Top 20 Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

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Here at Sanctuary Retreats we are no strangers to getting up-close-and-personal with the local wildlife around our camps and lodges. Our staff have had numerous encounters with vervet monkeys helping themselves to food from the buffet table, as well as the occasional baboon discovering where the sugar is kept and trying to make a run for it when he thinks nobody is watching.

Our guests have had equal measure of close encounters. At Sanctuary Stanley's Camp one group of guests had to wait before they could go to breakfast as there was an elephant busy eating right at the entrance of their room. Guests at Sanctuary Chief's Camp were also delighted to find several lions taking a siesta on the pathway right outside their room. 

From interesting welcome parties to strange dinner guests, we've put together a selection of our favourite 'close encounters'.

1. This group of guests had an interesting welcome to Botswana

Lion Welcome At Chiefs Camp

2. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp often plays host to curious troops of mountain gorillas who seem completely unfazed by our camp and guests.

Gorillas In Gorilla Forest Camp

3. We've had many a path temporarily blocked, such as when this young elephant wandered through Sanctuary Stanley's Camp.

Elephants On The Path At Sanctuary Stanleys Camp

4. You've always got to be ready with a camera because you never know when the perfect shot will come to you.

Buffalo At Sanctuary Kusini

5. Thanks to our camps and lodge's unique locations the wildlife often comes to us, especially when we least expect it.

Elephant At Sanctuary Chiefs Camp

6. The local lions really can't stay away from the airstrips.

Lion At The Airstrip At Sanctuary Chiefs Camp

7. The plains around Sanctuary Puku Ridge are often teeming with wildlife, just like these guests discovered while resting after their morning game drive.

Watching Elephants At Sanctuary Puku Ridge Camp

8. We've even had the odd kill happen right next to camp, like this wild dog kill which took place very close to one of the rooms at Sanctuary Chief's Camp.

Photographing Wild Dogs At Sanctuary Chiefs Camp

9. Due to the proximity of the river at Sanctuary Olonana, guests are often treated to close encounters with elephants and hippos at breakfast.

Elephant At Sanctuary Olonana

10. For the more adventurous among you, we recommend taking a canoe trip up the mighty Zambezi River, where guests are sure to find a few surprises.

Canoeing With Elephants At Sanctuary Sussi Chuma

11. Located on Chief's Island in the Okavango Delta, Sanctuary Chief's Camp enjoys one of the most remote locations and therefore some of the most exciting (and safe) close encounters with the area's predators.

Lion At Sanctuary Chiefs Camp

12. Likewise, Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge often has unexpected visitors in varying shapes and sizes, such as this matriarch and her family.

Chichele Presidential Lodge Entrance With Elephants

13. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows at Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge make for exceptional game viewing, without ever having to leave the comfort of your bed...

Elephant At Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge

14. Our walking safaris often lead to some hair-raising encounters, such as this meeting with a lioness...

Chichele Presidential Lodge Walking With Lions Safe

15. But more often than not, the hair-raising meetings come to us in camp.

Lion On The Path At Sanctuary Chiefs Camp

16. Some of the local animals try to let us know who is boss, like this young hyena who decided he liked the taste of our jeep's tyres.

Hyena Cub Attacking Jeep At Sanctuary Retreats

17. Sanctuary Swala Camp's waterhole is a melting pot of activity, especially in the dry season, which makes for some great breakfast viewing.

Lunch With Elephants At Sanctuary Swala

18. Thanks to the fact that our lodges have no fences, you could be relaxing, reading a book and one of the locals could stop by to say hello.

Elephants By The Room At Sanctuary Stanleys Camp

19. Our guides are expert trackers and will often go above and beyond for you to get up close to the wildlife you most want to see, as they did for this guest whose dream it was to see a rhino.

Rhino At Sanctuary Retreats

20. Finally, our bush picnic are a great way to mingle with the locals, such as this bull elephant at the Serengeti.

Lunch With Elephants On The Masai Mara

 If you would like to find out more about visiting any of our camps or lodges, please contact our local experts.