The Best Places to View Elephants in Africa

Although Elephants are prevalent in many of the more famous game reserves across Africa, they are seldom the reason to visit a specific park or area. The spotlight is generally reserved for the big cats or some other nuanced factor like a rare species or specific behaviour that occurs there.
A lot of the time, as spectacular as they are, the presence of elephants can almost get taken for granted by visitors to Africa, and the viewing of them seen as a guaranteed byproduct of a safari.
Yet there is a tremendous amount of variability in elephant populations across the continent. In some areas they are scarce and nervous of vehicles, in others they are massively overpopulated, sometimes their presence is seasonal, and they are hardly to be found during certain months of the year…

If it is elephants that you want to see, it is imperative that you know where the best places are, and what to expect once you are there.

Here a few of our favourite places to view elephants in Africa…


As unique an elephant experience as you’ll get, if you visit between June and October. The local elephant population congregates along the Zambezi River to take advantage of the availability of water at the height of the dry season, and to feed on the pods of the Ana Trees that fall to the ground during this time of year.

The true magic of Mana Pools lies in the freedom guests have to go on foot whenever they wish (although the uninitiated should only do so when accompanied by a professional guide). Mana Pools is the only National Park that allows its visitors to alight from their vehicles and approach wildlife whilst walking.

As a result, the local animals have grown used to seeing humans on foot, and as long as respectful distances are maintained, accept people’s presence. 

Being 40 metres from a large African Elephant bull when on foot is just as if not more exciting than having one brush right past your safari vehicle.

With amazing accommodation options on some of the more exclusive concessions on the east and west sides of the park, as well as a couple right in the heart of it, Mana Pools is there to explore…


The true Giants of Africa live here. Famous super tuskers like Craig and Tim – old bulls carrying some of the biggest ivory in Africa – call this ecosystem their home, and what could be more iconic than an enormous elephant bull with a backdrop of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro?

There are few images that are as quintessentially Africa as this.

Photo Credit: Jeff Wendorff

Between the Amboseli and neighbouring Tsavo ecosystems there are a number of super tuskers (elephants classified as carrying tusks of over 100 pounds) with even more so-called emerging tuskers – younger individuals who are on track to carry enormous ivory – so one’s chances of seeing a truly spectacular elephant are high.

Alongside the rest of the resident wildlife like lions, cheetahs and a whole assortment of the weird and wonderful, the Amboseli and Tsavo regions provide some of the best elephant viewing on the continent.


Plenty of relaxed elephants, plenty of lodge options.. The Sabi Sands is one of Africa’s best places to view wildlife. Known particularly for its leopards – the reserve boasts the densest population yet recorded in Africa – this is one place where elephants almost are a by-product of looking for big cats.
Non-impactful viewing practices over the last fifty years have resulted in local wildlife populations that are completely relaxed in the presence of a vehicle, and close-up sightings of elephants are commonplace. Being completely surrounded by a herd is not at all unlikely, and an experience like this will quite simply take your breath away.

With a wide variety of accommodation options catering for a range of budgets and needs, the Sabi Sands is an excellent place in which to get cloe to elephants, and at the same time enjoy some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing on the planet…


Namibia is one of the most unique places you can see elephants, and one small population in particular.

In the far north-western corner of Namibia lie the Kaokaveld and Damaraland regions, which are home to the fabled desert elephants. These animals have adapted to survive in the harshest environment, sometimes walking round trips of 70km in their search for water.

The lunar landscape is the last place one would normally expect to view elephants, and it is the setting itself that makes sightings that much more spectacular.
There are a few isolated yet luxurious camps tucked discreetly away in this desert wilderness, the guides of which know exactly where to find the herds at different times of year, so despite the elephants being few in number and the wilderness so vast, encountering them is still a likelihood.

Ultimately, elephant viewing in Africa is as diverse as the continent itself, and our feeling is that it almost doesn’t count as a safari unless elephants are part of it. Almost…

Get hold of our safari consultants through to start planning your elephant safari…

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