On my recent trip to Southern Africa, I spent two nights at Stanley’s Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Stanley’s Camp is situated on a 260,000 acre private concession, bordering the southern section of the famous Moremi Game Reserve. In addition to great game viewing, I was lucky enough to spot one of the packs of elusive wild dog that roam near the camp. This was truly a highlight of my trip!
One of the most unique activities available at Stanley’s Camp is the elephant experience, during which you spend a morning with three semi-habituated elephants. This “semi-habituated” term makes them sound tame, when in fact they are still very much wild creatures. Doug Groves, co-owner of Grey Matters, has worked with the three elephants for years and has a very close relationship with them through training. He has an amazing interaction with the elephants and they really seem to think of him as a “dad” of sorts.
After the initial introduction, Doug begins teaching everyone about elephant behavior and different aspects of an elephant’s life, body and habits. Throughout the experience we are able to take close-up pictures, feel under the elephant’s ear, lift their trunk, etc. After, we begin our walk with the elephants through the bush. The walk was easy, but the sun was hot and we really had to keep our eye out for big
holes in the ground made by the elephants. We watch the elephants drink from a channel, and were able to see up-close their teeth and mouth.
At the end of our walk, we had a little surprise – which I won’t disclose here! My morning with the elephants was great. I learned so much about elephants and was able to see them closer-up than I ever had. My favorite part of the experience was that it felt natural, unrehearsed and real. The elephants are wild, you don’t ride on them, you keep a safe distance from them and you watch them go about their daily activities–all under the close watch of Doug.
Photo Courtesy of Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp