Where To Find Cheetah On Safari?

Cheetah are always high on the list of animals to see on safari. Even amongst African wildlife, they are a remarkable and unique species. At one time cheetah could be found from the Middle East to India and North Africa. They are sleek and lightweight, designed for speed. That means they can’t compete with larger predators like hyena and lion. They range over vast areas and that makes them susceptible to conflict with people and livestock. 

So where to go to see them? Africa has a number of locations known for cheetah; the Kalahari and Okavango Delta in Botswana. Etosha National Park in Namibia. Kenya’s Maasai Mara. A good deal of luck is involved, cheetahs are threatened and now rare almost everywhere. Tanzania may have as much as 10% of the remaining population. 

The Serengeti

If you want to see cheetah, go to the Serengeti. There is no better place. With somewhere around two to three hundred, the Serengeti has a big population by cheetah standards and they tend to be quite relaxed around vehicles. You can see them in all corners; north, south, east and west. The short grass plains of Ndutu and the southern Serengeti provide the classic image that comes to mind of a cheetah striding out across the savannah. There's a great chance to see them hunt young wildebeest in the wet season, December to March. 

Tarangire

Known for its elephants and baobab trees, Tarangire is only a couple of hours from Arusha and perhaps for that reason much overlooked. It’s a good place to see cheetah. Often near the park gate and main roads, however these areas can be busy so push south where I’ve seen them climbing trees. I’ve also seen them on night drives in the park, unusual for a diurnal animal. 

Ruaha

Big, wild and full of lions. Not classic cheetah territory. There is plenty of savannah habitat but cheetah don’t necessarily need wide open plains, they do just as well in mixed bush land areas. Over time the lion prides break apart before reforming, allowing cheetah into some of the prime hunting areas. Similarly in the wet season, when game is more scattered, cheetah can be seen in the core wildlife areas around the Ruaha and Mwagusi rivers. In recent years a number of super mums have been raising several cubs at a time to adulthood in Ruaha. Young cheetah are very dark in coloration with a distinct white crest, perhaps to mimic the fierce honey badger. 

When planning your safari, make sure to tell us about your favourite animals so we can put you in the best position to see them. And of course it pays to go with the most experienced guides who know their local cheetah. 

See below for some of our top cheetah safari camps.

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