The Big 5

By December 15, 2011 African Safari 2 Comments

Historically the use of “The Big 5” as a phrase came from the white hunters who classed these five species as the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa. The 5 are:





Cape Buffalo.

Nowadays of course most of us prefer to hunt The Big 5 to shoot with a camera rather than a gun and with the current disturbing reports that ivory selling is

still rife and hunting for Lions continues all these species apart from the Cape Buffalo are on the endangered or vulnerable list and we must be doing all we can to protect these animals.  For example in the Phinda National Park in South Africa, as part of your safari you can take part in Phinda’s rhino darting programme, where you can go out with experts to dart rhinos to plant microchips in their horns and ear marking for future identification; a more positive holiday experience than shooting to kill in my opinion.


Lion safari big 5

Lion relaxing in Africa


Both Lions and Elephants are social animals and live in groups and so create wonderful photographic opportunities.  Lion prides are often made up of 20-30 with maybe 2 or 3 male lions present and in the Masai Mara National Park you are guaranteed to see them.  It is here that is also home to the largest herds of the very bad tempered, man hating Cape Buffalo.

Interestingly the elephants in the Tsavao national park have a reddish colour to them rather than the traditional grey due to the red volcanic soil in this park.

Leopards are probably the most difficult to see and add to your photograph collection as they are very illusive, hunt at night and take their prey up into the trees to eat to avoid their kill being stolen by hyenas.

Many African National parks are catering more and more for children to visit and for the 3 – 12 year olds there is a new Africa 5, Africas’s little 5:

  • Ant lion
  • Elephant shrew
  • Buffalo weaver
  • Leopard tortoise
  • Rhino beetle

This group of animals have been chosen as the little 5 purely based on the fact that they share their names with the Big 5 but a great idea none the less.


White Rhino in Kenya big 5

White Rhino in Kenya

Explore Travel and Cruises have a very useful infograph showing some great things to do and see on an African safari and then links it to the countries that you need to visit to do them, including the Big 5.  You will find that most responsible companies providing safari’s use companies that have a strong environmental ethos and ensures that part of your money you spend to go on this holiday is used to help fund the protection and future of these animals.

Please feel free to share this post and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with Explore Travel and Cruises.

What our clients have to say

What a unique experience this was for my husband and I and a group of friends ( 5 other couples). I felt like we were going back in time and living the life that a well to do 19th century family would have while they were sojourning down the Nile River. The decor of the living spaces on the second level upstairs on the upper deck looked like pieces you would see in a palace of royalty. The bedrooms on the first level that had windows that opened up just above the water level were spacious and comfortable. The bed was comfy as can be!!
The staff on the boat, and there were many, were so very attentive and tried their hardest to meet our every need and also surprised us with daily unexpected niceties and full on entertainment. The food was all homemade and delicious. Our chef was quite talented and the meals were never repeated( except for breakfast which was made to order eggs and an assortment of breads/muffins/croissants and fruit etc. Coffee and tea always available.
The tours that were scheduled for us were so well run and our Egyptologist, Ahmed , was obtaining his Ph.D in Egyptology and was so very interesting and knowledgeable. We had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride and also a trip to Abu Simbel which were both amazing and unforgettable. After every tour we arrived back on the boat and were greeted by Tito and Adam with specialty cold lovely drinks and cold lemon scented wet towels to refresh ourselves with.
Tito took us shopping in the Luxor Market for a couple of hours the day before we left. He helped us negotiate the goods we purchased which was a huge help.
Lastly I have to mention our Dahabiya Cruise Captain, Mahmoud . This guy was amazing! He made sure we had everything we needed and kept us entertained with his humour and incredible dancing skills. Our group learned so much about the Egyptian culture from him during our dinner conversations.
Our group all agreed that we would miss these wonderful, thoughtful people that we spent a week with and hope they all knew how much we appreciated each one of them.

Joan Mancini
Travel date Sept 2021

Atol Protected