THE BIGGEST OF AFRICA’S BIG 5 – ELEPHANT

September 18, 2017  By: Gretchen

AFRICA’S BIG 5 – ELEPHANT

Africa’s famous ‘Big 5’ species are made up of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo, and the term came about during the colonial period to refer to the five animals that were considered the most difficult and dangerous to hunt. Now, seeing Africa’s ‘Big 5’ is one of the main goals for many photographic safari enthusiasts.

Let us bring your safari dreams to life!

Speak With A Safari Expert

Check Out Our Big 5 Safari Itineraries!

Join us as we dig a bit deeper into the world’s largest land mammal, the elephant. Weighing up to 14,000 lbs, these extraordinary, charismatic animals are on the wish list of every safari-goer to see! Some amazing elephant facts:

  • Elephants eat up to 600 lbs of food every day, and wash it down with up to 50 gallons of water.
  • Elephant pregnancies are the longest of any species – 22 months.
  • An elephant’s average lifespan in the wild is 70 years.
  • Female elephants live in groups, all related and led by a matriarch, usually the oldest in the group. She oversees the group’s movement and rest, day-to-day and season-to-season.
  • Male elephants are forced to leave the matriarch groups between ages 12 and 15. They live in all-male groups known as ‘bachelor herds, or on their own when they are older.’
  • Elephants can communicate over large distances using ultrasound. Research into this phenomenon is ongoing.
  • An elephant’s trunk is very strong. It can pick up small and large objects, and is used for feeding, drinking, smelling, breathing and fighting.
  • Elephants use their large ear flaps to help stay cool.
  • Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror.

Explore Big 5 Safaris

The Best Places to See Elephants in Africa from AAC Founder Kent Redding

Top Honors

Tarangire, Tanzania: This is where I’ve had my very best elephant sightings. They have masses come in during the dry season (3,000+) and I’ve seen herds of 100-300 at times. I’ve seen sets of (very rare) twin elephant calves, elephants standing on their hind legs to reach baobab flowers and fruits, and big males wrestling. I’ve been charged by bull elephants in musth and by a mean old lady named Tuskless. She would charge even if you were hundreds of yards away. Overall, it’s a great place to see elephants. A few of my favorite camps include Oliver’s (which I managed before founding AAC), remote and luxurious Swala Camp and Tarangire Safari Lodge, a modest family-friendly camp with the best view in the park, if not the entire region.

Honorable Mentions

Chobe, Botswana: This area is great because it is home to a tremendous number of elephants, and because you tend to spend some time on the river and can watch the elephants come down to drink or swim while you are on the water. Many of the accommodations here are large, but a few of my favorites include Chobe Game Lodge, Ghoha Hills, Savute Elephant Camp, Chobe Chilwero, and Savute Safari Lodge.

Linyanti, Botswana: This is near Chobe, but more exclusive. I love Kings Pool and Duma Tau, and my favorite time to visit is June to October.

Hwange, Zimbabwe: Hwange is great because the elephant numbers are huge (40,000+). My favorite sightings include viewing them at the park’s water holes, and even better – seeing elephants on walking safaris! Somalisa is one of the best camps here, along with Linkwasha, Little Makalolo, Bomani, and Camp Hwange.

Selous, Tanzania was long known as a fantastic place to see lots of elephants, but sadly the government did not protect them from poaching. The reserve seems to be on the upswing, however, and Safari Specialist Sara Stark is visiting now and will report back shortly. Favorite camps include Sand Rivers and the brand new Roho Ya Selous.

Okvango Delta, Botswana: Great place to see elephants in the water – especially exciting if you are on a mokoro (dugout canoe) yourself. On my last trip there while staying at Machaba Camp, I had nice views of elephants crossing the river from my outdoor tub! There are many other wonderful camps here including Mombo, Shinde, Vumbura Plains, Zarafa and Jacana

Damaraland, Namibia: It’s quite a thrill to see the desert-adapted elephants searching for water and plucking leaves off trees without knocking them over in order to preserve future food sources. Wonderful camps here include community-owned Damaraland Camp and Mowani Mountain Lodge, which has fantastic sunset views.Contact us to start planning your Big 5 safari today!Photos contributed by AAC clients. Elephant greeting (top left) by the Miller family, baby elephant from the Podsiadly family, elephants in the water by the Pope family, elephant family by the Raben family and elephant in water at Chobe by Mark Hampton. Header shot by AAC safari specialist Anisha.

Looking to Plan Your Dream Safari? We’re Here To Help!

Oops! We could not locate your form.

20 Years of Experience & Passion

Our passion for Africa began with a dream of living on the continent – a dream realized. We explored parks, rivers, mountains and villages, learned about the flora and fauna, fell in love with everything, and came away wanting to share our passion for a remarkable continent. Africa Adventure Consultants was born of the desire to give more people the chance to experience Africa’s wonders. Let us guide you into the wilderness.

Contact a Journey Specialist

Pick a Destination

Africa is enormous. There are endless things to see and do, and it can’t all be done in one trip. That said, we realize that many people believe that a trip to Africa is ‘once in a lifetime’ (though many more end up realizing once is not enough!). What do you most want to see? What experiences have you been dreaming of? Visit our destination pages to narrow your choices down, browse our safari types to get a sense of the activities and styles available, or talk with a Journey Specialist to hone in on the areas that will deliver the journey of your imagination.

Contact a Journey Specialist

Trip Ideas

We know it can be hard to narrow down what to do on vacation, especially with the wealth of choices that are available on the African continent. That’s why we have created an array of sample itineraries to inspire your travel. Browse through them – you’ll find everything from family safaris to honeymoons to Kilimanjaro climbs – and find the places and activities that excite you. From there, you can contact a Journey Specialist to start the process of crafting a customized safari just for you!

Contact a Journey Specialist

Get Started

You’re ready – it’s time to plan your safari! Contact one of our expert Journey Specialists and we will collaborate with you to craft your personalized trip.

Contact a Journey Specialist