Cheetah are a rare species that have it rough in many of the protected wildlife areas that are the typical locations for safari. This is because other predators, especially lions and spotted hyena thrive in the protected areas and they frequently take kills away from cheetah as well as destroy cheetah cubs when the opportunity arises.
Fortunately there are some safari areas that still deliver excellent cheetah viewing.
There are areas of open habitat throughout the Serengeti/Masai Mara system that have frequent cheetah viewing. The Ndutu area, encompassing the Southern Serengeti National Park and the portion of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) along the Serengeti border is particularly rich with cheetah during the migration calving season (December through March). These open plains make it easier to spot cheetah from a distance and the densities can be quite good, often allowing for the viewing of multiple individuals during a stay. During our 2015 season at Ndutu, our local wildlife biologist, Sosy Maria, and The Wild Source guide team identified over 50 individual cheetah. Click here to learn more about our ongoing cheetah research and Stripespotter Technology.
In June of 2014, the remote eastern region of the Central Serengeti opened up to tourism after being reserved as a cheetah research center for years. Cheetah are still found in this area with only a few camps to choose from–Namiri Plains Camp or Sametu Camp. Kenya’s Masai Mara and neighboring Conservancies are also outstanding for cheetah viewing, just a notch below the Ndutu area but is fantastic year round as opposed to being dependent on the migration.
Other Areas of Note
One goal in the creation of Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa was to manage it for the benefit of cheetah and sightings are fairly reliable in this large, fenced reserve area that houses 7 different habitat zones. Northern Botswana has some areas that feature excellent cheetah viewing but the cheetah density is low and the resident cheetah often utilize large home ranges making sightings difficult to predict. Namibia has the largest population of cheetah but they mostly live on private lands where tourists will not see them.
A stay at Namibia’s Okonjima Lodge’s camps directly supports the Africat Foundation. Africat rescues and relocates cheetah and leopard to new locations in the wild, averaging about an 80% rate of successfully relocating cats that have come into conflict with farmers. As a visitor, you have the opportunity to go on foot and in vehicle to observe cheetah at close quarters that are not suitable for release but living in large enclosed areas.