Which African country is best for the big 5 game?

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Dec 8th, 2005, 03:44 PM
  #1
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Which African country is best for the big 5 game?

Specifically, South Africa, Kenya or Botswana? My husband is very interested in rhinos and elephants. I realize I wasn't as specific about this in my last post.
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Dec 8th, 2005, 04:40 PM
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South Africa-
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve would probably offer the best chance of the Big 5 in the least amount of time. Some lodges boast of often seeing the Big 5 in one outing. See the post right near yours "So just how commercialized is a safari in SA?" It gives many highly favorable opinions on wildlife viewing in SA.

Kenya-
You would have to cover more ground than in SA or Botswana. The best place to see rhinos in Kenya and perhaps all of Africa is Lewa Downs. Both black and white rhinos live there. There is other game there too, including good elephants. Night drives are allowed, which is a good time to see leopard (one of the tougher members of the Big 5). I saw many rhino at Lewa Downs and a leopard on a night drive.

You can also see leopard and rhino at Lake Nakuru, plus flamingos and other game. I did not see a leopard or rhino there.

Amboseli is known for elephant and the Masa Mara has good elephant viewing. If you time your Kenya safari right you can have the added enjoyment of huge herds of wildebeest and zebra in the Mara during the migration, and the predators that follow them.

Botswana-
To see the Big 5 in Botswana, you'd have to go to Chief's Island in the Moremi section of the Okavango Delta. Mombo and Chief's Camp are the camps on Chief's Island. Mombo is very expensive over $1000/night all year round. Chief's is about half that. I was talking to an agent recently who said that the rhino like the habitat around Chief's Camp a little better than Mombo because it is thicker. But she also added, "You sometimes see Chief's vehicles in the vicinity of Mombo, but you never see Mombo vehicles in the vicinity of Chief's Camp."

Chobe and Linyanti are two areas of Botswana known for excellent elephant watching. I had the best luck in Chobe.

Your budget and the time of year you are traveling would also play a role in which country best suits you.

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Dec 8th, 2005, 08:22 PM
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We were at Mala Mala for 4 nights this past September. We saw the big 5. We saw 4 of the 5 the first two game drives. The last one was rhinos. As for leopards, easiest time to see them is not at night, but during the day. In game reserves or parks where they are not hunted they are very much more active during the day than lions. This surprised me until I was told this and saw it.
regards - Tom
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Dec 9th, 2005, 04:27 AM
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You need to visit Tanzania for the big 5 game. Although I see that is not on your list! Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara and Ngoro Ngoro Crater are the places to visit. Don't just take my word for it though. Read other reports. Tanzania has more wild life than any other African country. It is just that Tanzania tourism has not been actively advertising what Tanzania has to offer. I have been to South Africa and Kenya but for me Tanzania wins any day! Botswana follows closely. Visit Tanzania and you will not be disappointed. I would recommend Baloon safari too. Simply magic!
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Dec 9th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Beachgirl,

Iíve only been to Kenya and my impression is that in the Mara youíll find lions, elephants and buffaloes very easily, leopards if youíre lucky and rhinos if youíre very lucky.

In Tsavo East youíll find elephants and buffaloes very easily, lions easily and leopards and rhinos if youíre very lucky.

In Samburu there are no rhinos. Youíll find elephants and lions very easily and leopards and buffaloes quite easily as well.

In Lake Nakuru, a small park, there are no elephants. Iíd say rhinos are guaranteed if it wasnít because Atravelynn didnít see them. Other people would say leopards are guaranteed, but I didnít see one - though Iíve only been in Lake Nakuru NP for one afternoon game drive. I saw one lion.

I Shimba Hills, another small park, there are no lions. Elephants and buffaloes are very easily seen and leopards with some luck.

In Nairobi NP, a small park very close to the city, there are no elephants. Buffaloes and rhinos are easily seen. Iíve seen lions and with some luck youíll find a leopard.

I havenít been to Amboseli, but itís famous for its elephants and the other big 5, except rhinos, are there as well.

And then of course there are other animals than the big 5. Like cheetahs that are very easily seen in the Mara and quite easy to see in Samburu as well. If youíre lucky youíll see cheetahs in Tsavo and in Nairobi NP. In Kenya youíll only see wild dogs if youíre extremely lucky Ė like I was in Samburu in June.






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Dec 9th, 2005, 07:02 AM
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Sabi Sand. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the Big Five in one game drive.
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Dec 9th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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For rhino, it's hard to beat Umfolozi, the provincial park in Natal, South Africa. We usually see scores there, sometimes with horns of an almost unbelievable size. This park began as a "save the rhino" park, and has been hugely successful. It's also the place that invented and perfected the art of safe animal capture and relocation. There's a small and very good museum in the park devoted to that.

Chobe in Botswana is the place to see the most elephants congregated in huge herds, but you will see lots of elephants in any South African game park. My best lion sighting ever was in Botswana, but we always see them in South Africa too.

If you want to limit yourselves to one country, I think SA would be your best bet. But it's fairly easy to include Botswana and SA in the same trip.
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Dec 12th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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I will echo the votes for Sabi Sand near Kruger. We didn't manage to see a lion, but saw 8 different leopards plus 3 cheetahs (not big 5, I know, but impressive nonetheless). We would have seen a lion if we had gotten to the camp in time for our first evening game drive. We saw numerous elephants and several rhinos (the white variety).
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Dec 12th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Celia has already recommended Hluwhluwe-Imfolozi for rhinos. I'd like to second that. It's more of a self-drive park (pair of neighbouring parks actually) than one with posh accommodation and private guides but that's a thrilling experience too and it's fun to mix it up on the same trip as some luxury, remote stuff.

Elephants are much easier - we've seen them pretty much everywhere - lots in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, lots in Kruger, lots in the Delta and Linyanti areas of Botswana, lots in Kenya and even some desert elephants in Namibia's Damaraland.

What else are you looking for in terms of accommodation, budget and secondary animal/ bird sightings to help narrow it down?
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Dec 12th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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It might depend on your definition of "big five". For my wife they were: elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, pink flamingo, and rock hyrax!
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