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Big Five Tours and Safaris in Uganda

Big Five Tours and Safaris in Uganda

 The African Big 5 was a term used back in 1800’s by trophy hunters to refer to animals that they considered the most challenging to hunt on foot as they are regarded dangerous. These include lion, leopard, African buffalo, African elephant and the rhinoceros.

Today however, the term is used to categorize these animals based on the impact they have on nature. Grouped into herbivores (African elephant, African buffalo, Rhinoceros) and carnivores (Lion and Leopard).

The carnivores are top on the food chain. Their presence reduces on animal population and their absence leads to increase in animal numbers. They therefore help to balance the food chain.

The Big Five

African Lion (Panthera Leo)

The African lion is the most sociable of the big cats and sought after member of the African big five. They are popularly known as “The King of the Jungle”, a reputation earned as a result of their fierce nature.

African Lion Uganda
African Lion Uganda

Lions live in prides of 5 to 15 animals and a pride may have more than 1 dominant male. The lion is territorial and may stay in one territory for a long time as long as there is plenty of prey available. Lions usually prey on antelopes, zebras, buffalos.

Uganda has tree climbing lions that can be seen in Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park, and in Murchison Falls National Park. Lions can also be seen in Kidepo Valley National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.

In Tanzania lions can be seen in Serengeti National Park, Ruaha National Park and Lake Manyara National Park with tree climbing lions.

Lions in Kenya can be seen in Masai Mara national Park, Amboseli National Park. Tsavo National Park, Nairobi National Park.

Lions can also be seen in Akagera National Park in Rwanda.

Leopard (Panthera Pardus)

The leopard is the most elusive and smallest of the African big five. They are solitary by nature and therefore hard to spot during daylight as they spend hours hidden from view. The best time to see leopards is during night as they are primarily nocturnal. 

leopard Uganda
leopard Uganda

They can be distinguished from a cheetah by their rosette-shaped markings and are more powerfully built. Leopards prefer staying in wooded or rocky areas though they are able to adapt to a wide range of habitats including rainforests and deserts.

In East Africa, leopards can be seen in Uganda.  (Queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo national park and Semuliki national park,). In Tanzania (Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro conservation area, Ruaha National Park). In Kenya (Nairobi National Park, Meru National Park).

African elephant (Loxodonta Africana)

The African elephant is the largest of all the African Big 5 with a fully grown male weighing over 6000kgs. It is closely related to the African forest elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis).

Elephants can mostly be seen in savannah grassland habitats and mainly feed on twigs, grass and tree leaves using their long trunks. Among mammals, elephants have the longest gestation period of 18-22 months.

Elephants can be seen in:


Queen Elizabeth national park,

Murchison falls national park

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kibale Forest National Park


Ruaha National Park

Tarangire National Park

Serengeti National Park

Ngorongoro Conservation area 


Samburu National Reserve

Amboseli National Park

Masai mara National Park


Commonly referred to as rhino, is the second largest land mammal in the world and the most endangered species among Africa’s big five.

Rhinos are known to have poor eyesight but with a strong sense of smell and hearing. Rhinos occupy grassland areas and in Uganda they can be seen at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary  . In Tanzania, they can be sighted in Ngorongoro conservation area. In Kenya, visit Nairobi National Park and Meru National Park for amazing sights of the rhinos.

African Buffalo (Syncerus Caffer)

African Buffalo, Uganda
African Buffalo, Uganda

The African buffalo is the most dangerous of all the African game. Buffalos can live in several habitats including savannah grasslands, semi-arid areas and in areas in close proximity to water.

Buffalos are oftenly seen covered in mud with a bird on the back. The birds eat off the ticks on their bodies and the mud helps to get rid of ticks and other parasites.

Buffalos live in herds of about 50 and 500 animals.

Where can buffalos be seen in East Africa? 

In Uganda.

In Tanzania

In Kenya

  • Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park
  • Masai Mara National Park

Interested in doing a big five safari in East Africa, get in touch with us at Jewel safaris for a customized itinerary taking you to all destinations with the possibilities of viewing the big five safari.

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