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From their brassy trumpets and flapping ears to their swarthy gait and ivory tusks: elephants are one of the most recognisable animals in Africa. Not only are they on everyone’s safari bucket list because of their Big 5 status, but they are also revered for their sheer size and strength as the largest land mammals on earth, as well as the intricate social structures within their herds. Are elephants ‘must-sees’ on your upcoming safari holiday? Come with us, we know all the best places to see them.
Elephant sightings are frequent in South Africa if you know the right place to go. Kruger National Park is an obvious pick thanks to its high concentrations of elephant (and the Big 5 in general), while the neighbouring Kapama Private Game Reserve is also a winning combination. Camp Jabulani is found in the Greater Kruger Area and allows visitors to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Moving down towards the coast, The Eastern Cape's Addo region is renowned for its elephants — particularly the Addo Elephant National Park. The highest densities of elephants on the planet can be found here.
After the Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park is the second most-frequented in Kenya. It offers some of the best views of Kilimanjaro just across the border, and of the free-ranging African elephants that are subject to the longest ongoing elephant study in the wild. Visitors are warned that malaria is found in the area and the necessary precautions should be taken before visiting.
The semi-arid savannahs of Ruaha National Park’s rolling plains are scattered with acacias, baobabs and overhanging forest. This is an ideal environment for our soft-footed friends, so it will come as no surprise that this park is said to have the highest concentration of African elephants in all of East Africa. Visitors will be pleased to spot some of the 8,000 elephants and over 570 species of birds that call the park home.
Etosha is the crowning glory of Namibia’s wildlife reserves and attractions thanks to its elephants. Another particularly striking aspect of the park is its varied vegetation which nourishes a plethora of wildlife including countless herds of plains game. Etosha also provides a refuge for the endangered black rhino, black-faced impala, and Tsessebe.
The formidable image of the elephant may as well be the official symbol of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. This wildlife sanctuary is home to one of the largest elephant herds to be found on the entire continent and it should come as no surprise that — spanning an area of 14,600km² — it is also the largest (and oldest) national park in the country.
South Luangwa National Park has a respectable elephant population within its borders, but what makes this park such a winner in terms of elephant sightings is that this park is the ‘birthplace of the walking safari’. Visitors can explore the park on foot, feel the thrill, and appreciate the sheer size of these massive mammals. The Lower Zambezi National Park is also known for its plentiful elephant herds who love to congregate along the river’s lush banks.
Like many other countries mentioned here, there are numerous parks and reserves in each that have their fair share of elephants, but if you’re passing through this magnificent safari destination, the word on everyone’s lips for elephant sightings is Chobe — and it’s easy to see why. Chobe is home to four of the Big 5 but its population of elephants is particularly impressive, exceeding about 50,000 in number. It also happens to be one of the most biologically diverse parks in the country.
Our favourite tours showcasing the best of Elephant Safari
A selection of our favourite places for Elephant Safari
Accommodations for every kind of traveller
Tented safari camp | Hwange National Park
Safari lodge | Savuti Marsh
Tented safari camp | Hwange National Park
Safari lodge | Tarangire National Park
Safari lodge | Kasane
Safari lodge | Addo Elephant National Park
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