Top 5 Elephant Encounters with Sanctuary Retreats

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"Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing." - John Donne

Once you have stood in the presence of a wild elephant, nothing is ever quite the same again. There is something about these gentle giants that brings out the child in all of us. Maybe it's their enormous size or their wise demeanour but whatever it is, no African safari is complete without encountering these magnificent beasts.

Here is a list of Sanctuary Retreats' favourite elephant encounters for you to enjoy on your next African safari: 

1. Walking with Elephants

 Doug Marula

Guests at Stanley's and Baines' camps have the unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of three elephants named Jabu, Morula and Thembi. This exclusive experience offers guests the chance to touch, smell and interact with the elephants while learning out their lives.

As educational as it is enchanting, this encounter will leave you feeling intimately connected to these beautiful creatures long after you return home from your trip. You can find out more about this experience here.

2. Sundowners at Chobe National Park

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Home to some 100,000 elephants, Chobe National Park has the highest population of wild elephants in Africa. Whether exploring by vehicle or boat, it is the perfect destination for those wishing for an encounter of the tusked kind.

They tend to venture down to the river in late afternoon, sometimes in their hundreds, so seeing them from the boat on a sundowner cruise is almost guaranteed. Watching them as they wade through the river at sunset, with their trunks peeping out of the water, makes for incredible photography opportunities.   

3. Elephants at Camp

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You don't always have to travel far from our camps to get up close and personal with the local elephants; quite often they will come to you! While staying at any one of Sanctuary Retreats' camps you may be visited by one or even a whole herd of these inquisitive colossi. They are often spotted frequenting the waterholes at Swala, but can also be seen in Sussi & Chuma, Puku Ridge, Chichele Presidential Lodge and many more.

In November 2014, for example, a herd of 20 elephants moved into the grounds of Kusini, taking advantage of the abundance of water and food in the woodland surrounding the camp. Guests were awoken to the grumbling sounds of interacting elephants and were quite often treated to a very close encounter as the elephants explored the camp grounds.

4. River Cruise through Saadani

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Saadani National Park is the only national park in Tanzania which lies on the coast, making it a very special Tanzania safari destination. The largest herd in the area consists of 60 elephants and can often be seen making a bit of a splash along the Wami River banks. This makes Saadani River Lodge the perfect base from which to explore the river in the hopes of catching a glimpse of these elusive giants. Cruising along the river and into the open ocean is a truly magnificent experience and the elephants are the icing on the cake. 

5. Little Elephants in South Luangwa National Park

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The elephants of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia are some of the most interesting in the whole of Africa. Not only are they comparatively smaller than related species elsewhere in Africa, but a large proportion of them are born without tusks. In fact, a whopping 38% of the elephants in the park are tuskless thanks to a genetic anomaly. For all the elephant connoisseurs out there, meeting these elephants will definitely be one to tick off the list.