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Where can I see wild dogs and big cats?

It is no wonder that so many visitors to Africa are desperate to glimpse a pack of African wild dogs - their beauty, their complex social structure and infectious exuberance all endear these creatures to nature-lovers across the world. But it is also true that, for many, a safari is incomplete without a sighting of a 'big cat'. Safari destinations that can boast reliable sightings of both wild dogs and big cats are few and far between - this can be partly blamed on habitat destruction, but it's also true that wild dogs don't always get on particularly well with their feline neighbours (lions in particular). As such, visitors to Africa sometimes feel like they have to choose between the chance of spotting wild dogs and having the quintessential 'big cat safari' experience.


We're here to help! We've racked our brains are come up with our top ten destinations that offer fantastic big cat and wild dog sightings. For the purposes of this post, we are talking about cheetah, leopard and lion when we say big cats - yes, we know, cheetah aren't technically 'big cats', but 'large felines that purr' isn't quite as catchy.


Take a look at our list and let us know your best spots for spotting dogs and cats!



10. Northern Tuli GR, Botswana


Cheetah Rating: 4/5

Leopard Rating: 5/5

Lion Rating: 4/5

Wild Dog Rating: 1/5


Overview: This south-east corner of Botswana, home to a number of large private concessions as well as the world-famous Mashatu Game Reserve, is an absolutely fantastic location for your next safari. This arid area boasts excellent big cat viewing - it's not uncommon to see cheetah, leopard and lion in a single day - as well as a great chance to spot dry-country species including bat-eared fox. Elephant viewing is also sensational, with Mashatu famed for its hides which offer eye-level photographic opportunities like nowhere else.


Northern Tuli can't offer guaranteed wild dog sightings, despite packs being introduced in recent years in Mashatu and neighbouring Tuli Wilderness, but dogs do occasionally come into the reserve from nearby Zimbabwe and South Africa. Buffalo and rhino only occur here as vagrants, so bear that in mind if you need the 'Big Five' to complete your safari.


How to Get There: Pictus Safaris visits Tuli on our 'Tuli Track and Trail' small-group safari in August 2022, available for just £2,495 for 8 nights.


9. Kruger National Park, South Africa


Cheetah Rating: 2/5

Leopard Rating: 4/5

Lion Rating: 4/5

Wild Dog Rating: 3/5


Overview: There's a whole lot more to Kruger than tarmac roads and traffic jams! The Greater Kruger, home to an array of excellent private concessions, can on its day offer game-viewing as good as anywhere else in Africa. With so many predators in such a small area, it's important to realise that populations are cyclical here - wild dog and cheetah populations in particular tend to crash and rebound, leading to plenty of differing accounts of what game-viewing here is really like. It's true that cheetah viewing here is hit-and-miss, with the dense vegetation not lending itself to these speedsters. But lion and leopard viewing can be exceptional, as a result of high population densities and properties working together to pinpoint animals' movements. Wild dog viewing is much better in the south of the Kruger, with Pretoriuskop in the national park proper one of our favourite spots.


How to Get There: Due to the extremely crowded nature of the safari market in Kruger, we only offer private departures to this great destination. You can enquire by contacting us at contact@pictus-safaris.com, and we would be happy to point you in the direction of other reputable small-group safari operators in the area.




8. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania


Cheetah Rating: 5/5

Leopard Rating: 5/5

Lion Rating: 5/5

Wild Dog Rating: 1/5


Overview: The Serengeti is undoubtedly the quintessential safari destination for many, with its endless plains dotted by zebra and wildebeest. It certainly packs a huge punch, offering near-guaranteed sightings of cheetah, leopard and lion during a typical stay, as well as the chance of observe the 'Great Migration' in full-flight. Sadly, wild dog sightings are more a matter of luck than anything else, as the population here was decimated by disease in the 1980s and 1990s. Recent years have seen significant improvements though, with packs forming in the Ndutu and Grumeti areas in particular. Whilst it is still true that the vast majority of visitors to the Serengeti don't get the chance to spend time with the dogs, it may not be long before sightings are reliable once more in this fantastic wilderness area.


How to Get There: Pictus Safaris visit the Serengeti, as well as the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire NP, Arusha NP and the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro, on our 11-night 'Beyond the Serengeti' small-group safari in September 2022.


7. Chobe National Park, Botswana


Cheetah Rating: 2/5

Leopard Rating: 4/5

Lion Rating: 4/5

Wild Dog Rating: 4/5