Where to see ‘Big 5’ wildlife
Wildlife viewing is often at the top of travelers’ lists. It’s a great way to make a memorable trip.
But not all wildlife experiences can be described as equal. Some can be exploitative or unsustainable and involve chasing after or baiting wildlife. This can put a strain on fragile animal populations. The best wildlife experiences are safe and respectful for all.
In wildlife viewing, the term “Big 5” refers to a region’s top 5 species. It doesn’t matter if they’re famous, impressive, rare or some combination of these qualities. These properties in North America, Australia and Africa offer luxurious accommodations that are paired with Big 5 wildlife viewing experiences. It is a truly memorable combination. They all focus on sustainable viewing experiences that respect wild animals and not circus entertainment.
Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge
Take the “Sights of the Sound Tour” in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO-designated, on Vancouver Island. You’ll see the Canadian Pacific Coast’s Big 5 (whales and bears, bald eagles and sea lions) from the remote Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge . This eco-safari adventure immerses guests in Canadian nature, connecting them with its culture, wildlife, and celebrating its exquisite regional cuisine and luxurious lodgings. Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge established an Environmental Legacy Program to preserve the natural environment. This program is funded privately by lodge guests and Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge. It includes a comprehensive Environment Management Plan to guide all operations and include strategies for conserving the marine and rainforest ecosystems.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Down under, just a 30-minute flight off the coast of Adelaide, is Kangaroo Island where you’ll be surrounded by what many consider to be Australia’s Big 5 (kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, wallabies, and Australian sea lions), all of which roam freely in this natural zoo without fences! The Big 5 are only a few of the many animal species that live on the island. There are many accommodation options available on the island, but none quite like the Southern Ocean Lodge , which is currently being rebuilt after the devastating 2020 bushfires. Its remote location, spectacular coastal views, spacious luxury suites and gourmet dining experience using local ingredients make it the ideal retreat after a day of Australian wildlife watching. The lodge’s dynamic environmental management plan, which incorporates state-of-the art, continuously evolving technologies, guides guests to the destination and enhances their experience. It also ensures biodiversity protection and conservation
Kariega Private Game Reserve
And, for the Classic Big 5 of Africa (rhino, buffalo, leopard, lion, and elephant), Kariega Private Game Reserve sits on a 10,000-hectare property in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Enjoy close-up game viewing in an open vehicle. Relax afterwards in any of the many accommodation options, including lodge chalets and tented suites. The Kariega Foundation is a non-profit trust that receives a levy from guests to support the upliftment of local communities and sustainable wildlife management.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.