“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.” – John Donne

Once you have stood in the presence of a wild elephant, nothing is ever quite the same again. There is something about these gentle giants that touches all of us. Maybe it’s their enormous size or their wise demeanour. But whatever it is, no African safari is complete without encountering these magnificent beasts.
Here is a list of Sanctuary Retreats’ favourite elephant encounters for you to enjoy on your next African safari.

1. Walking with Elephants


Fancy an elephant as your tour guide? Now you can live the dream with Sanctuary Retreats’ unique elephant interaction in partnership with the Living with Elephants Foundation in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Stay at Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp or Sanctuary Baines’ Camp and you can meet with Jabu, Thembi and Morula, a trio of semi-habituated orphaned elephants. Observe and interact with them while leisurely walking in their footsteps through the wilderness. For a truly uplifting experience that leaves a lasting impression on all

who share their time with the elephants, this rewarding activity in Botswana is a must.

2. Sundowners at Chobe National Park

African Elephants at Sunset (Loxodonta africana), Chobe National Park, Botswana, Africa

African Elephants at Sunset (Loxodonta africana), Chobe National Park, Botswana, Africa


Home to some 100,000 elephants, Chobe National Park has the highest population of wild elephants in Africa. Whether exploring by vehicle or boat, it’s the perfect destination for those wishing for an encounter of the tusked kind.

Chobe’s elephants tend to venture down to the river in late afternoon, sometimes in their hundreds, so seeing them from the boat on a sundowner cruise is almost guaranteed. Watching them as they wade through the river at sunset, with their trunks peeping out of the water, makes for incredible photography opportunities.

3. Elephants at Camp


You don’t always have to travel far from your camp to get up close and personal with the local elephants; quite often they’ll come to you! While staying at any one of Sanctuary Retreats’ camps, it’s quite common to be visited by one or even a whole herd of these inquisitive colossi. They’re often spotted frequenting the waterholes at Sanctuary Swala, but can also be seen in Sanctuary Retreats’ Sussi & Chuma and Puku Ridge camps, Chichele Presidential Lodge and many more.

Late last year, a herd of 20 elephants moved into the grounds of Sanctuary Kusini Camp, taking advantage of the abundance of water and food in the woodland surrounding the camp. Guests were awoken to the grumbling sounds of interacting elephants and treated to a very close encounter indeed as the inquisitive pachyderms explored the campgrounds!

4. River Cruise through Saadani


Saadani National Park is the only national park in Tanzania, which lies on the coast, making it a very special Tanzania safari destination. The largest herd in the area consists of almost 60 elephants that can often be sighted making a splash along the banks of the Wami River. This makes Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge the perfect base from which to explore the river in the hopes of catching a glimpse of these elusive giants. Cruising along the river and into the open ocean is a truly magnificent experience, with the elephants the icing on the cake!

5. Little Elephants in South Luangwa National Park

Elephants (1)

The elephants of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia are some of the most intriguing in the whole of Africa. Not only are they comparatively smaller than related species elsewhere on the continent, but a large proportion of them are born without tusks. In fact, a whopping 38% of the elephants in the park are tuskless thanks to a genetic anomaly. For elephant connoisseurs out there, meeting these elephants will definitely be one to tick off the list.

And right now there is no better time to plan your African elephant encounter as Sanctuary Retreats is offering great savings of up to 30% on selected properties in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Zambia.