Game Viewing and The Big 5
What is the Big 5?
The Big 5 is an old hunting term, used to describe the 5 most dangerous and difficult animals to hunt on foot in Africa. The Big 5 animals are Cape Buffalo, Rhinoceros, African Elephant, Lion and Leopard. The term is now synonymous with game viewing. Two species were unofficially added to this list and the Big 7 was coined – Cheetah and African Hunting Dog more commonly known as African Wild Dog. Interestingly, the Big 5, have a corresponding Little 5 – Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
Game viewing in both Private Game Reserves and National Parks is generally prolific where you have every chance of seeing the big 5. A wide variety of general animal species will also be seen including Impala, Kudu, Giraffe, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Baboons, Monkeys etc, as well as many bird species, which will vary depending on the time of the year as a result of migratory patterns.
What is the difference between a National / Provincial Park and a Private Game Reserve?
National and Provincial Parks are administered by the National or Provincial Parks Boards respectively, for example the world famous Kruger National Park(KNP). Historically, accommodation in the KNP has been fairly simple, but this has been significantly upgraded in recent years with a wide range of different types of accommodation. Game viewing activities are generally self-drive with vehicles sticking exclusively to roads. Game viewing can nevertheless be excellent, but there are no guarantees.
Private Game Reserves like the Sabi Sands, Timbevati and Madikwe offer a more exclusive and authentic experience. Game viewing is from open vehicles, with your own private game ranger and tracker, who have between them a wealth of knowledge and experience of the bush, which they graciously impart to their guests. They are able to read the signs of the wild like a book which tells a story.
Unlike in National / Provincial Parks where vehicles are restricted to the roads, vehicles in Private reserves frequently move off-road into the bush to get you close to one of the Big 5 and rare animals or to follow one of the big predators on the hunt. It’s an exhilarating experience. Daily bush walks, which are also part of the bush experience, will get you close up with the nature and the smaller creatures and plants which make up an ecosystem. Accommodation is luxurious; food outstanding and service to the guest a priority.