If you’re considering taking your family on an African safari, but still can’t decide where to go, why not base your trip around the wildlife you want to see?
With the many safaris we’ve taken ourselves, and the ones we’ve organized for families like yours, the team at Elevate has plenty of knowledge about where to spot Africa’s Big 5 safari animals – the lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and Cape buffalo.
Below you’ll find some of Africa’s most iconic animals and where to find them.
The world’s fastest land animal, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph/ 112 kmph, the cheetah is an exceptional animal to see on your safari, especially if you’re lucky enough to witness one on the hunt. Mostly docile during the heat of the day, the cheetah prefers to be active post-sunset.
Best Places to See Cheetah:
Africa is home to two out of five varieties of rhino, the black and white rhino, identified not by their color, but by the shape of their bottom lip. Weighing up to 5,100 lbs / 2,300 kg, they’re the second-largest land mammal after the elephant. Through poaching and habitat loss, white rhinos are considered near threatened, and black rhinos critically endangered, though with the gracious work of conservancies throughout southern Africa, the population is slowly increasing.
Best Place to See Rhino:
Currently, there are only around 880 mountain gorillas left in Africa, found in two predominant areas. You can find one community within three national parks of East Africa, and the remainder are located in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Hike through the undergrowth of the African bush with guides to track these beautiful creatures who live in groups of up to 30, led by a dominant male, the silverback.
Best Place to See Gorillas:
Arguably the most iconic of African animals, the noble lion can be found throughout numerous countries in the continent. Like many house cats, lions spend up to 20 hours a day resting, so to catch one hunting is a rare sight. Despite this, seeing a lion pride or hearing their roar is likely to be a highlight of your safari. Tanzania contains the largest population in Africa, but Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is home to a fascinating sub-species of tree-climbing lions who lounge in the branches of fig trees to escape the midday sun.
Best Places to See Lions:
African elephants are adaptable to different terrains, living in forests, the desert, and savannah. Elephants consume between 300-400 lbs of vegetation a day, mostly eating leaves, roots, grass, and bark. You aren’t likely to forget the moment you first set your eyes on a herd in the wild; their size and grace are enchanting.
Best Places to See African Elephants:
One of the more elusive African animals, the leopard mostly appears at night to hunt. During the day, they prefer to lounge in trees to keep cool, for protection, and to use the height advantage for surveillance. Leopards are sensitive to sounds and can hear five times better than humans, so the help of your safari guide may be needed to spot these wary creatures.
Best Places to See Leopard:
The Cape buffalo live in herds, often in the hundreds or thousands. The Cape buffalo is one of the more abundant of large mammals in Africa, mostly located in forests and on the plains of the savannas. Both males and females have horns, but the male’s range up to four feet across. The dream of many safari goers is to witness massive herds taking part in the Great Migration.