As many of you know we travelled to Tanzania, Africa on Safari for our honeymoon. Although we plan to do a mini-series of blog posts about our trip, we decided to also put together this post of our top tips for Safari holidays!
There is a bit of confusion as to what the exactly the big five are so just to make sure, we checked before we travelled and they are: Lions, Elephants, Leopard, Cape Buffalo and Black/White Rhino.
They’re called big five because they were known as the 5 hardest animals to hunt on foot in Africa. Fortunately this has been now turned around by safari operators into a 'photography and spotting' challenge for all those visiting!
Anyway.. on to our experience! We started our honeymoon in the Ngorongoro crater which foruntately gives you a great chance of seeing the big five as it’s a crater. It’s actually a collapsed volcano which means that the animals are unlikely to leave because they’re in a bowl-shaped area. It also has some large pools of water and green areas which the animals like. If you’re considering a safari we would definitely recommend stopping here for a few days!
As we drove into the crater on our first day our driver, Firoz turned in his radio to a flurry of chatter and quick speaking. He radioed in and suddenly sped up, saying to us you won't believe what has been seen, lets hope it doesn't move. Be helpful to the drivers and hold on, the roads are sometimes rough and bumpy so its better for them to just concentrate on driving and animals than to have to worry about you falling about in the back, (hold onto your cameras too!). Make it known also that you are having fun and are being safe, they relax too knowing they can drive fast taking the stress off them if the animal moves off and you miss out.
got a call on the radio and we raced down into the middle towards our first of the big five... a female Black Rhino! We COULD NOT believe it! Most people go the entire week without seeing one as they’re so rare. There are around 5000 left in the world! Only 26 of which are in the Ngorongoro conservation area!
Black Rhino fact:
It is very difficult for them to get pregnant, they ovulate every 5 years. When they do there is only a small chance a male rhino will be near by because of how few there are in the world, this is why it is so crucial to protect them. .
After leaving the Rhino to graze we almost immediately came across three male lions feeding in the bush, having recently caught a Wildebeest! Eve was surprised she didn't feel too emotional about seeing the hunted wildebeest but you acknowledge that this is for food and there is literally no waste, the hyenas were close by waiting until the lions were finished. One came too close and got chased away by one of the hungry lions.
We sat and watched for a long time as it was still early morning then headed further into the crater before stopping to see a pride of Lions hiding in the long grass. It was hard to photograph them as they blended into the grass so well but there was a mixture of males, females and cubs! They were more relaxed than the previous 3 males, perhaps safety in numbers as there were around 14 of them!
Lion fact: To a female lion, the darker the males mane the more attractive he is. It shows that he has good genes and not inbred. Sadly due to deteriorating numbers, urban development etc the male lions are getting blonder and blonder.
Lion Fact: Female lions are usually the better hunters!
About an hour later we were driving to another area of the Crater with more trees and hidden spots when our driver came to a stop and was looking to our right. We couldn't see what he had spotted "be patient, you will see".
A couple of minutes later we started hearing snapping of branches and seeing movement in the bushes and then we could see a huge heard of elephants marching directly towards us in the distance. Firoz spotted a path of flattened grass path and backed up the car a little and the elephants marched right in front of us across the path and off into the distance. We were literally metres from them we could see their eyelashes and hear their breathing!
Elephant Fact: Females travel with their children and Males travel alone, apart from when they are in must.
Elephant Fact: The head of the heard is a female and she is called Matrearch and is usually largest in size and leads the march.
Above: The moment of them walking metres away from us is captured in our youtube video please see the link below. This is one of Eves favourite memories seeing the elephants walk away and the little baby elephant sprinting to keep up with the older ones.
We spent the rest of the afternoon cruising around seeing basically the entire cast of 'The Lion King' and then as we headed out of the crater we came across 3 individual Cape Buffalo and they are MASSIVE. You definitely wouldn't want to get in the way of one and the drivers consider them to be the most dangerous animals they can come across.
By this point in the day, the earth was really hot so the heat blurred our photos a little but we still managed to get a couple of pics! Another reason to push yourself to get up super early!
Buffalo Fact: These animals are known for being very aggressive. This is due to the fact they are scared, their eyesight is so bad that any noise makes them nervous and they will charge as if their life depends on it.
We were also lucky enough to see 4 of the big 5 on our first day, but didn't come across any Leopards during the rest of our time in the Ngorongoro Crater.
The second half of our safari was further north in the warmer Serengeti and we didn't see the 5th member of the big five until the evening of our first day there, we were about to head back to our lodge when our driver Devis heard some chatter on his radio and turned it up to hear where they were. We got to see our first leopard chilling on a rock with the sun going down behind it.. amazing! So beautiful, just breathtaking really. We were pinching ourselves we had been so lucky to see all 5 in such a short period.
Leopard fact: They like to 'rockbathe'. This leopard is relaxing on the hot rock just before sunset. After learning about this, the best points to see them is in the trees with their long tails hanging low or on top of a rock at sunset.
We didn't see another Leopard until right at the end of our last day on Safari. This time it was two leopard cubs hiding up a tree whilst their mother had gone hunting. To be able to see the young animals was incredible! They remind us so much of Turbo and Jet as they were super fluffy, and slightly unbalanced on the branches, just as Turbo and Jet were as kittens!
Leopard Fact: Leopards spend a lot of time in trees. It is safer for their litter and often carry their food up and store them in trees. Their tails are super long to help them balance.
So there you have it, our photographs of the BIG FIVE and a little info of how we came across them, let us know in the comments whether you’ve seen any of the big and which is your favourite!
We hope you enjoyed this little insight into our safari honeymoon, keep an eye out for future posts to find out more about our safari trip soon! x