One of the most incredible experiences of my life happened in Oudtshoorn… not something you might have expected to hear. It seems far more likely that one would experience a life altering moment in London, Rome, New York or Paris, right??
Well, one of the most incredible experiences DID happen in Oudtshoorn – at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge to be exact!
After spending our first night in our gorgeous luxury tent, we made our way to the meeting point on the deck overlooking the dam to meet our guide. None of us had any idea of what to expect, except for the basket of food and fruit that Ben was asked to carry which hinted at the fact that we would be feeding an elephant… Little did we know what excitement awaited!
As we rounded the corner, there were three fully grown elephant looking down at us from their lofty height (aside: a group of elephants = a memory!!)
After a brief introduction to the three elephants from our gentle guide, Sifiso, we cautiously got a bit closer and braver – to hand over the first item of food into their eager trunks.
These 3 beautiful African Elephants are orphans from the Kruger National Park. Their parents were poached and they ended up at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge instead of being left to an unhappy end in the wild.
Malaika, meaning “Angel”, is the only female and a true matriarch who rules over the two males with a swish of her trunk! Bulelo, meaning “Thank you”, is the older and bigger bull while Jabari, meaning “Powerful”, is the youngest and naughtiest of the three.
As the elephant and ourselves got more comfortable with each other, we were invited to get a bit closer, to touch their rough and tough skins, feel the coarse hairs on their trunk, put food into their mouths and even get a “hug” from their amazing trunks.
Finally we were even invited to sit on top of an elephant – and the kids even walked a few supervised steps!
Being so close to these magnificent creatures was awesome. These true gentle giants each have their own personalities and are super affectionate and sensitive. We all were moved emotionally by the experience, especially when thinking about how badly many elephants in captivity are treated…. something very much NOT the case in this scenario. To say we loved hanging out with them would be an understatement. We were blown away and will never forget this amazing day.
Three interactive elephant experiences are available at Buffelsdrift. Namely Elephant Feeding where you will experience the elephants up close and personal and be allowed to touch them and take photos with them while our skilled elephant guides share their knowledge of these gentle giants with you. Elephant Walking is another option for those who are a bit weary of heights. Take a leisurely stroll with our elephants in the early morning or late afternoon – a great way to take in the beauty of the Karoo whilst walking with the biggest land mammals on earth. Finally Elephant Riding is available where you can enjoy an elephant ride around the waterhole and spot wild animals from up high, an unforgettable experience.
All of these activities are open to the public and not limited to people staying at Buffelsdrift, however early booking is essential and it is important to arrive 15 minutes prior to the activity time slot.
Images: Kathryn Rossiter