Africa's Elephants

The best places to see Elephants on Safari

Few other species are so captivating and rewarding to watch as a relaxed African elephant in the wild

Their intelligence, social structures and diverse behaviour are beguiling. But above all they radiate an intense charisma that makes all but the hardest of hearts fall in love with them.

Despite attrocious poaching in many African countries since the early 2000s elephant are still one of the animals you have the best chance of seeing and seeing well on safari.

There are many parks across Africa where you can expect to get excellent close-up viewing time with wild elephant. Being such expressive animals there is always something to observe, whether it be tactile interactions between a matriarch, her daughters and their offspring, or the wonderful deep infrasound calls that you feel rather than hear. Such sightings often begin right in your tent and one of the greatest joys of being on safari is being visited by elephants at night or during the heat of the day. Here are a few of the best places to see elephant in sub-saharan Africa.

Seven of Tanzania has numerous parks where you have a very good chance of seeing elephant. For year round elephant, the wooded areas of the Serengeti is excellent and in particular the northern Serengeti during the green season. Tarangire becomes a haven for elephant action during the green season and is also pretty much devoid of tourists at this time. Head to Southern Tanzania on a trip that combines the Selous and Ruaha to see large herds of elephant along the rivers and sand rivers.

Zimbabwe and Zambia both have excellent elephant populations along the Zambezi River in Lower Zambezi and Mana Pools. If you'd like to walk among elephant - and we do mean "among" - then there isnt anywhere better to do this than on a walking safari in Mana Pools

To see the remarkable desert adapted elephant head to Namibia and if at all possible do this from the Skeleton Coast Flying Safari - one of the most remarkable safaris you're ever likely to experience.

If you're looking for out-there elephant locations, then consider tracking forest elephant in the Congo or head to Zakouma National Park in Chad in search of the mega-herd.

You know, they say an elephant never forgets. But what they don't tell you is that you never forget an elephant.”

- BILL MURRAY

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Our favourite places to see elephant

Ruaha National Park

One of the best places to see elephant as they dig for water in sand rivers in the dry season

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Our favourite places to see elephant

Namibia's deserts

Namibia's desert elephant are remarkably adapted to the harsh environment

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Our favourite places to see elephant

Tarangire National Park

base yourself at Kuro Tarangire to watch elephant from the comfort of your verandah

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Our favourite places to see elephant

Lower Zambezi

The Zambezi river and rich riverine woodland makes for excellent elephant viewing

Read about the Lower Zambezi
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Our favourite places to see elephant

Okavango Delta

Where better to see elephant than in the crystal clear waters of the delta

read about Okavango

It is said that elephants talk to one another, mumbling with their mouths the speech of men. But not to all is the speech of the beasts audible, but only the men who tame them hear it ”

- Oppian – 2nd Century BC

ARMCHAIR ELEPHANT VIEWING - Some of the best elephant viewing can be from the comfort of your own camp

bull elephants in particular are often drawn to the same shady trees that make excellent shade for tents.

For this reason elephants tend to visit camps predominantly during the dry season, when water and food are less widely available than during the green season.

However there are a few notable exceptions to this such as Kuro Tarangire in Northern Tanzania. This delightfully light-touch small lodge in southern Tarangire is positively bursting with elephant year round. This is a somewhere that for much of the year there's little reason to leave the camp. You can sit for hours on end, drink in one hand, binoculars in the other watching wildlife. Meanwhile you'll be spoilt rotten by the fantastic staff who run this camp and the wonderful food that they produce here.

Read more about Kuro Tarangire
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Our top 5 safaris to see elephants

Southern Tanzania's Dry Season Game viewing

Highlights:

Huge numbers of elephant, not to mention buffalo and lion in Ruaha National Park, combine with boats and walks in the Selous

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Our top 5 safaris to see elephants

The best of Botswana

Highlights:

THE WATERWAYS OF THE OKAVANGO, SALT PANS THE SIZE OF SWITZERLAND & ONE OF THE LARGEST GAME RESERVES IN THE WORLD

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Our top 5 safaris to see elephants

Zambia's Big Game and Wilderness

Highlights:

Elephant and other big game in the Luangwa Valley and Kafue - with the chance to walk

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Our top 5 safaris to see elephants

The best of Northern Tanzania away from the crowds

Highlights:

Superb elephant viewing in Northern Serengeti, Ngorongoro Highlands, stunning small camps, low season rates

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Our top 5 safaris to see elephants

ZIMBABWE'S WILDLIFE & VICTORIA FALLS

Highlights:

COMBINING THE FALLS, HWANGE, MANA POOLS AND GONAREZHOU ENCAPSULATES THE VERY BEST OF ZIMBABWE

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Natural High shines rays of adventurous light into some of the least explored, most exciting corners of the wider world”

- FINANCIAL TIMES, HOW TO SPEND IT

With your guide you’ve left your private Land Rover and now you’re on your own two feet. There are no minibuses, no roads, no signs and no other tourists.

You’ve walked slowly and carefully, stopping often to test the wind, watching waiting and creeping painstakingly forwards. On the way you’ve picked up astonishing details; the footprint of a very large crocodile, every scale etched in the early morning sand, the scent of wild jasmine, the insistent call of turtle doves.

Now you are here – so close that using your binoculars you can practically count the lashes on the elephant’s half shut eye. Each noise the elephant makes is clearly audible; a prolonged sigh, deep satisfied rumbles and a noise like someone filling a bathtub with buckets of water. These are the private noises of a relaxed animal, not intended for anyone else’s ears.

You stand stock still, intensely aware of the noise your own breathing makes, relishing the extraordinary privilege of the moment. As the elephant moves off the release of tension and palpable excitement are a heady cocktail. This is an instant of absolute, lucid presence - a feeling that can’t be adequately described, an event that no image could truly capture. 

You are rooted in the moment. To us the feelings you experience at times like this go a long way to explaining what we mean by Natural High.

This is an instant of absolute, lucid presence - a feeling that can’t be adequately described, an event that no image could truly capture. You are rooted in the moment.”

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Our experienced travellers include:

Vanessa Janion
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All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

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