetah, I had forgot that I have had also good sightings in central and northern Serengeti (even if not on par with southern Serengeti). And - but we are talking almost pre-history here - in Nairobi National Park in 1980. I wonder how cheetah are faring there right now. Maybe Armchair Bushman can enlighten us.

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Of the places I've been-

the Mara (Mara North conservancy and the main reserve)

Botswana- Kwara and Lagoon, but I've also seen them in the Savuti and Moremi areas

Ruaha is also pretty good- 2 sightings in 4 days in Aug 2010 and 2 in 8 days in June 2012. But the guides said later in the dry season (Aug/Sept) is the best time, just because lower grass makes them easier to spot.

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Posted (edited)

Of the places i have visited :

 

Mara Reserve (both triangle and Narok side ) excellent every visit even in April , long rain season many sightingns by ourselves . Also good in the Olare Orok .

South Serengeti , Gold Kopjes and NCA around Ndutu excellent and was also long rainy season , very few other vehicles , we had 2 full kills ( stalk , chase and kill ) just our vehicle .

Phinda Reserve .It is not a very big reserve and has high concentrations but we had to work hard to find them .

 

I have seen them also in Samburu and Meru in Kenya , Savuti and Kwara concesion in Botswana and Ngorongoro Crater .

Edited by africawild

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We tried for ages to spot cheetah in Kruger, but to no avail. They are there's, but in very low numbers I think.

 

indeed they are, a mere 170 individuals - we spotted 3 of them twice last october near satara - unsucessfully trying to stalk wildebeest...brilliant sighting

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a place that has not been mentioned: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - excellent place to spot cheetahs; in fact, Dr. Gus Mills has just finished his six or seven year long survey of KTP Cheetahs and is now writing up his report back in London

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I've only been to Africa once, 4 camps in 2 countries. In 11 total days we saw only 1 cheeteh while at Little Vumbura/Vumbura Plains. It seems that one has to be at the right place at the right time.

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I'd agree with Paulo, and what's more I'd promise that there really are lots of animals in southern Serengeti, not just via the bush telegraph- although I stop to chat to 'my' guides and exchange information I'm not usually on safari and don't follow things up, but I do see a lot of cheetahs there- I feel hard done by if I spend more than a few days without seeing a Cheetah in those areas.

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I have to agree with Tz, all our cheetah sightings in the NCA/Southern Serengeti were our own finds. We'd drive along and there they were. No radio on and didn't stop and in fact hardly saw, any other vehicles to share sightings. We didn't see many lions at all in the far south, only as we moved towards Ndutu.

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We saw a mother Cheetah and four cubs... plus a group of 3 males, in Ndutu Tanzania last February. We watched a kill and the mother bringing it back for her four babies.

 

Anita

 

www.anitaerdmann.com

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Mombo (a long time ago -I have seniority over Paolo-1996 vs 1997)

 

I guess that 1996 was the last year when the 30+ wild dogs pack was regularly seen, correct?

 

 

Indeed!

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Most of the places I know have already been mentioned.... Mara North, Mara, Southern Serengeti, Grumeti, Kwando,

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1.) My top experience was while staying in the Mara for 15 nights in Oct/Nov '12: 14-15 sightings of 11 cheetahs - A mother and 15 month subadult, Narasha with 2 6-month cubs, Malaika with 1 6-month cub, Honey's 2 remaining boys and a Mother with a single 3-4 weeks cub. Every sighting was very good to brilliant as they were doing something and included 3 full kills, many failed/half hearted chases, lots of playing and frolicking, some scent marking and even 2 faceoffs with lions. Even an eerie situation with the Honey's boys and Narasha with cubs all within 5 metres of each other clearly both sides spooked. Stayed at Naboisho, Mara Plains and Rekero but all sightings were in OOC or Narok side. We didnt go to the Triangle and some cheetahs had moved into Ol Kinyei from Naboisho just 2 days before our arrival so missed seeing them in Naboisho but a combination of Reserve +OOC + a good guide+ lots of patience and waiting out with cheetahs always delivered for me.

 

2.) Next best sightings would be Sept 2011 trip to Northern Tanzania -North Serengeti, South-Central/Central Serengeti, Crater and Tarangire - saw Cheetahs in every area- altogether 19 sightings but half of them were very good to brilliant, rest in the distance with the cheetah walking away or just staying put and not doing much. Stayed at Olakira and Sayari in North, Dunia in South-Central, Lemala on the crater rim and Oliver's in Tarangire. North Serengeti was by far the best quality sightings - a female on a fresh wildebeest kill, 3 cheetah brothers with the epic climbing a tree and scent marking, a mother and 2 sub adults with some failed attempts and lots of playing and posing ( they later caught a hare that the lions chased them from but we left after the vehicle numbers were a bit too much. Again excellent guiding and lots of patience.

 

3.) Then it would be in CKGR where I saw 3 brothers scent marking , trying to stalk a herd of 30+ oryx and then the Oryx herd ( leaving the babies behind in good care) moving aggressively tot he Cheetahs and held them hostage for nearly 8-9 hours. Initially the herd walked almost 200-250 mtrs to get close to the cheetahs and then from that say 10-15 metres position, a couple of bulls would make steady steps to get even closer and harass the cheetahs who mostly stayed put. Stayed at Kalahari Plains Camp. Guiding was good but sharing the vehicle there meant had to leave the cheetahs in the morning to drop 7 Americans and then in the afternoon the Canadian lady in the vehicle had enough of them and wanted to go and see lion cubs so we left the 3 cheetahs and the 30 oryx in that impasse and went.

 

4.) Chitabe Lediba Dec 2011, Okavango- A mother and 1 year sub adult and another female on a kill - good sightings both but not as action oriented as the above had been. Good guiding but even though we found the mother and cub 2-3 times, it was a matter of time before there were 2 to 4 other Chitabe Vehicles.

 

Best guides- Deo and Ping - Deo loves cheetahs and both of them have an uncanny understanding of predator behaviour.

 

And lots of patience and sometimes focus to go looking for them too.

 

I should probably number the above from 2.) to 5.) as I have very high expectations from my Serengeti trip in March/April with Deo.

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Phinda Reserve .It is not a very big reserve and has high concentrations but we had to work hard to find them .

 

Having recently returned from Phinda in South Africa, I was looking for this reserve in the responses. Allowing 4+ days is helpful. If you can afford it, booking your own vehicle to concentrate on cheetahs is helpful. Even with a shared vehicle, most people want to try for cheetah on a Phinda visit. I had 7 and 10 sightings respectively on a one week early July trip and a 4-night December trip.

 

Cheetahs are on the rise in Tarangire, Tanzania. I saw 2 in a 3-day visit. It's nice to know there are some places where they are increasing. But I would not head to Tarangire specifically in hopes of cheetah.

 

Fifteen to twenty years ago, they were all over the Mara and did not cause that much of a sensation. If you missed out on one, there would be another. Sadly that has changed.

 

I see Paul had no luck in Etosha. Isn't Etosha supposed to be pretty good for cheetah? I'll be interested in your Etosha cheetah responses.

 

170 cheetah in Kruger? Thanks for the stats, ice. I would have thought less. For all its abundance without much effort, Kruger does not produce many cheetah sightings.

 

This question was posed by GW, along with a similar one on wild dogs. It seems to me from my own observations and from feedback from others that wild dogs are on the rise and cheetah on the decline in Africa.

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well, you have to put the 170 cheetahs in Kruger into perspective: Kruger is 13 times the size of the Masai Mara...however, contrary to your observations, in Kruger their number is actually rising: within six years from 102 to 172, that's quite a success, even if one might believe that in 2005 they probably missed a few individuals

 

but generally I guess you're right: a lot of scientists believe that in the long run cheetahs will go extinct; not so much because other predators or human interference but because of their genetic weakness - there is ample evidence that all of the the cheetahs on the entire planet are descendants of a few hundred animals that survived a natural disaster during the last ice age

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Phinda Reserve .It is not a very big reserve and has high concentrations but we had to work hard to find them .

 

 

 

I see Paul had no luck in Etosha. Isn't Etosha supposed to be pretty good for cheetah? I'll be interested in your Etosha cheetah responses.

 

 

Lynn,

 

There is a recent thread called "Conservation Etosha" (or something like that), where several species populations' dynamics are discussed.

 

There seems to be a general consensus that cheetah in Etosha are not faring very well.

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I seem to remember that Namibia has the biggest cheetah population of all african countries; yet most of them live on farmland, outside Etosha and other the parks

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I agree the fate of cheetahs is not looking too good, just the destiny of a small gene pool. Nice to see an increase from 102 to 170 in just six years. Shows what protected habitat and fertility can do. I'll check the Conservation Etosha thread. I too was under the impression that cheetahs are all over Namibia, but not necessarily in protected reserves. They are not well loved by the farmers in Namibia either.

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