Top Big Five Safari Destinations In Africa
Your African safari experience will be incomplete if you do not head out on a memorable Big Five safari. To see the rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard in their natural habitat and in close quarters is a once in a lifetime experience. The Big 5 are the ultimate symbol of Africa, and you can see them in their majestic glory in several African countries.
If you’re looking to spot all five animals in a single safari, it’s important to head out into the wilderness at the right time. This increases your chances of seeing the Big 5 significantly. Here are some of the countries in Africa where you can head out on a Big 5 safari and maximise your chances of seeing these animals.
South Africa is home to one of the most famous nature reserves in the world – the Kruger National Park, and it is one of the best places in Africa to experience a memorable Big Five safari. This massive park holds over 147 species of animals. Every 100 square kilometres, you should be able to spot around 5 to 8 lions with ease. The park also has a large population of leopards, elephants, buffaloes and white rhinos with approximately 300 black rhinos.
South Luangwa National Park is the perfect place for a Big Five safari. It is considered one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Spread over an area of 9,050 square kilometres towards the end of the Great Rift Valley, the park is teeming with 60 species of wildlife and 400 species of bird life that live in total harmony in the savannah grasslands scattered with baobab trees.
Make sure you bring your binocular along for some bird-watching and rare Thornicroft’s giraffe sightings. If you want to see hippos, head over to the Luangwa River. It is always crowded with these massive semi-aquatic mammals.
You can be sure to have an awe-inspired safari in Namibia. Here, you will see wide open grasslands, large camel thorn trees, Mopani trees and a vast salt pan. The park covers an area of 4,731 square kilometres and is home to four of the five magnificent animals. The Etosha National Park does not have buffaloes but don’t let that worry you. Etosha has ostriches, Kori bustards, European bee-eaters, and giraffe as well. In fact, you can be confident that you will have one of the most rewarding safari experiences ever. There are many private game reserves on the outskirts of Etosha that you can visit as well.
You will not experience an authentic Big Five safari until you visit Botswana and its Okavango Delta. It is one of the last remaining habitats in the wild of such great magnitude.
You can be sure that you will see every member of the Big 5 with ease in Botswana along with sweeping herds of wildebeest, reptiles, fish and more than 1,000 unique plant species.
At the Okavango Delta, you will be in for a surprise. The animals living here have adapted to their surroundings. So, don’t be shocked to see a lion swimming while pursuing their prey or climbing trees to enjoy a high vantage point. At Duba Plains, lions hunt during the day rather than at night – this maximises the chances of seeing a pride.
Botswana is also home to the Chobe National Park, where you can enjoy a Big Five safari. It has several herds of elephants and buffaloes along with lions, leopards, and a small population of rhinos. The Park is renowned for its massive population of elephants, and the best place to witness these majestic mammals is along the Chobe waterfront.
Covering an area of 14,600 square kilometres, the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is another beautiful place to enjoy a Big Five safari. It has large herds of elephant and buffalo, and about 500 lions. You will be one of the lucky few if you spot leopards and rhinos in the park. If you don’t, you shouldn’t worry as Hwange National Park is one of the best places to spot zebra and giraffe.
While you are in Zimbabwe, you shouldn’t miss a visit to Mana Pools. Here, you can join a Big Five safari with a visit to the thundering Victoria Falls. The mighty Zambezi dissects the Park and creates an ideal environment for wildlife to thrive. That is why Mana Pools is one of the best places to see the Big Five as well as crocodiles and hippos. In fact, the hippos and crocs occupy a pride of place in the Zambezi and its tributaries. It is also the place to enjoy a walking safari, which can be thrilling as you may be just a few yards from these animals during the safari.
The Bottom Line
Enjoying a Big Five safari in the African continent can be rewarding. Not only can you see five of the biggest animals in the world in their natural habitat, but the safari also gives you an opportunity to witness and cherish some of the last remaining indigenous tribes in the region. Their culture is fascinating, especially as the tribes are entirely unaware of the spoils of civilisation and modernity.
When you head out on a Big Five safari, it is essential that you plan it with care, taking into consideration the season and animal migration routes. You can head out on a self-drive safari to catch a glimpse of the Big Five. However, make sure your selected vehicle is prepared to handle the terrain you will encounter during the safari and also provide you with the safety and reliability to give you peace of mind so that you can focus on having an enjoyable and comfortable drive as you take in the stunning scenery.