Young cheetahs, Africa

Guide to Big Cat Safaris: Cheetahs

Cheetahs are the speed merchants of Africa's grasslands. Find the best places to see cheetahs in the wild.

Young cheetahs, Africa

© Jeff&Wendy

Cheetahs: Fast, sleek and spotted

Cheetahs are the flexible, high-speed cats of the African plains. For short durations, they can reach 70mph helped by their slim frame, long legs and long tail. These sleek, spotty supermodels of the savannah have distinctive tear stripes from the inner corner of their eye to their mouth – these markings, their frame, and the solid black spots (as opposed to the rosette on a leopard’s coat) clearly mark them out as cheetahs.

Females are usually alone unless they have cubs, but males often stay together in what is known as a coalition, often of siblings but not necessarily. They become a powerful hunting machine when they join forces in this way. Hunting by day, they rely on their sight to pick out prey, which is why you’ll frequently see them on termite mounds or low trees.

Our guide was obviously very well-respected, as rangers gave him/us special permission to get close to a cheetah mama with 3 new-borns which guide said were born either just minutes or a few hours prior to our arrival. Extraordinary.

Paul-May-2019
Paul Cook - Travel Consultant

There are few places Paul hasn't been! A keen photographer, he loves to capture the essence of a place. He shares his knowledge generously.

Call:  01473 890499

Cheetahs chasing wildebeest, Tanzania © Jeff&Wendy

Seeing cheetahs on an Africa safari

It’s often hard to predict where a cheetah might be, however they’ll often be spotted on a termite mound or simply in the middle of the grasslands they’re hunting on. You need to keep your distance, especially if they are hunting as it would be easy to cause them to abandon a hunt if you got too close. A hunt by a coalition is quite a spectacular and thrilling sight.
If you come across a mother, you’ll see that cubs are very playful, and up to about 3 months they have a kind of punk ruff of hair down their back.

The best places to see cheetahs in the wild

You can’t really plan an African safari just to see cheetahs. It could easily end in disappointment if luck isn’t on your side. However, if you go to the places where there are good populations of cheetahs, and give yourself time, you stand a reasonably good chance of spotting one of these amazing big cats. Here are just some of our suggestions.

The best time to see cheetahs

You can see cheetahs all year in Africa, and because they are diurnal, you’re more likely to see a cheetah hunt than either a lion or leopard. They prefer the early mornings and later afternoons.

Seeing a cheetah with her 2 cubs watching her on a kill which we witnessed from start to finish was unbelievable to watch.

The Tribes Foundation

Simply by booking with Tribes, you are making a difference. Every booking helps with The Tribes Foundation, the charity we back with admin and funds. Most clients give additional donations which we always put to very good use with one of the wildlife, environmental or social projects we support.

Travel with Respect for the Earth © KC,Shutterstock

Conservation of cheetahs

As well as the usual threats of habitat destruction and human-wildlife conflict causing drastic drops in the cheetah population, cubs are also stolen for the exotic pet trade.
Another issue with these delicately-framed cats is that the larger, heavier cats and other predators such as hyenas tend to steal the cheetahs’ kills and often attack and kill them. It’s not easy being a cheetah.
Various charities aim to help big cats including cheetahs, with Cheetah Conservation Botswana being one.

Wildebeest and zebras on the annual migration, Africa
Featured Itinerary

North Serengeti Migration & Mafia Island

12 days from £6350pp plus international flights.

Explore north Tanzania inc. northern Serengeti (perfect for migration around July-Oct), then lovely Mafia Island.

    • Perfect safari to see the migration in Serengeti from July-October.
    • Stay in small luxury camps and lodges.
    • Tarangire wildlife viewing is at its best from July to October.
    • Excellent birdlife at Lake Manyara.
    • Relax on the unspoilt island of Mafia.
View itinerary
Sossusvlei dunes, Namib-Naukluft, Namibia
Featured Itinerary

Classic Namibia Self-Drive

16 days from £3000pp plus international flights.

A classic introduction to Namibia from beach to desert and more inbetween.

      • Self drive through the best of Namibia
      • Culture, wildlife, scenery
      • See the desert, the coast and mountains
      • Wildlife viewing in renowned Etosha NP
      • See the many faces of Namibia
     
View itinerary
On a family safari staying at Kicheche camps, Kenya
Featured Itinerary

A Wild Kenya Family Safari

7 days from £3200pp plus international flights.

A fantastic family safari adventure in Laikipia and the Masai Mara.

      • Enjoy the safari as a family
      • Plenty to keep the little ones entertained
      • Game drives in Laikipia and the Masai Mara
      • Child friendly menus
      • Explore the private conservancies
     
View itinerary