Big 5 Safari Holidays
An Africa safari trip is incomplete until you marvel or pull out your camera and take a picture of at least one of the famous members of the Africa BIG 5 game animals. The big five include the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. They were popularized by imperial trophy hunting adventures mostly because of their difficulty to hunt on the open savannah plains. Thankfully, today we hunt the big 5, not to kill, but marvel at their outstanding and majestic beauty with a camera instead of a gun.
A traveler can easily see Africa’s big 5 in all East Africa’s destinations today. East Africa, the pioneer of African safaris, is home to a massive range of wildlife species spread out on thousands of protected animal parkland. Most notable is the Serengeti and Masai Mara, where the great annual migration occurs every year. Kenya and Tanzania have the best national parks for a BIG 5 safari trip. However, Uganda and Rwanda provide great alternative safari attractions to complement a big five safari without leaving the destination’s borders, like gorilla trekking in the misty mountain jungles.
The largest and most imposing African carnivore, the lion is the most sought after member of the Africa big 5. The African lion is the most sociable of the large cats, living in loosely structured prides of typically five to 15 animals. Lions have special cultural significance in most countries on the continent that enjoy a reputation as ‘king of the beasts’ and are popular symbols of royalty, strength, and bravery.
These big cats are not born into a rank; they are egalitarian. Which means they don’t have a permanent social hierarchy. One male may be dominant over the others, but that can change at any time. Lion society is also matrilineal. The females hold the territories and stay with the pride into which they’re born.
Lions can be easily seen on a Big 5 safari trip than any other cat. Early morning or evening safari game drives in any of the major East African savannah parks are sure to bring you close to a hunting lion pride
The leopard is the most elusive, and also the smallest, of Africa’s big 5 animals. Leopards are sneaky, naturally shy, elusively nocturnal, and harder to spot. These big solitary cats haul large kills, such as zebra or antelope, into tree-tops to eat alone, in peace.
These impressively shy cats can be distinguished from cheetahs by their rosette-shaped spots and a more robust build, and their preference for wooded or rocky habitats. On a Big 5 safari trip, you can virtually see leopards in all habitats which offer adequate cover and are present in most East Africa savannah parks and forest reserves.
Africa’s only wild African buffalo ox species is an adaptable and widespread creature that lives in large herds on the savanna and smaller herds in forested areas. The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) or Cape Buffalo is the most dangerous of all African game species, especially if wounded or solitary. Its reputation has placed it on the Africa big 5 animals recognized worldwide.
African buffalo are huge, even-toed ungulates, characterized by their stocky build and heavy horns. Horns are present in both sexes, and they are not ridged. The buffalo is easily distinguished from other animals because of its dark black color and its characteristic horns, smaller and lighter, curving outward, backward, and upwards. Ears are large fringed with hair and hang below massive horns.
Identified by their characteristic horned snouts, rhinoceroses are universally recognized by their massive bodies, stumpy legs, and either one or two dermal horns. In some species, the horns may be short or not obvious. They are renowned for having poor eyesight, but their senses of smell and hearing are well developed.
There are two species—the black rhinoceros and the white rhinoceros—and five subspecies left in Africa. Those include the northern white rhino, the southern white rhino, the eastern black rhino, the southern central black rhino, and the southwestern black rhino. Due to largely poaching, the black rhino and northern white rhino are extinct.
The southern white rhinos remain, mostly in southern Africa. On a big 5 safari trip, a selection of places in Uganda and Kenya provide rhino tracking on foot.
The African Elephant is the largest big five safari animals and perhaps the most enduring symbol of nature’s grace and fragility. It is also one of the most intelligent and entertaining to watch on a big 5 safari game drive. A fully-grown male elephant can weigh a whopping 6300 kilos, and even the smallest adult male rarely dips below 4000 kilos, which is way more than twice the weight of an average family SUV. Females are usually just over half the weight of the male.
Savanna elephants are large enough to change the landscape, pulling up trees to make grasslands, dispersing seeds, and increasing biodiversity. These massive creatures can silly be seen by travelers on any big 5 safari trip in most savannah safari parks in East Africa.
Big 5 Safari Itineraries
What Our Guests Say About Us
Ask an expert a question or request a trip quote
Please make sure you have your facemask on when in contact with animals, especially the endangered creatures. Without a negative PCR Covid Test, you’ll not be allowed into the destination. You’ll spend most of your time in open spaces away from human crowds, with that there’s minimal to no infections of the COVID virus. See out COVID-19 Travel Updates.
Flexible booking terms
Get a 100% refund on cancelation 40 days before your trip. Your big 5 safari booking can be extended up to 12 months ahead with no extra fees, in case of any emergency (based on accommodation availability). Reservations are accepted after we receive a 30% deposit on the trip and the full payment for gorilla tracking and chimp tracking permits for each tour participant. For more details on our booking terms, please read our Terms and Conditions.