Meerkats are gregarious members of the mongoose family that live in large social clans. In some areas, meerkats have been habituated to human presence, which allows for close-up viewing of these animals as they go about their business.
They spend the night in underground burrows, so morning visitors can witness their daily routine: they emerge, warm in the morning sun, and begin the active part of their day. They can be observed foraging for insects, lizards, scorpions, and a host of other small prey while some members stand upright as sentinel guards, perhaps even on your head, to watch for predators.
Their antics are entertaining, and viewing their social bonding and teamwork is quite remarkable.
Best Places to See Meerkats
There are two primary locations to view habituated meerkat colonies: the Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana and the Tswalu Reserve in South Africa’s Kalahari region. From the Makgadikgadi Pans, guests can stay at either Jack’s Camp, San Camp, or Camp Kalahari, which include visits to the the habituated meerkats in their activities. From Tswalu Reserve in the Kalahari, visitors have access to one of the most expansive and exclusive conservancies which offers some of the best chances on the continent to observe meerkats along with other unique species such as the aardwolf and pangolin.
Habituated meerkats can also be found at De Zeekoe Guest Farm just outside the town of Oudtschoorn along South Africa’s Garden Route. This area has some wildlife opportunities, but the focus tends to be on landscapes and coastal touring.
Throughout the arid regions of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa meerkats can be spotted, but finding them can be very challenging in these large, barren regions.