A Guide to Locating the Big Five in Africa
Most people visiting Africa for authentic experiences such as wildlife safaris; want to locate the famous ‘Big Five’. The Big Five is Africa’s chosen few which were, in fact, named and singled out by hunters hundreds of years ago, as the species that were the most difficult to hunt due to their size and might. Today, the more modern desire to spot the Big Five is because many believe their trip isn’t complete without seeing these particular species which include: the African elephant, lion, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
If we’re honest, these are indeed the species you want to see, and their encounters make for a true African experience. But don’t forget the likes of the cheetah, the giraffe and the many beautiful mammals that roam the great African plains – these too are a sight to behold!
If you are wanting to catch sight of the Big Five and tick them off your list of wildlife sightings; we have listed more than a few places in Africa where you are pretty much guaranteed to see them.
These are countries that are rich in wildlife and are abundantly filled with the species that make up the Big Five.
Botswana is famous for their safari tours, which take travelers through the open plains home to millions of wildlife species. What makes Botswana special is that travelers get to see the species in their natural habitat. One should remember, however, that the plains of Botswana are vast and it’s highly unlikely the wildlife species will be concentrated to one area. This means it may take a few days before you see the Big Five – or any wildlife at all!
Luckily the guides are always in contact with each other, which helps to locate the wildlife quicker, and they are usually very good at tracking. However, it’s likely the wildlife will still be far out. Botswana is known to be home to the Big Five, as well as many different species of mammal and gazelle. It is an experience that is rewarding and unique, but be sure to spare a few days, and remain patient on your trip.
There are more than a few incredible places to go on a safari in South Africa. Of course, the most well-known is the Kruger National Park in Gauteng; but again, it’s not to say you’ll spot the wildlife in good time. Here again, the grasslands spread far and wide, and if you’re not familiar with the area, it can be very challenging to locate them. Often the guides even struggle – and when they do locate the species, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of cars and tourists surrounding the find.
We’d recommend visiting smaller wildlife reserves where the wildlife is more concentrated, and where you’re able to enjoy a more exclusive experience away from the crowds. South Africa is one of the only countries on the continent where one is able to safari in smaller, more intimate wildlife reserves. A luxury big 5 game reserve experience is one option which will not only ensure you’re holidaying in the lap of luxury, but which will also guarantee Big Five wildlife sightings. Otherwise there are a few day tours you can do around the country.
Kenya is another famous place for wildlife. The reason Kenya is one of the gems of the continent is because it is home to the Great Mammal Migration. Over 2 million mammals and gazelle cross the vast open grasslands of the Masai Mara, either making their way to Tanzania’s Serengeti, or coming from the Serengeti, depending on the time of year and the rainfall.
Kenya is indeed home to the Big Five, but it may take a few days to find them due to the size of the reserve. However, it’s the perfect place to holiday as there is plenty of luxury accommodation scattered throughout the park with views that are utterly spectacular. In fact, you won’t want to leave – even after you’ve seen the Big Five!
As you may have figured, the Great Mammal Migration can be enjoyed from Tanzania too, in the reserve known as the Serengeti. While it may be the Big Five you’re after, the Great Mammal Migration is a sight to behold and an incredibly profound experience. In Tanzania luckily you are spoilt for choice as you’ll be able to witness both the migration (depending on the time of year) and the Big Five.
The Serengeti is rich in wildlife and is home to many wildlife and bird species, so you’re sure to see even more than you were bargaining for.
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Pam is an outdoors-loving millennial momma who loves to hike, trek and camp in the beaches and mountains with her partner and their kiddos. When not exploring the great outdoors, she works with bloggers, coaches and solopreneurs to free up their time so they can work on the things that they love and enjoy the most.