Big five wildlife game safari
The Big Five of Africa – the often mentioned, relentlessly searched for and much-loved five large African mammals.These five wild animals were originally termed ‘the Big Five’ by big game hunters…
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The Big Five of Africa - the often mentioned, relentlessly searched for and much-loved five large African mammals.
These five wild animals were originally termed 'the Big Five' by big game hunters who found them to be the most difficult and dangerous African animals to hunt on foot. These days the term 'Big Five' is frequently (if not excessively) used in the African safari industry, where sightings, encounters and photo opportunities of these heavyweights are highly sought-after.
What are Africa's Big Five animals?
You've probably heard the term, but do you know who the Big Five are? In no particular order of importance, the Big Five are: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.
Big Five game reserves have an edge over the wildlife areas missing one or more of these iconic species, because safari-goers from across the planet are eager to spot the famous rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant combination. Given that these formidable five are constantly in the spotlight, here are some interesting facts about each of Africa's Big Five stars.
- African Lions (Panthera Leo)
Africa's apex predator and the second largest big cat in the world. Lions are found roaming in grasslands and open plains, not in jungles.
Seven Interesting Facts about Lions:
They are the most social felines on earth. Lions are the only cats that live in groups (prides) and need a lot of contact with each other. Females share particularly strong bonds as they remain in the same pride for life and raise their cubs together, with cubs suckling from any of the lactating females.
- These cats are loud: a lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8km) away enabling them to communicate with each other over large distances. The males roar more loudly and frequently, usually to declare territory, call stray members of the pride and ward off rivals. Females call their cubs with quiet roars and also roar for backup when under threat.
- Lions greet each other by rubbing their heads against each other, exchanging scents that convey information about their intentions, moods and recent activities. This tactile form of greeting also serves to form and strengthen the bonds between lions.
- African lions are now only found in 8% of their historic range. Wild lions are still found in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of southern and eastern Africa. Lions once inhabited Northern Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe and India, but of these areas they are now only found in the Gir Forest National Park in of northwestern India.
- The females do the hunting, yet the males get the first helping, even when there are cubs in the pride.
- They can see in the dark and most of the hunting is done at night, but they are not completely nocturnal. Lions are said to be crepuscular, which means that they are most active at twilight (just before sunrise or just after sunset). They are however opportunistic feeders that will hunt at any time.
- Lions spend most of their time sleeping - these big cats sleep up to 20 hours a day!
- African Leopards (Panthera pardus)
The leopard may not be the biggest, but it is the strongest climber of the big cats in Africa. Known for their power and grace leopards are stealthy nocturnal predators with excellent night vision.
Interesting Leopard Facts:
- Unlike lions, leopards are anti-social loners. These solitary cats avoid interacting with each other beyond mating and raising young cubs.
- The largest cat species to climb trees regularly. Leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall and they can hunt from trees. Leopards even nap in trees!
- These adaptable felines are found in the most diverse habitats of all the big cats, inhabiting both deserts and forests. Their ability to survive across a range of habitats has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world, including India, China, Central Asia and Africa.
- Leopards don't roar, they bark and snarl. When happy they even purr.
- The leopard preys on a wide variety of species, from insects, rodents and reptiles, to birds and mammals, including antelopes as large as elands, and even giraffes.
- Leopards are not only comfortable in water, they are in fact strong swimmers that sometimes eat fish and even crabs.
A leopard's spots are called rosettes as the clusters of dark spots resemble roses. Their light coats pathed with dark rosettes provide excellent camouflage for these elusive hunters, especially in the dappled shade of trees
- African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)
The largest terrestrial animal on the planet and a vegetarian to boot, elephants are known for their intelligence.
Interesting Elephant Facts
- Elephants can get sunburnt! Elephants throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin.
- They have the longest gestation period of all land mammals at 22 months!
- Elephant cows give birth standing up with members of the herd forming a protective circle around her as her calf is born.
- Elephants have very sensitive pads under their feet, making it possible for them to walk quietly despite their enormous weight.
- Baby elephants are born almost blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs.
- African Rhinos (black rhino - Diceros bicornis& white rhino - Ceratotherium simum)
Interesting Rhino Facts
- All rhinos have three toes per foot making them "three-toed ungulates" and black rhinos run on their toes.
- Black rhinos can pick up small objects and even open gates and vehicle doors with their prehensile upper lips.
- African Buffalos or Cape Buffalos (Syncerus caffer)
Interesting Buffalo Facts
- Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other wild animal. Buffalos have good memories and are known to ambush hunters that have harmed them in the past.
- The only wild cattle species, female’s buffalos have strong bonds and if one individual is attacked the entire herd will defend the victim.
- Destinations transfers (airport transfer)
- Private 4x4 custom built vehicle
- All meals during safari (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Drinking water
- Accommodations as mentioned
- Knowledgeable driver/guide
- Entrance fees to National Parks
- Ngorongoro Crater fee and bird watching and game drives
- International flight
- Visa for Tanzania
- Maasai Boma entrance fee
- Personal things like sleeping bags, rucksack, footwear and other things like clothing
- Tips for guide and personal expenses such as laundry and communications
Upon arrival at Kigali international airport, you will be met by driver / guise and you will be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay at the Flame Tree Village Bed and Breakfast.
Take a city tour of Kigali including a visit to the Genocide Memorial site. Lunch in Kigali. Depart to Ruhengeri the base for Gorilla trekking at the Parc National des Volcans. (2. 5 Hrs) Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge Full Board.
Breakfast at the lodge. 6:30 transfer to Volcano National Park. 7:00 Registration & briefing for Gorilla visit, here you will be put into groups with other trekkers for a max of 8 people. Drive to start of trek point. After trek, drive back for overnight stay at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.
Volcanoes National Park - Kigali - Departure (2. 5 Hrs) Today there are optional park activities if time allows. Afterwards, you will enjoy the scenic drive back to Kigali and proceed to the airport for your departure flight