Big Five Watching in Africa- 4×4 Africa

The term “Big Five” originally referred to a group of large African mammals that were considered challenging to hunt on foot. These animals are the African elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros (either the black or white rhinoceros). However, in the context of wildlife conservation and tourism today, the Big Five represent a group of iconic and sought-after species for wildlife enthusiasts.

In Uganda, the Big Five are not as commonly found as in some other African countries, and their presence can vary across different national parks and reserves. Here’s a brief overview of each species and where you might find them in Uganda:

African Elephant:

Location in Uganda: Elephants can be found in several national parks in Uganda, with Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park being notable locations. Kidepo Valley National Park in the northeast also has elephant populations.

African Lion:

Location in Uganda: Lions can be found in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. Lions are also present in Kidepo Valley National Park.

Cape Buffalo:

Location in Uganda: Cape buffalos are found in various national parks, including Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.

African Leopard:

Location in Uganda: Leopards are distributed across several national parks, including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park. However, leopards are generally elusive and harder to spot than some other species.

Rhinoceros (Black or White Rhinoceros):

Location in Uganda: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, located near the town of Nakasongola, is the primary place to see rhinos in Uganda. This sanctuary is home to both black and white rhinoceros and serves as a conservation effort to reintroduce rhinos to Uganda.

It’s important to note that wildlife sightings are not guaranteed, as these animals roam freely in their natural habitats. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect and preserve these species, and tourism plays a role in supporting these initiatives.

Before planning a safari or wildlife tour, it’s advisable to check with local authorities or tour operators for the most up-to-date information on wildlife sightings and park conditions.



Certainly! Here are some interesting facts about the Big Five species in Uganda:

African Elephant:

Uganda is home to both forest and savannah elephants. The forest elephants are found in places like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park.

Elephants are highly social animals, and family units, led by a matriarch, are common. They are known for their intelligence, complex social structures, and strong familial bonds.

African Lion:

Lions in Uganda are mainly found in savannah grasslands. The prides in parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park are known for their impressive hunting strategies.

The lions in Uganda face conservation challenges, including human-wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation.

Cape Buffalo:

Cape buffalos are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and are known for their unpredictable behavior. They are often found in large herds, and their presence is notable in both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.

African Leopard:

Leopards are elusive and solitary creatures. They are known for their ability to adapt to various habitats, including forests and grasslands.

While leopards can be found in several national parks in Uganda, spotting them in the wild requires patience and a keen eye due to their secretive nature.

Rhinoceros (Black and White Rhinoceros):

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary plays a crucial role in rhinoceros conservation in Uganda. It is a protected area where rhinos are bred and reintroduced into the wild.

Rhinos are often victims of poaching for their horns, and conservation efforts in Uganda aim to protect and increase their population.

Conservation Efforts:

Uganda has been actively involved in conservation initiatives to protect the Big Five and other wildlife. Conservation organizations and government agencies work together to combat poaching, habitat loss, and other threats to these species.

Community-based conservation programs involve local communities in wildlife protection, emphasizing the importance of coexistence between humans and wildlife.

Ecotourism Impact:

Tourism, particularly ecotourism centered around the Big Five, plays a crucial role in funding conservation efforts in Uganda. Revenues generated from wildlife tourism contribute to the maintenance of national parks and the protection of endangered species.

It’s important to recognize that the conservation status and populations of these species can change, and ongoing efforts are essential to ensure their survival in the wild. Uganda’s commitment to wildlife conservation contributes to the protection of these iconic species and the biodiversity of its natural landscapes.

The type of vehicle used on game drives varies from country to country. Open vehicles usually have 2 or 3 rows of elevated seats behind the driver’s seat. There are no side or rear windows or permanent roof, which provides you with unobstructed views in all directions and a feeling of being part of the environment instead of on the outside looking in. This is the type of vehicle most often used for viewing wildlife by safari camps in southern  and Eastern Africa.

Open vehicles are used in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo and in private reserves in South Africa.

Travelers in a pop-top vehicle observing tree-climbing lions in Tanzania Open sided vehicles are open vehicles with roofs  often made of canvas, and are used in camps in southern Tanzania, and some camps that cater to flying safaris in northern Tanzania, Kenya, and Namibia. Open sided vehicles are not allowed in Kenya and Tanzania on driving safaris where you are driving from park to park.

In 4wd vehicles with roof hatches or pop-top roofs, riders may look through the windows or stand up through the roof for game viewing and photography. Ensuring that window seats are guaranteed for every passenger (a maximum of 6 or 7 passengers) is imperative. These vehicles are primarily used in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Roof-hatch vehicles in these countries are generally more practical than open vehicles, because reserves in these countries usually get some rainfall 12 months of the year.

On driving safaris in eastern and southern Africa, roof-hatch vehicles are often preferred because they offer more protection from rain, sun, wind and dust. Walking safaris are an exciting way to explore the bush Wildlife viewing, and especially photography, is more difficult where closed vehicles are required (i.e. in national parks in South Africa

Night Game Drives

Many African animals, including most of the big cats, are more active after dark, and night game drives open up a whole new world of adventure. Much of the actual hunting by lion and leopard happens after nightfall therefore, night drives probably provide you the  best chance to observe these powerful cats feeding or even making a kill. Vehicles are typically driven by your guide, and an assistant (tracker) handles a powerful spotlight. By driving slowly and shining the beam into the surrounding bush, the eyes of animals are reflected back, and it is then possible to stop and take a closer look. When an infra-red filter is used on the beam, most animals behave in a completely natural manner (provided the occupants of the vehicle keep quiet and still) and marvelous scenes can unfold. Leopard, lion, hyena, bushbabies, porcupine, aardvark, genets, civets and honey badgers would be among the highlights of a night game drive, with nocturnal birds, such as owls and nightjars, adding to the experience.

Night drives are conducted in national parks in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, and in private concessions or private reserves in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and South Africa. A leopard is spotted during a night drive Walking Safaris Walking safaris put you in closest touch with nature. Suddenly your senses come alive to every every sight, sound and smell becomes intensely meaningful.W Could that flash of bronze in the dense brush ahead be a lion? I wonder how long ago these rhino tracks were made? Can that herd of elephant ahead see or smell us approaching? Accompanied by an armed wildlife expert or Professional Guide,.

Walking Safaris

These last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The bush can be examined up close and at a slower pace, allowing for more attention to its fascinating detail than a safari solely by vehicle. Participants can often approach game quite closely, depending on the direction of the wind and the cover available. The excitement of tracking rhino and lion on foot, crawling among a pack of African wild dog or being mock-charged by a young bull elephant is beyond words. Guides do not usually bring guests closer to wildlife than is comfortable for them. Zimbabwe, followed by Zambia are the best countries to visit for those looking for this type of adventure. Walking is also available in some parts of Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. Boat/Canoe/Kayak/Mokoro Safaris Wildlife viewing by boat, canoe, kayak or mokoro from rivers or lakes often allows you to approach wildlife as close or even closer than by vehicle.

Game viewing and bird watching by boat is available in:

  1. BOTSWANA: Chobe National Park, Linyanti, Selinda, Kwando and the Okavango Delta
  2. ZIMBABWE: Along the shores of Lake Kariba including Matusadona National Park, and on the Zambezi River upstream from Victoria Falls and downstream from the Kariba Dam, including areas adjacent to Mana Pools National Park
  3. ZAMBIA: Upstream from Victoria Falls, along Lower Zambezi National Park and Kafue National Park
  4. MALAWI: Liwonde National Park
  5. SOUTH AFRICA: Phinda and iSimangaliso
  6. TANZANIA: On the Rufiji River, Ruaha River, and some lakes in the Selous Game Reserve
  7. UGANDA: On the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, on the Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls National Park and on Lake Mburo in Lake Mburo National Park
  8. RWANDA: In Nyungwe forest national park

Canoe safaris are, in my opinion, one of the most exciting ways of experiencing the bush. Paddling or silently drifting past herds of elephant frolicking on the river’s edge, and watching herds of buffalo and other game cross the river channels in front of you are a few examples of what you may encounter.

Photographic (Photo) Safaris

The term “photo safari” generally means any kind of safari except where hunting is involved. In its strictest sense, a photo safari is a safari during which you are escorted by a professional wildlife photographer. These safaris are mainly about learning wildlife photography and getting the best photos possible. These are recommended only for the serious shutterbug. The best option by far for the serious photographer is to have a private vehicle and guide

Group safaris

These generally move too quickly from place to place, allowing insufficient time to get the best shots.

Balloon Safaris

At 5:30 in the morning, you are  awakened by steaming hot coffee and tea brought to your bedsides by your private tent keeper.  At 6:00 am you set off  for a short night game drive to where the hot-air balloons are  being filled. Moments later, you are  lifted above the plains of the Serengeti Plains for the ride of a lifetime. Silently viewing game from the perfect vantage point, you  brush the tops of giant acacia trees for close-up views of birds’ nests and baboons. Most animals take  little notice, but somehow the hippos know you are there. Due to the  your shadows or the occasional firing of the burners necessary to keep you aloft.

A balloon safari over the Mara River in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. The  pilot is  entertaining and knowledgeable of the ecosystem flown   over, and points out a variety of large birds flying alongside and plains game, as well as a cheetah. You  have  the opportunity to see part of the Great Serengeti Migration from the air — an awesome sight indeed! While  returning  to earth it is  an event in itself. About an hour after lift-off, the  pilot makes a perfect crash landing. By the way, most landings are “crash landings,” so just follow your pilot’s instructions and join in the fun. Minutes later, a champagne breakfast appears on the open savannah within clear view of herds of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra. The  return to the camp is  another exciting game drive, only a little bumpier than the trip out.

Hot-air balloon safaris are available in Kenya in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and at Taita Hills near Tsavo West National Park, in Serengeti National Park (Seronera area, the Western Corridor and seasonally in the south), Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, near Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia, and in Pilanesberg Nature Reserve and Hazyview in Mpumalanga (South Africa).