Experience an unforgettable Big 5 safari in Africa

No safari to Africa is complete without marvelling at an elite grouping of her most famous residents, the Big 5. So, what is a Big 5 safari? Well, it's any safari where you get to see the lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino! 

The Big 5 are the crowning glories and likely the most recognised symbols of Africa, making a Big 5 safari a popular request from our guests. Thankfully, you can find them in several countries around Africa, from Kenya and Namibia to Botswana and South Africa. Here's a quick taste of what you can expect.

Marvel at Africa’s Big 5 animals

The Big 5 African animals are all magnificent, but they differ greatly from one another, so here are the Big 5 animals and their key characteristics:

  • Lion: King of the jungle, or rather bushveld, the lion is Africa's most impressive and largest big cat.

  • Rhino: We love the rhino so much that we named ourselves after it. A powerful herbivore, it's also, unfortunately, an endangered species. 

  • Leopard: This spotted big cat is famously elusive, and seeing one in real life is one of the most memorable moments on a Big 5 safari.

  • Buffalo: The African buffalo is a large, cattle-like animal that falls prey to other animals like the lion, but they put up quite the fight with their muscular bodies and impressive horns.

  • Elephant: As the largest land mammal, the African elephant is our gentle giant that you cannot (and don't want to) miss seeing on a Big 5 safari.

Where can I experience the best Big 5 safari in Africa? 

We love all of Africa, but some of the best Big 5 safari destinations in Africa are our favourites. Here's what you can expect from a Big 5 safari in all the premier destinations we love recommending to our guests. 

Big 5 Safaris in Eastern Africa 

  • Kenya: East Kenya is home to thousands of hectares of national park and protected land, most notably in the form of the celebrated Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park and Tsavo National Parks. The sheer collective size of these parks and their diverse terrain provide habitats for an array of wildlife – including the Big 5 – and an assortment of activities. Not to mention that, if you visit at the right time of year, you could witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.

  • Tanzania: The Greater Serengeti Ecosystem and its neighbours offer some of the country's best Big 5 safari opportunities. Picture volcanic grasslands and vast plains interrupted by rocky outcrops, rivers, volcanoes, and forests. During the Great Migration, the wildlife wanders freely across the Serengeti's 1.5 million hectares, into Kenya's Maasai Mara, and back. 

    To the south is the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from being the only intact caldera in the world, it boasts a fertile floor and an abundance of wildlife along with (you guessed it) the Big 5. Fun fact: Many speculate that, before Ngorongoro erupted, it would have been higher than the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro.

Big 5 Safaris in Southern Africa

  • South Africa: Undoubtedly South Africa's most iconic game-viewing destination for a Big 5 safari and Africa's second-largest park, the Kruger National Park is spread across an impressive two million hectares of land in the far north-eastern corner of the country. As the oldest, largest, and most established park, Kruger is home to the highest population density of the Big 5 in South Africa. Its unfenced neighbour, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, shares the park's prolific abundance of wildlife.

    Despite its obvious appeal, you'd be remiss for thinking the Greater Kruger Area is the only place to enjoy a Big 5 safari in South Africa. From a low-yield cattle farm to a flourishing conservation area, Madikwe Game Reserve is a land of bushveld and grassland, sloping mountains and rocky outcrops. Brushing against Botswana's border and the tip of the Kalahari Desert, the park has not only provided a haven for wildlife, including the Big 5, but it has also been a fierce proponent of community upliftment initiatives. 

    Located on the southeast shoreline of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is another Big 5 destination to add to your list, with a rich history and the ability to combine beach and bush activities.

  • ZimbabweHwange National Park is arguably one of Africa’s very best Big 5 safari destinations. You can explore this massive park and its creatures on foot, on horseback, or a game drive. Its impressive range of wildlife, such as the Big 5, giraffe, hyena, African wild dog, and more, is mirrored by the diversity of the park’s environment. The sandy southern part of the park skirts along the Kalahari Desert and is dotted with semi-arid shrubbery, while the northern grasslands are thick with granite outcrops and groves of teak and mopane trees.

  • Zambia: Hailed as one of Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries, South Luangwa National Park packs a massive punch within its 9,050km² boundaries. Situated at the tail-end of the Great Rift Valley and skirting along the Luangwa River, this park’s savannah grasslands are populated by 60 species of wildlife and over 400 bird species, making it great for both game viewing and bird-watching. Luangwa’s remote location and relatively low number of visitors also mean you’ll be guaranteed an exclusive safari experience in an unspoilt environment.

  • BotswanaChobe is home to four of the Big 5 and its population of elephants is especially impressive, said to exceed 50,000. From the verdant marshlands of Savuti and Linyanti to the extensive floodplains running along the Chobe River, Chobe National Park is one of Botswana’s flagship safari destinations, all thanks to its population of elephants and status as the most biologically diverse park in the country.

    Spread across less than 5,000km² of the Okavango Delta and home to the iconic Chief’s Island, Moremi Game Reserve is renowned for being a protected area of incredible biodiversity and the ideal Big 5 safari destination. While Moremi is home to an array of prolific birdlife and wildlife, the local Basarwa Bushmen also reside in the area, offering visitors an intimate look into their traditional way of life.

  • Namibia: Etosha is home to one of Namibia’s most iconic attractions – and with good reason. It offers some of the best safari territories in the country, from the iconic Etosha National Park and a variety of private game reserves on its outskirts. Etosha boasts four of the Big 5, needing only the African buffalo to complete its ranks. Both the park and surrounding reserves and concessions offer wildlife experiences that are as rewarding as they are memorable. 

Start planning your Big 5 safari holiday now

With so many options available, it can be overwhelming trying to plan your dream African experience. But don't worry, that's why the World’s Leading Safari Company (that’s us!) is here to help! 

Our Travel Experts have first-hand experience of all these destinations, so get in touch, and let's create a tailor-made itinerary that suits your individual needs and requirements.

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