Searching For Tuskers In Tembe Elephant Park
We parked our Suzuki Jimny outside the Mahlasela Hide in Tembe Elephant Park, gathered the camera gear and quietly climbed the stairs into the raised hide. It wasn’t 5 minutes before the first large tusker appeared. Graciously carrying his impressive tusks, the bull elephant moved across the open plain towards the waterhole for a drink. I sat in amazement. This was a first for me. I have been fortunate to see hundreds of Elephants on my Africa travels, but none with ivory like this.
Tembe Elephant Park is a 300Km2 game reserve located in the north of KwaZulu-Natal. The park is partly owned and managed by the local Tembe tribe while also forming part of the Ezemvelo KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) Parks portfolio. It is famous for its impressive tuskers and they certainly live up to their reputation. The oldest elephant in the park, named Isilo, has tusks measuring up to 2.5m in length. He is thought to be over 50 years old and is a mountainous 3.2m tall.
But the elephants are not the only attraction in the park. The reserve is a big 5 game reserve and offers regular sightings of Lion, Buffalo and Rhino, with the possibility of seeing the elusive Leopard. It is also stocked with good general game, including Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, impala, Nyala as well as the rare Suni antelope.
Searching For Wildlife
We left the hide once the elephants had moved off and continued our drive through the park. The ranger in the office recommended we stick to the eastern section of the park for the best wildlife sightings. We followed the road to the picnic site in the middle of the park and from there drove the Eastern Swamp road in search of lion, buffalo and rhino.
Unfortunately, we were unable to find the big game we were looking for but did came across a badly injured Zebra which seemed to have been attacked by a lion. The claw marks and exposed wound on its hide seemed fresh, an indication that the lions were certainly in the area.
On our way out of the park we once again stopped off at the hide to enjoy a quick lunch. The elephants seemed to have the same plan in mind as we found them peacefully resting in the shade near the water. The younger members of the herd were picking on each other which offered us some entertainment before the matriarch had enough and put a stop to action. The hide has a live webcam if you want to get a taste for what is on offer.
After a lovely day out on safari, we headed back to Kosi Bay for a little snorkeling in the Kosi River Mouth. Where else can you enjoy a big 5 safari in the morning and an afternoon swim in the ocean on the same day? That’s just one aspect that makes KwaZulu-Natal such a unique Africa travel destination.
This is a guest post by one of our Tread Lite directors who recently spent some time in Tembe Elephant Park while exploring our beautiful KwaZulu-Natal.
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TEMBE ELEPHANT PARK RECOMMENDATIONS
- This park is ideally suited to day visitors. Most people visit the park on day outings from neighbouring areas like Kosi Bay. An excellent addition if coming from Mozambique heading south or from Swaziland on your way to the coast.
- You can stay at the Temne Elephant Lodge tented accommodation if you looking for a splash of luxury.
- The park is only accessible by 4x4 so ideal for our compact Jimnys.
- Spend most of your time at the Mahlasela Hide. This is where the amazing sightings happen. The hide is well built and offers great views of the waterhole. Take your tea & coffee up to the hide with you, get comfortable and enjoy.
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