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Posted by Jessica on Jan 7, 2011
Favorite Photos of the Transkei Big Five

If you're traveling to South Africa, undoubtedly you are familiar with the phrase "the Big Five." Heck, even if you aren't traveling to South Africa, you're probably familiar with the phrase given it's mentioned during nearly every other show on the National Geographic channel.

So you probably know the term the Big Five. But do you know what it means? And can you name the Big Five?

The Big Five (or Africa's Big Five) are five animals found in South Africa (or throughout much of Africa). The name came from the day of the big game hunters, when white men of self-ascribed import would go out into the bush and bring back their trophy kill. And the most prized of all the kills – the Big Five – weren't necessarily the biggest animals, but the animals who were most difficult to track and kill.

Officially, the Big Five includes lions, leopards, rhinoceros, African buffaloes, and African elephants. Some, like the leopard, are incredibly elusive and difficult to track. Whereas others, like the African buffalo, are among the most dangerous land animals in the world.

These days, most folks only hope to see (rather than shoot) the Big Five during a safari. (Though, I've recently discovered much to my shock, there are some tourists who still go hunting for the Big Five.) Tourists are downright giddy (and understandably so) when they have spotted all of the Big Five during their time on safari.

'South African Rand showing Africa's Big FiveBut given we (quite contentedly) didn't go on a safari, the closest we came to spotting the Big Five were the animals printed on the South African rand. (Though, to be honest, we only saw four of the Big Five. The leopard – which is printed on the 200 Rand note – remained elusive after many were pulled out of circulation earlier this year.)

Happily we also had an opportunity to see another Big Five in South Africa while we were in the Transkei. Originally one of the homelands established for the Xhosa people during apartheid, the Transkei makes up part of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Bordered by two rivers, the Drakensberg Mountains, and the Indian Ocean, the Transkei is filled to the brim with gorgeous vistas.

And goats. And cows....

In fact, there is so much livestock scattered about the Transkei that the area has developed its very own Big Five. Specifically the Transkei Big Five, otherwise known as chickens, dogs, goats, cows, and donkeys. But sometimes pigs, sheep, or horses are thrown into the mix too. You see, the Transkei Big Five isn't quite as established as the rest of Africa's Big Five.

True, they're not elusive (hence the "filled to the brim" comment above). And true, they're not exotic. But they're still rather spectacular in their own right. And who knows? Perhaps the following photos will help turn the tide, and more tourists will discover the joy that is the Transkei Big Five.

'Tonight's dinner? Or perhaps the house's bodyguard?

'Just your run of the mill rooster doing the dishes photograph

'The Transkei had stunning scenery. And cow bottoms.

'A happy little cow poses with a traditional Xhosa house called a rondoval

'Our lodge's watchdog, Kilo, surveys her domain

'A content puppy watches as his photo is taken

'This gorgeous German Shepard had two brothers and all three of them LOVED to chase sticks on the beach

'This rather cheeky donkey helped himself to the dog's dinner!

'Few things are cuter than fuzzy baby donkeys...

'...although little baby goats are pretty darn cute too!

'The local herds regularly used the awnings from the rondovals as rain protection. Our rondoval is the one furthest from the camera.

January 7, 2011 at 6:22pm
Nice pictures with cute dogs!
that chicken looks easy to catch, it is almost walking into the cooking pot. :D
January 10, 2011 at 11:51am
LOL! Good point! :D

(Tim and I were talking this weekend about our grand European vacation with you guys. Yay!)

Maggie (Tim's sister)
January 10, 2011 at 2:14pm
These phots are so fantastic I often wonder (teasingly of course)if you two are cheating and just using phtos from National Geographic. Maybe you should quit your day jobs and just go into travel photography. Of course you would need to take me along to take of of the business aspect of tings. 8 o )
January 10, 2011 at 5:29pm
Thanks, Maggie! We'd probably save a lot of money if we just borrowed photos from National Geographic instead of traveling ourselves…but it wouldn't be nearly as fun! :)
January 10, 2011 at 7:38pm
Leave it to you guys to find the dogs!
January 11, 2011 at 11:36am
LOL! Guilty as charged! ;)
GUB /Maurice
January 31, 2011 at 7:52pm
Your Transkei pictures fill me with nostalgia (I love that country. I was back there 3 months ago), and envy (I would love to have taken them, especially the chicken in the doorway).GREAT.
February 7, 2011 at 4:29pm
We're so glad you enjoyed them, Great Uncle Brother! The chicken in the doorway is one of our favorites too. :)
Frank Switala
March 26, 2013 at 2:56am
Thank you very much for your text and pics about Bulungula. Otherwise I would never ever have visited this little piece of paradise. The stay there last month was outstanding. Incredible nature and friendly staff, rocket showers…fantastic! It was always on my mind on the entire tour from Durban to Cape Town. But it is fragile and I really hope they can keep up the good work
thank you so much!

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