The Big Five and other animals
It was the old-time trophy hunters who called Africa’s most dangerous game the Big Five: elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard. Today, with other charismatic species such as cheetah and the endangered wild dog, they sit at the top of most must-see lists. The big cats can be elusive and half the fun is searching for them. Antelopes, zebras and giraffes are more abundant and just as beautiful. Don’t forget the birds, at least 1,000 species, or the “Small Five” (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, ant lion, rhino beetle and leopard tortoise).
A typical day on safari
“Knock-knock,” says the man outside your tent with a tea tray in his hands. What kind of holiday is this, you might ask, being woken at 6am? But sunrise in Africa is not to be missed. Where else can you sit in bed and hear lions roar at the dawn?
In Africa, the first and last hours of the day are the best, and the early start is so you can be out in the bush while the big cats are still active. Later, when the day warms up, they will go flat in the shade, and so can you on returning to camp for brunch after your first game drive of the day.
There’ll be plenty of time for a swim or siesta before afternoon tea and cakes (no one goes hungry on safari), after which you drive out again, camera at the ready, in search of the Big Five. In the national parks you’ll be home by sunset, but on private reserves you can stay out for sundowners and drive home in the dark with a spotlight looking for nocturnal animals. Finally, to round off the day, a hot shower, drinks by the campfire and dinner under the stars. By 10pm you’ll be ready for bed – and a good night’s sleep before your next dawn wake-up call.