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African Safari Vacation - The Ugly, Little and Big Five

No safari in South Africa is complete without viewing the magnificent "Big " These are the must-see animals, which all safari holidays must include a glimpse of. Your tour operator will be able to advise you on the best safari tours in the country to choose from in order to make sure you spot these animals during your African vacation. Apart from the big five, there is also the famous "Ugly " and "Little " you should try to get a look at during your safari holidays.

The Big Five

Naturally everyone wants to see the big five, so keep your eyes peeled when travelling in and around a game lodge in South Africa. The famous big 5 consists of the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo. You can request a guided tour of the game lodge you decide to stay at and the ranger or spotter will use their skills to track and sight the big five for you. If you are enjoying a self drive tour all you have to do is be patient. Make sure you stop at water holes and have a good look around. The big cats often prefer to be closer to their prey so you may even sight one of them near a herd of antelope or other buck. Remember that all Rhinos in South Africa are protected and one can really appreciate the beauty of these magnificent creatures in the wild.

Lions prefer the savannah areas and it may take some time before you spot them lying in a grassy patch or you may be lucky enough to have them wander along the roads during your safari. Don´t forget to keep looking in the tree´s whilst enjoying a Kruger National Park tour or Pilanesburg safari, you might just be fortunate enough to spot a leopard! Elephants and the water buffalo are magnificent creatures and you may just see them at a waterhole or grazing calmly next to the road.

All animals in the national parks of South Africa, such as the Kruger National Park, all private game reserves and the Pilanesberg are wild and care should be taken at all times. This is especially so when enjoying a self drive safari holiday. Never get out of the vehicle and avoid hanging out of car windows.

The Little Five

Apart from the big five, there are many other animals you may also have the privilege of spotting during your Africa safari holiday. These include the Zebra, Antelope, Giraffe, Cheetah and so on. The list is virtually endless! One must also not forget about the smaller animals, some of which have fondly been classified into the "Little Five"

The smallest of the little five is the tiny Ant Lion. This small creature can easily be spotted by the small cylindrical holes it creates in dry, soft sand. The Ant Lion lies and waits at in the middle of its sandy cone for an unsuspecting insect to fall into the hole, after which it quickly grasps its prey. Take time during your African safari to stop at a safe place where you may have spotted these "nests" and use a fine stick to trick the Ant Lion into thinking you are its prey - you may be lucky enough to see one!

The Buffalo Weaver is a noisy character and you can easily spot a nest in the fork of a tree. The nests are known to appear somewhat unkempt and untidy and may be very large. You will probably hear a Buffalo Weaver before you spot its nest during your safari holidays!

If you are extremely lucky you may spot the small Elephant Shrew. These shy creatures have a long snout, similar to the trunk of an elephant. They feed mostly on insects and are tremendously rare to see - you will probably spot a real Elephant before you spot an Elephant Shrew during your safari tour! The Rhinoceros Beetle is one of the little five, and is a large beetle with two large horns on the insects head. These horns are used for fighting with other beetles.

The Leopard Tortoise has a distinctive pattern on its shell - with black and yellow spots - much like a Leopard, making it quite easy to distinguish when compared to other tortoise species you may come across during your safari tour.

The Ugly Five

Apart from the majestic and amazing animals you will encounter during your safari holidays, one must remember that South Africa is blessed with a rich diverse assortment of animals and amongst these you may find the "Ugly Five". These creatures have lovingly been classified because of their unique characteristics and trying to seek them out during your family safari will certainly prove to be much fun!

First on the list is the large scavenging bird - the Vulture. It plays an integral part in the food chain and they can be seen feeding on the old carcases of dead animals. Their feeding patterns often cause the feathers on their heads to stop growing as they constantly reach inside the carcass of a dead animal to feed. Another "ugly" bird on this list is the Maribu Stork - which also feeds on carrion. The top of its head is bald apart from a few old-looking grey feathers and it has an extremely wrinkly appearance.

The Hyena is also classified as one of the "ugly five". If you are lucky enough to spot some big cats feasting on a kill, it may only be a matter of time before the scavenging Hyenas show up on the scene to get their share of the meal. These animals may be very vocal and are especially active at night. You may hear their laughs, yells and howls whilst in bed at your safari lodge during your South African Safari.

The wildebeest and warthog are the last two animals on the ugly five list. This is probably because of their very unique and distinctive features. The wildebeest with its hair like mane and long snout, and of course the warthog with its large tusk and snout. Regardless whether you are fortunate to view all of the big, small and ugly five during your South African safari, you will certainly be amazed with all the creatures and magnificent landscapes you do come across during your family holiday and tour in South Africa.

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