Young lion looking into a camera

Guide to Big Cat Safaris

Our Big Cat Safaris guide shares with you our knowledge of the best places and times to find big cats in the wild.

Young lion looking into a camera

© ©NDunne,Shutterstock

Guide to Big Cat Safaris

We love them, we hate them; we want to cuddle them, we’re scared of them; they are magnificent, they are ferocious. Big cats are some of the most recognisable and irresistible species in the world, and this guide will show you where on earth you need to go to see them in the wild.

So, get your camera ready and let’s set off on safari to find lions, leopards, snow leopards, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, pumas …

Just after sunrise, in the morning mist, I saw 3 young lion cubs spring out of the dew-soaked grass onto a track, followed by their mother. Our guide thought they were no more than 10-12 weeks old and that we were the first humans they had seen. A thrilling, never-to-be-forgotten sight.

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Where to see big cats in the wild

Thoughtful leopard, Africa © VSteyn,Shutterstock

The definition of a ‘big’ cat varies, but in this guide we’re looking at the four main species: lion, leopard, tiger and jaguar, as well as cheetah, puma, snow leopard. So, where do we go for a responsible big cat safari?

We are going to take you to Africa, India and Latin America in our search for these often elusive animals which have such a draw for us all. We will see prides of lions on the hot savannah grasslands of the Serengeti, snow leopards melting into frozen landscapes of the Himalayas, jaguars lying on the forested riverbanks of the Brazilian Pantanal, tigers playing hide and seek in the jungles of India …

Big cats have made their home in all corners of the world. If we want to spend time with them we need a combination of patience, the knowledge of where and when to go, and a good guide/ranger to ensure we approach them safely and responsibly for the best sightings possible.

We may find them simply having a cat nap, of course, but then there are the mesmerising times that you find them playing, fighting, suckling their cubs, lounging in a tree or stalking. They are unendingly watchable, bewitchingly photogenic, and any time spent with them is a privilege.

Contents

In this guide we will share with you our knowledge of where to see the following big cats and the best times to see them:

  • TIGERS in India & Nepal
  • CHEETAHS in east and southern Africa
  • LEOPARDS in east and southern Africa, and India and Nepal
  • SNOW LEOPARDS in India
  • LIONS in eastern and southern Africa, and India
  • JAGUARS in Brazil
  • PUMAS in Chile

Plus

  • What is it like to see big cats in the wild?
  • Photographing big cats
  • Conservation issues
  • The best places to stay to see big cats
  • Trip ideas
  • Blogs related to big cats

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Close-up of a cheetah face, Africa © KLevit,Shutterstock

Cheetahs

A jaguar in Brazil's Pantanal © WMStein,Shutterstock

Jaguars

Leopard in a tree, Africa © Jeff&Wendy

Leopards & Snow leopards

Yawning lion cub, Africa © Shutterstock

Lions