There’s one thing any safari lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park is familiar with, and that’s the Big 5. Although there’s tons of wildlife to be seen on any South African safari, it’s these iconic 5 land mammals that have caught the hearts and captured the imagination of everyone who visits here. The Kambaku Game Lodges in the Timbavati have the honour of living among these beautiful beings, and are proud to help our visitors experience their majesty for themselves. With that in mind, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about seeing the Big 5 in the Timbavati.

What are the ‘Big 5’, anyway?

The term ‘Big 5’ refers to 5 iconic African mammals. Namely the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape Buffalo. Of these famous 5, the Lion is perhaps the most famous of all, roaming the bush in their hunting prides. The Leopard is a more solitary and shy creature and can be harder to spot on game drives. It’s difficult to miss an Elephant herd, and the Timbavati are blessed with a fairly substantial population. The Rhino and Cape Buffalo are often found alongside each other in their own herds, too.

Will I definitely see the ‘Big 5’ in the Timbavati?

Here’s the thing about safaris. Their very beauty lies in the unconquered bush, spotting these amazing animals in their natural habitats, living lives as untouched by man as possible. This is the nearest we’ll come to experiencing life in the wild, as lived by these untamed beasts. A safari is truly an experience like no other… but it’s also one that can’t be scripted, for exactly the same reasons that make it so alluring.

So, no animal sighting can ever be ‘guaranteed’, as you’re viewing animals living natural lives in pristine bushland. Some days it will seem like everything is being thrown at you at once, some days you’ll capture a live hunt, and other days will be quieter. Time of day, seasons, water conditions and a lot more will all have an effect on the animals you see, and what they’re doing when you spot them.

That said, the Timbavati is home to every one of the Big 5 in natural population numbers. This means that your chances of a spectacular sighting (or 5) are very strong indeed.  Our guides here at the Kambaku Lodges are all knowledgeable, and spend much time out-and-about on the reserve. This means they know the natural patterns of these animals, as well as where sightings are commonly encountered on the reserve. This makes your chances of a wildlife moment you’ll never forget as high as possible. Rest assured, no safari drive is ever wasted.

How do I maximise my chances of seeing the Big 5 on my safari?

While you can’t do much about the random patterns of wildlife movement, there’s a lot you can do to maximise your chances of Big 5 sightings. As we mentioned, the depth of knowledge of our guides will ensure they know where to take you, when, and how best to maximise your chances of a spectacular sighting. Be sure to listen to them, especially if they ask you to do something during your safari drives.

It also helps to let your guide know what type of sightings you are most interested in. The shy Leopard is most often spotted on more nocturnal or late evening drives, when they slink down to hunt their prey. Rhino and Cape Buffalo are often found (together with Zebra) near water sources during the heat of summer. So don’t be shy- let us know which of the Big 5 you’re particularly hoping to spot, so we can help you pick the very best options for your wishes.

You can also do a few things to make your safari drives as rewarding as possible. Opt for muted clothing colours, so you blend into the vehicle and don’t spook wildlife. That doesn’t mean you need a full safari suit! Simple keep to neutral tones and avoid bright shirts and accessories that may mirror the light. Keep your voice low and try to minimize unnecessary noises- you don’t want your ringtone frightening away a marvellous sighting, after all!

Your accommodation in the Timbavati Nature Reserve means you’re perfectly placed to have a wealth of exciting ‘Big 5’ encounters during your stay at the Kambaku Game Lodges. While we can’t guarantee what you’ll experience, we can guarantee the experience will stay with you for a lifetime. Let the Timbavati touch your soul- come and experience the ‘Big 5’ in their natural habitat today.