Why Walking Tours Exclude the Big Five

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Going on an African safari is an outstanding choice for your next vacation, especially if you love seeing exotic animals in the wild. While it’s common to expect to see Africa’s Big Five on your safari, you may end up disappointed if you choose a walking safari.

The Big Five will always be excluded from a walking safari for some very good reasons, and examining these reasons is the best way to decide if a walking safari is the right choice for you. Here are a few of the reasons that you won’t see the Big Five on your walking safari and advice for booking a safari where you can see these animals.

More Scared of You

If you’re like most people, then you’ve likely heard the old adage that wild animals are more scared of you than you are of them, and this is the main reason that you usually won’t see the Big Five while on your walking safari.

Despite their size, the Big Give are intimidated by humans, and will almost always prefer running away to encountering you face to face. Most of the creatures in the Big Five have highly attuned senses, meaning they can detect people approaching from a good distance away. As soon as these animals catch your scent or hear you walking, they will flee. Although this might be disappointing for travelers dreaming of a close encounter with the Big Five on their safari, it’s actually for the best, as these animals can be dangerous when cornered.

Big Five on a Game Drive

If you’re desperate to see the Big Five on your African safari, then your best bet is booking a game drive. While this does mean you’ll be in the confines of a vehicle, it will also make it more likely that you’ll be able to see every member of the Big Five.

While on a game drive, you’ll be accompanied by a safari guide that will know when and where to find the Big Five. By approaching from a distance in the game vehicle, you’ll be able to see these animals without scaring them off. To get a good view, make sure to pack a pair of quality binoculars or a camera with a long-distance lens.

Staying Safe on a Walking Tour

Even if you may not be able to see the Big Five, going on a walking safari is still a great choice, particularly if you follow a few easy safety tips.

The first and most important tips for staying safe on a walking safari is to never venture out without a guide. Your guide will be able to steer you away from dangerous areas so that you have an enjoyable trip free from harm. Always walk in single file, and if you do encounter a wild animal, remain calm and never run. Make sure that your clothes aren’t brightly colored so that you can blend into your surroundings. Finally, refrain from eating, drinking or smoking while on your walking safari.

If you want to experience the beautiful natural beauty of Africa, a walking safari is an excellent choice, even if it means you may not see the Big Five.

Big Five of the Sea

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If you’ve ever done any research about going on an African safari, then you’ve likely learned about the Big Five, which are five of the most famous animals you could see on your vacation. However, what few people know is that the sea possesses its own Big Five, and if you prefer spending time on the water to being on solid ground, you need to be sure your safari includes these interesting marine creatures.

Here’s some information about the Big Five of the sea and advice for seeing these interesting creatures the next time you take an African safari.

Spend Time with the Cape Fur Seal

The most playful member of the marine Big Five is the Cape Fur Seal. These fun-loving mammals can be found up and down the west coast of South Africa, but are especially numerous in the Cape Town area.

Unlike some other animals on this list, you can actually interact with the Cape Fur seal up close and in personal, both on land and while snorkeling.

See the African Penguin

If you prefer your animals to be cute and cuddly, then you’re going to love the African Penguin, the smallest member of the Big Five of the sea. These small birds can be found in a variety of South Africa locations, including gorgeous Boulders Beach

When you visit Boulders Beach, you’ll be able to swim with these adorable creatures, which is an experience you’ll always remember fondly.

Do Some Whale Watching

Whales are some of the most majestic animals in the world, and if you’ve always wanted to go on a whale watching adventure, your African safari will provide the perfect opportunity.

Between the months of June and December, you can see Southern Right Whales off the coast of South Africa. Because these whales are endangered, there are several nurseries in the area where you can get a great view while the whales swim and play. Be sure to bring your camera, because you’ll definitely want to commemorate seeing this member of the Big Five of the sea.

Swim with the Dolphins

If you’re like many people with a fondness for the ocean, you probably dream of seeing dolphins while you’re out on the water. Fortunately, the waters off the coast of South Africa are home to multiple dolphin species, including the well-known bottlenose dolphin

During the period between May and July, the sardine population in near Africa explodes, drawing dolphins to the area. If you want to see dolphins on your trip, make sure your safari takes place during this time of year.

Beware of Great White Sharks

Just like the normal Big Five, the Big Five of the sea features a deadly predator: The great white shark. One of the deadliest creatures on the planet, seeing a great white shark swimming in the African ocean is a unique thrill that shouldn’t be missed. While you’ll definitely want to keep your distance, you’ll always remember seeing a great white shark in the wild.

If you love seeing marine animals in their natural habitat, then you should be sure to watch out for the Big Five of the sea on your next African safari.

Make Sure to See the Little Five on Safari

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Going on a safari is a great choice for a vacation, particularly if you’re interested in seeing exotic animal life. When going on a safari, most animal lovers want to make sure they see The Big Five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros. While these majestic animals certainly aren’t to be missed, Africa is home to countless beautiful animal species, meaning you should try to expand your horizons a bit while sightseeing.

For example, in addition to the Big Five, Africa is also home to a group of creatures known as the Little Five. Learn more about the Little Five and why you should be certain that seeing these tiny animals is a part of your next African safari vacation.

Ant Lion

One of the most notable creatures featured in Africa’s Little Five is the Lion Ant. During the early stages of their life, the Lion Ant is as ferocious as the animal for which it’s named, setting traps so that they can capture and eat other insects. While you’re on safari, take a look at the ground and it’s likely you’ll see one of these traps, which looks like a small hole in the ground.

After their pupal stage, the Lion Ant flies and feeds on pollen.

Buffalo Weaver

Africa is home to a variety of bird species, including the Little Five member known as the Buffalo Weaver. These birds are very easy to pick out of crowd as they can be very loud. As you might expect, these birds get their name from the company they choose to keep. Buffalo Weavers will often be found near buffalo, feasting on the insects that are often left behind by the larger animals.

Depending on the area of Africa you are visiting, you’ll see either a red-billed or white-billed Buffalo Weaver.

Elephant Shrew

Perhaps the most interesting Little Five animal that you can see on your African safari vacation is the Elephant Shrew. Many people are surprised to learn that the Elephant Shrew is related to the elephant, at least genetically. In addition, Elephant Shrews can vary widely in size, with some of these animals being as long as 11 inches and as heavy as a pound.

Leopard Tortoise

As you might be able to tell, every member of the Little Five is named after a Big Five counterpart, including the Leopard Tortoises. The spots on the shell of the Leopard Tortoise are very similar to those of a regular leopard, but that’s where the similarities end. The Leopard Tortoise is the largest creature in the Little Five, and can live up to 100 years. These tortoises are also well-known for the hissing noise they make when retracting into their shell.

Rhinoceros Beetle

The final member of the Little Five that you should look out for while on safari is the Rhinoceros Beetle. Like full-size rhinos, the male Rhinoceros Beetle has a horn on its head that it uses to fight other beetles. Fortunately, despite their intimidating appearance, Rhinoceros Beetles are harmless to humans.

If you want to see every animal in the Big or Little Five, then you need to start booking your African safari vacation today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui