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NYATI "Big 5" & wildlife

At NYATI Safari Lodge you are out in the wild! Here you will be staying in your own exclusive bungalow overlooking the the Olifants River and the amazing wildlife of South Africa. NYATI Safari Lodge showcases the very best of safari in its own private 10.000 hectare game reserve with an unfenced border to the commercial part of the world renowned Kruger National Park. Early morning and evening game drives will give you an opportunity to see the famous "Big 5" (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) as well as the plethora of other wild species residing here. Below we have gathered the most commonly viewed wildlife at NYATI Safari Lodge.

"The Big 5"

Africa has the world's largest and most varied stock of wildlife. At NYATI Safari Lodge you have optimal conditions for experiencing the wildlife in its natural environment and if you are in luck you will see "The Big 5", which is an old hunting term for elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino. Why are big animals like giraffe and hippos not included, you might think. The answer is that the term "Big 5" is not about size but about the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved. This is also why it is only the black rhino, which is included in "The Big 5" although it is actually smaller than the white rhino. Both rhinoceros species are found around NYATI Safari Lodge though.

The best way to experience all the animals is to go with a professional ranger. The experienced team of rangers at NYATI Safari Lodge are trained to read the animals' languages. A broken twig, the remnants of a carrion, excrement or a footprint void the animals' movements - they can tell you all about the signs of nature. The elephant, for example, leaves a footstep of 50 cm in height, the white rhino has a size 30 cm in shoes closely followed by the hippo, which sets a footstep of 28 cm. Despite its height, the giraffe only has 20 cm hooves, and the king of animals and his lioness only have a paw print of 14 cm.

NYATI Safari Lodge is one of the best spots in South Africa to view the magnificent African elephant as the lodge is located on the banks of the "Olifants" River, named after one of the elephant's old migration routes. The rhino population is considered safe here, as NYATI is working together with the South African Government's anti-poaching unit to protect the rhinos in the area from poachers. Our 10,000 ha are patrolled every night, to protect the rhino in its natural habitat. Our game reserve is also large enough to sustain the big cats and buffalos are abundant in the area too. Did you know that "NYATI" means buffalo in the local tongue?

This means there is ample opportunity to spot "The Big 5" on NYATI's private game drives.

Black rhino
(White rhino)

More "big" wildlife

"The Big 5" are the celebrities of the African bush, but you will find much more exciting wildlife living in the bush, on the savannah and in the grasslands around NYATI Safari Lodge. Did you know that this area is also extremely rich in birds and home to no less than 500 bird species? And that we do special bird viewing safaris as well for bird enthusiasts?

Below we have gathered some of the other big animals commonly viewed around NYATI Safari Lodge. There are plenty of giraffes and zebras, which often walk by the lodge on their way to drink water from the Olifants River. In the river in front of the lodge you will see pods of grunting hippos hanging out as well as crocodiles basking in the sun with their mouths agape to keep cool. Baboon troops often pass by the lodge in search for food or other exciting gadgets (so a good advice is not to leave your stuff lying around outside on the lodge). The largest living species of bird, the ostrich is also common to the area and is often spotted on our daily game drives.


Antelope species

Antelope are herbivorous even-toed animals of the Bovidae family with social structures ranging from the very social wildebeest to the solitary steenbok. Antelope are generally more deer-like than other bovids and all antelope have horns. Kruger National Park has a strong antelope population with a multitude of species found in varying concentrations in the different areas of the park. Listed below are the most common species around NYATI Safari Lodge with the most frequently viewed from the top, including the blue wildebeest (gnu), which looks like a mix of ox, horse and buffalo with its mane and horn, the graceful impala which is one of the most widespread antelope as well as the waterbuck, the impressive kudu and the bush buck, which sometimes grazes along the fences surrounding NYATI Safari Lodge.

Blue wildebeest
Grey rhebok
Common Reedbuck
Mountain reedbuck
Sharpe's grysbok

More cats

There are several other cat species around NYATI Safari lodge including the cheetah, the serval, the caracal, the African wildcat, the civet, the large- and the small-spotted genet, of which the latter is slightly smaller with more distinct black and white markings. Genets are slender cat-like animals with a long body, a long ringed tail, large ears, a pointed muzzle and they are relatively common. The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat characterized by its long legs and golden-yellow coat spotted and striped with black. It is solitary and is active both night and day, so you have a good chance to spot it on our daily game drives. The caracal in contrast is is highly secretive and difficult to observe as it is typically nocturnal. The African wildcat is more common but is often mistaken for a domestic cat despite its longer legs and different ear coloration. The civet is also a nocturnal cat, characterized by its distinctive musky scent, so it is more often spotted on our night safaris. Finally, the world's fastest land animal, the cheetah, can be spotted day and night, but the species is listed as vulnerable and NYATI Safari supports the work to save the cheetah in the wild. Learn more about the local conservation efforts by visiting the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre during your stay at NYATI Safari Lodge.

African wildcat
Small- & large-spotted genet


Several animals display dog-like characteristics including the hyena, the aardwolf, the African wild dog, the bat-eared fox and the jackals. Specifically, the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal are relatively widespread in the area, and despite being mainly nocturnal they are regularly seen during the day, whereas the African wild dog is more rare as its population is declining on an ongoing basis due to human persecution, habitat fragmentation and disease outbreaks. The spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena, is common in Kruger National Park and is most often seen on our night safari drives, as it is a nocturnal animal. Sometimes the hyena ventures from its lairs in the early-morning hours though, so you may be able to spot it on our morning game drives too. The solitary, shy and elusive aardwolf is more difficult to spot as it strictly nocturnal, this unusual species of hyena is entirely harmless as it feeds mainly on termites - of which it can consume anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 on an average night! The bat-eared fox with its characteristic enormous ears is nocturnal too, which makes it difficult to spot, and it too feeds mainly on termites.

Spotted hyena
Wild dog
Black-backed jackal
Side-striped jackal
Bat-eared fox

Smaller animals

We can almost guarantee that you will meet warthogs when visiting NYATI Safari Lodge, as several warthog families have made a habit of "mowing" the lawns around the lodge. The same goes for the cheeky vervet monkeys, which roam around the trees surrounding the lodge. There are plenty of other smaller animals to be spotted around NYATI Safari Lodge including several species of mongoose and hare, the honey badger, the bushpig, the curious looking antbear, the elusive cape otter, the little tree squirrel, the porcupine with its long sharp spines, the ever so cute bushbabies, the small but special rock dassie being the African elephant's closest living relative in spite of the size difference, the striped polecat which is legendary for its ability to emit a foul smelling substance from its anal glands for protection, and finally the extraordinary and critically endangered pangolin with its characteristic large keratin scales covering its skin.

Fun fact: NYATI Safari Lodge also has a bushbaby drink, which is a favored after-dinner drink.

Vervet monkey
Cape otter
Whitetailed mongoose
Banded mongoose
Dwarf mongoose
Spring hare
Scrub hare
Tree squirrel
Lesser bushbaby
Thicktailed bushbaby
Rock dassie
Striped polecat
Honey badger

"The little 5"

Our professional team of rangers are trained in spotting even the smallest animals, so you have a good chance of catching a glimpse of the little residents of the Krugerpark too. Actually, there are five small animals which share part of their names with "the Big 5". These fine little creatures are often spotted on our bush walks where you get an even closer look at nature on foot. They include the rhino beetle, which is one of the largest beetles in the world, as well as the red-billed beetle buffalo weaver, the leopard tortoise, the eastern rock elephant shrew and the antlion, which digs little pits to trap passing ants or other prey.

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