Many tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African safaris often use the term Big Five Game to describe the animals that can be seen. Big Five actually refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot and was coined by game hunters but is now used by safari tour operators. The collection consists of the lion, the African elephant, the Cape Buffalo, the leopard and the rhino. This list features the best places in Africa to see the “Big Five” offering an abundant wildlife and a great safari experience.
Located in Botswana, Moremi Game Reserve covers almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta – a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. The delta contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including lions, cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles. Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates around the water.
Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s finest havens for wildlife and is home to vast herds of elephants, buffalos, zebras and has a very large concentration of giraffes. This big game safari destination is located in western Zimbabwe on the main road between Bulawayo and the world famous Victoria Falls. The best time to visit the park is after Mugabe has stepped down from power.
Located in the eastern Zambia, South Luangwa National Park is centered around the Luangwa River which supports abundant crocodiles and hippos. The park is probably best known for its walking safaris where you actually walk through the bush on foot and track animals with the help of a guide. The best time for a big game safari inside the park is during the dry season from April to October.
Amboseli National Park is one of the most popular safari attractions in Kenya. This small park is situated at the foot of the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro located in Tanzania. The snow-capped peak provides a stunning backdrop to one of Kenya’s most spectacular displays of wildlife. The park also offers the visitor the opportunity to meet the Masai people.
Located in Namibia, the Etosha National Park is centered around a vast salt pan. The pan itself is usually dry and only fills with water briefly in the summer, but is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos. Most of the wildlife, including herds of zebra, wildebeest and antelope, can be seen around the waterholes that border the pan. Etosha is served by three well established rest camps and offers a great self-drive safari experience.
The Kruger National Park is the largest and most famous big game reserve in South Africa. The park boasts more species of mammals than any other African game reserve which includes the Big Five, cheetahs, giraffes and more. Unlike most other safari parks, Kruger is a self-drive destination with an excellent infrastructure and many places to stay inside the park, from tented camps to luxury lodges.
The Chobe National Park is located in the north-west of Botswana and offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. The park is probably best known for its large population of elephants, 50,000 elephants today. They are most visible during the dry season between May and September when they congregate around the water sources, especially the Chobe river.
The Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania contains an old volcano that has collapsed and formed a crater. The steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wild animals. It is also presently one of the most likely areas in Africa to see the endangered Black Rhino.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s most popular game park. Each year the park is visited by thousands of tourists who come here to watch the exceptional population of game and the annual migration of zebra and wildebeest. The “Great Migration” takes place every year from July to October when millions of wildebeest and zebra migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Serengeti National Park is one the best-known big game safari destinations in Africa, famous for its annual wildlife migration of over one million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra. The park lies in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve, in neighboring Kenya. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.