Wilder by Far and wild logo

Cats in Katavi

Wonderful Big Cat encounters await those who make it to Katavi



Uganda & Rwanda Expert
Published on

29 Jan 2018

Updated on

22 Jun 2020

Chada Katavi Leopard In Tree  - Craig Kaufman

A 9am radio call alerted us to a brief African leopard sighting while we were midway through a guided game walk that had started at our wonderful fly camp on the edge of the Katavi Plains.

As Leopard are notoriously elusive, we jumped at the chance to seek one. Less than a 1km drive later, a ranger spotted a motionless impala hanging from a thick branch of a tree to our right. It's insides had been partly removed - leopards often do this in order to make the prey corpse lighter and therefore, easier to carry up the tree, out of reach of the ever present Spotted hyenas. But where was our leopard? With such a tantalising meal, it surely had to be near.....

We searched using binoculars and drove slowly around the tree. No sign. Could the leopard be in the thick undergrowth around the base of the tree? We switched off the engine and waited in silence. The leopard had to be very near, but it had to think that we had either gone or accept that we posed no threat. We waited. One of the rangers spotted it amongst the undergrowth. Sure enough, the leopard was there hiding. An hour passed - still very little movement. The furtive cat then only retreated deeper into the undergrowth.

Katavi Armed Bush Walk - Craig Kaufman
Guided bush walk in Katavi

We elected to drive on -. perhaps we were preventing the leopard from climbing back up the tree. So we planned to return later on. In the meantime, we drove a further 1km to an area where there was a Buffalo kill, made by a pride of six lions, which had been seen by some of the staff while they were setting up the fly camp. The lions and the dead buffalo were still there: surprisingly, they had not yet eaten much of their prize. Interestingly, one of the lionesses was being particularly bothered by the flies, all around her eyes. To better the situation, she lazily got up and slowly walked past us and climbed a small and surprisingly flimsy tree to shade herself against the flies. There are only a few areas in Africa where this tree-climbing behaviour is recorded - I was quite surprised to observe it in Katavi National Park.

Later, we drove back to where the leopard was to see if it had now climbed up the tree to its kill. Sure enough, it had. But as we approached, we could see it contemplating doing a disappearing act again. So we kept our distance and watched. It was fascinating watching the leopard keeping an eye firmly on us as we were observing it.

While on our drive back to the Chada Katavi, elated from our leopard and lion sightings, there was a shout from the the back of the vehicle - 'Leopard!!'. A guide had spotted on close up, in a Sausage tree just to the right of us. In all my years of game driving, this was definitely my closet ever leopard sighting.

Just as was the case with our previous leopard, this cat appeared to be stalking us. Were we a predator, were we a threat? It was another eyeball to eyeball stakeout in process. This leopard seemed so perplexed by us that it slowly peered below a thick branch to get a view of us from a different angle, hoping that we wouldn't notice. It is an extraordinary experience, sharing this moment with such a sleek and accomplished predator. Another African experience I'll never forget.

Speak To Our Tanzania Expert Today

  • Marc


    Tanzania Specialist

Call an expert on

01768 603 715

Far & Wild Customer Reviews

See what our customers have to day about us...
Read all reviews

I didn't realise my high expectations could be so easily exceeded

Hannah and Elaine travelled to Kenya in November 2023 on a trip organised by .

It was SO NICE to have someone else do it for me.

Cathy travelled to Tanzania and Zanzibar in December 2023 on a trip organised by Alistair.

A dream to visit Mum's birth place!

Christine travelled to St Helena Holidays and South Africa in December 2023 on a trip organised by .

I've already recommended Far and Wild to a couple of friends

Paula travelled to South Africa in December 2023 on a trip organised by Alistair.

100% value for money

Adam travelled to Kenya in January 2024 on a trip organised by Ruth.

Adventure of a Lifetime in Kenya

Maria travelled to Masai Mara Safari in October 2023 on a trip organised by Ben.

Plan with an expert Plan with an expert

Have a look at our original holiday experiences and then contact us with your brief, or call 01768 603 715

A tailor-made itinerary just for you A tailor-made itinerary just for you

Our experts will send you a detailed holiday itinerary specified to your desires. It's our service promise to you.

Value guarantee Value guarantee

Tailor-made doesn't mean expensive! Ask about our price promise and book with financial security.