Elephant Encounters - tick it off the bucket list
The elephant is a majestic animal. It moves slowly and makes you consider for a short moment the possibility that such a ginormous animal could actually be gentle! However it is a powerful animal that is to be treated with respect.
Throughout our travels we have had a number of occasions to get up close and personal with the amazing creatures. If treated kindly and with respect all travellers should take the opportunity to tick this off their bucket list.
Three incidents that stand out from our travels include losing a pack of elephants at Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa, trekking on elephants along the Zambezi River and our family ride on the elephants at Bakit Safari, Thailand.
Thailand, Bukit Safari
On a family visit to Cape Panwa, Thailand, we took a day trip to the Bukit Safari. The Itchy Feet Family were young, Miss 2 and Master 5 in tow we decided that would not be a barrier to the adventure.
The elephants have a bench seat attached atop and once on board the kids could easily sit alongside or on parent’s knees.
The adventure was not really that adventurous - we were on a private reserve where the elephants were kept and the actual time spent atop the elephants was through the grounds of the reserve. The biggest adventure was maintaining balance atop the bench seat as the animal waddled from side to side along some uneven grounds.
The kids got to feed the baby elephants before we rode the adults and the whole experience is one that is fondly remembered.
Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa
You would think that a herd of elephants would be quite an easy find - however on a four day visit to the Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa, the herd on the private reserve were aloof during our stay.
Every morning the Rangers would inform us that they were still unsure the exact location of the herd and it would be unlikely we would get to spot them during our visit.
Thankfully, on our last afternoon as we relaxed by the pool, the herd came within eye shot of the reserve The afternoon’s safari was to get amongst the herd and all the visitors were pleased they had come out of hiding!
The first point of call for the afternoon safari was to the elephants and we were treated to a close encounter amongst the herd who, incidentally, had a baby in tow that they kept very protected. An amazing insight into the power of a mother’s protective nature even amongst the animal world.
For the evening safari an adverse reaction to malaria tablets forced me to sit out - which in turn ended up being a blessing. The herd actually came through the camp, I was able to sit very quietly in the dark on the porch of my villa as they passed me by. I missed out on seeing the lion cubs that were seen on the night safari, but my close encounter with the herd is a memory I will forever treasure.
Trekking the Zambezi River
On a stay at Victoria Falls, we visited the Zambezi Elephant Trails. This is more an elephant experience than a simple elephant ride. Participants are encouraged to interact with the elephants I even reluctantly sat on the elephants leg whilst it wrapped it’s trunk around me in a hug.
Unlike the Thailand experience, these elephants are saddled which made for a much more comfortable and stable experience atop - well until the elephant shakes as our elephant dubbed the “dancer” did frequently!
With armed rangers on foot at the front and rear of our line of elephants, we trekked along the Zambezi in search of game sightings. Thankfully the rangers did not need the arms they beared but it certainly made you realise that we were on safari and perhaps the top of an elephant was not quite as safe as the inside of a jeep!
Have you had a memorable elephant experience? Share with us in the comments.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.