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vishal

Leopard Viewing opportunities: Sabi Saands vs South Luangwa

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Posted (edited)

Not planning to go to the parks anytime soon, just curious to know which one is the best place to see leopards.

 

Any replies are greatly appreciated!

Edited by vishal

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Sabi Sands - you are almost guaranteed I think ........ that said, it's a far more commercial experience and I have no desire to return.

 

South Luangwa - I have not been ........ I think your chances are very high. It's prime Leopard country too......... Others can comment.

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I have not been to Sabi Sands so won't comment.

 

I have been to South Luangwa many times and have never had a trip there without seeing leopards. That doesn't mean that you will always see leopards there, as the park is big (over 9000 square km), but as @@madaboutcheetah mentioned it is prime leopard country. You do see enough other species though such that each leopard sighting is still special.

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South Luangwa -- In 3 days I saw 5 sightings (4 different individuals) of Leopard. Both day and night.

You are 99% guaranteed of Leopard if you go here a few days. SLNP! Super-Leopard-National-Park :)

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Not been to south luangwa but I have had two great sightings of leopard in Sabi Sands. I saw three leopards together staying at Tydon bush camp and one relaxed young leopard at elephant plains.

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@vishal

 

My vote is for South Laungwa but I have not been to Sabi Sands but leopard sightings seem to be high there also.

 

Perhaps you should add another criteria to help you decide on which place to visit. It seems that both places are likely to deliver leopards for you.

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Both are likely to result in multiple sighings. The choice depends on what sort of experience you want and your other interests. Sabi sands has the advantage in that you can off road to get up close and personal sightings, whereas you can only off road a bit from the road in SLNP to get closer (I think is is not officially allowed, so the guides will only go a little off of the road, whereas for your cub sighting in sabi we were properly 4WD driving over rocks and bushes etc,

 

I have TRs for both destinations, if you want to read further....

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/13879-kruger-circuit-a-south-africa-safari-at-the-optimum-time-september-2014/

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/13096-south-luangwa-lower-zambezi-2009-trip-of-a-lifetime/

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/11702-my-first-tr-a-return-to-south-luangwa-and-lower-zambezi-national-parks/

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@@vishal

I have not been to Sabi Sands so cannot comment on that area

We had wonderful sightings of Leopards in South Luangwa

http://safaritalk.net/topic/11496-zambia-south-luangwe-august-2013-great-to-be-back-on-safari/

 

I think we saw 13 different leopards - all were special - and lots of other wildlife as well

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I've been to both parks and loved them. I have had fantastic leopard sightings in the South Luangwa, but mainly at night. In the Sabi Sands I've had numerous clear, very relaxed and close daylight sightings with mothers and cubs rolling around and lots of playing about. In fact, one morning I was having breakfast and realised a leopard was actually watching me so we kept an eye on each other for about 20 minutes. So based purely on leopard sightings, I say Sabi Sands, though the South Luangwa has a lot of other stuff going for it in other ways.

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@@madaboutcheetah - When and where in the Sabi Sands did you go? :)

It interestingly seems the two are equal for leopards - yet SLNP is the one with the reputation.

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@@Big_Dog - Exeter Dulini (2006), Mala Mala (2004) and Lion Sands (2002 or 2003 can't remember) ......

 

SNLP is on my list for sure. Not been there......

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@@madaboutcheetah - When and where in the Sabi Sands did you go? :)

 

It interestingly seems the two are equal for leopards - yet SLNP is the one with the reputation.

 

@@Big_Dog Sabi Sands is one of the best places in the world for leopard. The densities are really high and they are habituated to vehicles. How do I know that and you don't? Do they need a PR campaign?

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You're right @@Tdgraves - Though U'd say SLNP is synonomous with leopards like perhaps nowhere else. They need no PR, was just thinking out loud.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any experience self-driving in South Luangwa? How safe is it and how much game will you see? I have only seen one report of self driving in South Luangwa. http://www.alisonbuttigieg.com/zambia-zimbabwe-self-drive-2012/ . Any replies are greatly appreciated!

Edited by vishal

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Toss a coin, about on par with each other I'd say. I do agree with @@madaboutcheetah 'commercial' comment regarding Sabi Sands.

 

If you are self-driving in SLNP that will lessen your chances of seeing leopard.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any experience self-driving in South Luangwa? Not I but I'll look for some links. How safe is it and how much game will you see? If you self drive, unless you are quite experienced in the bush, I think many of those leopard could elude you. I have only seen one report of self driving in South Luangwa. http://www.alisonbuttigieg.com/zambia-zimbabwe-self-drive-2012/ . Any replies are greatly appreciated!

No harm in planning way in advance.

 

Been to both, SL several times.

 

Agree with the others about the near guarantee in Sabi Sands. They are quite relaxed creatures there as well, allowing for closer and more prolonged viewing.

I think I'd put SL at #3 for leopards after Sabi Sands and various parks in Botswana (one of which is now about $2k pp/pn putting it out of reach for many of us.) I've had much better luck on night drives with leopard in SL than Sabi Sands, though.

 

 

A report

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10384-trip-report-self-drive-in-zambia-zimbabwe-2012-kafue-south-luangwa-mana-pools/

 

Haven't seen luangwablondes, a big self driver, on the site in a long time. Try sending a personal message here for more info on driving in S Luangwa.

http://safaritalk.net/user/3541-luangwablondes/

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks for the links. Which camps in Botswana did you think were good for leopards?

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Posted (edited)

Botswana - Just about anywhere I think (maybe not Duba Plains). You are not golng to have daily sighitngs in Botswana like in SLNP or Sabi Sands.

 

At the end of the day, a Leopard is a Leopard - might decide not to show up!

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Well, I guess I have a bit of a different perspective than some others here, and maybe that's because I'm not as "seasoned" as some of the other safarigoers here. I have been to Sabi Sand, but not to South Luangwa (yet). We had amazing leopard sightings, very relaxed and in full daylight, in Sabi Sand (as well as in Timbavati to the north). Multiple leopards in trees with kills (one a female with two cubs), and at those and in other situations, they were all very in-depth viewings.

 

People can say what they want about Sabi Sand, but I will defend it. It offers a variety of quality lodge accommodations for a decent value, and in many instances you would almost be unlucky to not have multiple good leopard experiences.

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Posted (edited)

I have been to both - SLNP in 2014 and Sabi Sands in 2015.

 

We saw 9 leopards in 5 days in Londolozi, which is famous for its leopards. We saw leopard Cubs with the mum as well, and we saw them both night and day. As mentioned above, you can go off roads and the leopards are generally so habituated, they will relax next to you. Trip report is here -

http://safaritalk.net/topic/15020-the-pursuit-of-cats-and-dogs-timbavati-sabi-sands/

 

In SLNP, we saw 10 leopards in 14 sightings over 10 days. So average works out one leopard a day in LNP and almost 2 leopards a day in Sabi Sands. We also saw them during the day and night.

Forgot to add link to my TR : http://safaritalk.net/topic/13282-ebb-and-flow-ebb-and-flow-in-slnp/

 

It really depends on your preference. Sabi sands provides real comfort while you watch wildlife, SLNP is not shabby either but you get far closer to the animals than the large estates in Greater Kruger. You get to see almost all the main animals but you don't get to see rhinos in SLNP. But the SLNP is more wild.

 

I love both, but SLNP's wildness and being close to and in the middle of the wildlife tilts that park for me.

Edited by Kitsafari
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~ A very big thanks to everyone who explained their feelings and told of their experiences.



It's valuable to read what others feel about leopard sightings, as that's a sort of critical reaction.



Yours truly feels grateful for any leopard sighting which doesn't in any way involve baiting.



The intelligence in leopard eyes remains near the zenith of my limited game drive experiences.



I really enjoyed reading this thread, which may be of value to @@vishal.



Tom K.


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Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any experience self-driving in South Luangwa? How safe is it and how much game will you see? I have only seen one report of self driving in South Luangwa. http://www.alisonbuttigieg.com/zambia-zimbabwe-self-drive-2012/ . Any replies are greatly appreciated!

 

It's safe and you'll see lots of game. However, your chance of good leopard sightings will be much smaller. Guides don't share sightings all that much with self drivers, and if they do it's hard for them to explain where a sighting was as most self drivers don't know all the place names (there are lots of names for areas, bends in roads etc which are not on maps) and as a self driver you're not allowed to drive at night.

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Thanks for all the replies.

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We have visited Sabi Sands (2013) and SLNP (2015) and based on one visit to each I can say that we had more leopard sightings in Sabi Sands than SLNP.

 

I do agree with the comments that Sabi Sands feels like more of a ''Big 5'' safari with luxury lodges whereas SLNP feels like a more wild experience with more rustic camps...maybe because we did a a lot of walking and wanted to be closer to the bush.

 

That said, we are going back to SLNP in June 2016 and we have also just booked a trip to Sabi Sands for December 2016 (and Timbavati).

 

I will make sure to do a trip report for each if you plan on waiting that long before you jump in and book a trip of your own (go on...you know you want to!).

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Another thing I'd like to add. I think you will enjoy a leopard sighting more if you've found the leopard yourself, even after receiving tips on his/her whereabouts and with not too many cars around. I think if it comes to the chance of seeing leopard as a self driver South Luangwa is hard to beat.

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