Best Big 5 Safaris in South Africa

Best Big 5 Safaris in South Africa

Postcard-perfect unique biodiverse landscapes, the big five, unparalleled beauty and outstanding, luxurious reserves, parks and lodges boasting exclusive bucket-list activities, are all waving its welcoming arms to whisper in your ear: come closer, come explore, come experience some of the best big 5 safaris in South Africa.

It is an invitation you can’t miss.

From the malaria-free Kalahari to Kruger’s enthralling density of animals our safari and tour options vary in length, location, bush-and-city combinations and activities to suit your budget, expectations and travel style.  And with so many choices of where to go, what to see or do, and how many days you need for this and that, here are some suggestions of where to go to experience the best big 5 safaris in South Africa.

Best Big 5 Safaris in South Africa

1. Treat Yourself: 11 Day Premier Cape Town & Kruger Safari

Lion sighting on game drive Best Big 5 Safaris in South Africa
Discover the big sights of Cape Town and the big five of the South African bushveld on an 11-day Cape Town & Kruger Safari, and let luxury lead the way.

If you want to splurge and experience the epitome of luxury, one the best big 5 safaris in South Africa to treat yourself with is the 11-day premier Cape Town & Kruger Safari; a journey taking your from the coast to the bush, from the vibrant streets of the Mother City to the solitude of nature.

Starting off in Cape Town, your first four days will be spent exploring all that the city has to offer. And your options are endless. Visit the legendary Table Mountain, see the endangered African Penguins at Boulders Beach, shop and eat at world-class restaurant at the V&A Waterfront, just around the corner from your hotel, the One&Only, and taste award-winning wines. Cape Town is abuzz with culture, history and art with places such as Zeitz Mocca, the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.

Put on your safari hat, and pack in the mosquito repellent as the next leg of your trip will take you to Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Here, under the guidance of highly trained rangers and Shangaan trackers, you can see the big five, the endangered African wild dog and cheetah and plenty of other wild animals on open-vehicle game drives and guided bush walks.

But keep those camera batteries charged as another safari experience awaits for the last three days of your trip. Wake up from your luxury tent at Timbavati Game Reserve,which is home to the world’s last free roaming white lions (and the rest of the big five), and go on daily game drives and nature walks. Before departure on your last day, enjoy one last hearty breakfast in the African bushveld after a final safari adventure.

2. For the Whole Family: 7 Day Madikwe & Cape Town

 Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Soak up nature, and all its got to offer, at Madikwe Private Game Reserve.

Gather the whole family and create everlasting memories when you opt for the 7-day trip to the malaria-free area of Madikwe Game Reserve and the city of Cape Town, where fun is always guaranteed.

Arrive at Madikwe via a short charter flight from O.R Tambo International Airport and embrace everything nature’s got to offer in the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa. Madikwe is an excellent choice for the whole family, with family-friendly accommodation and a plethora of things to do, from safari drives, stargazing, spa treatments and a local community village tour to a special children’s program which includes cooking classes, game nights and dung tracking. With a low concentration of safari vehicles, everyone can get in touch with nature, and appreciate and learn more about the importance of conservation for two full days as you spot the big five and tick off some of the 300 recorded bird species or 66 large mammals in the reserve.

From the bush you will head to the bustling city of Cape Town, a family-friendly destination of note where you will be entertained by the depths of the ocean to the top of mountains, and everything in between. From More Quarters Hotel, with its apartment style accommodation, you can quickly get out and about and explore the city. Take your family up Table Mountain, dip your toes in the sea and go to the Two Oceans Aquarium for hours of entertainment at the popular V&A Waterfront where boat rides, a skate park and mini golf are only a drop in the bucket of things to do with kids in Cape Town.

3. Big City to Big Five Safari: 11 Day Cape Town, Tswalu & Kruger

Deck with ocean view in Cape Town
Wake up to the sound, sight and smell of the Atlantic Ocean on your 11-day Cape Town, Tswalu & Kruger.

If you want to experience one of the best big 5 safaris in South Africa, the 11 day journey – that will take you from Cape Town to Tswalu in the Kalahari and Kruger – should be on your travel radar.

You don’t need to choose between city and bush, you can experience the best of both worlds, and then some more with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a safari in two vastly different regions of South Africa, the Kruger National Park and the malaria-free Tswalu Kalahari where endless spaces meet the horizon in the distance.

It all starts in Cape Town, where your stay at Ellerman House on the slopes of the iconic Lion’s Head, puts you right where you want to be: in close proximity to incredible beaches, Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula for a visit to Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach and more. From your boutique hotel, you can color your days with tour experiences highlighting the best of Cape Town’s food, culture, nature and history, just talk to us to help you plan the perfect itinerary.

After living it up in the city, it is time to escape to the open savannas of Tswalu, a luxury lodge offering exclusivity and privacy, emphasizing the dramatic landscapes. The reserve’s heart is embedded in conservation and research, and you can spend your days discovering the magic of the Kalahari – the landscapes and its inhabitants – through private game drives, walking safaris, millennia-old rock engravings and waking up at the crack of dawn to see how meerkats warm up in the sun to go about their day.

But you can’t leave South Africa without experiencing the Kruger region, and the 65 000-hectare Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its big five sightings, especially when it comes to the elusive leopard.  Your stay at the quintessential Dulini Lodge comes with multiple morning and afternoon game drives and with a maximum of 6 people per game drive you can soak in the rangers’ stories and wealth of knowledge, ask questions and snap those National Geographic safari photos you’ve been dreaming of.

4. Unforgettable Big Five Safari: 7 Day Timeless Kruger & Cape Town Safari

Camps Bay Cape Town
Add Cape Town – voted as one of the most beautiful cities on earth – to your safari experience when visiting South Africa.

You can’t go wrong when you combine two of South Africa’s most visited destinations, Cape Town and the Greater Kruger National Park, during the 7-day Timeless Kruger & Cape Town Safari.

Immerse yourself in the wide-open spaces of Kapama Game Reserve for the first three days where exclusive experiences will bring you closer to the pristine bush, the big five, the bird life and more than 40 different species of mammals. Besides morning and afternoon game drives, visitors can also get a bird’s eye view of the reserve from a hot air balloon, do a bush walk, go for spa treatments, attend photographic workshops and spend a night under the stars in the bush on a private deck (complete with your own chef).

Wave your bush experience adieu and say hello to Cape Town, and all its glorious beauty, when you depart from Hoedspruit Airport. The V&A Waterfront is one of Africa’s most visited destinations, and you will be in the middle of all the excitement and the Mother City’s rich history when staying at the Portswood Hotel. From here, you can easily do the unique hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing bus tour and go to the must-visit attractions such as Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Camps Bay and Clifton for some beach time, Hout Bay and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Do a full day scenic tour of the Cape Peninsula, go to the countryside’s oldest wine estates and talk to one of our travel experts to discuss the myriad of tour options in Cape Town.

5. For the Budget & Time Conscious: 3 Day Kruger Fly-in

Swimming pool at Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge
It is here were tradition and elegance meet, at the Tsonga-inspired Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge within Kruger National Park.

If you only have a few days to spare, and want to go on a budget safari, opt for the 3-day fly-in package and discover the best of the wildly popular Kruger region from the comfort of Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge.

Fly into the airstrip of Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge, a luxurious private concession situated in Kruger National Park, the biggest national park in South Africa, and indulge in the pristine wilderness’ wild serenity as you set off on your first afternoon game drive with an experienced ranger and tracker. Reflect on your big five and other sightings as the chef serves some mouth-watering magic, and marvel at the starlit African sky from the deck of your traditional Tsonga-inspired accommodation.

Your second day starts with rusks and coffee, a firm South African favourite, before you embark on an early morning game drive where promises of wildlife sightings lurk around the corner and along the awe-inspiring Kruger landscapes. Switch off and destress with Hoyo Hoyo’s wellness treatments, or spend your afternoon relaxing by the pool with a book and keep an eye out for the prolific bird life of the region before one last afternoon game drive, and another unforgettable meal in the African bush.

Considering one these best big 5 safaris in South Africa? Our safari experts can help you plan.