WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS
Something you must do when you depart to the Garden Route
Sometimes I just have to drag myself away from Gordon's Bay. I've never found a better holiday destination but I must say that I do enjoy the Garden Route. So last week I took a winding route around the Karoo, visiting some amazing mountain passes and "poorts", on my way to lovely Knysna.
As luck would have it, I had received a very kind invitation from Greg at Knysna Elephant Park to stop over and learn a little about this fascinating place and its inhabitants.
Situated just 22km from Knysna along the N2 highway, you might expect to find a Disney-style tourist attraction. Not this place! Be ready to learn all about how these wonderful animals live and even think. I'd always known that they are highly intelligent but not to the extent that they can distinguish between different colours.
A family of 12 orphaned elephants ranging between the ages of 3 and 20 live in this free range yet controlled environment. You will walk with them and feed and touch them while you chat to their amazing handlers. The rapport between these guys and the elephants is both touching and admirable.
As we all know, the Knysna forests are said to be inhabited by elephants in the wild. I never really knew if this was true but apparently there have been recent sightings of a pair and it's thought that there are 8 to 10 free elephants roaming the forests in total. Anyway, many many years ago this was the natural habitat of the elephant before we came along and took over. Elephants were not even found in the Kruger Park when it first came into being. Therefore, it makes the utmost sense to visit these wonderful animals in their own environment.
If you have the time, don't just do the day tour. Try to stay over in the beautiful lodge for a night. The rooms are great but the best part is that the elephants have their sleeping quarters right next to the guest rooms. You can pop out at any time and sit in the viewing gallery to see what they're up to (mostly eating but they do lie down to sleep sometimes). Also, in the morning you can take a stroll at sunrise with the family as they go out for their exercises with the handlers. Wow, I know we have good sunsets here in Gordon's Bay but the sunrise I witnessed at the Elephant Park was a photographer's dream!
Next time I'm going to try to find out a bit more about those "poorts" I mentioned earlier and fill you in on them.
Date: 01 Jun 2011
Tags : Knysna Elephant Park, Garden Route, South African accommodation