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South African Elephant Back Safari Guide : Addo : Kruger : Pilanesberg : Magaliesberg :

Elephant Back Safaris in South Africa
Travel Writer: EcoTravel Africa  

Riding African Elephants has always been considered too dangerous, but with tame animals raised by humans, elephant-back safaris are completely safe. Elephant Back Safaris offer an adventure traveller an unique way to silently move through the bush and view other wildlife.


Some may consider it a cruel way to experience South Africa; but, being witness to this mutually enriching and rewarding relationship between man and elephant in a modern day Africa promises to add perspective to any visitor's perception of the African elephant and its role in conservation -- mainly through income derived from elephant-back safaris.

Game viewing from elephant back is unique. From the high vantage point tourists are able to view other animals up close as the elephants move silently in single file through the bush. It is also possible to see the Big Five as most of the reserves contain lion, wild elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo.

Five South African game lodges / reserves offer elephant-back safaris: Pilanesberg Elephant-Back Safaris near Pilanesberg and Sun City in the North West Province, Camp Jabulani in the Limpopo province, Addo Elephant Back Safaris in the Eastern Cape and the Elephant Sanctuary in Gauteng and Tsitsikamma.

Addo Elephant Back Safaris is located in the Zuurberg mountains of Greater Addo Elephant National Park -- but not affiliated to the park. Guests at this Eastern Cape lodge have the option to walk with or ride the three resident elephants through some of Africa's most diverse landscapes.

 Photographer: Addo Elephant Back Safaris  

Walks with the elephants allow guests to observe their behaviour in natural surroundings, while riding the gentle pachyderms gives an excellent perspective of the area -- at a peaceful and gentle pace. Bush, ravines and forest are encountered on each outing, before relaxing at a waterhole while the elephants frolic and swim.

There are numerous daily options, from a two-hour morning walk and ride with snacks provided, to a three-hour walk and ride with lunch, an afternoon walk and ride with drinks and snacks for two hours, to a late-afternoon sundowner encounter with elephants, with drinks and snacks provided and lasting an hour.

Elephant Sanctuary and Guest Lodge is in the scenic Magaliesberg mountains, just 45 minutes from Johannesburg and Tshwane. The sanctuary lies in natural indigenous bush and is home to plenty of wildlife and about 350 species of birds - and 12 African elephants.

Elephant Sanctuary offers guests a comprehensive, hands-on elephant experience that enriches and informs. Activities include touching, feeding and brushing elephants, walking with them or riding them through the bush. Guests can opt for a day trip to the sanctuary or overnight in the 10-bedded Indo-African lodge, where all rooms share a common wall with the elephants' stables.

Photographer: Elephant Sanctuary 

Pilanesberg Elephant-Back Safaris near Pilanesberg and Sun City in the North West Province -- Comfortably nestled at the foothills of the ancient Pilanesberg mountains lies the “Elephant Wallow”, a special place where a unique relationship between the African Elephant and man find their lives closely intertwined.

With Wild Horizons as your experienced hosts, guests are encouraged to get close to these gentle giants and awarded the wonderful opportunity to learn more about them; their lifestyle, fascinating social bonds, intelligence and sometime mysterious behaviour.

Scheduled elephant-back safaris run daily, promising visitors much more than just a game-viewing experience, but a closer insight into the world’s largest mammal, the African Elephant.

Elephant–Back Safaris: Scheduled trips leave from the Welcome Desk, Sun City, South Africa. Guests are transferred to the “Elephant Wallow” where they are met by experienced Elephant Guides, who will host them on their safari. This elephant experience takes approximately 3 hours. Light snacks are served on “The Wallow” terrace after the safari. Return transfer is back to the Welcome Centre.

Elephant Interaction: Guests are transferred to “The Elephant Wallow” from the Welcome Desk, Sun City, South Africa. Experienced guides will host visitors through and elephant interaction where guests are encouraged to touch, feed, photograph and learn more about these amazing animals. This activity takes approximately 1 hour. Return transfer is back to the Welcome Centre.

Located near the Kruger national Park, the luxury six-suite tented camp, Camp Jabulani, was to be the start of elephant-back safaris in South Africa. Guests are seated on a comfortable canvas-covered saddle mounted behind an experienced elephant handler.

Each safari lasts for about an hour and 20 minutes and includes a talk by the elephant master on elephant behaviour before the ride, and refreshments afterwards. Guests mount and dismount from a specially built platform level with the elephant's back.

Elephant-back safaris are available to day visitors too. For guests staying over at Camp Jabulani elephant-back safaris are included in the tariff and can be enjoyed both as a daytime excursion and a night safari with spotlights. Guests may have as many rides as they want, but the activity is not available to children younger than 12 years. The 13 elephants can carry a maximum of 18 passengers between them at any one time.

The Elephant Sanctuary the Crags is home to six African Elephants: Maroela, Jabu, Thandi, Mopani, Thaba and Tumelo. Meet them in a beautiful indigenous forest setting. The Crags Elephant Sanctuary, Plettenberg Bay sets itself apart from anything that the Garden Route has previously had to offer in terms of elephant interaction. All programmes are fully guided and guest numbers are limited to ensure personal attention and maximum elephant interaction for each guest which makes for a truly enriching experience.


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South Africa has many top Game / Nature Reserves, and is home to many of the mammals of southern Africa. Numerous wildlife safari and tour companies operate guided tours to South Africa. Popular adventure travel activities in South Africa include: horse riding safaris, elephant back safaris, mountain biking, birding, wilderness walking trails, science safaris and volunteering especially for GAP year students.
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