For a safari that is unlike any other, you have to go and see the big 5. These five animals: lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo, were named the big 5 because they were the most dangerous to humans when hunting on foot. Now, there are nature reserves across Southern Africa which are dedicated to preserving these incredible animals and they are a treat to see.
When doing this sort of road trip, it’s’ essential to book a car that can handle the conditions while on safari. Roads to game reserves can be gravel roads and it is better to have a vehicle that is higher up off the road and off-road driving in game reserves might be the best way to spot game. Make sure you choose insurance from the best car insurance companies so that you don’t get stuck miles away from the dealership.
With probably the most reliable Big 5 sightings, South Africa is home to wildlife hotspots such as the Kruger National Park which is also surrounded by private reserves that offer the same thing. This is considered one of the best reserves in Africa with the largest mammal diversity of 145 species.
One of the big advantages with South African game reserve, Madikwe, is that they are malaria free so you do not need to pick up antimalarials before you go. For other ideas on what to take with you, check out these 10 things you absolutely need for a safari.
The main reserve in Namibia is Etosha which has beautiful sightings of four of the big 5 (there aren’t any buffalo) but these can still be seen at other reserves around the country. Besides, Namibia is a beautiful place with diverse landscapes that is great fun to explore with a 4×4. Etosha is situated on a white pan and provides stark, beautiful backdrops for lions and leopards.
Winter (May to October) is generally a good time for game viewing as the vegetation is sparse and the water is limited to the main waterholes. This means you can go to a few areas and see more animals.
The Masai Mara safari reserve is considered to be one of the classic African safari experiences with its showcase event, the great migration, where herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelle traverse across the landscape in search of greener grasses. This is also a great place to spot lion and other predators and elephant populations have room to roam.
A great country to visit is Botswana which hosts the Chobe National park where you can see the big five and also the Okavango Delta which, whilst not a national park, still hosts beautiful wildlife. These two sites are often done together. The Chobe National Park has high populations of elephant roaming through and its diverse range of habitat helps support many types of mammals and birds.
Chobe also has river cruises that are perfect for seeing game from another angle and are highly memorable. From big to small, lions to marsh birds, the magic of seeing these animals around the river beds is unparalleled.
Home to the Serengeti national park, this reserve covers 15000 square kilometers of pristine landscapes that are perfect for spotting animals and taking memorable photos. It also homes large populations of animals and its unfenced border with the Masai Mara game reserve means that the game can roam freely during migration and eat the best grasses.
This also means that predators can eat regularly and the Serengeti supports possibly the largest lion population in Africa and the prides are healthy and well fed. The sheer size of the reserve means that you are less likely to encounter other tourists and can enjoy the silence and peace of the reserve.
Remember that a safari is an adventure and part of the thrill is in searching for the wildlife. If you want to increase your chances of seeing the big 5, and much of the other thrilling and beautiful animals, big and small, then book your lodge for a longer amount of time. Often, it’s hard to see everything in one go. So, these are the best countries to plan your nature tour.