It’s been a few years now since my trip to South Africa, and I’m just dying to go back and see more of Africa! But even now, having traveled to 28 countries around the world, South Africa remains one of my all time favorite places that I’ve visited (I even said so in an interview today!). What stands out most in my memory from that trip is the search for the Big 5 in South Africa, the lions and leopards and rhinos and elephants and Cape buffalos. Made famous for being so difficult to hunt, these Big 5 are now the most sought-after animals on photo safaris. This experience blew out of the water every zoo I’ve ever been to, and it gave me a new perspective on the world and the tiny space of it that I inhabit.
I was only able to see two of the Big 5 in South Africa, lions and rhinos, and they were super cool! I hope that the next time I visit, I’ll be able to see them all. All five live in Kruger National Park, so that’s a great place to start your safari adventures. Here are the Big 5, which you should look for when you go to Africa:
If seeing these guys doesn’t make you want to start singing out your favorite Lion King song…then you’re doing African safari wrong. My heart started to flutter when I saw a real live lion in the wild, there’s just nothing else like it.
I was so lucky to see a baby rhino with her momma, and it was the ultimate in cuteness! Trust me, seeing these iconic animals in the wild is way cooler than in a zoo.
It’s no wonder I didn’t see any African leopards, they are the most elusive of the big cats. The African Wildlife Foundation has spotted a few, so I borrowed their photo. Thanks AWF!
Is there a more beloved wild animal than the elephant? I think it’s because of Dumbo. Either way, I love elephants, so thank you National Geographic for capturing this awesome photo of them!
These big guys look like they’re perpetually having a bad hair day, but I’m told that their horns serve a rather important function. So I didn’t say anything to them about the fashion faux-pas. Thank you Encyclopaedia Brittanica for the awesome photo!
There are many other animals that you’ll see in Africa, some are the ones you’ve seen in zoos and now finally get to see in the wild, and others are species you’ve never even heard of! These are some of my favorite non Big 5 animals:
Who can resist those long spotted necks? They’re such graceful creatures, the queens of the African plains!
These guys have horns shaped like the Cape Buffalo, only smaller. And they’re in greater numbers so you can spot them more easily!
Like the African leopard only easier to find! I think the cheetahs are just so beautiful and exotic.
These cute little guys are everywhere, but keep your eyes wide open because they are LITTLE! I think they look like the most fun and playful of all the animals I saw.
The monkeys are so cute, I wanted to take one home with me! I’m thinking they wouldn’t like it so much though, so I just went with some photos to remember them.
You definitely want to see a waterbuck! They actually have a circular pattern of white fur around their tail, it’s so funny I don’t know why it evolved to be this way!
It wouldn’t be a trip to Africa without spotting some zebras, would it? These animals are even more beautiful in the wild than in a zoo, and I love to see them run by in a giant pack of stripes.
The animals in Africa are absolutely beautiful, and there’s no greater experience than to see them all in the wild. I definitely recommend going on safari to see not only the Big 5 in South Africa but also all the other animals in the African plains. The Big 5 have the wow factor and they’re very popular, but don’t worry if you don’t see them all…you’ll still have an AWESOME time photographing the other animals you see and learn about! To give you a bit of a glimpse at what South Africa is like, here are a few bonus shots: the lodge where we stayed, some women walking for to fill their water jugs, the African plains & the most magnificent sunset I’ve ever seen. South Africa is a magnificent place to visit!
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