Go adventuring in style on the back of an elephant. Elephant rides are a great way to experience these enormous, highly intelligent land mammals close-up.

Did you know?

Elephants are right or left 'handed'. The tusk on their favoured side wears out faster.

Most people in this world have not even had the opportunity to see a live elephant. Here in South Africa though, not only can you see these magnificent creatures, but you can experience a safari on the back of an elephant.

Game viewing on elephant-back provides a unique opportunity for getting really close to wildlife. This is because the smell of the elephants overpowers that of the scent of people. Other animals like rhino, giraffe and buck are not scared off by the scent of humans nearby. As such you can get way closer to game than you'd ever imagined possible.

For such a safari, the elephants are prepared with a comfortable saddle and as passenger you are seated behind an experienced elephant handler. The actual safari will normally last around an hour and 30 minutes. It may take you a while to get used to the sensation of the elephants motion, but once you do, the experience is incredible.

Many game reserves in South Africa also provide the unique opportunity to walk along with the elephants as you move through the velds and forests.

Two popular elephant-back safari operatores are to be found near the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape and near Pilanesberg in North West province. You can also enquire at many other game reserves in South Africa about this unique experience.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Addo Elephant Back Safaris
Tel: +27 (0)42 235 1400
Email: res@addoelephantbacksafaris.co.za

Pilanesberg Elephant Back Safaris
Tel: +27 (0)14 552 5020
Email: adventures@gametrac.co.za

Camp Jabulani
Tel: +27 (0)15 793 1265
Email: campjabulani@campjabulani.com

Knysna Elephant Park
Tel: +27 (0)44 532 7732

Best time to visit

Elephant safaris run all year round.

What will it cost

An elephant safari will vary in cost according to duration and location but start around R875 up to R2 000, depending on what is included. A ride could be as short as an hour or run to three hours.

Length of stay

An elephant encounter usually takes a few hours.

What to pack

Wear long trousers or jeans as well as comfortable walking shoes or trainers. In summer, bring along light rain gear, and in winter an extra jacket. Remember binoculars and camera, hat and sunblock.

Where to stay

Accommodation is often available at or near to the elephant safari.