Big Five Safaris

East Africa is blessed with a number of wildlife species including the big five mammals. These are the typical classic African safaris that are ideal in savanna national parks.

There are major wildlife destinations where the big five and big cats occur. These are highly recommended for classic savanna safaris and game drives.

Lion Resting in a tree. Big Five wildlife Safaris
African Bush Elephants. Big Five Safaris

In Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park stands out. The park has four of the big five mammals. These include buffaloes, leopards, lions, and elephants. They are often seen while on game drives, especially in the northern sector of the park which has the highest wildlife concentration. Game drives here start as early as 5:00 a.m. for those interested in early Risers. There are other big wildlife species here including giraffes the tallest land mammals.

You can track rhinos on foot at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located in Nakasongola en route to Murchison Falls National Park.

Kidepo Valley National Park is another great Big Five and classic African safari destination in Uganda. The national park is the most isolated in Uganda located in the Karamoja subregion. It has four of the big five mammals with the exception of Rhinos. All the big cats are here but the cheetahs are rarely seen. Discovery Journey expeditions to Kidepo Valley National Park are very exclusive as the park’s location makes it not easily accessible to many tourists. For true African wilderness safaris, Kidepo Valley National Park is the place to be

Rwanda has only one savanna wildlife protected area which is Akagera National Park. The park is located in the eastern part of the country about a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Akagera is the only place in Rwanda where you get to see the big five mammals and enjoy a classic African safari. Just like many other protected areas, Akagera’s wildlife was greatly threatened by poaching and civil war. A number of animal species have gone extinct including the major big cats but these have been slowly reintroduced thanks to the great conservation efforts by the government and park authorities.

The major savanna big five mammals in Akagera include both White and black rhinos, lions, leopards, buffaloes, and elephants. Other notable wildlife species here include giraffes, elands, Topi, warthogs, and zebras among others. All these are seen while on game drives in the different game drive trails in the park.

The major big cats are also present here and are also often seen on game drives. The northern sector of the park has the highest wildlife concentration and game drives here are done early morning and afternoon. There are also night game drives pre-arranged with the park for those who prefer to explore the nightlife of the nocturnal animals.

Kenya is outstanding when it comes to the big five mammals and big cats. Tanzania is the only country that competes with Kenya when it comes to numbers. Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the leading big five destinations in Kenya. The reserve has it all and is greatly supplemented by the wildebeest migration where some of the big five are caught in action, especially the big cats.

Masai Mara has one of the highest lion populations on the continent and these are often times seen in Prides roaming the open plains of the ecosystem. The reserve and the adjacent conservancies also have large herds of elephants, buffaloes, and Rhinos are also often sighted.

Amboseli National Park at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro is another great Big Five destination we feature in Kenya. The park is most famous for its large herds of elephants and its therefore the best place to see these and other wildlife species. The view of Mount Kilimanjaro in the background makes it even better, quite a sight to see!

For an ideal classic African safari, Tanzania is one of those destinations you must. At Discovery Journeys we feature leading Tanzania’s big five mammal destinations starting from Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti and Masai form a great ecosystem that is home to diverse wildlife species. All the big cats and big five mammals occur here. Just like Masai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park has not only the numbers but the variety.

Games drive in Serengeti are fully rewarding as you get to Discover, explore, and get fully immersed in the true African wilderness. Here we recommend full-day game drives for better chances of wildlife viewing and photography. Also, be sure to catch up with the wildebeest migration including River Crossings of both the Grumeti and Mara Rivers in Serengeti.

Tanzania’s wild south has even more to offer. It has one of the largest protected areas on the continent and with the size comes numbers. Take on Discovery Journeys with us to Selous and Ruaha for one one-on-one moments with Africa’s most sought savanna wildlife species.

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