Tips for spotting Africa’s Big 5 - BookitList

Tips for spotting Africa’s Big 5

There are few more awe-inspiring experiences on earth than a close-up encounter with Africa's large mammals in their natural habitat.

Safari is a bucket list favourite and for good reason, but if you want to make the most of your experience there are some key tips to follow which will ensure you have the best chance of seeing all of these magnificent creatures.

Read on to discover our tips for spotting Africa’s 'Big 5'.

Tips for spotting Africa’s Big 5
Photo by AJ Robbie

What are the Big 5?

The 'Big 5' was a term coined by hunters for the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. Hunting these five large mammal species was regarded as difficult and dangerous and snagging one or all of them was considered an impressive feat.

Today, however, thankfully the term has a less-morbid meaning, referring instead, to spotting these five magnificent animals whilst on safari.

Where can I find the Big 5?

Though each of the big 5 can be found individually throughout the continent, there are only a handful of destinations where they can be found altogether.


When it comes to safari, Tanzania, is hard to beat. The captivating east African country is home to over 4 million wild animals, with an incredible 430 different species represented!

Tips for spotting Africa’s Big 5
Photo by Hu Chen

The Serengeti national park which covers much of the country's north is a great place for spotting the 'Big 5' and is also the setting for one of nature's most spectacular displays, the mass, annual migration where millions of wildebeest and zebra cross the vast Mara River in search of new breeding grounds.

Alternatively, head to Ngorongoro Crater, also known as 'The Garden of Eden', due to its incredible array of wildlife (including the 'Big 5'), or, why not join the Bookitlist Tour and do both?


Synonymous with safari, Kenya is a great place for spotting the Big 5. The world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve (named in honour of the Maasai people who have long called it home), is a great place to start, or alternatively, head to Tsavo National Park (the country's largest game reserve) where the 'Big 5' are found in abundance, along with, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbucks, lesser Kudu, gerenuk and much, much more.

South Africa

South Africa is an excellent safari destination thanks to its array of great national parks, all of which offer amazing opportunities for close-up encounters with big game. For the 'Big 5' however, there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa and is home to some 150 species of mammal including the big 5, cheetahs, hippos, zebras and giraffes, plus 500 species of bird!


One of Africa's hidden gems, Botswana is a paradise when it comes to wildlife. The lush Okavango Delta, which covers much of northern Botswana is a great place for spotting the big 5, and is also home to all manner of creatures including, crocodiles, giraffes, hippos and hundreds of bird species.


  • Visit a reputable and sustainable safari park - As with any trip, your safari adventure shouldn't come at the expense of sustainability. Make sure to research the parks that you're planning to visit to ensure they're operating in an ethical manner, or alternatively, make sure you choose a reputable tour company.
  • Use expert guides and trackers - Their priceless knowledge of the area and the animals' habits will ensure you have the best chance of spotting all of the 'Big 5'.
  • Safari at dawn and dusk - Mammals and birds tend to be most active at dawn and dusk due to the cooler temperatures, so both are great times for spotting.
  • Respect the animals - You might think this goes without saying, but it's important to emphasise that you must treat the animals with the utmost respect. Be sure to listen to your guides and follow their instructions at all times.
  • Keep your eyes peeled and your camera at the ready!

Tips for spotting Africa’s Big 5
Photo by Hu Chen

What are you waiting for?

Is safari on your bucket list, then what are you waiting for?

Join us and our expert local guides, on a 7-day safari adventure, through some of the finest wildlife-watching destinations in all of Africa.

Enjoy breathtaking encounters with the 'Big 5' and an array of other creatures, as we explore Tanzania's world-famous Savannah Plains, and the real-life 'Garden of Eden', the incredible Ngorongoro Crater.

From accommodation to transport, everything is taken care of, so you can relax, unwind and enjoy this awe-inspiring African adventure!