Where to View the Last Great Herds of Wild African Elephant

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Where to View the Last Great Herds of Wild African Elephant main

Not too long ago, massive herds of elephant wandered freely on the African continent. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these enormous beasts would gather in groups and march across the Savannah in search of food and water. There was no obstacle to their incessant foraging… until man-made boundaries were carved across the earth.

Today the great herds have all but disappeared. National borders, fences and more recently the poachers’ guns have taken their toll on these gentle animals.
Huge decline in the wild elephant population

Rapid urbanisation and the insatiable quest for ivory have seen the population of African elephant plummet from the estimated 5 million in the early 20th century to the less than 450,000 that exist today. Elephants – along with so many other wild animal species – are under siege.

With that sort of decline in population there’s no guarantee elephant will even exist in the wild in the next five to ten years. That means you have a choice. You can stay at home and explore online casino south africa or you can hop onto a plane and enjoy the spectacle of seeing the last great herds of African elephant in their natural habitat.

A quick trip by air to the ‘Land of the Giants’

If you’re the adventurous kind one of the best destinations for viewing elephant is only 13 or so hours away from Heathrow by air. Where exactly is this protected haven? It’s in a wild and stunningly beautiful corner of southern African known as the Tuli Safari Area.

Mashatu Game Reserve is a privately-owned conservation area in Botswana. It lies sandwiched between South Africa and Zimbabwe and has the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River – ala Rudyard Kipling – as its southern boundary.

Visitors who come in overland from South Africa in the rainy season have the use of a man-powered cable car to breach the great crocodile-infested river!

Why is this particular game reserve the go-to destination for elephant? Well, it shares unfenced boundaries with national parks in Zimbabwe and South Africa. That means these gracious creatures have traversing rights over a vast protected wilderness area that straddles borders, rivers, vleis and koppies.

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Exclusive guided safaris

The beauty of Mashatu is guests are ferried around on guided safaris in company vehicles. As far as possible, groups are allowed to enjoy premier game viewing without having to share the terrain or animals with any other vehicles. That makes for an exclusive and personalised bush experience, where ‘up close and personal’ is not an exaggeration.

On a good day it’s possible to see several herds elephant, some numbering a hundred or more. Prime viewing sites are the koppies or hills – where, by the way, you may be fortunate enough to find rifle cartridges and relics from the Anglo Boer War.

From those elevations you can enjoy sweeping views of the bushveld and a fine appreciation of the size of the beasts and magnitude of the herds.

Close encounters of an unusual kind

That’s not to say you won’t get a bit of flutter when you have a close encounter of a different kind. It’s not unusual to be driven around a corner only to find yourself in the middle of a herd. There’s nothing better than to sit quietly and listen as the elephants grumble to each other and the babies stumble, suckle and rough house on the side.

What else can you see?

Although Mashatu is the self-proclaimed ‘Land of the Giants’ it’s home to an astounding variety of animals and birds. Along with the big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – you’re likely to see wild dog, hyena, warthog, bush pig and a host of ungulates such as eland, kudu, bushbuck, impala, wildebeest and more.

Colourful bushveld birds

Twitchers travel from all over the world to witness the raucously beautiful bushveld birds. Lilac breasted rollers, carmine bee-eaters, kaleidoscope coloured finches and waxbills and vast swarms of quelea add a burst of brightness to the bush.

Raptors – eagles, vultures, buzzards, kestrels, owls and hawks – swoop through the air in search of prey, while ostriches, secretary birds and Kori bustard tip toe though the long grass, pecking here and there.

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Where to stay

As Mashatu is a five-star game reserve it has a choice of upmarket accommodation at Main Camp and luxury tented accommodation at Tented Camp. Both provide excellent meals that can be accompanied by imported spirits and the finest Cape wines.

Guests have access to viewing decks overlooking water holes that are illuminated at night. At Main Camp there’s a stunning swimming pool where you can chill out and relax in the heat of the day and watch as wild animals gambol around below.

Along with guided game drives in the early morning and at night, guests can enjoy cycling and horse-riding safaris and guided game walks. If you want to enjoy a unique bush experience that has the endangered African elephant at its very heart, Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana has to be your next port of call.

How to get to Mashatu

The best way to see that last great herds of African elephant is to fly into OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, get a transfer to Lanseria Airport – also in Johannesburg – and catch a charter flight to the Limpopo Valley Airfield in Mashatu Game Reserve… it’s as easy as that!

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