While on a recent trip to South Africa with Explore Africa Tour, I was able to experience the thrill of walking side by side with the largest living land animals, the elephants. This dream that I never knew I had was made possible because of the Knysna Elephant Park in the Western Cape. The elephant park has been operating for 20 years in South Africa and is one of the world’s leading elephant sanctuaries, responsible for the housing and caring of these gentle giants.
While this wasn’t my first experience with elephants as I’ve fed and observed them in Africa before, this was my first time walking with free-roaming elephants! OMG, can I tell you, my heart was beating out of my chest! I was half parts excited and half parts terrified of my 5’1 body being crushed to death! Dramatic much? Let me just say this, walking with elephants can be intimidating but they are absolutely beautiful. I walked for what felt like forever next to these incredibly strong and powerful animals and felt more safe and alive than ever.
The experience begins with an educational video that details how the park was started and information about the rescue elephants, we were then shuttled in a cute open-air buggy to the elephants where we were able to feed them fruits and veggies. I loved this part but be careful, elephants don’t play when it comes to feeding time. Next up, we were given a quick info session on what to do and what not to do when walking with the elephants. The most important tips we were given was to never turn your back or kneel down while around the elephants. You can touch and rub them but remember to be respectful.
If you ever have the opportunity to walk with elephants, go for it, it’s an experience I won’t soon forget. I’m literally counting down the days until the next Explore Africa Tour! If you’re interested in visiting the continent of Africa but don’t know how or where to start planning, join me this year in Johannesburg, South Africa or in Namibia!