Even as South Africa’s Big Five animals (elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo) continue be major drawcards for tourists, it remains a challenge to protect the country’s wildlife as their habitats shrink.
A massive animal like an elephant, for instance, can eat up to 170kg of vegetation per day, and requires massive stretches of land in order to thrive. Therefore, any encroachment by humans on their natural habitat can threaten their survival.
Enter Adventures with Elephants in Limpopo, a sanctuary for “problem” elephants – taking in animals, that would otherwise have been culled.
Adventures with Elephants is about an hour’s drive from the small town of Bela-Bela, previously known as Warmbaths. A drive here from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport will take just over two hours.
The organisation is currently home to seven elephants that have been socialised and trained, to help people learn about these magnificent animals and take an interest in conserving them.
An interaction with the elephants at this site is extraordinary, to say the least.
In total, the interaction lasts about an hour. They take place three times a day. An elephant interaction is quite pricey at around R600 per person but, given the enriching nature of the experience and the knowledge you will gain, it is well worth it.
The sanctuary also works with researchers around the world to expand the body of knowledge about elephants.
All in all, this travel stop is, in many ways a worthwhile one for those who love animals, but are after a sustainable and ethical experience.
Mango operates regular daily flights from South Africa’s major centres to OR Tambo and Lanseria airports in Johannesburg, and also offers fly-and-drive options to get you from Joburg to Limpopo. Visit www.flymango.com for more information.