Big Five Safaris
Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino – Africa’s mammal A-list.
Africa’s Iconic Big Five
When considering where to go on safari an obvious question will be what will I see? The answer, pretty much everywhere, is a huge amount – but the truth is that certain animals generate more excitement than others, the charismatic megafauna hogging the limelight over the more esoteric.
At the very top of this pyramid lie the Big Five which has become safari shorthand for the animals that everybody really wants to encounter. The term “Big Five” derives from the early days of the Great White Hunter and the species therein were considered the most challenging and sporting to shoot – which explains why some of the other iconic beasts of the African savanna – giraffe, zebra, wild dog, cheetah, wildebeest, hippos and crocs don’t make the list.
It’s now in general safari parlance as the most sought after mammals, not to shoot, but to see – and to get a full house is akin to hitting a six or knocking the baseball out of the park, it doesn’t get better than that. While we might contend that there are less grevy’s zebra than black rhino, there is no argument that encountering a Rhino is a very special experience.
The “Big Five” has also become shorthand for both the ecology and conservation status of any particular area. Any wilderness where all the Big Five naturally occur is going to be a classic – somewhere in East or Southern Africa which is well worth visiting. Buffalo – probably the easiest of the group to encounter – require lots of space, grass and water. Lions, once widespread across Africa are now almost entirely restricted to formally protected wildlife areas. Leopard remain widespread but in order to have any chance of seeing them must live in a place free from harassment, otherwise they melt into the cover. Rhino and elephant have to have both space and protection. Any Big Five area that has successfully protected all of the Big Five, particularly rhino and elephant, against the relentless onslaught of commercial poaching over the last few decades is one that is a conservation success.
“Big Five” areas can be relatively small – the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater has to be along the smallest at 100 square miles – or enormous, the Kruger National Park qualifies and is one if the largest parks in Africa. They can be fairly obscure, Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park is one while the more famous South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Parks are not, similarly Meru in Kenya fits the bill while Amboseli does not. There are of course many Parks which host 4 of the 5 (in most cases having lost rhino sadly) which are irrefutably worth visiting – but the concept of “the Big Five” will always remain special and the kudos given to anywhere successfully protecting these magnificent creatures should be celebrated.
+ Read More
- Mega buffalo herds on the plains of Katavi National Park
- Visit the place of elephants: Gonarezhou National Park
- Tracking leopard in Ruaha National Park
Highlights for Big Five Safaris
Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.
BEST TIME TO SEE THE BIG FIVE
The best chance of encountering the Big Five is in the dry season, when access across vast areas is at its greatest, the bush has died back sufficiently making sighting them more likely, and last remaining water sources make the concentration of mammals much greater.
East African seasons are harder to predict than the south where it’s generally wet from mid-November to late April – in East Africa steer clear of March, April and November.
BEST TIME TO SEE THE BIG FIVE
From authentic safari experiences to luxury escapes, we create entirely unique itineraries that are bespoke to each client’s desires. Take a look at some of the tailor-made trips we’ve created previously. Itineraries
Top Parks for spotting the Big Five
- The wildebeest migration
- Huge density of mammals
- Variety of experience
- Beautiful camps & lodges
- Strike out on a walking safari
- Take your camp with you on an authentic mobile safari
- Colourful carmine bee eaters
- Great for leopard
- Huge elephant population in dry season
- Superb guiding on foot and traditional 4×4
- Walking safaris amongst the best anywhere in Africa
- Size and variety of the park’s landscape
- Embark on a private expedition
- The winding waterways of the Delta
- Experience safari by mokoro
- Camping on islands
- Home to greatest migration on earth
- Classic African safari scenery
- Sweeping plains and epic wildlife
- Acacia trees across the horizon
- Brilliant walking off the beaten track
- Low visitor numbers
- Variety of breathtaking scenery
- Iconic baobab forests
- Excellent choice of superb private game reserves
- Guaranteed big five sightings
- One of the best known wildlife areas in the world
- Luxurious safari lodges
- Pristine wilderness
- Wild plains of Africa
- Low visitor numbers
- Combines perfectly with the Mahale Mountains
“The less-is-more formula Natural High advocates makes complete sense. Luxury lies in exposing the sensory, instinctive self to the scents and sounds of the wild.– DIANE FOSSEY
Our Favourite Camps & Lodges
A luxury mobile camp that moves seasonally to position itself perfectly to follow the wildebeest migration as they move around this vast National Park.Learn More
If a camp could be cloned and replanted in every wild place worth visiting it would be Musekese as it’s everything that a safari camp should be.Learn More
The camp is well suited for people who enjoy the bush without the fanfare. Its simplicity is what makes it, along with the great all round wildlife experience.Learn More
The camp commands stunning views over the plains and the open fronted dining room gives a very pleasant feeling of being a part of the landscape.Learn More
Wildlife is not a highlight here, but you do stand the chance of seeing a real gem such as wild dog, if you have the patience to look.Learn More
See the Big Five on foot
The world renowned Serengeti National Park is a good option for not only seeing the Big Five but you also have the chance to do whilst on foot.
All of the Big Five can be found here, as well as the park hosting the biggest mammal migration in the world. Strike out with an experienced armed guide, tracker and lightweight camp on an unbeatable walking safari across the vast plains of the Serengeti.
From Our Travel Guides
About the Serengeti Plains Formation
Tanzania’s Top Safari Highlights
The Best Small Safari Camps in Tanzania
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Our second unforgettable trip with Natural High, hopefully not the last!
Fantastic Christmas trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, organised at very short notice. Wonderful staff at every camp, an unforgettable family experience. …
Claire & George
Outstanding customer service well above the call of duty.
Natural High arranged a trip to remember …accommodation first class, transportation on very long road trips was excellent. Spotless . air conditioni…
Personal service and excellent organisation
This was our first holiday to be organised by Natural High. We made the enquiry on New Year’s Eve for a departure in February and within a few days…
Ken and Caroline
Fantasic Natural High
Brilliant, everything is so well organised. We have had two trips of a lifetime organised by Rod Tether who is also a guide extraordinaire!…
Antony & Jane Braithwaite RT
Fantastic Natural High
Perfectly organised trip to two great Nomad camps in Tanzania!…
Natural High nailed it again
Sledding in Sweden was our second wonderful holiday with Natural High. From the moment you speak to them to when you get home the service and attentio…
Fantasic Natural High
We are repeat customers and NH never fail to deliver an exceptional trip. They understand exactly what we want to experience and tailor the adventure …
Ruth Maxwell AH
Enjoyed EVERY second of an action- packed two weeks in Kenya. Asante Sana👏
This was my fourth safari booked with Natural High and, as previously, it surpassed my expectations. Vanessa’s Itinerary was spot on – the three cam…
Julie Baxter VJ
Fantasic Natural High
They picked out good places to stay that fitted the criteria. Very thoughtful and attentive. They called back and they sent emails with suggestions….
Morroco was a pleasant surprise
This was certainly not our first trip with natural high. As any other trip, organization was great, ie pick up, vehicles, local guides, food, all well…
Don and Bernice Willoughby RT
The holiday was absolutely perfect. The recommended places to stay were spot on, excellent service throughout. It shows that each property has been vi…
Susan And Russell Holdsworth VJ
Everything went smoothly and selection of accommodation was perect for us
Excellent, no problems…
Fantastic Kenya 🇰🇪 Safari thanks Vanessa
We stayed at three beautiful lodges; The Emakoko Nairobi National Park, Tortillis Camp Amboseli National Park and Kicheche Valley Camp Mara Conservati…
David Poninghaus VJ
Seamless service, Catherine was able to accommodate my changing needs, even last minute changes that were my fault, and ended up with a wonderful vaca…
Very helpful and accomodating
Very helpful and Catherine went out of her way to accommodate us. It was also short notice from our side and yet it all worked very well. Good advice …
Phenomenal Safari which will certainly stay with us for years to come
Our main contact, Rod, was extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the Safari that we ultimately decided upon. We trusted his recommendations throug…
Matt & Lucy Worthy RT
First class. Experts in the holiday adventure field. Great to deal with
First class! Natural High are experts in their field. All the boxes are ticked which leaves you to travel without any worries. Excellent destinations…
Perfect family Safari!!
Our family Kenyan safari trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary was perfectly planned by Catherine from the moment we landed in Nairobi, to ou…