The Best Safaris To See The ‘Big Five’ In Africa – S U M A S



The Big Five is an inheritance from a tragic past. As a concept, of course. ‘The big fives’ said by those white hunters who took advantage of the facilities of the colonial system to travel to Africa and kill in the mornings and drink Dry Martinis at night while the black servants cut up what was killed, made food, cleaned and all those things that rich whites don’t. today we are going to talk about animals. We are going to talk about the big five and where you can see them.  Take a look here.


The time has changed. So much so that to see the big five you have to go to secluded and guarded national parks (some of them fenced to prevent the entry of poachers and the exit of animals) where a fauna harassed by the danger of extinction takes refuge.


And you will say. Why so much haircut if this is a travel page? WhyTraveling to Africa requires a prior dose of responsibility when hiring hotels and excursions. Even more, if there are animals involved.


The ‘big fives’, as we told you, were the coveted pieces that every hunter wanted to take home as a trophy. Today, thankfully, precision rifles have been replaced by cameras, but the Big Five are still threatened by poaching, and viewing them outside of those national parks is becoming increasingly difficult. Lion; Elephant; Rhinoceros (black and white); Buffalo and Leopard.


Some have included the Hippopotamus in a list of the big six, but the original list is the one we just told you about. And where do you have to go to see them? There are few places in the world where you have many possibilities to see them in a single photographic safari. Possibilities. Because nobody can assure you that you are going to see them. If they assure you, be suspicious.


Kruger National Park (South Africa) 


It is the most famous and largest national park in South Africa. With more than two million hectares – more or less like the province of Cáceres – it is one of the most important reserves in Africa and, also, an example of wildlife reintroduction policies and the benefits of fencing. Others arrive the night before, stick 12 hours in the park and return to Cape Town at night.


This considerably reduces the possibility of seeing the big five and including the Hippopotamus in the list. The ideal is to spend three or four days here and alternate visits to the north and south of the park on four-hour forays in the mornings and afternoons which is when most of the animals come out.


It is advisable to hire accommodation and excursions in one of the private reserves (the best are Sabi Sands and Mala Mala ) since their guides are authorized to get off the official roads and the possibility of seeing animals multiplies although the prices rise.


When we go? If you want to have more opportunities to see the five fives go in the dry season (from June to the beginning of September). The landscape is sadder, but the animals are concentrated in the water points.


Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania) 


The Massai named it Ngorongoro, which in our language would be a ‘cold place’. But nothing is further from reality from a natural point of view. This is the place in Africa where it is easier to see the big five in one day.


Prodigious crater 600 meters deep and more than 20 kilometers in diameter, the Ngorongoro is one of the most important nature reserves in Tanzania and a true sanctuary for the Black Rhino (one of the most threatened species on the planet); a place where it is relatively easy to see the big five but it has the disadvantage of tourist overcrowding.


Of the great animals of the African savannah, there are only no giraffes, which cannot access the crater on their own. But the list of neighbors is huge: hippos, zebras, wildebeest, impalas, ostriches, flamingos … And the ‘big five’ too.


A true wonder. The accommodations are located on the edge of the crater (more than 2,000 meters above sea level and quite cold at night) and there is something for all tastes and all prices. From campsites to luxurious lodges. It is best to go with everything previously contracted through an agency.


Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) 


It is the quintessential African safari. Natural scene of the great migrations of herbivores and framework of the Massai culture, one of the most fascinating in Africa. A wonder of more than 14,000 square kilometers formed by huge plains that connect the heights of the Rift Valley with the Great Lakes region.


It is the land of the great grasslands and the kopje, those stone islands that emerge on the grass like watchtowers; places where lions gather to watch their domains. The best time to schedule the visit is between April and May when the migration is in full swing and large herds begin their transit from Serengeti to Masai Mara.


Serengeti has the highest concentration of carnivores in the world. It is easy to see lions and leopards and it is quite likely to encounter rhinos, without a doubt, the most difficult species to see. The normal thing is to hire safaris of five or six days that include Serengeti, Tarangire, and Ngorongoro.


Masai Mara (Kenya) 


At the end of June and until well into September, the flow of life that migrates from Serengeti settles in the fresh grasses of Massai Mara. And behind the wildebeest, the buffalo, the gazelles, and the zebras are lions, leopards, cheetahs … A park of immense plains, acacia trees, and those African skies that evoke adventure.


The number of animals is impressive and four of the Big Five can be easily seen. You have to be lucky to come across one of the few 37 rhino specimens that, according to the latest censuses, still live on the limits of the reserve.


The Mara is the largest nature reserve in Kenya and although other parks have been created where it is possible to see the ‘big five’ such as Tsavo and the Lake Nakuru, traveling through the lands of the Massai is an authentic African experience.


Hurrying is a bad adviser, so book a safari of at least three days (the experience of camping in Africa is impressive) that includes visits to some Masai villages and the Mara River, where there are populations of crocodiles and hippos.


Moremi and Chobe (Bostwana) 


In these two national parks in northern Bostwana is the largest population of African elephants in the world (some 70,000 say the most optimistic calculations). Moremi is located in the famous Okavango River Delta, one of the most imposing nature destinations in the world, while Chobe is located near the quadruple border with Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The first of the parks allow you to combine the ‘big fives’ with the wonders of the Delta, while Chobe is a place where there are hardly any tourists and it is possible to do a multi-day tour without bumping into other travelers.


Rhinos, as in other African parks, is the jackpot, but in Bostwana there is another possibility to see these magnificent animals, the Khama Sanctuary, created more than 20 years ago to protect this species and facilitate the recovery of the population. As in other African parks, the best time to visit is the dry season between May and October.


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