GENTLE GIANTS: Interaction with elephants at Addo Elephant Back Safaris

BY CANDRA NEILSON - OCTOBER 6, 2014

One of the best experiences on offer in the Eastern Cape is an elephant back safari and, to my mind, the best place to do this is at Addo Elephant Back Safari Lodge.  The lodge is situated in the heart of the Zuurberg Mountains on the border of the Addo Elephant National Park.

Journying through the mountains is fantastic with magnificent views of the grass covered hills and forested valleys and it is into this environment that the lodge has been designed to blend discreetly.

The room into which my fiancé and I were shown was very spacious and luxurious. A large bed was positioned to maximise the view. The room contained a small kitchen area with a bar fridge and a large bathroom that included a double basin a glass fronted shower with a great view. Best of all there was Jacuzzi on the deck!

Our elephant experience started at about 5.30pm when we were escorted to where the elephants were grazing. We were allowed to touch them and feed them handfuls of grass.  Our guides gave us a quite talk on their behaviour and after about an hour we bade them good night.

Dinner, at the main lodge, was delicious and included creamy broccoli soup and fresh knotty rolls for starters, followed by sweet veggies, rump steak in pepper sauce and baked potatoes. Dessert was apple crumble and custard. After this totally satisfying meal we were off to bed where we lay listening to the soothing sound of nature’s quiet purring.

Next morning, after a quick muffin and a cup of coffee, we were escorted to the day centre where we waited excitedly for our ride. The elephants are so well trained that they walked straight to the platform to collect us. We were assisted onto the back of these enormous yet gentle beings and then off we went on our safari through the game reserve.  Game drives in a vehicle are amazing, but the silence one is able to experience while being carried on the back of an elephant is something very special. We saw giraffe, blesbuck, kudu and the most beautiful buck I have ever seen, an eland.

Then, sadly a few hours later, it was time to say goodbye to the gentle giants and head back to the lodge for our breakfast before heading for home.  I can highly recommend this experience to anybody.  For more information contact Addo Elephant Back Safaris on 041 585 1150 or 083 283 2359 or visit www.addoelephantbacksafaris.co.za