These national parks, game reserves and safari areas are the best places in Africa to see the Big 5 on a typical safari
Used to describe what is considered to be Africa’s most iconic wild animals, the “Big 5” have become the essential ingredient to an African safari. Originally only used by hunters to refer to the animals most dangerous to hunt on foot, the Big 5 consists of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. Each of these incredible creatures are magnificent, powerful and charismatic in their own right, exemplifying the spirit of Africa. Many consider a safari trip to Africa incomplete without spotting the Big 5- these are the Safari Index’s most productive African safari areas, national parks and game reserves for Big 5 game viewing.
The Kruger National Park is known across the world as one of the most game-rich, bio-diverse regions on earth. It is home to incredible numbers flora and fauna species, including most of Africa’s most iconic safari species, including the Big 5. There is no doubt that the Kruger is top of every safari-lover’s bucket list.
The Sabi Sands Reserve, located in South Africa‘s game rich Mpumulanga province, is named after the Sabi and Sand Rivers, offers game viewing that is almost unmatched. It is home to excellent numbers of game species, bird life, and the Big 5. It is one of the best destinations in Africa for viewing leopards.
Mala Mala shares an unfenced border with the Kruger and Sabi Sands reserves and is well-known for offering some of the best game viewing in Africa. It is home to all the members of the Big 5, with leopards spotted almost daily. Knowledgeable guides conduct game drives, and often venture off-road, providing an exceptional and unforgettable safari experience.
The Serengeti in Tanzania is synonymous worldwide with the African wilderness and wildlife. Its vast open plains are home to incredible numbers of plains game, predators and other wildlife species. Although many choose to visit during the awe-inspiring Great Migration, when the herds of wildebeest and zebra move across the plains, the game-viewing is exceptional all year round.
Botswana‘s Okavango is a large inland delta that is home an amazing diversity of game species and birdlife. Visitors to the Delta are often taken out in traditional dugout mekoro canoes, a unique way to experience game viewing. Traditional vehicle-based game drives are also offered, on which you are likely to spot members of the Big 5, as well as a variety of other game species.
The Masai Mara in Kenya is known worldwide for its open plains, which are home to populations of predators, plains game and other general game species. The Great Migration also occurs yearly in the Mara, when masses of breeding zebra, gazelle and wildebeest swarm across the plains, followed by predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah. All the members of the Big 5 are found in the Mara.
Etosha National Park is Namibia is a unique safari destination. Its main feature is colossal salt pan that is visible from space. This, and the surrounding smaller pans, attract plentiful numbers of large predators, smaller predators, general game species, birdlife, and, of course, the Big 5.
Timbavati Nature Reserve is a game-rich reserve in South Africa, made of open woodland and dense tree belts.The Big 5 occur in abundance, with elephant and buffalo frequently spotted. The reserve is also famous for its population of white lions, which have been the subject of many documentaries and books.
The open savannah woodland of Makalali is set against the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains, making for a spectacular natural setting. The park is home to all members of the Big 5, with the buffalo protected in a separate, quarantined area. Many other famous African game species can be seen, including cheetah, giraffe, hippo and hyena.