We’ve all heard of the ‘Big Five’ but do you know the animals that consist of the famous nomenclature? Rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes. Why do we call them such? Well, in earlier times, these animals were at the top of a hunter’s list. Extremely difficult to shoot on foot, thus these big games were called so. Today, there’s a lot of shooting of the Big Five, but through camera lenses! There are tough conservancy laws now to protect the animals but unfortunately, their numbers have fallen over the course of the years. 

On my recent trip to Kenya, I spent wonderful days in the Masai Mara National Reserve and enjoyed unlimited views of the vast expanse, free and wild animals, and managed to see four among the Big Five. Getting to Masai Mara from Nairobi is no trouble as one either takes the road or flies into the massive National Park. Here’s a list of what I saw and missed:

African Elephant

These magnificent creatures are one among the Big Five games in Africa and at Masai Mara you can enjoy seeing them in the wild. I saw a family of four silently eating away while being joined by two others, coming from behind a nearby bush. Elephants plod on silently because they walk on their toes.  You will get a chance to see elephants aplenty but the massive size of Masai Mara means you need to be patient.

Shutterstock
An African Elephant roams about in Masai Mara
An African Elephant roams about in Masai Mara

Buffalo

We don’t tend to be scared of the buffalo but in the African grasslands, they are dangerous. Other animals don’t tend to get in their way because buffaloes can cause much damage. Don’t mistake them with their domesticated counterparts. A lone buffalo is said to be dangerous so stay away if you see one! 

Shutterstock
Buffaloes tend to move together in a herd
Buffaloes tend to move together in a herd

Lion

I visited Masai Mara during the rains and that’s the time lions tend to congregate towards drier and higher ground. I saw six of them chilling by some caves while another just walked past our open-air jeep, nonchalantly.  Otherwise, lions can be found in decent numbers in the wild.

Shutterstock
During the rains, lions tend to keep to themselves on higher ground
During the rains, lions tend to keep to themselves on higher ground

Rhinos

It might be difficult to spot rhinos in Masai Mara though one can spot them at the Nairobi National Park, to get a taste of the adventure in store. Rhinos have poor vision but reply on their sense of of smell and good hearing! I saw a herd of white rhinos though black rhinos are easier to spot in the park.

Shutterstock
It might be easier to see a rhino inside the Nairobi National Park
It might be easier to see a rhino inside the Nairobi National Park

Leopard

I didn’t manage to even catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures. Leopards are so fast they before you even manage to set your camera right, they would have disappeared from view. It’s said leopards run at speeds over 35 mph and can jump high, almost 10 ft in the air. 

Shutterstock
Leopards are so fast that its difficult to catch a glimpse
Leopards are so fast that its difficult to catch a glimpse

So, what are you waiting for? If you are a wildlife lover, head to Masai Mara now for the ultimate wildlife experience!

Getting there: There are no direct flights from India to Kenya, except from Mumbai via Kenya Airways. Air Arabia, Ethiopia Airlines, Jet Airways and Air India among a host of other carriers, offer flights from other Indian cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata etc,