How many tourist attractions in the world could potentially kill you? Probably a few, but none more impressively than the five legendary beasts that roam the national parks of Africa.
While visiting the Colosseum or Machu Picchu is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, walking around some ruins is nothing like the rush of seeing a thundering herd of cape buffalo make a river crossing or watching a lion striding through the African bush for the first time.
“I could spend a month in a park like Kruger and never get bored, because you see different amazing things every day,” says Nick Long, an Australian writer, who’s visited Africa multiple times. “Plus every day ends with a cool drink, overlooking a river stacked with hippos or splashing elephants, and you don’t get that in Paris, London or Rome!”
Not that you’re absolutely guaranteed to see all the gang. The national parks of Africa aren’t giant zoos after all, they’re vast reserves of natural habitat that allow these creatures – and hundreds of other species – to go about their business. There’s a solid chance you’ll see most of them on safari, but leopards are particularly shy, so getting to tick all five off the list is considered to be pretty dang lucky.
Elephants rear out from bushes. Crocodiles lie in wait in the rivers. Antelope can and do get killed and eaten before your eyes. It really is the circle of life happening right before you.
Of the 20 national parks in South Africa, one of the largest and most popular is Kruger. Spanning almost 20,000 square kilometers (that’s equal to the entire country of Wales) Kruger is considered the top reserve if you’re trying to spot the Big Five. The long slice of land, located in the northeast of the country, is home to more large animals than any other park in Africa.
“It’s nothing like a zoo,” says Long. “The only time you see the fence is when you enter or exit a camp. Aside from that it’s a wild, wild thriving ecosystem. Elephants rear out from bushes. Crocodiles lie in wait in the rivers. Antelope can and do get killed and eaten before your eyes. Aside from all the big animals, you are surrounded by the amazing sounds and smells of the African bush. It really is the circle of life happening right before you.”
This TripADeal tour spends three full days in Kruger, along with a stack of other African highlights. Check it out if you’re keen to chase the Big Five next year.
Image: (Clockwise from top left) The wild bunch – lion, cape buffalo, white rhinos, African elephants and leopard.