It was several ago that I first visited the Elephant Sanctuary that had been established near Hartebeesport Dam.
On my early visits to this eco- venue I discovered that it was a home to five orphaned female elephants and the owner had started the sanctuary in order to educate the public about elephants and the role that they play in South Africa.
Unlike India our elephants are not used for work purposes, but they do raise the emotional temperature of the public when faced with culling or other extreme forms of control.
Over the years I have visited this venue on several occasions and I have watched it grow from humble beginnings to the international destination that it has become.
As my wife had never interacted with elephants, I decided that this was the idea venue to introduce her to the “Grey Ghosts”.
Since my last visit luxury accommodation had been added alongside the elephant stables…nothing like trying to fall asleep while an elephant snores gently on the other side of your bedroom wall! There is also a covered patio and a secluded swimming pool where guests can relax and enjoy themselves. The curio shop and bar adjoins the main deck which overlooks the elephant boma and guests can get to watch the antics of the elephants as they enjoy a mud wallow or dust bath.
Guests are also able to interact directly with the elephants in the form of either an outride or walking with these magnificent creatures.
Try staying clean while feeding a hungry elephant…much to my delight my wife found out that it is almost impossible.
On a recent visit to Sabie we discovered that there is now an Elephant Sanctuary near Hazyview and we decided to pay it a visit.
This property has only been open for a few months, but the staff and the elephants really made us feel welcome.
I had encountered Casper, a 22 yr old male at the Elephant Sanctuary near Hartebeespoort Dam a few years ago. And at that time he was giving the owner a little “testosterone” trouble because of the females at that venue.
Now together with his new buddy Kitso he has settled down and become a changed elephant.
Although 3m at the shoulder, this gentle giant is able to glide through the forest setting so quietly that it is easy to see where his name came from.
The tour of the facility and the insight in the elephants was extremely well handled by the guide and the handlers and all only helped to enhance our experience there.
We rounded of our stay with a ride through the sanctuary on elephant back.
Rule number 5: You cannot ride an elephant bareback if you are wearing shorts. Well you can, but then, like me you will have to bear the scrapes and scars for a while.
Going uphill on an elephant is easy and very gentle; coming down is the exact opposite. No shocks you absorb your downward plunge, your rear tends to take a pounding, and unlike posting on horseback, this is not possible on an elephant. But shaken and not stirred we made it back to the deck and we spent some time here, drinking tea and eating delicious banana bread and chatting to our guide…
Well worth the visit!
Elephant Sanctuary, Hazyview:
Telephone: (013) 737 6609 / 079 624 9436 (08H00 - 17H00 Mon to Sun)
Fax: 0866 346 363
Or visit www.elephantsanctuary.co.za
Elephant Sanctuary, Hartebeespoort Dam:
Telephone: (012) 258 0423/0332 or (0145) 743 619
Or visit www.elephantsanctuary.co.za
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