AFRICA

BIG FIVE ANIMALS in south africa

A safari in South Africa is truly a dream come true! Add in a single day in which you spot all of the Big Five animals and it should be no surprise that it has been my favorite destination of all time. Going on safari and staying in a luxury lodge is the most incredible experience… perfect for a honeymoon or anniversary trip. We stayed at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands, which I highly recommend. One day in particular really stands out as some of my greatest memories ever. I’m going to share all the details of just that day, so you know what to anticipate when you go on a luxury safari  (if you’re lucky with the sightings like we were).

Anyone planning an African Safari dreams of seeing the Big Five animals. We hoped we’d be lucky enough to see them all during our 3 days there. Never did we imagine that we would get to see them all in just 1 day. If you’re not familiar with the Big Five, it’s a term used for game hunting in Africa, which refers to the animals that are most difficult to hunt and among the most dangerous. Many guests on a safari hope to encounter the Big Five as well, making them the most sought out animals by safari guides. I, like many other guests, was hopeful to see all five.

The Big Five consists of the African Lion, the African Leopard, the Cape Buffalo, the African Elephant and the Black or White Rhinoceros.

The most difficult to find (and the last one we found that day) was the rhino. The reason it is the most difficult to find is because the guides cannot help each other. The safari guides from all the nearby resorts have radios that they use to communicate with each other, so that they can share the location of the animals they have found. Unfortunately, due to the poaching of rhinos for their horns, they are no longer allowed to share their location, just in case someone is listening in.

The odds were not in our favor to find all five because we visited during rainy season. Finding all five of them in one day is extremely difficult any time of year, but especially during rainy season. In contrast, during dry season the animals are much easier to find as they have to go to the watering holes to find water, so staying near a watering hole increases your chances of a sighting. During rainy season (when we were there), you really have to search to find the animals, decreasing your odds of finding them all.

MORNING GAME DRIVE

Game drives start early… like really early! Every morning we had to set our alarm for 4:45AM to give us time to get ready, grab a quick bite and a coffee before heading out. At Leopard Hills, the morning game drive always begins at 5:45AM.  I could tell you all about our drive, but the pictures are far more impressive, so here’s my favorite memories from our morning game drive.

Water buffalo we spotted in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience.The first animal of the Big Five that we saw that day. First Big Five sighting… the buffalo with a whole lot of flies on him

Giant termite pile we spotted in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. Our awesome guide, Jehanne, showing the guys a giant termite pile

Lion we spotted sleeping in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.2nd of the Big Five sightings… the lion
Lions we spotted sleeping in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.
Lions we spotted sleeping in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.
Fox we spotted sleeping in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience.
Taking a break in the bush in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience.Taking a break in the bush during the morning game drive
Game drive in South Africa. We did our safari in Sabi Sands and stayed at the Leopard Hills luxury resort.
Game drive in South Africa. We did our safari in Sabi Sands and stayed at the Leopard Hills luxury resort. On this day we were lucky enough to see the Big Five animals.

A family of elephants we spotted during our morning game drive in South Africa. We did our African Safari with the amazing team from Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This was the day we saw the Big Five animals all in 1 day.A family of elephants that we found (#3 of the Big Five that we saw that day)

A family of elephants we spotted during our morning game drive in South Africa. We did our African Safari with the amazing team from Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This was the day we saw the Big Five animals all in 1 day.

A baby elephants we spotted during our morning game drive in South Africa. He was trying to intimidate us and it was the cutest thing ever. We did our African Safari with the amazing team from Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This was the day we saw the Big Five animals all in 1 day.He was trying to intimidate us… He failed, but he was so cute! 
A baby elephants we spotted during our morning game drive in South Africa. He was trying to intimidate us and it was the cutest thing ever. We did our African Safari with the amazing team from Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This was the day we saw the Big Five animals all in 1 day.
A family of elephants we spotted during our morning game drive in South Africa. We did our African Safari with the amazing team from Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This was the day we saw the Big Five animals all in 1 day.In love with these baby elephants

MID-DAY BREAK

The morning game drive was about 4 hours long, then we headed back to our lodge for breakfast (it wasn’t even 10am yet). Everyday we had a 5 hour break in the middle of the day between the two drives. We had plenty of down time for meals, relaxing and even taking a nap. However, on that day, after breakfast we headed back to our room to enjoy a bottle of wine by our private pool. At Leopard Hills there’s only 8 rooms and each one is a stand alone cottage with a deck that has a small private pool, hammock and even an outdoor shower.

Entrance to our room at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This lodge only has 8 units... each is a private cottage with a back deck that includes a private pool, hammock and even an outdoor shower. You can see animals roaming right by your room. Definitely one of the best places to stay for a safari in South Africa. Entrance to our room

Enjoying an afternoon on our deck at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This lodge only has 8 units... each is a private cottage with a back deck that includes a private pool, hammock and even an outdoor shower. You can see animals roaming right by your room. Definitely one of the best places to stay for a safari in South Africa.

Enjoying an afternoon by our private pool at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This lodge only has 8 units... each is a private cottage with a back deck that includes a private pool, hammock and even an outdoor shower. You can see animals roaming right by your room. Definitely one of the best places to stay for a safari in South Africa.Enjoying our private pool in our room

My husband ended up falling asleep in our hammock outside. I had gone inside to grab something when I noticed an elephant passing by. The rooms are exposed to the bush so wild animals can roam by at any time. Luckily my camera was close… this is probably my favorite picture I have ever taken and a moment I will never forget!

Favorite moment of our safari in South Africa. We stayed at the Leopard Hills lodge, where each of the 8 units has its own cottage with a back deck including a private pool, outdoor shower and a hammock. An elephant passed right by us as my husband was napping in the hammock.

At about 2pm we headed back to the restaurant in the lodge for lunch. As we walked out of our room, we spotted yet another visitor right in front of our door.

A kudo right by our room at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This lodge only has 8 units... each is a private cottage with a back deck that includes a private pool, hammock and even an outdoor shower. You can see animals roaming right by your room. Definitely one of the best places to stay for a safari in South Africa.A Kudo in front of our room

Then when we arrived at the restaurant we got to see even more animals while enjoying our lunch. The restaurant overlooks the bush so sightings are common. During lunch we got to see zebras and giraffes hanging out together. It’s incredible to see how they coexist so peacefully.

The view from lunch at Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands. This lodge is located right in the middle of Sabi Sands, perfect for a safari in South Africa.

AFTERNOON/EVENING GAME DRIVE

After lunch we got ready to head out for our second game drive of the day. Our good luck continued and we saw so many beautiful animals during our drive. Here’s some of what we saw…

Giraffe we spotted in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.

The gorgeous leopard we saw in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.Fourth of the Big Five that we got to see that day… the leopard

The gorgeous leopard we saw in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.They clearly don’t mind the vehicles

The gorgeous leopard we saw in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.He was the most beautiful animal that we saw the entire trip
Zebra sighting in South Africa during our game drive with Leopard Hills. Sabi Sands Safari experience. The day we saw the Big Five all in 1 day.
Rhino sighting in South Africa. The rhinoceros is the hardest of the Big Five animals to find because the guides are not allowed to share their locations due to poaching and fear that someone would overhear the radio giving the location. We spotted him during our game drive with Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands on the day that we got lucky enough to see all of the Big Five in just 1 day.Last, but certainly not least, the Rhino (the hardest one to find)
The chameleon our guide somehow spotted in the dark on a tree. Our guide from Leopard Hills was truly incredible and found the Big Five animals for us all in 1 day, as well as so many others. Such a great experience doing a safari in Sabi Sands in South Africa.A chameleon that our tracker somehow saw in a tree in this darkness
The chameleon our guide somehow spotted in the dark on a tree. Our guide from Leopard Hills was truly incredible and found the Big Five animals for us all in 1 day, as well as so many others. Such a great experience doing a safari in Sabi Sands in South Africa.

DINNER

After our evening game drive, we got a little bit of down time to relax and get ready for dinner.  We had another great meal prepared by the incredible kitchen staff at Leopard Hills. Every meal they made for us was delicious.

Inside our private cabin at Leopard Hills in South Africa. The best place to stay for an amazing Sabi Sands safari.

After dinner it was time for bed and trust me by then you’re exhausted. The next day we would have another early start for the first game drive of the day. To say the least, it was a day filled with luck! We were excited to see what the next day would bring.

MORE OF OUR SAFARI

Every single day of our stay at Leopard Hills was truly incredible, but the sightings were definitely the best on this day. I got so many amazing pictures and videos on the other days and I have so much information to share that I created several blog posts about this trip. Check out my other posts from our safari….

African Safari: Part 1

The Rest of our African Safari

African Safari: Travel Tips

African Safari Video Recap

The Big Five Animals we saw in 1 day while on Safari in Sabi Sands in South Africa.

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3 Comments

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