Explore this list of amazing trips to see wild cats around the world in their natural habitat. Some tours and safaris focus on a particular big cat, others are general wildlife tours that include a chance of viewing wild cats.
Activity levels range from strenuous expeditions, to volunteering on research projects, to relaxed holidays.
We have listed organizations that offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible.
All trips are accompanied by specialist guides that have a background in zoology or photography and often both. On some tours local guides at the destination add to the expertise on offer and greatly enhance your chances of spotting elusive wildlife.
These companies offer set tours as well as private tours that can be customized to suit the dates and specific locations you wish to travel to.
If you are on a mission to see all forty wild cat species in the wild – see our List of cats by Continent where you can download a pdf or a spreadsheet to use as a checklist.
For the smallest cats, the open, arid regions are best to encounter African Wildcats, however for the more secretive and rarer Black-footed Cats and Sand Cats you will likely need to join a specialized tour or a research project.
All these trips take place in South Africa:
- Royle Safaris – Kalahari’s Rare Mammals
- incl Black-footed Cat, African Wildcat, Caracal
- Naturetrek – Caracals & other Mammals
Of course Tigers are the most sought after big cat on trips to Asia. But in recent years, due to dedicated efforts of conservationists, researchers and local communities, it has now become possible to see other big cats such as Snow Leopards and Amur Leopards in remote regions. You will need to be the adventurous type!
Although Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs are mostly associated with Africa, there are still small populations of these big cats in Asia and a few operators include these cats in their tours to see Tigers.
Asia is home to the most number of small cat species and there are a few specialist trips to see cats such as the Fishing Cat and Pallas’s Cat. On tours to the south-east Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra you will search for rare endemic species such as the Sunda Clouded Leopard and Flat-headed Cat. On all of these trips you will also encounter the other unique mammals and birds of the region.
Most Tiger tours are based in India to see the Bengal Tiger, however also look out for tours to Russia to see the Siberian Tiger.
All except Oryx also offer longer tours to see all three big cats of Asia – the Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard.
Most Snow Leopard tours are to Ladakh in India, however also look for trips to Mongolia.
Bear in mind these are high altitude excursions and a good level of fitness is required.
- Royle Safaris – Snow Leopard Excursion
- Natural World Safaris – Snow Leopard Experience
- Oryx Photo Tours – Snow Leopard Photo Tour
There are six subspecies of Leopards across Asia with some occurring in only one country and others across vast regions.
Leopards are well known for their stealth and elusiveness, so going with a specialist guide is the only way to get a glimpse of these majestic felines.
- Royle Safaris – Amur Leopard Photography, Russia
- Natural World Safaris – Asiatic Leopards, India and Sri Lanka
Europe is home to only three species of cats – the Eurasian Lynx, Iberian Lynx and the European Wildcat. The Eurasian Lynx and European Wildcat are relatively common and widespread on the continent and there is a small population of Wildcats remaining in Scotland.
The Iberian Lynx was brought back from the brink of extinction by the tremendous efforts of conservation bodies together with numerous partners and it is now possible to view these beautiful cats in their primary home range in Spain. Most operators combine the trip with watching Eurasian Lynxes.
The European Wildcat falls into the smaller cat size range and, as with most of the smaller cat species, it is best to join a tour with the cat as a specific focus. Some of these tours include visiting an active research project which definitely increases your chances of seeing the cats.
Eurasian & Iberian Lynx
The jungles and wetlands of South America make it very difficult to spot wildlife, however with the recent emergence of wildlife tourism in the region, specialist guides will take you to spots where sightings of the larger cats are almost guaranteed. There are now a number of Jaguar and Puma watching safaris that you can choose from, ranging from budget to luxury.
The medium and smaller cats are even more difficult to observe such as Ocelots and Pampas Cats, however a few intrepid tour operators have spent many weeks researching ideal locations to offer specialist tours. Even if you don’t spot all the cats, there is of course the spectacular wildlife of Latin America to enjoy.
Kindly note this page is a free listing for tour operators. Wild Cat Family has (unfortunately!) not attended any of these tours and thus cannot recommend anyone explicitly, however I have thoroughly researched each company and only list those I would personally book with. I have traveled to many of these destinations to see wildlife and can verify they are the ideal places to spot wild cats.
Please mention you heard about a tour on Wild Cat Family when you make a booking, thank you.
Image credits are on the individual cat species pages.