Where to Go on Safari To See the Big 5

If it’s your first time to go on safari, your list of wildlife to see probably includes the “Big 5.” The term, originally coined by the big game hunters of the early safari days, refers to the five most difficult animals to see while on foot: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Spotting them on the safaris of today can still be challenging… unless you know where to look.

The Big 5 are present in several countries across Africa.

South Africa

South Africa is one of the best countries to visit for first-time safari-goers and families traveling together. The country offers a lot of diversity with its cities, beaches, culture, and of course safaris. If it’s a Big 5 safari you’re after, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is the place to go. Of the Big 5, the leopard is the most elusive of all. However, they are frequently spotted on game drives in the Sabi Sand. There are a number of excellent lodges to choose from, but a few of our favorite go-to places that provide unparalleled luxury and service in the bush are Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Singita Ebony Lodge, and Leopard Hills.


Outside of South Africa, the Big 5 gets a little more tricky to spot, but not impossible! In Botswana, head to Mombo Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve located in the northern part of the country. Big game viewing is particularly good in this region with incredible lion sightings. Thanks to the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Program, black and white rhino have been reintroduced to the area, meaning it is possible to have a Big 5 safari here. In addition, you can also see cheetah, wild dog, and hyena in the Moremi Game Reserve.


Like Botswana, it’s possible to see the Big 5 in Kenya, but more difficult than in South Africa. The elusive leopard is going to be the hardest to find here. Your best bet for a Big 5 safari in Kenya is to head to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy where you’ll find one of the highest densities of wildlife in Kenya. Some 12% of Kenya’s population of black and white rhinos make their home here, as well as large herds of elephant, buffalo, lions, and the world’s single largest population of Grevy’s zebra. Make your base at Sirikoi Lodge or Lewa House for effortless luxury in the bush.

To start planning your Big 5 safari, contact a Ker & Downey designer.