Explore Africa’s Wildlife on a Memorable Big 5 Safari
A safari experience is undoubtedly the one thing you have to do when visiting Africa. However, no Safari experience is complete without seeing the Big 5. The African Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant form the Big 5, a glance at these beasts of the wild will leave you mesmerised and will remain embedded in your memory for years to come.
The term big 5 was coined by big-game hunters, as it was difficult for these animals to be hunted on foot. From hunting to admiration, these impressive animals have become ambassadors of the African wild. You can spot these amazing animals in several countries, from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Kenya.
Not sure where to begin, don’t worry we got you covered, read on as we uncover the Big 5’s characteristics as well as the best places to visit to watch these animals in their natural habitats.
The African Big 5 Characteristics
Each animal in the African big 5 has distinct personality traits, despite their uniqueness, they each share something in common, read on to find out what they share in common.
- Lion: The African Lion is the second largest big cat in the world, as its second only to the Tiger. These amazing creatures are not hard to spot, with orange-brownish coats and males carrying a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. They are very social animals, living in big groups called pride. They are the apex predators in the jungle and are commonly known as the king of the jungle.
- Leopard: Leopards are exotic big cats with dark rosette-shaped markings, they are difficult to spot due to their nocturnal habits, as they are most active between sunset and sunrise, however they may be seen hunting during the day in some areas. Spotting this animal during a Big 5 safari is one of the most exhilarating experiences.
- Rhino: There are two rhino families, the white rhino with its squared lip distinguishes it from the black rhino. These large herbivores can be seen with two upright horns on their nasal bridge, which unfortunately is a big trophy amongst game hunters rendering these animals endangered. Rhinos can be spotted wallowing in mud to cool them down from the scorching heat of the sun.
- Buffalo: The African buffalo, known to be the most dangerous of the big five, is a cattle-like animal with a large horned bovid and generally falls prey to lions, although putting up a good fight. They have an incredible sense of smell and like to spend time in the water due to the fact that lions don’t like to get wet.
- Elephant: Known as the largest land animal in the world, the elephant is a gentle giant with a characteristic long trunk used to drink, store and spray water, interact with their environment and communicate by blowing air through it. They have hairless skin, ivory tusks, and large fan-shaped ears. Spotting these animals in a Big 5 safari is truly a significant moment.
Have you found out what they share in common? Well if you missed it, it's that they are all big!
Where to Experience the Best Big 5 Safari in Africa?
It can be overwhelming to choose from amongst many areas, the best Big 5 Safari experience in Africa. Let’s help you with that, we’ve been recommending our guests the best Safari experiences and they never leave disappointed, here are our top picks by location.
Big 5 Safari in South Africa
- Kruger National Park: Boasting as one of the largest Game reserves in Africa, this incredible Game reserve covers an area of approximately 19,623 km2 extending 360 km from north to south and 65 km from east to west. With all this space the wildlife never feels restrained. This reserve houses the densest population of the Big 5 making it the most exciting Big 5 African Safari destination.
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve: Located adjacent to the Kruger National Park, this reserve covers approximately 623 km2 sharing a non-fenced area with the Kruger National Park. The reserve exists to protect and preserve a large diverse ecosystem, including endangered species.
- Madikwe Game Reserve: Covering roughly 680 km2 this reserve is considered one of the best conservation areas in Africa. From a farming land transformed into a game reserve, this reserve boasts over 66 large mammals and roughly 300 bird species. Due to its relatively low number of visitors this reserve is perfect if you want minimal crowds on a spectacular Big 5 Safari experience.
Big 5 Safari in Kenya
- Maasai Mara: As one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, Maasai Mara, located southwest of Kenya, stretches 1,510 km2 hosting 95 species of mammals and over 570 recorded species of birds. Make sure you book this amazing Big 5 safari in time for the wildebeest migration, which occurs around July - October.
- Amboseli National Park: Known for its large herds of big-tusked elephants with a breathtaking view of Mount Kilimanjaro, this reserve is the second most popular national park after the Masai Mara. The park is roughly 392 km2 in size hosting the incredible Big 5 as well as other spectacular wildlife species.
Big 5 Safari in Tanzania
- Serengeti National Park: This large national park stretches over an impressive 14,736 km2 of land. This picturesque region features volcanoes, large stretches of grasslands, and an impressive diversity of wildlife including the big 5. The Serengeti is known for its great migrations, where over 1.5 million wildebeest, and 250,000 zebra along with other smaller herds of Gazelles and Elands migrate from Serengeti into the Maasai Mara and back.
Big 5 Safari in Zimbabwe
- Hwange National Park: This is the largest Natural park in Zimbabwe, covering around 14,600 km2 of land, it lies in the northwest of the country. This enormous park houses over 100 species of mammals with an impressive 400 species of birds decorating the skies. This park is known for its large presence of tusked elephants, housing over 40,000 tusker elephants.
Big 5 Safari in Zambia
- South Luangwa National Park: With its mesmerizing woodlands, open grassy plains, and the impressive Luangwa river this National park is worth a visit for an amazing Big 5 safari experience. This reserve covers a landmass of over 9000 km2 with over 60 species of mammals and over 400 bird species. This reserve is perfect if you want an uncrowded safari experience, due to its remote location and relatively low numbers of visitors.
Big 5 Safari in Botswana
- Chobe National Park: Chobe is a wildlife paradise and one of the best national parks in Southern Africa. This national park is extremely lush owing to its many waterways, with the flow of the Chobe River attracting many animals and birds during the dry season. This park has an impressive population of elephants which exceeds a whopping 50,000 and has one of the greatest concentrations of game in all of Africa.
- Moremi Game reserve: With a striking number of birdlife species, and a diverse landscape; combining the mopane woodland, floodplains, papyrus rivers, acacia forests, and fairytale lagoons, the Moremi game reserve is incredibly diverse. This Big 5 safari is unique with occasional encounters with the Basarwa Bushmen.
Big 5 Safari in Namibia
- Etosha National park: As our last pick, this incredible game reserve is definitely not the least. It has an incredible salt pan, so large that it can be seen from space. There is an abundance of wildlife that congregate at their many waterholes making this an incredible Big 5 safari experience as you get to see a diverse set of wildlife in concentrated areas.
Let’s Get in Touch on Planning Your Big 5 Safari Experience
Still too many options? Let’s get in touch to curate the best Big 5 Safari depending on your interests with expert travel agents. Here at Kabura Travel and Tours, we pride ourselves in providing our guests with experiences they’ll never forget