What are the Big Five and will I see them?
The Big Five (or Big 5) were traditionally considered to be the five most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa. Today, they are among the most popular animals tourists wish to see in Africa. The Big Five are the lion, the elephant, the rhino, the buffalo and the leopard.
In Botswana, thanks to a successful rhino reintroduction programme, certain areas in the Okavango Delta (like Chiefs Island) are now once again Big Five areas, although most of the other game reserves in Botswana do not have rhinos.
In South Africa, there are various Big Five game reserves (the Kruger National Park is the most famous of these). Even if you visit a Big Five reserve, remember that no sightings are guaranteed – the animals roam freely and part of the excitement of a safari is not knowing what you will find on each game drive. Our records show that we have found the Big Five on over 80% of all our Kruger National Park safaris. So although seeing all of them is not a certainty, we can assure you that you will see at least some of them on your safari.
Our advice is to not only focus on the Big Five during your safari. There are so many other animals and exciting things to see that a drive on which you see none of the Big Five can still be one of the most interesting game drives! Have a go at finding some of the Little Five – elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion, buffalo weaver and rhino beetle!
Of course, certain areas are known for certain animals. For example, if you want to see leopards, go to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. For wild dogs, try Madikwe or the Moremi Game Reserve. For cheetah, your best bet is the Serengeti in Tanzania, Maasai Mara in Kenya or Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. Lions and elephants can best be found in the Kruger National Park or Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa, Moremi Game Reserve or Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, Etosha in Namibia, or Hwange in Zimbabwe. Rhinos are most common in the southern Kruger National Park, Phinda or Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve (KwaZulu-Natal).
Let us know what your game-viewing expectations are, and we will recommend the best possible destination.