James Bainbridge
United Kingdom UK
Oct 28, 2014 October 28, 2014

James is a travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guides, including senior author of the guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Category: Amazing Wildlife Encounters

There can be few more electrifying sights on safari than seeing a mighty leopard crouched on a branch, especially if it has just killed an antelope.

When I visited Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve on a group safari, the big joke was that we wanted to see a leopard in a tree. After a few days of scrambling around the Okavango Delta, seeing hippos wallowing, wild dogs hunting and pretty much everything but a leopard, our guide spotted a big spotted cat.

And it was in a tree. A freshly slaughtered impala was draped over the branch, spinal vertebrae protruding from its bloody carcass. The encounter grew more thrilling when our over-excited guide reversed into a swamp and the leopard came down to check us out.

Over the following week, as we travelled up the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, we saw more leopards on branches, but that first sighting was the most memorable.