We continue with our Big Five series this week looking at Real Africa’s pick of the best places to see elephants while on holiday in Africa.
The African elephant is one of the most majestic and beautiful animals in the world and one of the “must see” animals whilst on safari. African elephants live in the southern most regions i.e. sub-Saharan Africa but they can also be found in smaller numbers in the Central and West African rainforests. There are two main types of elephant sub species which is based on where they live. The vast majority of elephants in Africa are savannah elephants. These form the largest elephant subspecies in the world, and they live in the grass plains or savannah and bush in Eastern and Southern Africa. They can be found in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. About a third to a quarter of elephants in Africa are forest elephants, which is a different subspecies altogether. These elephants live in the Congo Basin area, but their population has suffered enormously from poaching and their numbers are rapidly shrinking.
So here we go – our top five places to see elephants in Africa. These are in no particular order just our five favourites.
The Daphne Sheldrick Orphanage, Nairobi, Kenya
This is where the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust bring their orphaned rhinos and elephants to care for. The rhinos and elephants are rescued usually at death’s door as their mother has been killed by poachers. The Wildlife Trust rescues animals and also rehabilitates them so they can return to a normal life back in the wild wherever possible. Visitors can see the keepers feeding and playing with the baby elephants and also make a donation to help with their upkeep and the Trust’s important work.
Addo Elephant Park, South Africa
This is a great place for families to visit as it is an area on the south coast of South Africa that is malaria free. As its name suggests it is also an important wildlife reserve specialising in elephants. There is plenty of accommodation nearby offering a good choice and Addo can be visited as a day trip or as a longer safari destination. It can also be part of a self drive itinerary along the stunningly beautiful Garden Route or combined with a short break to Cape Town.
This is a very picturesque national park in Southern Kenya on the border with Tanzania. This place is not as remote as some and can feel busy at times but it is also one of the best places to see elephants in Kenya. Mount Kilimanjaro makes for an awesome backdrop as elephants graze peacefully in the savannahs below. This is one for photographers and elephant fans alike and you are guaranteed to see lots of elephant herds here.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
The Etosha National Park lies in the vast arid space of Northern Namibia. It offers a different kind of safari and wildlife experience due to its unique landscape. Etosha actually means place of dry water and it is located in a huge, flat pan measuring around5,000kms2. The ‘Pan’ provides a great, parched, silver-white backdrop of shimmering mirages to an area of semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub. The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year. Etosha is surprisingly home to many different species including elephants. They are best spotted around the waterholes during the dry months from June to November. It is then that you will see large numbers of elephants congregating in the same place in their search for water.
The Kruger National Park, South Africa
There is a reason why the Kruger National Park is famous and that is because of its sheer abundance of wildlife. It is home to fertile and lush grassland that proves to be a wonderful habitat for many different species of mammals, birds and reptiles as well as a large number of big five game including elephants. You can explore the Kruger National Park yourself on a self drive holiday and drive around the park under your own steam (although you must follow the park rules!). You can also book into a luxury lodge on a private reserve and let them do all the driving on twice daily game drives. Or if you are feeling even lazier you can often just watch elephants visiting the local watering hole whilst you sup your sundowner drinks from your very own viewing deck. Now that experience really is hard to beat!
Posted By Ruth Bolton