Elephants are a good enough reason alone to go on a safari holiday in Africa. They are undoubtedly one of the most fascinating animals to watch in the wild.
Chances are if you’ve done your safari research, you already know the best destinations to see elephants in Africa, such as the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Addo National Park and the South Luangwa.
But which are the best lodges and camps to visit for epic elephant viewing?
Hold onto your binoculars! Visit one of these lodges where wild elephants roam free and you won’t even have to step into a land cruiser to find them – they’ll come straight to you.
1. Mfuwe Lodge, Zambia
Built in 1998 in South Luangwa National Park, Mfuwe Lodge unwittingly stands directly on an ancient elephant pathway, en-route to one elephant herd’s favourite food – wild mangos. Rather than add a few metres to their route to go around the lodge, the elephants march through the tiled lobby reception to feast on the fallen fruit of a mango tree in the center of the lodge grounds. This happens year after year between late October and mid-December during the dry season. “The elephants are usually very relaxed and pay little attention to people. On occasions, they have demonstrated how relaxed they are by falling asleep,” says Andy, director of The BushCamp Company.
Are you ready to mark your calendars to witness this unusually spectacular elephant parade?
2. Garonga Safari Camp, South Africa
Garonga Safari Camp’s holistic philosophy is to offer a ‘safari for the soul’ in an unhurried and intimate environment in the Makalali Conservancy, just west of the Kruger National Park. If you’re elephant obsessed, this camp provides just that because the resident elephants are very comfortable around humans. They are often found indulging in a mud bath by a nearby riverbed and waltzing straight into camp like it’s perfectly normal. They peer over the outdoor showers, investigate the outdoor hammocks and break down trees that stand in their way right next to the well-appointed tented rooms. Don’t’ get us wrong, twice daily game drives seeking out the Big 5 are a camp highlight, but you can’t beat arm-chair wildlife watching from the comfort of your room.
3. Luangwa Safari House, Zambia
In a far-away land in the middle of the South Luangwa bush lies an impressive castle-like structure known as the Luangwa Safari House. The private house sleeps up to eight guests and is known for their large herds of elephants trumpeting through camp. It’s perfectly positioned on the edge of a lagoon system which the elephants use as a source of food and water throughout the year. While the gentle giants pop by for afternoon drinks and mud wallow sessions, guests can watch from the raised deck or plunge pool with their own cocktail in hand. This is the safari castle in the bush that deserves a top spot on your list of places to stay in Africa.
4. Somalisa Camp, Zimbabwe
You’re sitting at the Somalisa Camp splash pool in Hwange National Park when all of a sudden the locals wander down for a drink. Except when we refer to locals, we mean the big elephants herds that visit the camp on a daily basis. From the safety of the camp’s deck, guests have the humbling experience of watching the elephants drink from the natural waterhole, known as the elephant pool, while sunbathing and relaxing in the African sun. Every day, the elephant matriarchs lead their herds to this known source of fresh water, resulting in the most unique, up close encounter with Africa’s gentle giants. With only 7 tented rooms, you will certainly feel as if the elephants are putting on a performance just for you.
5. Jaci’s Safari Lodge, South Africa
The resident Madikwe elephants at Jaci’s Safari Lodge know just the way to cool off on a warm African day in the bush and it involves lots of sloshy mud. As the elephants splish splash in their natural bathtub without a care in the world, guests get to sneak into the submerged photographic hide situated in the middle of the property’s waterhole and witness the entire display without being observed in return. The Terrapin Hide is accessed via an underground tunnel 24 hours a day without the need for a guide. You can literally capture priceless images of elephants from the center of a waterhole at any time during the day or night. That’s mindbogglingly wonderful if you ask us.
Let’s talk elephants! Get in touch to learn more about our favourite places where the wild ones come to you.