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Published on : 8th April 2020

Top Places in the World to See Elephants in the Wild

Nothing can quite match the exhilarating feeling of coming upon a wild elephant at close quarters whilst on a game drive. These gentle giants, with their long curling trunks and large floppy ears, have always been held in fascination and awe by wildlife lovers since ages.

Sighting them in the wild is a dream for many wildlife enthusiasts. Asian and African elephants are the two most common types found and photographed in various parks across the world.

Here we have narrowed down our findings to just a limited number of places which offer the best opportunities to view these impressive animals moving about nonchalantly, at times right in front of your accommodation. 

Best Parks for Sighting Wild Elephants in the World

spotting wild elephants

If your main goal is to spot herds of wild elephants then check out these amazing parks which offer ample opportunities for the same. Book your safaris and packages with a reputed wildlife tour operator such as for the ultimate game viewing pleasures.

Motswari game reserve

There are hundreds of destinations in Africa that promise sightings of elephants, but the  Motswari game reserve within the Timbavati private park in South Africa is by far the undisputed leader. Apart from the Big Five, this nearly 54,000 hectares sanctuary is also home to other mammals and a large variety of birds.

Lying on the periphery of the legendary Kruger National Park, large elephant herds are found roaming freely in this reserve. Given a free unfenced range with fewer restrictions as compared to other national parks, game viewing in Motswari is a truly rewarding experience, with wild elephants regularly coming right up to the lodge pool to have a drink. Care should be taken to remain inside rooms at night as there are no physical boundaries in the lodges and the animals are free to roam.

Tarangire national park

The vast elephant population which Tanzania boasts of, is of special significance as far as Tarangire is concerned, as it houses a majority of these magnificent animals. The picturesque national park is located in the Manyara region on the northern safari circuit. Apart from a thriving population of over 3000 elephants, this park also has an abundant concentration of other game.

The area is still not on the radar of most tourists, as visitors spend just a few hours or give Tarangire a miss altogether. So if your objective is to have undisturbed viewing of African elephants  you won’t go back disappointed. This is the only place in the continent where herds of 300 elephants or more have often been sighted, especially in the dryer months. These elephants are usually spotted desperately attempting to seek out hidden pockets of water among the dry river beds. 

Okavango delta

The Okavango delta in Botswana is said to hold nearly 17% of the elephant population of the world. The Moremi Game Reserve, on the edge of the delta, is a part of the range of thousands of wild African elephants which are drawn here due to the easy availability of fresh food and water.

The delta tends to get flooded during the dry season and attracts elephants in large numbers due to scarcity of water in other areas of the reserve. Though most elephants follow the ancient migrating route, there are many resident herds that stay back around the fringes of the islands, channels and floodplains all round the year. This extraordinary region has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it an even safer habitat for these majestic creatures in the years to come. Don’t forget to carry a good camera to capture these majestic beasts in these stunning landscapes.  

Hwange National Park

Home to a large and diverse population of animals, not to be found anywhere else worldwide, the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is one of top national parks in Africa. Roaming the grasslands of this park is an estimated number of over 50,000 elephants, which make viewing them an unforgettable experience, especially during the dry months from July to October.

Since the park has no permanent source of water, these animals have to rely on the manmade supply of water in these times. The result, therefore, is huge herds tend to congregate around these waterholes, thereby allowing for closer interaction. Hwange never tends to get crowded, thus making it one of the best places in the world to see the wild elephants of Africa.

Udawalawe National Park

This is undoubtedly the premier region to see the  Sri Lankan elephant, one of the three recognized subspecies which are found only in Asia. The native population here differ from their African counterparts by featuring smaller ears and a more curved spine.

Udawalawe National Park holds a large number of elephants and it is common to come across herds with babies moving together or frolicking in the water. Having the highest density of Asian elephants worldwide, this part of the country is one of the leading destinations on the globe to see these awesome pachyderms in their natural habitat. The Udawalawe National Park is also home to a rehabilitation center where orphaned or injured baby elephants are taken care of and then resettled into the wild gradually in small groups.

Periyar National Park

This 777 square kilometres park, set in the ranges of the Western Ghats in Kerala, South India was designated a tiger reserves way back in 1978 and is today by far the best place to see elephants stomping around in the wilds of the sub-continent. The park is a hotspot of rich biodiversity and scenic beauty which encompasses mountains,lakes and dense forests. A boat ride across the Periyar lake provides fantastic opportunities to view elephants by the banks of the river, apart from other wildlife like bison, wild dogs and the elusive Bengal tiger.

Kaziranga National Park

indian elephants

Established in 1905, and designated into a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1958, the Kaziranga National Park is nestled on the floodplains of the mighty Brahmaputra river. While the park forms the best habitat for the highly endangered one-horned rhino, it also holds a healthy population of Asian elephants. No wonder it is one of the top national parks of India

Incidentally, riding on an elephant is the only way to observe these giants at a close and personal level, as they rarely feel threatened. Since the park gets flooded during the rainy season, Kaziranga is best visited between the months of January and May. A number of homely lodges and resorts are located adjacent to the park boundaries, so visitors should not be surprised to receive these uninvited guests at dinner time.

Watching an elephant roaming about in the African savannah or around a bend in the road in the jungles of Asia, can be an exciting experience. This highly intelligent mammal, when free from bondage and other human restraints, is a breathtaking animal to observe, in its natural habitat. With wildlife tourism developing in leaps and bounds, there are now more ways than one to enjoy quality time studying these highly impressive, and sadly, threatened creatures.

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