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Big Cats Safari Holidays

Big cats are among the most majestic creatures to roam our planet. We're proud to have delivered awe-inspiring big cats safari holidays for over 40 years.
Our dedicated wildlife holidays provide fascinating insights into these felines of the animal kingdom, from Bengal tigers in India to prides of lions in Tanzania.

When it comes to our wildlife tours, it's not just what you'll see, but what you'll experience. On our big cat tours, you'll learn from expert tour leaders, travel in adapted vehicles suitable for off-roading and explore famous and lesser-known areas for amazing wildlife sightings.

Our Big Cats trips

India Wildlife Trip code WSI
Discounted
Refreshed itinerary
15 Days From £2899 without flights
Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe Wildlife Trip code BW
Discounted
Best Seller
14 Days From £3215 without flights
Kenya Wildlife Trip code KQ
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NEW
8 Days From £3295 without flights
South Africa Wildlife Trip code SAH
Discounted
14 Days From £2595 without flights
Namibia Wildlife Trip code NL
Best Seller
12 Days From £3040 without flights
South Africa, Eswatini Family Trip code FZK
Discounted
Child Ages: 7+
Best Seller
13 Days From £1619 without flights

What are the main Big Cats?


 

Tigers

There are nine species of tigers, with around 5,574 tigers in the wild. Tigers are the biggest wild cat, growing up to 10 feet (3m) long and weighing as much as 660 pounds (300kg). Bengal tigers are the most common tiger - about half of the population - and are also known as Indian tigers. 
Read more on our India tiger safaris

Lions

African and Asiatic lions look similar, but there are subtle differences in their weight and appearance. African lions inhabit sub-Saharan African countries like Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania, with around 23,000 in the wild. The slightly smaller Asiatic lion is endemic to the Gir Forest in India, with a much smaller population of 500 in the wild.

Cheetahs

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world, reaching speeds of up to 64 miles per hour in just three seconds. There's some 6,600 cheetahs in the wild and they tend to be more docile than other big cats. While cheetahs look similar to a leopard, its main differences include its smaller head and facial markings. 

Jaguars

Jaguars are the largest cat in the Americas, growing up to six feet (1.8m) long. They're also excellent swimmers; these wild cats have adapted to wet environments. Mostly found in Brazil, including the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal (the largest tropical wetland), there are around 173,000 jaguars in the wild.

Leopards

Among the nine subspecies of leopards is the Amur leopard, the rarest big cat in the world. Leopards are solitary creatures, and strong, too; it's not uncommon for them to drag their prey into high trees, using their retractable claws. These nocturnal hunters can see in the dark extremely well - up to seven times more so than humans.

Where to see wild cats

Ranthambore National Park in India's Rajasthan state is one of the best places to see Bengal tigers in the wild. This wildlife sanctuary is part of Project Tiger and is home to over 40 of the remarkable beasts. Explore this sprawling land on our selection of wildlife tours, including family safari tours. Also in the same northern region is Sariska National Park, where you can spot tigers and the elusive leopard. Head out on game drives in central India's Kanha National Park in search of more tigers and leopards. 

Sundarbans ("beautiful jungle") in Nepal accommodates Bengal tigers - but have your binoculars at the ready, as they're very hard to spot. For a higher chance of tiger sightings in the wild, join our tour for a deep dive into Bandipur National Park

Leopards in Sri Lanka reside in the likes of Wilpattu National Park and Udawalawe National Park. Heading out on a jeep safari is the best way to be in with a chance of seeing these hard-to-spot felines. Yala National Park is also leopard territory but sees more tourists, making big cat sightings less likely.

Kenya safari holidays encompass the world-famous Masaai Mara, where you can see lions, cheetahs and leopards. For the ultimate safari in Africa, don't miss Tanzania; Serengeti National Park is home to over 4,000 lions, 1,000 leopards and 550 cheetahs. Also in Tanzania is Ngorongoro Crater, a huge caldera that has formed a natural barrier, creating a habitat haven for lion and cheetahs.

African wildlife also reigns supreme in Botswana. African big cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards call the likes of Moremi Game Reserve home. Consider our Namibia safari holiday and head out on multiple game drives in search of lion in Etosha National Park. There's nowhere quite like Kruger National Park in South Africa for a wildlife safari; among the Big Five are prides of lions, who you might see loitering around watering holes.

Responsible wildlife watching

Responsible travel and tourism is essential to us at Explore. We don't visit zoos; we see animals in the wild where possible, even endangered animals. But where, sadly, it's unlikely or not possible to see the animals in the wild, we visit rehabilitation centres that are working hard to care for the animals and increase their populations. We will never knowingly compromise the welfare of any animal for the purpose of our trips. We want to protect animals, keep them wild and contribute towards the best welfare standards in the industry. We launched our Animal Protection Policy in 2021 and we launched our Explore Foundation to not only positively improve the lives of communities worldwide but to also promote conservation.  

We also support wildlife conservation charities, through financial donations or by including visits in our itineraries. Learn more about our charities and partners.

Frequently asked questions


Our wildlife tours are very safe. Tour leaders may double as wildlife spotters, using their initiative and excellent observation skills to identify a big cat's behaviour. Ultimately, they'll always make sure you're in the right place at the right time. Plus, our robust game drive vehicles are adapted to suit the terrain.

For some of our Africa wildlife tours, the vehicles used for game drives generally include reliable Land Rovers and Land Cruisers. Generally speaking, many safari vehicles have pop-up tops and can seat up to 12 passengers, combining comfort with excellent views. Vehicles used for big cat viewings in India include shared 4WD vehicles, boats and more, but overall it depends on the tour type and destination.

It's always important to manage expectations on all wildlife trips. Nature is unpredictable and sightings can never be guaranteed. If you're determined to see wild cats, book onto a tour that has multiple game drives. On our India Tiger Safari tour, we offer multiple days of game drives, increasing the likelihood of Bengal tiger sightings. Game drives and safaris take place at specific times of the day. Generally, the best time to see big cats are early in the morning and in the evening. The cooler temperatures makes hunting much easier for these wild cats. During the daytime, big cats are typically much less active, and sleep to avoid the heat of the day.

What to pack for a wildlife holiday depends on the location and time of year you're visiting. You should protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses and sunblock. Avoid wearing anything white, as this can catch the attention of animals.


For more helpful information about our wildlife tours, check out our dedicated safari holidays page.

Explore more on our wildlife holidays