Okay guys, let me get this right out of the way – I love elephants. Like, obsessed. My home has so many elephant figures that I have to get their own shelving unit. I think they are beautiful, graceful and misunderstood. Their loyalty to each other and impeccable memories melt my heart. And their personalities! I can’t even deal.
You would think from my previous post that my trip couldn’t get any better. What could top seeing sharks swim within feet of you? Walking with elephants, that’s what.
Kynsna Elephant Park is an elephant sanctuary that was established in 1994 for orphaned and domesticated elephants, and it all started with a pair named Harry and Sally (get it?). The park now provides tours every 30 minutes where a group of elephant enthusiasts can head out to meet and feed the elephants after a short information session with the tour guide. To heighten your entire experience, there is the option to spend the night with the elephants… Literally.
We arrived at the park in time to get settled and prepare for the next tour. The staff was very welcoming and the reception/waiting area was a great way to pass time; it was laid out with pictures, replicas and a history/timeline of the park.
When it was time for the tour, we were lead into a small room by our tour guide to first watch a short informational video before heading out to the truck that would take us to see the elephants. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I of course had purchased a bucket of fruits and vegetables to get some personal time with them!
As soon as you arrive, the elephants know that there is food involved and you have their undivided attention. They line and try with all their might to wait patiently as you feed them. Keyword: try.
After feeding them, our group was split into smaller ones and taken out with the elephants (where we also saw zebras) to spend some time and take pictures. It was especially hard not sharing all the pictures I had taken that day but I had to control myself. They are just so beautiful!
Mashudu (one of the male teenagers) as he cools down with a mud bath
Then our tour guide told us we could touch him. I. Almost. Died. Nothing can or will ever take away from that experience.
We didn’t know what to expect when we entered the lodge area but we were blown away when we walked into the room. It had such a warm feeling that reflected how much passion went into preserving the entire facility. The rooms were even named after the elephants.
There is also a lounge area that overlooks the boma/night camp. We did head in there during the night when the elephants were inside and just sat in the dark taking in the experience. Though mostly dark, we could still make out the forms and hear them. It was beyond surreal and so calming.
The view from outside the lodge area:
The following morning, those who had opted to spend the night also had the advantage of a personal walk with the elephants. Seeing as there are only a few rooms and possibly not all were occupied, it was a very small group of us that were taken out that morning for some personal time.
Shungu (the other male teenager)
We also learned that elephants indeed cry (through temporal glands at the side of their heads) even when excited, and were able to witness this as the morning’s tour group arrived with more food for them. Boy were they overcome with joy!
Love Food Cafe
I will be doing a review on the amazing food I ate while on this trip, so this is a preview to what is in store. Not one bad meal was had on that entire trip and Love Food Cafe did not disappoint. With seating inside and a deck area outside that looks out to the park, it was the right setting to enjoy a meal after spending some quality time with the elephants. The staff was also very pleasant and helpful. Eating here topped off a wonderful experience.
Gourmet chicken and brie burger with cranberry jelly, cucumber, caramelized onion marmalade and organic salad greens with a side of onions rings (I thought the option meant to replace the fries but my order arrived with both – no complaints). And a Strawberry lemonade to drink!
Veggie burger made with brown lentil, peanut butter along with organic salad greens spiced chunky beetroot chutney and homemade mayo.
3 egg omelette with spinach, sauteed mushroom, mozzarella & slow-cooked tomato chutney.
Going Green – 2 poached eggs with wilted kale & baby spinach, Parmesan shavings, sticky roasted cherry tomatoes, herb pesto and rye toast.
Yummy red velvet cheesecake! Sooooo good and it was such a generous slice!
This experience has changed my life in the most positive way. Being around the elephants was so calming; they are so peaceful and patient – we could really learn a lot from them. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, please take the time to head over to Knysna Elephant Park – you won’t regret it! I can’t wait to return… Heck, I almost didn’t leave. Knysna Elephant Park does a wonderful job with elephant preservation.