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.
IMG_9774 (800x533)IMG_0008 (800x533)

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.

. . . Read More . . .

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Visit An Orphanage in Tanzania, Africa
Go Glamping in the Center of Africa’s Serengeti
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9 Things To Do on a Long Haul Flight to Cure Boredom

2018-12-22T13:58:18+00:00February 12th, 2014|Categories: Africa, Tanzania, TRAVEL|Tags: , , , |


  1. Kathy February 13, 2014 at 5:03 am - Reply

    After all you have eaten and experienced, I am surprised you were not the first to jump out for your elusive big one.
    I discovered your site while making my bucket list after surviving open heart surgery. I truly enjoy reading your adventures. You really helped me make a great bucket list!

    • Annette White February 13, 2014 at 6:45 am - Reply

      I did think about it for a second, but lions & hyenas really scare me 😉
      I am so happy to hear that my blog is helping you make a great bucket list after such a major surgery!! And I hope your checkmarks will be plentiful 🙂

  2. Raymond @ Man On The Lam February 13, 2014 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I finally spotted a rhino later than month in South Africa!

    • Annette White February 13, 2014 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Damn you and your rhino Raymond Walsh 😉
      I am beyond jealous!!

  3. Jonny Blair February 13, 2014 at 9:26 am - Reply

    I saw a rock that looks like a rhino, does that count? :-p

    • Annette White February 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      LOL! I thought the rock looked like a tent and the piece of wood looked like a cow 😉

  4. Jennifer Steck February 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Guess you’ll have to visit at least a couple more times. The first time I traveled to Africa, some British tourists told me it was addictive. They were right. I’m headed back, this time, to Namibia where I should finally get the change to see a rhino. I can’t wait!!

    • Annette White February 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Yes, I definitely need to go back to see that rhino (amongst other reasons too). Have a wonderful time in Namibia!

  5. Heather February 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    You definitely get bonus points for the roaring lion! I can’t wait to go see them for myself one day!

  6. Jonathan Look, Jr. February 18, 2014 at 4:52 am - Reply

    Wow! What a great experience. Not seeing a rino is a great reason to go back but it seems to me that, ANY, reason would be good enough.

  7. Carmen February 18, 2014 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I’d be happy to see four. Last time I went on safari I only saw three. I love that photo of the lion roaring – it’s brilliant!

  8. Pedro @ Travel with Pedro February 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Annette, that’s such a pity! I went on a safari on the Maara and the same happened to me. I saw many of the big 5, but Mr Rhino didn’t make an appearance.

    Great blog, by the way!

    • Annette White February 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Damn Mr. Rhino!! I have to admit that the hunt was so much fun, but the failure not so much 🙂

  9. john smeeth February 22, 2014 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a great experience. so so lovely photos…

  10. Ali@Africana Travels February 24, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

    hope you get to see the rhino on your next safari travels. I had a hard time spotting one too and ended up seeing one at the Nairobi national park. Good Luck

    • Annette White February 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Next time, I will not leave Africa until I spot one!

  11. African Safaris June 21, 2014 at 3:35 am - Reply

    In the images the lion is mourning, small baby elephants try to break the branch of a tree and a buffalo standing all were captured by way of excellent photography.

  12. michael d July 3, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Hey Annette, I am also planning a safari trip possibly at the end of this year but I was wondering if I set out on my own (trying to get someone to agree to come how did you go about finding other possible bucket listers to go with you? Did you just reach out to people who followed your page? or got grouped up with them once you booked? Thanks!

    • Annette White July 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      Actually, I was invited to go on the safari by the tour company along with a couple of other bloggers. Though, I believe that if you contact the company they should be able to pair you with some others that will be on safari too. Good luck! Going on safari was amongst the best bucket list experiences I ever had.

  13. Ann Williams October 16, 2016 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Hope you get to come to Africa again sometime soon. If you do, you would love South Africa and the Kruger National Park. We go their every year from Johannesburg and on the first day’s trip into the Park this year, spotted all of the big five pulse most of the Ugly Five. Enjoy your travels.

    • Annette White October 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      I had never heard of the Ugly Five!! But, I need to spot the Marabou Stork on that list in addition to the rhino! I would love to go back one day soon.

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