You can visit habituated groups of meerkats in various places. Such places are always arid and unforgiving regions. Botswana's Makgadikgadi Pans are one such place, and in our view this is currently probably one of the best places to see them as there are so few other people there. Tswalu in South Africa is another good spot and very quiet. There are other places in South Africa but whilst certainly getting you close, there will generally be more people with you.
I honestly rate the experience of meeting meerkats as being almost as rewarding as meeting gorillas! This was a surprise to me, as it is to many people, but they are just so captivating to watch.
And more than watching, they often get very close to you, or even use you as a look-out post if you come close to their burrow.
Meerkats need to hunt and forage for food much of the day and we can’t disturb that activity, but once back at the burrow (usually mornings and evenings) they seem to happily take to the presence of human onlookers for even up to about an hour.
So come and meet the meerkats – you’ll love them!By Amanda Marks, Tribes director
If you‘d like to talk to one of us about this experience, Amanda Marks has spent time with meerkats in Africa so would be happy to tell you about her experience. For more details read Amanda's blog post about coming "Face to Face with Meerkats"
Botswana: The very best place in Botswana to see meerkats is in the Makgadikgadi Pans, staying at Camp Kalahari, Jack’s or San Camps.South Africa: Just north of Outdshoorn on the Garden Route. Also, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve with its luxury desert lodge.
You can see the meerkats most of the year, but in the Makgadikgadi Pans it can be best to look for them in the dry season after the rains have gone - roughly April to October.
In the Botswana camps mentioned, and also at Tswalu in South Africa, this is an activity which is offered as one of the game activities as long as the local conditions permit it (for example it can be too wet to go on the pans in the rainier months).In South Africa you need to book the activity with the local ranches that offer it. Your lodge will be able to help you with this.
A traditional game viewing safari with the thrill of Vic Falls, nature walks and, of course, entrancing encounters with meerkats.
We met the meerkats at Moolmanshoek in South Africa - fantastic experience, Shelton the guide is great and as we were the only ones there he let us come out with him all the time which meant we had lots of interaction with the local way of life as well as time with the adorable meerkats.
We arrived at the Meerkat's den about an hour after daybreak on a very chilly morning to find that our hosts were not yet up. About ten minutes later the first nose appeared out of the den soon followed by the rest of the family. Eighteen Meerkats eventually had gathered around us using us as a warming pad and a lookout post and stayed like this for the next hour before heading off to forage.
Two days later we visited another but smaller group. The bonus this time was that this group had youngsters who had only emerged above - ground two days before! They were as comfortable in our presence as were the adults and stayed in our company for about an hour. Out trip was timed so that we could see Wild Dogs and their pups who den in July. Little did we realise that we also would see Meerkats and their young and out of our many wildlife experiences this trip comes second only to being in the presence of Mountain Gorillas. Don't delay in booking your place as the camps are small and accommodation is limited.
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