Tips for big cat safaris

Will Fox, CEO of our supplier On Track Safaris, shares his top tips for spotting big cats on safari in Brazil and India:

Where to see jaguars in the Pantanal

“In Pantanal the jaguars operate along the riverbank, which is the only habitat suitable for them to traverse. These river banks are well established with mature trees and foliage, that is also home to their prey species. The fact that they operate on riverbanks and that we travel by boat makes spotting jaguars easier than many other big cats.”

How tiger safaris work in India

“We work with big cats in a number of locations, but with regard to tigers in India we only use lodges with in-house naturalists that have been assessed by Travel Operators for Tigers, of which we are members and donators. In addition I visit each lodge to check that guide behaviour is correct and impart my knowledge to them where appropriate. These visits often result in additional two-way communication with guides and naturalists to maintain contact throughout the year.”
Martin Royle, director of our supplier Royle Safaris, on seeing tigers in Siberia and cloud leopards in Borneo:

Safari magic

“My favourite moment without a shadow of a doubt (which is actually my favourite moment in wildlife watching ever) was seeing a wild Siberian tiger for the first time. She just sat off the side of the road staring at us from around 10 metres away, then after two minutes the young female got up and moved deeper into the forest.”

Borneo nighttime safaris

“We generally do most of our activities during the night; in Tabin and Deramakot we will be out from 7pm until 12am/1am every night. This is the prime time, so we tend to not plan anything specific for the daytimes. There are some daytime activities that can be done, but most people choose to just do the seven to eight hours of wildlife watching in the night. This means we have the same time spent looking for wildlife as many other trips; it is just at another time of day. But yes it can be demanding on people if you are not used to that.”

Our top Big cat safaris Vacation

South Africa safari vacation, 14 days

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Big cat safaris travel advice

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful vacation advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your big cat safari vacation.
We went on this vacation in the hope of seeing a Tiger. Not only did we see one on the first day but had the privilege of seeing a total of ten tigers in three different National Parks.
– Peter Kemp on a tiger tour in India
“Enjoy everything about the trip, don't be hooked up on seeing tigers, they are there and can be hard to find, and when the moment arrives it is magical!!! Pack less than you think (laundry service available), have old clothes for game drives can be really dusty in hotter months and you do get dust everywhere, have something to do for between game drives / evenings as resorts are quite isolated ... Embrace the experience, the locals, the wildlife, the sights and the train, you may be surprised…This was a great vacation, enjoying a group vacation for the first time, meeting folks from different walks of life, mixing with the local people, enjoying the sights of India, and finally the wildlife and achieving my dream of seeing wild Tigers .... Awesome !!” – Ian Harrison on a tiger tour in India

“Seeing a leopard drinking from a water hole as we were hurrying (within the speed limit!) to try and reach the exit from the Kruger before the gate closed caused us a big dilemma! Naturally we stopped to watch it and risked a fine at the gate which fortunately didn't occur; Coming across a magnificent male lion lying just 25 yards from us whilst on a night game drive who obliged us by roaring shortly after we stopped to watch him. Hearing a lion roar so close was a truly memorable experience.” – Lena Hughes on a wildlife safari in South Africa
We spent nearly 50 hours watching interaction between several different cats including hunting and mating.
– Liz Cooke on a snow leopard tracking vacation in the Himalayas
“We went on this vacation in the hope of seeing a Tiger. Not only did we see one on the first day but had the privilege of seeing a total of ten tigers in three different National Parks. We actually followed a large male tiger along a track for more than half an hour while he sniffed and scent marked his way along. An experience never to forget.” – Peter Kemp on a tiger tour in India

“We spent nearly 50 hours watching interaction between several different cats including hunting and mating. Make sure you have good telescope, binoculars and camera lenses. Even if you don't see snow leopards, they are needed for the birdlife. Suggest getting a solar powered charger for electrical equipment – they don't weigh much and work really well. Have a care if you suffer from vertigo – you will be climbing up the side of mountains and walking along narrow trails in order to get good vantage points!” – Liz Cooke on a snow leopard tracking vacation in the Himalayas

“There were many (memorable moments) but it had to be finally seeing a Leopard in the wild...we were lucky and had wonderful views as an adult female came down to drink at a waterhole... It was a wonderful trip, providing many new sightings...The country was wonderful, and beautiful. The people very friendly. Our guides were very attentive. I would definitely recommend to any one to go to Sri Lanka.” – Chris Rose on a Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour

“The walking safari was exhilarating. Just to be in and amongst the wildlife was brilliant. But the whole trip was fantastic from start to finish. Be prepared for long days bouncing around in a jeep. Its harder work than you think.” – Dawn Howarth on a Nepal tiger safari
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: flowcomm] [Will Fox Quotes: Gerry Zambonini] [Martin Royle Quotes: Calgary Reviews] [Peter Kemp Quote: Fitindia] [Liz Cooke Quote: Ksuryawanshi]
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