Where to see the Big 5 in Africa? – Top places to see the predators in Africa – Best time to see the Big 5 in Africa
Where to see the Big 5 in Africa? – The Big Five/Predators are Africa’s undisputed superstars and the reason you set out eagerly on dawn and dusk game-viewing excursions. There can be no argument that giraffes and zebra are prettier creatures than buffalo, or that cheetah can be easier to find than the leopard, but seeing any of the Big 5 living wild and free in their natural habitats remains an unforgettable thrill at the top of your Africa Safari.
The term ‘Big Five’ was originally coined in the 19th Century by big game hunters who listed African elephants, Cape buffalo, African Lion, Leopard, and Rhinoceros as the five most dangerous creatures to hunt on foot in Africa. Fortunately, the Big Five are now protected in National Parks and private game reserves, and the term is synonymous with photographic safaris. Today you contribute directly to the conservation of these magnificent animals across encroachments like poaching, wildlife trafficking, and habitat destruction.
Best places to see the Big 5 in Africa
Members of the Big Five are found in different concentrations across Africa. If you want the best chance of seeing them all on a single safari sometimes, if you are really lucky on a single game drive or in a single day then head to the following places:
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sharing an unfenced border with Kruger, the beauty of Sabi Sands is that only guests are allowed in while animals can wander at will. Some of Africa’s most luxurious lodges are found here.
- Ngorongoro Crater
This crater in Tanzania is packed with about 30 000 animals that can’t descend the steep walls and so thrive in this varied ecosystem. It is easily combined with the Serengeti and Tarangire.
- Kruger National Park
A staple on any safari-goer’s map, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned traveler to Africa. This massive chunk of South Africa – the size of about Israel or Belgium – is a good place to start.
- Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Former farmland in South Africa that is being painstakingly rehabilitated, Madikwe has all the Big 5 as well as luxury lodges and cooperation between different guides. It pairs with Sun City, Africa’s largest resort.
Apart from the Northern White Rhino (which can only be seen in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Entebbe UWEC Zoo), tourists have a good chance of seeing the other members of the Africa Big Five in any of the four savannah parks.
A savannah safari game drive in Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo Valley, and Lake Mburo National Parks will put you in the center of nonchalant herds of Cape buffalo, African elephants hunting pride of African lions. For the shy leopard, a relaxed and patient early or late evening savannah drive may lead you to its hunting joints.
A boat safari on the Nile in Murchison Falls NP or on the Kazinga channel is a great way to spot the Africa Big Five in Uganda. Especially in the dry seasons (December to February and June to July), heat is sure to bring them out to the shores to catch a sip of the fresh waters.