The Olifants River
Did you know?
An elephant is pregnant for 22 months
The Olifants River rises near the small town of Bethal in Mpumalanga, then flows north through the Witbank and Loskop dams, cuts through the Drakensberg Mountains at the Abel Erasmus pass, and then flows through the Kruger Park National Park.
It continues its leisurely journey into Mozambique, where it joins the Limpopo and Rio Changane rivers, becoming the Rio dos Elefantes. It then flows into the Indian Ocean at Xai-Xai, north of Maputo.
Although regarded as one of South Africa's most polluted rivers because of the mining, power generation and agriculture concerns in the area – environmental studies and remedies are currently in progress – the Olifants River remains one of the country's favourite watercourses.
The very best place to experience the river is at the Olifants camp in the central Kruger National Park. This camp has the best setting of all the park's rest camps, set high on a bluff overlooking the river. Do try to stay in one of the thatch rondawels overlooking the river, for which you'll need to book well in advance.
If you sit on the camp's shaded thatch terrace at any time of day, armed with binoculars and a cool drink, you are guaranteed to see elephants coming to drink and bathe. Look out also for the beautiful indigenous trees that line the banks – jackalberry, sycamore figs and the sausage tree, so-named because of the big, brown sausage-like fruits that hang down from the branches.
The Olifants River is the largest of the Kruger National Park's several watercourses, but you can also enjoy it elsewhere in the province, especially when you drive up from Johannesburg through the Lowveld towards the city of Nelspruit.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
South African National Parks Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0) 12 428 9111
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 233 9111