Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam
Roughly one hour from Johannesburg, the Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam is a family orientated, close encounter experience with African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) that is suitable for all ages.
The five young elephants were given a temporary home at the sanctuary until they're 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.
1st November 2018 to 31st October 2019
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY HARTBEESPOORT OPENING TIMES :
Every day : 07h50 (7.50am)
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY HARTBEESPOORT PRICES :
Adult : R795.00
Pensioners : R625.00
Phone book to get a Pensioners rate.
DO NOT book online for pensioners
Child (4-14 years) : R350.00
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY HARTBEESPOORT INTERACTION PROGRAMME :
08h00, 10h00 and 14h00
The 08h00 Elephant Experience includes brushing the elephants down
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours (approx)
Child (4-14 years) : R335.00
Guided interaction with elephants including touching, feeding, interacting and walking trunk-in-hand with elephants.
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY HARTBEESPOORT ADDRESS :
On the R104 Road
2,4 kms west of the Hartbeespoort Kosmos Market at the R104/R512 intersection
GPS Co-ordinates (hddd.ddddd) S25.71947 E027.80439
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY HARTBEESPOORT CONTACT :
Telephone : +27 (0)12 258-9904 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8
Send an E-Mail
Added note by a local -
You start your adventure in the office/curio shop, where bookings are checked, before being taken to an area where the anatomy of the elephant is explained to you.
Then it's a short walk to a forested area where you'll be introduced to, and are able to touch and interact with, the elephants.
The handlers obviously have a very good bond with their elephant, but I was a little concerned to see them use a handheld ankus (bullhook or elephant goad) with its spike/hook combination, to position the elephants.
From there it was to an open area where you could walk trunk-in-hand with the elephants - I'd feel so much better if we just admired such beautiful creatures at close quarters, rather than interact with them as they would in a circus.
Fortunately the elephant rides, which were previously offered, have been stopped!
You then get a chance to feed the elephants food pellets, which would live in a child's mind (probably an adults as well) for the rest of their lives.
From there you have a look at the very well maintained night quarters where the elephants sleep.
We went from there to the Monkey Sanctuary, where we walked amongst free range monkeys, and a lot of Madagascan lemurs.
Tours and Booking
There are three tours during the day (8.00am, 10.00am and 2.00pm), and we chose to do the 8.00am morning program, which gave us the opportunity to groom the elephants as part of their morning routine.
Bookings are essential!
Just a warning, pensioners must phone book, and not book online to get their pernsioner's rate.
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 hand-in-trunk walk with an African elephant.
What we got up to!
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, but everyone got the opportunity to take part in each activity with one of the 3 elephants on show.
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.
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.