The Big Five – Kruger National Park, South Africa

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I never believed those people who bragged about seeing the Big Five in one day in Kruger National Park.

It sounded like a make-believe story. Something nice to tell the folks back home who were sitting in the office while they were on their wild African adventure. Like a fairy tale. But with teeth.

The only people who I thought were telling the truth were those who went on fancy Safari rides. You know; the ride on the green open Jeep-kind-of-thing with a ranger in the front dressed in khaki from head to toe. The kind of rides that make most South Africans cringe when they hear the cost. The kind of rides lucky buggers spot the Big Five from.

See, if you are a South African you don’t go on a ‘Safari’. That’s a fancy word reserved for foreign tourists. Or for fancy South Africans. If you are a South African you just get in your car and go for a drive. Nothing fancy. No guide. No tracking information about where the big cats are hiding. You’re on your own. No time limit. If an elephant flaps his ears you better hope it’s a friendly flap. If a cheetah is hiding in the long grass you better hope you’re in some type of “high” vehicle to see. When a *rock is moving you better hope you see the movement.

Maybe other South Africans do Safaris.


I don’t. My family doesn’t. We drive.

And when you drive on your own you don’t get all the inside info, you don’t have a guide, you don’t get information from any tracker.

So I always thought the people who said, “I saw the Big Five in one day”, lied…until it happened to me.

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, leopard

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, lion

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, elephant

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, rhino

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, buffalo

In a matter of five hours I saw three lions, two rhinos, a herd of elephants and buffaloes and the most beautiful leopard.

Lucky.

The next day it almost happened again, 4 out of 5.

Lucky.

Big Five, Kruger National Park, Going Somewhere Slowly, Kruger, South Africa, leopard

Kruger National Park is big. It’s bigger than big; it’s humongous. And contrary to popular believe, we don’t have lions roaming around in the streets of South Africa or leopards as pets. 

This is Africa and sometimes you’re unlucky.

But sometimes you’re just one of those lucky buggers.

The Big Five in one day. It happens.

It happened.

Going Somewhere Slowly’s Tips for spotting the Big Five:

  • Go slow.
  • Go slower than slow.
  • Take your time.
  • It’s not always about the “Big Five”. Be happy with whatever you see – a dung beetle, an impala, a hornbill – they are all animals, they are all amazing.
  • Stay in your car (you would think that it’s obvious but some people still hang out of cars or get out).
  • Report any suspicious behaviour in the park – especially when it comes to our precious rhinos.
  • NEVER EVER post a rhino’s location on social media.
  • Keep an eye out for the notice boards at the camps, lions usually stay in one area for a few days.
  • Leopards climb trees…every now and then move your eyes just a few inches up.
  • Have fun, pack a snack, don’t litter, stay safe and obey the rules of South Africa’s National Parks.

*rock – rocks or trees in National Parks are commonly mistaken for lions, rhinos or leopards. Sometimes the rock moves. Sometimes it’s more than just a rock. Sometimes you are lucky. It’s perfectly normal to get excited about a rock with the right shape, size and colour. Perfectly normal.

Disclaimer: Please don’t take offense if you are a South African (or tourist) who pays to go on these Jeep Safaris…it’s just from personal experience that I prefer to go on a “game drive” in my own vehicle.
Remember: Things that have been said by a person who thinks flip flops is suitable for any occasion should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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