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Spot the Big Five on an African Safari

Spot the Big Five on an African Safari

If you are traveling to African for an African safari there is little doubt that you will want to spot the Big Five, the five animals that are said to be the hardest to hunt on foot. This highly coveted group includes the African elephant, leopard, lion, Cape buffalo and the every so elusive rhino.

Having a competitive nature, I was up for the challenge and it turns out that spotting the Big Five was a pretty big one.

Game on.

Annette White on Safari


We had four days while on safari in Tanzania with Shadows of Africa to spot the Big Five. That was only 1.25 animals to identify per day. Pretty good odds.

Our trip started out promising with witnessing an African Elephant on our first day of safari in Tarengire National Park. Actually, there were a couple dozen elephants roaming the land. Looks like this whole spotting the Big Five thing was gonna be easy. Famous last words.

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On day two, we scored big time in Serengeti National Park. It started with finding a male lion. And he was roaring. Do I get bonus points for the roar?


Big Five African Safari

Also on this day there was the sighting of a Cape Buffalo toting a bird on his back. Plus, there was a cheetah. He was pretty far away, but I still saw him. So it counts.

It looked like I was winning this Big Five challenge against myself. And then day three came. There were a lot of repeats of what was already seen, but not the last animal on my Big Five hunt, the rhino.

Cape Buffalo - Big Five African Safari

Cheetah on the Big Five Safari

Even on the last day of safari, in Ngorongoro Crater, we actually all felt pretty confident as we drove through the animal rich land.

Besides, if anyone could help spot us a rhino it would be our Shadows of Africa driver Timothy. I swear he can identify an animal a quarter mile away just by its shape and swagger. And he tried to find us a rhino. Really hard. He even had the CB turned on in case any other safari drivers spotted one first. They did not.

Serengeti African Safari


There are only an estimated 21 rhinos in Ngorongoro Crater. That’s not a lot, considering the hundreds of wildebeest and zebra I had seen in the crater in the first half hour.

We drove to all the spots that the rhinos usually hung out, but came up empty. They had gone into the forest, a place we could only go on foot and there was no way I was stepping out of a jeep that was surrounded by lions, wildebeests and wart hogs.

As the last day on safari came to an end, it became evident that the Big Five would be minus a Big One.

That’s okay, I’m coming back for you Mr. Rhino. Be ready.

Have you ever spotted the Big Five while on an African Safari? Or will it be added to your bucket list?

Disclosure: I was a guest of Shadows of Africa on this safari, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be.





I’m Annette, a freelance travel writer, the owner of a Michelin recommended restaurant in Northern California, and creator of the award winning blog Bucket List Journey.

As an obsessed new experience collector, my writing centers around exploring the world in search of once-in-a-lifetime adventures. With over 105,000 page views per month, my readers follow a personal journey and recommendations of list worthy adventures. These ventures could be anything from eating strange traditional foods to visiting unique attractions to participating in daring adventures and everything in between.

 Articles written appear on Bucket List Journey (105,000 page views per month) and/or the California online newspaper P360 (106,000+ unique users/month). In addition to the aforementioned, I am a current member of the travel writing associations IFWTWA, NATJA and SATW, therefore some articles may appear on their affiliate websites, such as Global Writes. My work can also be found in Adventure Planet Magazine, Merge Magazine, Go Girl Guides, Trekity and more.

 Past partnerships: Over the last few years, Bucket List Journey has partnered with over 50 brands. These include; Viking River Cruises, Halkidiki Tourism, Palau Tourism, Ecoventura, Fruit of the Loom and Tripology adventures.

Bucket List Journey is also active on social media with 29,000+ followers on  Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. Plus, as a restaurant owner, many food & wine related stories are also published in the Restaurant Life newsletter and sent to the 2,000+ foodie subscribers.

Bucket List Journey By the Numbers

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Awards (Partial List)

~ Gold Medal TraveBlog | N. America Travel Journalists Assoc (NATJA)

~ Top 50 Travel Bloggers | The Expeditioner 

~ Top 100 Travel Blogs | Nomadic Samuel 

~ Worlds Top Travel Authors | Blog196

For a complete list of my press mentions, contributions and interviews refer to my press page.