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An African Safari is generally quite high on the bucket list of any traveler, and between Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia, there is no shortage of options or availability!

Each country is a popular safari destination in their own right, however when Mike and myself had the opportunity to spend two weeks traveling through one of these countries, we opted for Tanzania.  Figuring that we couldn’t go wrong on safari in the Serengeti National Park, we chose an absolute classic African Safari setting which pretty much guaranteed that we would spot the “Big Five!”

“The big five” animals of Africa are the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant.  While African wildlife is definitely not limited to just those above mentioned, the term “big five” was coined by game hunters, referring to the most difficult and dangerous African beasts to catch on foot. Nowadays Safari tour companies have turned this into a clever marketing term, as today it is more about choosing which lens to shoot them with!  We managed to ‘shoot’ the following Big 4 – missing out on a shot of a Rhino.  The Rhino is the hardest to spot in the wild, however, as they have been hunted to nerally the point of extinction.

All animals below “shot” by Mike Jerrard!

LION

The King of the savanna (not the jungle!), lions are the largest, fiercest and most sociable of African cats.  They live in prides of up to 40 lions and the lionesses will do all the hunting, sharing their prey with the males of a pride.  Thankfully we remained within the confines of our Safari truck, however If you find yourself on foot within close proximity to a lion, DON’T turn and run! Easier said than done, I know, however a running target will look prey and will therefore probably be seen as such!  Try to make yourself look big instead, while gradually backing away.

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ELEPHANT

The largest land mammal in the world, the African Elephant weighs up to 6 tonnes!  You many recognize him by his large trunk, huge ears that cool the body when flapped, and highly sought after tusks.  Keep your distance from wild elephants as the can be dangerous, especially herds of mothers with young elephants.  Remember that if an elephant is flapping it’s ears and kicking up dust there’s a high likelihood it is about to charge – and make sure if in a vehicle you have a way to drive forward – elephants can run faster than a car can reverse!!

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BUFFALO

The African buffalo weighs a little less than a ton, and has a reputation for being bad tempered, aggressive and dangerous.  Single buffaloes can be unpredictable and wild, however they are usually quite tame when in a herd…notwithstanding a tendency to stampede in mass when startled!

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LEOPARD

They are a cousin of the lion, however slightly smaller.  Leopards are excellent at camouflage which leads to the impression that they are rare, and are active at night which also allows them to stay hidden. They prefer hunting in the dark and use the day to lounge around in trees. Leopards are very independent, and will only rarely be seen together during mating.

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Next time we go to Africa hopefully we can spot a Rhino in order to say that we have truly seen the African Big Five!

Which is your favorite African Animal?

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: All wildlife photography by Mike Jerrard of Mapping Megan. Reference: Http://www.ifonly.com/

    20 Comments

  1. Looks fantastic

  2. Saw all five on Tanzanian safari back in 2009! Still giraffes and hippos were my faves. We only saw one rhino in ngornogoro and he was verrrry far away.

    • We could smell the hippos before we saw them lol but I loved them as well! I have to go back at some point solely so I can see a Rhino :D – awesome that you saw all five!

  3. Love Africa, love the Big Five! Great feature! X

    • Thanks Helen! I can’t wait to go back!

  4. I’ve seen all of these animals at zoo’s/theme parks but never have I seen them in the wild. They must be truly magnificent in the wild, African Bush! What was your closest encounter?

    • So much better seeing them on safari as opposed to a zoo or theme park! It really was a magnificent experience. The closest we got was to elephants – one actually walked into our campsite on one of the nights and started drinking from the water tank on site! It was insane – never seen anything like it!

      Highly recommend a safari – it’s been the highlight of my travels so far :)

  5. Amazing pictures. An African safari is on our list of trips we’re planning to take in 2014. Thanks for sharing the pictures!

    Marie recently posted…http://bit.ly/HHV9P9

    • Thanks Marie :) It’s the most amazing experience – you’ll have a phenomenal time!!

  6. Great shots! Loved my safari experience, only the elusive leopard escaped my lens. Good advice with the lion :-)

    • Sounds like a great excuse to plan another trip to Africa to me! We have to plan another trip so we can snap that elusive Rhino … Lol perhaps we can swap photos and we’ll each have a full set :D

  7. I was lucky enough to see the Big Five on safari across Tanzania in 2012. Spotted the elusive rhino in Ngorongoro toward the end of the trip, which rounded up the big five. It was an amazing experience.

    Also, running away from a lion isn’t a bad deal – as long as you can outrun the slowest person in your group! Kidding ;)

    • Wow how fantastic! I’ll definitely have to get back to try and see a Rhino!

      …sadly I am the slowest person in the group lol – although this has never been tested when running away from a lion – I’m sure that adrenalin would kick in and give me some extra incentive to fasten my pace :D!

  8. Hi Megan, I’m so glad you enjoy African wildlife so much! If you still need to see wild Rhinos you better plan a trip to South Africa soon! We are home to 83% of Africa’s rhinos and 73% of all wild rhinos worldwide. I’m extremely grateful that when I go to the bush Rhino sightings are still common place but it might not be that way for long. 1004 Rhino were poached in South Africa last year and 86 already in January this year! :-(

    • We are actually hoping to plan a trip to South Africa relatively soon! Can’t wait to spot Rhinos! So horrible to hear that they are starting to die out – hopefully a government authority can intervene with some kind of program to prevent poaching.

      Will have to get there sooner rather than later! Thanks Barry!

  9. You got the leopard. ..In my eyes, you win! My all time favorite animal! I’m doing the trip next year and can only hope to get a great leopard shot like that. Great photos!

    • Thanks Sandra! The leopards were amazing – luckily for us (and hopefully you as well) they’re fairly lazy when resting and remain super still – perfect for great photos! They weren’t phased by us at all … although I wasn’t willing to jump out of the truck to test the theory!!

      Have an amazing trip – safe and happy travels!

  10. Nice! This is amazing. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing this one. Love it.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post :) Hope you have the opportunity to take an African Safari too!

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