After a flight in the smallest plane I’ve ever been in and some wispered heart to hearts with the big man who is supposed to be watching over us all, we arrive at Richards Bay Airport, that is about the size of a small farm. We’re in Africa! It is my first time here and all I’ve seen so far is the airport in Johannesburg. In about 3 hours we drive to our first stop right at the border with Mozambique: Tembe Elephant Park.
Like 2 Teletubbies with ADHD we jump up and down when we see our “tent” at the Tembe Elephant Lodge. With a beautiful outdoor shower, two comfortable beds & a toilet it is hard to call this a tent. This is glamping at its best!
The lodge offers a wake-up service and the next morning at 05:15 (04:15 Amsterdam time) we hear a soft & friendly “good morning” outside of our tent door…. Yes, our tent has a door too.
After a light breakfast we climb into a safari vehicle for our very first game drive. It is hard to comprehend the fact that we were in Amsterdam yesterday and are about to meet “wild wildlife” in a few minutes. “Dorothy we’re not in Kansas anymore…” First up we learn what NOT to do when we encounter agressive animals: DON’T RUN! OK….
Tembe Elephant Park is a beautiful park full of extraordinary wildlife and home to the largest elephants in Africa. We see young elephants playing in the mud, a power struggle between a buffalo and a lion, watch giraffes consuming their breakfast, meet Pumba and his friends and fall in love with the pretty impalas.
During the morning game drive there is time for a coffee break and in the afternoon you can enjoy a G&T or a cold glass of wine, while you watch zebra’s crossing the road in front of you. Being in nature all day is healing for a city girl like me. All the stress that I had and carried with me on my flight here is starting to melt away in the African sun. When we get back to the lodge we see monkeys and impalas close to our tent. We order a Tembe Cabernet Sauvignon and sit down by the campfire. We’re never going home!
Please keep in mind that this park is huge and it can happen that you won’t see a lot of wildlife during a game drive. These are wild animals and the guides don’t control them. Take your time to visit the area and stay for at least 2 nights. The lodge offers 2 game drives a day: at 06:00 and at 14:00. We really liked this daily scedule.
For more information about the park & the lodge check:
Best travel season: the Elephant Coast has mild winters & hot summers. You can visit this area throughout the year, but it is recommended to avoid the Christmas period. This is the busiest time of the year, because of the summer holiday in South Africa.
In Kwazulu-Natal it is not necessary to take malaria pills. Tembe Elephant Park is right at the border with Mozambique, where they do recommend taking the pills, so using good DEET is important.
Photo credits: Desireé Hoogendam & Lieke Pijnappels.
This trip was sponsored by South African Tourism.