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Top Five Places to Spot Elephants in Southern Africa in 2024

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Devryn Panaino

Safari Travel Planner

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 Devryn Panaino

Author: Devryn Panaino - 1 March 2017

Last Update: 10 May 2024

Embark on a luxury safari in Southern Africa and experience the majesty of the world’s largest land animal. Here are the top five Southern African destinations in 2024 to see elephants in their natural habitat, enriched with the expert African travel knowledge of Discover Africa.

Chobe National Park, Botswana

Chobe is renowned for its massive elephant population, estimated to be over 50,000. These elephants are known for their impressive tusks, a characteristic feature of the Chobe herds. The Chobe River, which forms the park’s northern boundary, is a critical water source and attracts elephants, especially during the dry season.

Herd of elephants in the Chobe River in Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Herd of elephants in the Chobe River in Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Visitors often witness large herds congregating along the riverbanks, offering a spectacular display of social behavior. The park also supports a rich diversity of other wildlife, making it a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

Located in the Eastern Cape province, Addo Elephant National Park is a sanctuary for the densest elephant population in South Africa. These elephants are unique for their relatively smaller size and rounded ears, adapted to the bushveld environment.

Herd of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park.
Herd of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa.

Addo is not just about elephants; it’s a conservation success story, having expanded to protect a wide range of habitats and species, including the rare flightless dung beetle. The park’s diverse landscapes, from dense thickets to open grasslands, offer varied viewing experiences.

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s largest national park, Hwange, is home to one of the most substantial elephant populations in the world. The park’s elephants are famous for their large size and are often seen in massive herds, particularly around the waterholes that dot the landscape.

Tourist closely observes a large elephant in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Tourist closely observes a large elephant in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Hwange’s strategic waterhole pumping during the dry season ensures wildlife, including elephants, have access to water, providing excellent viewing opportunities. The park’s rich biodiversity, including over 100 mammal and 400 bird species, adds to the allure of this destination.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha, renowned for its vast salt pan, hosts a significant number of elephants adapted to the arid environment. These elephants have unique physical characteristics, including a sometimes lighter skin color due to the white dust of the pan.

Desert adapted elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Desert adapted elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia

The park’s strategic waterholes are magnets for wildlife, and elephants are often seen in large numbers during the dry season. Etosha also offers an array of other wildlife sightings, including lions, rhinos, and a plethora of bird species, against the backdrop of the starkly beautiful landscape.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park is a premier destination for elephant sightings throughout the year. The park’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from dense forests to open savannahs, support a healthy and visible elephant population. Visitors can witness elephants in various settings, engaging in a range of natural behaviors.

Two elephant calves playing in the Kruger National Park
Two elephant calves playing in the Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger’s extensive size and varied habitats also support a rich array of other wildlife, making it a perfect spot for comprehensive safari experiences.

 


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