For our inaugural serval and caracal photo tour, we visited the eastern Serengeti for a total of eight days. Eastern Africa is famous for a reason and we had fantastic sightings along the way. We saw a total of five different servals for the duration of the tour. Sadly we did not see any caracal, despite our best efforts, but our other sightings made up for it! Read the rest of our serval and caracal photo tour 2023 trip report to get all the details!
Highlights of the 2023 Serval and Caracal Photo Tour
Serval: In total, we photographed five different serval, including an extended hunting event. Sightings averaged thirty minutes, at an average distance of twenty meters. For our closest encounter, we had the serval at just four meters!
Cheetah: We had about over a dozen different cheetah sightings. We saw a hunt from a distance, but the highlight for sure was watching a mom carry her five kittens one-by-one to a new den.
Lions: Though not our target wild cat species, we had nice sightings of lions, including males relaxing on kopjes, a mating pair, and females that were pushing out a male of their pride.
Spotted Hyena: Hyenas were numerous throughout the tour. We kept seeing them look for weak wildebeest as the migration came through.
Detailed Trip Summary 2023
Day 1: All of our guests decided to do an extension pre-tour in other parts of the Serengeti, so Rachel and I arrived by ourselves in Kilimanjaro. We drove to the hotel, and crashed, since we were exhausted from the international flights.
Day 3: We spent all day in the eastern Serengeti with serval and caracal as our main targets. This trip is designed for these two cats, so we spent little time with other cats. That was of course until Rachel found a female cheetah that had five three-week-old kittens. We watched her for a while, ate breakfast, and then returned, right when she started to move each cub individually. She would pick one up, and walk quite a way, 800 meters to the new den site. Most of the time, she would drop the kitten a few times. The kittens were none the wiser and seemed happy to get a free ride. We saw one more cheetah in the afternoon, but the mom was definitely the highlight of the day.
Day 4: Mornings five through eight, as well as every afternoon session was solely focused on spending quality time observing and photographing manul. This was a particularly good year for kittens and we saw five different litters during the tour. We spent most of our time with a litter of three kittens that were a bit older, around eight weeks old. During our time with the cats, we observed kittens at their den, playing and waiting for mom, we watched kittens hunting voles successfully at eight weeks old, and even saw mom moving dens with her kittens at one point. My personal highlight for sure was spending time with the hunting manul kittens. Observing their deadly hunting techniques while so cautiously moving through the short vegetation was so fun. Most hunts we watched were successful, which was incredible to see! Below are some photos of all the manul highlights from the trip.
Serval and Caracal Photo Tour 2023 Species List
|African Savannah Hare
|African Golden Wolf
|Alcelaphus buselaphus cokei
|Western Cattle Egret
|Black-chested Snake Eagle
|Brown Snake Eagle
|Spotted Eagle Owl
|Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
|African Gray Hornbill
|African Paradise Flycatcher
|African Gray Flycatcher
|White-headed Buffalo Weaver
|Lesser Masked Weaver
|African Pied Wagtail