Is seeing the Big Five on your bucket list? Africa offers some excellent opportunities for you to seek out the majestic creatures and more! During the peak season, the national parks and private game reserves offer unparalleled options to track down your favourite animals to get the perfect snapshot and leave with unforgettable memories.

Our South Africa experts know all-things safari, and whilst seeking the Big Five is not easy, there are plenty of careful steps you can take to ensure your chances of seeing them increase. From choosing the right safari reserve to opting to join game specialists on their searches, you can read all about the best ways to see the majestic lions and elephants, stunning leopards and rhinos and roaming buffalos, as well as stunning views.

What are the Big Five animals in South Africa?

The game hunters of Africa originally named the group of local animals ‘The Big Five’ because of how dangerous it was to hunt them on foot. Now, they are protected within national parks across the country, and remain on the bucket lists if keen safari lovers.

The Big Five are:

• Lion

• Elephant

• Buffalo

• Leopard

• Rhino

Thankfully, guests in Africa now contribute to not only preventing poaching of these magnificent creatures, but also the wild animals’ habitat destruction.

Seeing the Big Five really is a special experience, and you’ll find that whilst you’re on the hunt to track them down, you’ll see beyond these creatures and the abundance of wildlife. You might encounter giraffes wandering amongst the trees, or perhaps the hippo diving for prey in the waterhole. No matter what you’re searching for, there is beauty across the entire flora and fauna of Africa that is waiting for you to explore, and making your safari adventure more magical than you’d expect.

The Big Five South Africa: Unveiling When & Where to Spot Them

It’s never a guarantee that you’ll see the lion hunting its prey, or the rhino taking a dip in the afternoon African sun, but if you take the right steps in your search, you’ll have a higher chance of spotting them.

When visiting the big five national parks in Africa, be sure to take a walking tour. Your expert guide knows all the best places where the Big Five might be in the game reserve, so put your walking boots on and follow along for the journey! Be sure to take your camera with you to get the perfect snapshot of the beautiful animals.

One of the more popular ways of tracking down the Big Five is off roading game drives. As well as being one of the most affective ways of spotting them, it allows you to be closer to the action whilst keeping safe. This is the reason why private game reserves tent to be more popular, as you’re more likely to get a closer look.

Game viewing depends on the kind of day it is. If it’s a dry day or dry season, there might be more animals roaming around to find vegetation or water, as the bodies of water may be few and far between. Botswana is a premium safari location, home to prolific game and low tourist numbers. It’s unspoilt beauty and exclusive off-grid camp locations make for the perfect locations for the adventurous safari experience with higher chances of encountering the Big Five.

Where are the Best Places to See the South African Big 5?

Africa is bursting with national parks and game reserves that are home to the most adored creatures of the safari. From trekking the long stretch of fauna to see the natural habitats of the African leopard to afternoon game drives to see the white rhino, the national parks offer wide ranges of opportunities to see it all.

Kruger National Park is a popular location amongst safari lovers. The park is located in South Africa and holds more than just the Big Five and is a great place to go if you’re a first-time safari traveller. Not only will you cross the paths of the gentle giant Elephants, or the majestic big cats, but neighbouring Kruger is the Lowveld escarpment for a scenic visit into a historical town outside the safari.

The Eastern Cape is set on the southeastern coast of South Africa, and is mostly renowned for its Addo Elephant Park, created in 1931 and was sanctuary to the 11 elephants that survived the hunters. Now, there lives over 450 elephants that you can spot. When you visit Addo, you can enjoy ultimate safari experiences from game drives to watersports and dolphin shows in the Indian Ocean and Oceanarium.

Madikwe Game Reserve is known for being South Africa’s fifth largest game reserve and being home to the Big Five. Located in the Northwest Province, you can partake in lively game viewings and stay in luxurious game lodges for views of roaming wildlife including the African Wild Dog throughout your entire stay.

KwaZulu-Natal is also known as ‘The Garden Province’, and home to some of Africa’s most desirable golden beaches, cosmopolitan beaches and UNESCO-listen sites. Inside of its iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one of the more renowned UNESCO sites, is large populations of hippo, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, and leopards, perfect for your safari adventures.

When is the Best Time to See the Big 5 in South Africa?

The wonderful creatures of the Big Five roam the game reserves all-year round. However, you might have a better chance of seeing them during the peak months between October and March. During these months, the weather is it its driest and coolest, and therefor the foliage and vegetation has dried up, making it easier to spot the animals. The leopards spend most of their time in the trees, and when the weather is dry, the leaves fall leaving them visible. Plus, whilst the grass is drying up, you can see the roaming buffalo and lions.

Outside of green season, the water also dries up forcing the animals to venture further out. On their search for rivers, water holes and ponds, you can enjoy watching them on game drives, walking tours and even helicopter rides! Most animals, especially the elephant, must drink every day, making it easier to see them in the dry season as opposed to wet season in Africa, in places like Chobe River and Namibia.

Best Private Game Reserves in South Africa to see the Big 5

Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a private game reserve located in Kruger National Park. Spread across the 65000 hectares of the park, the reserve holds luxurious safari lodges for you to relax in and enjoy unparalleled guided safari experiences.

This wildlife oasis is home to the Big Five, as well as more than 147 species of mammals and much more. You can enjoy game drives and guided tours with a professional tour guide to see the diverse species and unforgettable scenery.

Outside of embarking on some of Kruger National Park’s most unforgettable activities, you can relax in your African-inspired suite that overlooks the bush. Opt to reside in the exclusive list of lodges:

• Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

• Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

• Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp

Sabi Sabi Selati Camp

All accommodation offers comfort, daily wildlife views and activities, and a home-away-from-home feeling combined with traditional Africa. Whether you’re choosing to travel with family with or without young children, friends, or as a couple, Sabi Sand Game Reserve are welcoming you all who are seeking to be closer to nature.

If you’ve been inspired by our perfect safari adventures to see the Big Five, speak to our Travel Specialists today!

Every reserve in Africa will offer something different, yet whilst they are home to the Big Five, you’ll be able to check it off your bucket list. Our team of dedicated African experts know all about Africa safaris, and can tailor make your trip to make the perfect holiday for you.

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