Visiting an elephant sanctuary is nice…you can see the animals up close, you can even stroke them, but nothing beats seeing elephant in their natural habitat, strutting across the African savannah.
Being in the wild amongst these huge, majestic, intelligent creatures is an utterly breathtaking experience, and within just a few minutes, you’ll learn so much more than you would by spending days with a captive elephant. You’ll see entire herds protect babies, marvel at how desert elephant treat the scant vegetation with the utmost of care, and if your vehicle happens to separate a herd crossing the road, you’ll be met with incredible displays of mock-charging.
Wild elephants are at the top of most safari travellers’ must-see lists – you just need to know where to find them.
Here, we highlight three of the most breathtaking locations for viewing wild elephant in Africa, from the infamous Kwihala Camp in Tanzania all the way to Samburu in Kenya.
With around 40,000 elephants roaming its land, Tanzania boasts one of the largest wild elephant populations in the world.
The country yields 16 national parks, plus a variety of game and forest reserves, so you’ve got plenty of choices when trying to find a Tanzanian safari to fit in with your itinerary.
Ruaha National Park is the largest reserve in Tanzania, yet it’s not inundated by travellers, so your wild elephant sightings will be relatively uninterrupted. It’s here you’ll find the Kwihala Camp, which is one of the most highly regarded camps in the whole of Africa, famous for its in-depth walking and vehicle safaris that are perfect for spotting wild elephant.
Tarangire National Park is another great option, especially if you’re visiting between July and mid November, as it’s renowned for elephant migration. Even if you’ll be in Tanzania during the wet season (December-May), Tarangire still provides an intriguing visit, as it’s possibly the only place you’ll encounter large breeding herds of elephants – and by large, we mean hundreds!
Botswana is where you go if you want an idyllic safari experience; the country is sparsely populated, and the entire northern hemisphere has given over to safari.
There are an estimated 70,000 elephants in Botswana, and interestingly, they are considered to be the largest elephants in terms of body size. As so many tourists travel through the country, the wild elephant here are relatively used to travellers, so you may be able to get slightly closer than you would in other areas.
The Ngoma Safari Lodge is popular amongst those who want to visit the northern part of Chobe, which is well known for its unique wilderness appeal, but it’s worth considering Linyanti’s excellent camp options too, as you’ll make some lasting memories seeing wild elephant drinking from lakes on the beautiful Linyanti Waterfront Safari.
Kenya is an incredible safari destination if you’re interested in wild elephant – and the photos you’ll bring home with you will be awe-inspiring. If you are an avid photographer, take your camera along to Amboseli National Park and capture big bull elephants crossing the luscious, grassy savannah with the snow-topped Mount Kilimanjaro as your backdrop.
The ban on poaching in Kenya makes more tourists feel comfortable coming here, and as a result of regular footfall, the wild elephant are fairly content with visitors, so you may be able to get quite close to the animals.
Guides are remarkably knowledgeable of their local herds; in fact, in Samburu, you can learn about the 66 elephant family groups living in the area – right down to each individual elephant!