The Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam
, roughly one hour from Johannesburg, is a family orientated, close encounter experience with African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) that is suitable for all ages.
The five young elephants are given a temporary home at the sanctuary until theyre older and more independent, and then hopefully placed in a more suitable habitat elsewhere.
They presently have 3 females and 2 males that you have a chance to interact with.
OPENING TIMES :
Every day : 07h50 (7.50am)
First tour at 08h00 (8.00am)
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY PRICES :
Child (3-14 years) : R235.00
Adult : From R495.00
ELEPHANT RIDE (additional cost to above) :
Child (8-14 years) : R250.00
Adult : R425.00
SANCTUARY CONTACT :
Telephone : +27 (0)12 258-0423 / +27 (0)12 258-9906
Fax: +27 (0)86 531-9587
Send an E-Mail
There are three tours during the day (8.00am, 10.00am and 2.00pm), and we chose to do the 8.00am morning program.
Bookings are essential, but be warned!
You're unable to pay when you make your booking, so take a card or enough cash to do the tours you'd like to do!!
We arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary Haartebeespoort Dam
early, and were welcomed with tea and coffee whilst we watched the elephants practice their routine with their handlers.
We were included in a group of about 15 guests, and included in the hour and a half spent with the elephants, was the opportunity to groom them as part of their morning routine.
Everyone got the opportunity to take part in each activity with one of the 3 elephants on show.
A hand-in-trunk walk with an African elephant.
The tours at 10.00am and 2.00pm, include different aspects of the interaction with the elephants from the 8.00am show, and in summer the days can be hot - so pre-plan your visit.
A snot walk is also included in most of the packages which allows the tour group the chance to walk hand-in-trunk around a paddock.
Expect to get a little dirty if youd like to take part in this.
For an additional cost of R425, you can ride with a guide on the back of an elephant around the paddock a couple times (10 to 15 minutes) which is quite nice to get a feel for the height and size of the elephant.
Few people know that there are very coarse hairs on the elephants skin, so dont forget your long pants if youre planning to ride.
After a short walk into the forest where you meet up with the elephants again, in pairs, you are able to touch various body parts of the elephant - the trunk, tusks, behind the ear, the belly, elbows, tail and under the foot.
You are also shown the teeth and tongue before being allowed photo opportunities.
Learning about elephant dental care!
For those who want a good laugh, you can get your face smothered in mud from a snotty kiss from the elephants!!!
The guides have very good relationships with all the elephants, and their main aim is not to show us that they can perform circus tricks, but to show us things that an elephant would do naturally in the wild such as shake, grumble, and trumpet in this instance, on command!
At the end of the tour, the anatomy of the elephant is explained.
Despite some interesting facts, it is a rather dull way to end a wonderful experience with great animals.
Overall the tour was a lot of fun.
The handlers and tour guide are evidently well versed in elephant knowledge and put effort into understanding and caring for their animals.
There were plenty of opportunities for guests to ask questions, as well as many opportunities for photographs - which become valuable memories.
Overnight accommodation, called "sleeping next to the elephants" allows you to literally sleep a wall apart from the elephants, so you can hear them talking and scratching as they move about in the night.
They wake you with a trumpet for breakfast in the morning.
It seemed pretty cool, and the accommodation looked very nice!
The Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam co-operate with two other operations Hazyview, near the Kruger Park and Plettenberg Bay, on the Garden Route so I would imagine they have similar programs and options.
It is definitly something I would recommend for any tourist to Johannesburg as well as any Joburger who has not had the experience yet.
Sam Shead, Bakersfield, California.