Best safari holiday destinations if you want to see the Big Five

Safari holidays can be pretty magical thanks to the spectacular landscapes and fascinating wildlife on offer.

But there's some extra special when you can see the Big Five – aka the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo – which have long become the poster animals for safari experiences.

Luckily there are heaps of beautiful parks and reserves where you can see these beautiful creatures, and we've done the leg work for you by searching out some of the top spots.

Of course the animals you see during a safari is all down to luck, but these spectacular reserves are where you could be putting the odds in your favour.

Not sure where to stay? We've also rounded up 10 incredible safari lodges to suit a wide array of budgets.

Check out the top 10 best Big Five safari destinations below…

1. Kruger National Park, South Africa

If you're hoping to see one of the Big Five then Kruger needs to be on your radar as it's home to all five of them!

There are heaps of lodges ranging from budget-friendly campsites to luxurious lodges if you want to stay, and of course a plethora of guided tours and drives where you can get up close to the wildlife.

TripAdvisor has a round-up of the 10 best hotels in Kruger National Park to get you started.

Head between May and September when it's the dry season to increase your chances of spotting the animals.

2. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Located in east Zambia’s Luangwa River valley, this spectacular park is home to heaps of wildlife including lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards.

It's also a popular spot with birdwatchers thanks to the hundreds of flocked species which have made the park their home.

For something a little different, the park is one of the few spots that also offers safari drives at night, as well as a host of walking safari options during the day. has some great recommendations of lodges right by the park .

3. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Out of the Big Five, Etosha is home to lions, leopards and elephants.

However there are plenty more big mammals to look out for on a safari at this breathtaking wildlife reserve; we're talking species of giraffes, wildebeest, cheetah, zebra, hyena and antelopes.

Meanwhile, the landscape looks like something out of a painting with its endless plains, lush green trees and watering holes.

Try and visit between May and December to give yourself the best chance of spotting the animals.

You can find lodges with rooms from £80 a night on TripAdvisor .

4. Okavango Delta, Botswana

This large river delta in northern Botswana is renowned for its dense and lush grassy plains, making for some pretty unique safari experiences even if you've been on safari holidays before.

The Moremi Game Reserve is where you'll find most of the wildlife whether you're exploring the waters by canoe and looking out for hippos and crocodiles, or discovering the creatures on land from the lions and leopards to elephants and rhinos.

5. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

The largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe is where you'll find the likes of lions, elephants, giraffes and African wild dogs.

There are plenty of campsites and safari lodges throughout the park and if you fancy a day trip that isn't all about the wildlife, then the spectacular Victoria Falls are approximately two hours away. can be a good source for finding hotels near Hwange that also suit a wide range of budgets.

6. Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

Sabi Sands sits adjacent to Kruger National Park and as there are no fences between the two, wildlife can come and go between both as they please.

That means heaps of wildlife from the Big Five to over 300 species of birds. But it's not all about the animals, as the reserve offers up some jaw-droppingly beautiful plains and watering holes that make for a seriously dreamy trip.

As it's a private reserve you can't come for a day visit – no camping or picnic facilities are available.

To enter, you'll need a booking at one of the Sabi Sands lodges but luckily is on hand with suggestions of of the 10 best lodges in Sabi Sands Game Reserve .

7. Maasai Mara, Kenya

Nestled amongst the Tanzanian border this beautiful preserved savannah is home to the likes of lions and elephants, as well as cheetahs, zebras, hippos and wildebeest.

Think vast grassy plains and seemingly endless green hills, roaring rivers and plenty of surprises along the way.

Looking for something extra special? Kuoni offers some absolutely dreamy Maasai Mara packages where you can even book experiences like hot air balloon rides.

8. Chobe National Park, Botswana

If it's elephants you want to see, then the Chobe National Park needs to be on your radar.

Located near the Okavango Delta the park is renowned for the large herds of elephants which call the landscape home, as well as Cape buffalo which reside here during the dry months.

Think everything from sweeping plains to picture-perfect lagoons and even spots of lush dense greenery.

9. Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania

This protected reserve is home to lions, elephants and leopards, as well as plenty of other creatures from giraffes to wildebeest and warthog, as well as huge herds of baboons.

Oh, and if you're lucky you may see the hordes of flamingoes that can be found near the lake too!

Try and visit during dry season from late June to October for the best chances of seeing the wide array of wildlife.

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