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  • Writer's pictureRachel Digirolamo

The Big Five of Africa

Do you know the “big five” of Africa? Is Africa on your bucket list? If it is on your bucket list, you need to make this trip happen. To say it was life changing might sound crazy but really it was. Until you experience it for yourself, you will not fully understand the adrenaline rush of tracking these beautiful animals just to spend a few seconds with them. When going on a safari, you will have a guide and a tracker. The tracker sits at the front of the vehicle and watches for all the tracks. The guide tells you all about the animals, plants, birds, etc. while driving you to the animals. Having one without the other just wouldn't work because they work together and make magic happen.

All about the BIG FIVE...

1. The Rhino - These animals are BEAUTIFUL! Due to poaching, there are fewer and fewer of these animals which is so sad. One of the reserves we visited in Phinda is removing their horns to prevent poachers from killing them. It does seem to be helping but there are just so few of these animals left in the world. Unfortunately, reproduction is not keeping up with the amount being poached. We were able to see this beautiful animal on day three and after that we saw none, so I will cherish the time we had to watch him.

2. The Elephant - One of my favorite animals! They are big and beautiful. They are a very popular siting. You will see from the picture below, they don't let much bother them. We also saw a sweet little baby who was learning to use its trunk. It was ADORABLE!!

3. The Cape Buffalo - While they aren't my favorite animal, they are very interesting to watch. If they are left alone, it can be one of the lion’s favorite meals. The first one we saw was in the water and as you can see below he was just enjoying a nice little swim.

4. The Leopard - One of the hardest to find animals, but we managed to find one on the first night of our trip! He was beautiful and had just finished dragging his meal into the tree. We were only about 10 yards from him. He seemed so chill with us being so close and that experience was amazing! On the last morning in Lion Sands, we had quite the ADVENTURE with a leopard who was hunting some impalas. We were tracking him because another vehicle had seen him walking down the road. Once we found him he was sneaking up on some impalas and causing mad confusion in the pack of impalas. He didn't make the kill, but it was fun to watch him hunt.

5. The Lion - Tracking the lion was the last of the big five we had to find. It was quite an exciting adventure!!! It was day four into the safaris and we were dying to see a lion. We got word there was a lioness in the pride lands so off we went to find her. When we approached her, she looked EXHAUSTED!!! We watched her for about thirty minutes before she decided to grab some water and walk around. While watching her, we also came across her meal. It was a kudu and a huge one at that. I couldn't believe she could kill that animal solo but she did and had hidden it from other animals. She didn't want to share. This explained why she was so exhausted. She allowed us to watch her for a while. Next it was off to sunset drinks! After drinks we set out to find the two male lions we had heard roaring earlier in the evening. It was dark by this time and we were using flashlights to look for eyes. All of a sudden, we came across one of the male lions lying in the tall grass. The guides turned off their flashlights and wanted to see if he would roar or get up. Well, he did both. When he roared, his brother roared back. He was close but we couldn't see him in the tall grass. Then our lion we were watching got up, so we followed him down the path for about a mile where he took another break. What happened next was such an adrenaline rush! There were three vehicles staggered around this lion in the pitch black and suddenly we hear him roar. IT WAS SO LOUD! After he roared a few times, then the brother roared back, and it was coming from RIGHT BEHIND US! Did I mention it was pitch black? Did I mention we were watching real live lions in the wild? Whew! We couldn't see where the second lion that roared was exactly and you can't stand up and cause a bunch of movement, so we sat and listened. A little nervous and a little excited our guide said, "Don't move, look left." Literally within arms reach this giant male lion walked right beside us. This was one of the most exciting moments on this trip!!

If you are looking to plan an Africa vacation, I would love to help you!

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