Where to find the Big 5 in South Africa

  • Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

The Big 5 originally received their name because they are so dangerous, making them the most difficult animals to hunt. These days, this elusive group of animals is more likely to be ‘shot’ through the lens of a camera as sightings of these magical creatures become a much gentler and popular activity and hobby.

We recently shared a post on the benefits of going on a safari with your family and kids and seeing as both Tanya and I are fans of visiting the bushveld, today, we have decided to give you a detailed list of where to find the Big 5 in South Africa, focusing specifically on family-friendly game reserve destinations, ideal for your next safari family adventure getaway.

Before you book your Big 5 family getaway, take note of the following important factors

  • Malaria: Malaria is prevalent in certain South African provinces and parks so please educate yourself on which parks are malaria zones and take the necessary precautions

  • Self-drive vs Game drives: most parks only allow older children onto pre-arranged game drives. For a safari holiday with smaller kids, we suggest you look at self-drive options

  • Medical Emergencies: it is important to note that these game reserves and national parks are situated in rural areas with dangerous wildlife prevalent. Before going on your trip, educate yourself about the nearest medical emergency facilities and first aid procedures and products

 

Rhino

Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

Alexa spotted these Rhino on her recent trip to KNP

Two of the five rhinoceros species can be found in South Africa, the white and black rhino. Interestingly the name rhinoceros is derived from the latin words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn), meaning nose horn which is of course based on this fascinating animals’ signature look.

Sadly three rhino species are listed on the critically endangered list, meaning that there is a 50% chance that they will become extinct in the next three generations! Because of a large amount of rhino poaching, this means that although we can indicate where Rhino is likely to be found in South Africa, we cannot pinpoint the exact location.

Where to spot Rhino in South African Family-friendly Game Reserves

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rhino River Lodge, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape

Kuzuko Lodge, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.shamwari.com

Kariega Private Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.kariega.co.za

Lalibela Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.lalibela.net

Kwandwe Game Reserve, Grahamstown, www.kwandwe.com

Sibuya Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.sibuya.co.za

Pumba Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.pumbagamereserve.co.za

Western Cape

Buffelfontein Game & Nature Reserve, Darling

Buffelsdrift Game Reserve , Oudtshoorn, www.buffelsdrift.com

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Montagu

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route

Inverdoorn, Sutherland, www.inverdoorn.com

Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo

Limpopo & Mpumalanga

Kololo, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.kololo.co.za

Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele/

Kruger National Park, Limpopo & Mpumalanga, www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

Mabula Game Lodge, Waterberg, Limpopo http://mabula.com/

North West

Pilanesberg National Park, West of Pretoria, www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Augrabies, www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies/

Mokala National Park, Plooysburg, www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala/

Buffalo

Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

This was a typical bachelor captured during Tanya’s family trip near Olifants rest camp, KNP

Being the only wild cattle species found in Africa, the African Buffalo is more commonly known as the Cape Buffalo. Buffalo's live in herds (consisting of females, offspring and only a few males), which can sometimes include up to 1000 animals (these are however usually smaller with an average size of 12 animals). Males not part of a herd typically form bachelor herds or live a solitary life (which makes them more susceptible to an attack by their natural enemy, the lion).

Where to spot Buffalo in South African Family-friendly Game Reserves

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rhino River Lodge, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape

Kuzuko Lodge, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.shamwari.com

Kariega Private Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea www.kariega.co.za

Lalibela Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth www.lalibela.net

Kwandwe Game Reserve, Grahamstown, www.kwandwe.com

Sibuya Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.sibuya.co.za

Pumba Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.pumbagamereserve.co.za

Western Cape

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Montagu

Buffelfontein Game & Nature Reserve, Darling  

Plettenbergbay Game Reserve, Plettenberg Bay

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route 

Buffelsdrift Game Reserve, Oudtshoorn, www.buffelsdrift.com

Bontebok National Park, Swellendam, www.sanparks.org/parks/bontebok

Inverdoorn, Sutherland, www.inverdoorn.com

Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo

Limpopo & Mpumalanga

Kololo, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.kololo.co.za

Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele

Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga & Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele

Mabula Game Lodge, Waterberg, Limpopo, http://mabula.com

North West

Pilanesberg National Park, West of Pretoria, www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Augrabies, www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies

Mokala National Park, Plooysburg, www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala

 

Elephant

Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

Tanya encountered this breastfeeding Elephant during a recent trip to Kruger National Park

 

An elephant is the planet’s largest land mammal its behaviour often associated with unique animal intelligence (to be equalled to that of a 4 year old child), displayed through grief, altruism, compassion, self-awareness and play. The largest recorded elephant was found in Angola with a weight of about 10,800kg and an approximate height of 4m!

 

Where to spot Elephant in South African Family-friendly Game Reserves

 

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rhino River Lodge, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape

Kuzuko Lodge, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.shamwari.com

Kariega Private Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.kariega.co.za

Lalibela Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.lalibela.net

Kwandwe Game Reserve, Grahamstown, www.kwandwe.com

Sibuya Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.sibuya.co.za

Pumba Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.pumbareserve.co.za

Western Cape

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Montagu

Buffelfontein Game & Nature Reserve, Darling

Plettenbergbay Game Reserve, Plettenberg Bay

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route 

Inverdoorn, Sutherland, www.inverdoorn.com

Buffelsdrift Game Reserve, Oudtshoorn, www.buffelsdrift.com

Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo/

Limpopo & Mpumalanga

Kololo, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.kololo.co.za

Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele

Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga & Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger

Mabula Game Lodge, Waterberg, Limpopo http://mabula.com/

North West

Pilanesberg National Park, West of Pretoria, www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Augrabies, www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies

Mokala National Park, Plooysburg, www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala/

 

Leopard

Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

The Leopard is probably the most difficult of the Big 5 to spot as it is mostly nocturnal and lives in trees, the leaves forming an excellent camouflage. They are also super fast, reaching speeds up 58 km/h.

 

This dangerous cat has been classified as almost endangered as it is often hunted or poisoned by farmers who perceive it as a threat to their livestock.

 

Where to spot Leopard in South African Family-friendly Game Reserves

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rhino River Lodge, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape

Kuzuko Lodge, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.shamwari.com

Kariega Private Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.kariega.co.za

Lalibela Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.lalibela.net

Kwandwe Game Reserve, Grahamstown, www.kwandwe.com

Sibuya Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.sibuya.co.za

Pumba Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.pumbagamereserve.co.za

Western Cape

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Montagu

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route 

Inverdoorn, Sutherland, www.inverdoorn.com

Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, Western Cape, www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo

Limpopo & Mpumalanga

Kololo, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.kololo.co.za

Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele

Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga & Limpopo,www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger

Mabula Game Lodge, Waterberg, Limpopo http://mabula.com/

North West

Pilanesberg National Park, West of Pretoria, www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Augrabies, www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies

Mokala National Park, Plooysburg, www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala

 

Lion

Family Getaway|Big 5 | Things to do with Kids

Tanya & family spotted this male lion at Mabula Game Lodge

 

Although the lion is often referred to as the ‘King of the Jungle’ it will come as no surprise that the second largest big cat roaming our planet does not actually live in a jungle. These intriguing creatures can weigh up to 225kg, they are the only big cats with manes. Characteristically, lions are the most social of the cat species, living in prides consisting of about 15 animals, and they have the loudest roar which can be heard up to 8km away!

 

Unfortunately, this majestic animal has recently been classified as vulnerable on the endangered species list.

 

Where to spot Lion in South African Family-friendly Game Reserves

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rhino River Lodge, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape

Kuzuko Lodge, Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth

Shamwari Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.shamwari.com

Kariega Private Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.kariega.co.za

Lalibela Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.lalibela.net

Kwandwe Game Reserve, Grahamstown, www.kwandwe.com

Sibuya Game Reserve, Kenton-On-Sea, www.sibuya.co.za

Pumba Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth, www.pumbagamereserve.co.za

Western Cape

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Montagu

Buffelfontein Game & Nature Reserve, Darling

Plettenbergbay Game Reserve, Plettenberg Bay

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route   

Inverdoorn, Sutherland, www.inverdoorn.com

Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo

Limpopo & Mpumalanga

Kololo, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.kololo.co.za

Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/marakele

Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga & Limpopo, www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger

Mabula Game Lodge, Waterberg, Limpopo http://mabula.com/

North West

Pilanesberg National Park, West of Pretoria, www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Augrabies, www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies

Mokala National Park, Plooysburg, www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala

 

Love this information? Read more about our family Kruger Park adventures here and here.

 

Get a complete guide of what to pack when going on an African Safari here.

 

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