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Elephants in Africa

By far the biggest of the so-called Big Five – indeed, the largest land animal on the planet – the elephant shapes the very landscape it inhabits and is a defining presence on any safari.

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Quick facts about Elephant

Scientific name: Loxodonta africana Habitat: Woodland and savanna
IUCN status: Vulnerable Adult weight: 2,500–6,500kg

The elephant familiar to most safari-goers is, technically speaking, the African bush elephant, a distinct species from the smaller African forest elephant (L. cyclotis). This enormous animal is extraordinary in every respect: its tusks, enlarged front teeth, serve for feeding and fighting; its trunk, an elongated nose, can tear down a branch or pick up a bean; and its huge ears are cooling vanes that circulate the body’s blood supply.

Matriarchal herds of females and young centre on a dominant female; mature males form smaller bachelor herds. Elephants communicate over huge distances using infrasound, and co-operate in finding food and water.

They are the engineers of the landscape, creating waterholes and opening up savannahs, although confined populations can be destructive.


Muscles in trunk


Record tusk length

22 months

Gestation period


Weight of brain

Africa's top camps for seeing elephants

Based on 3621 reports by our travellers since Mar 2018, the camps below have the best chances of sighting elephants. Simply follow the key below.

Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for elephant

% of travellers who saw elephant

Top 10 camps for elephant

% of travellers who saw elephant

Where to see elephants in Africa

African bush elephants occur in 37 countries, with today’s largest populations found in Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Visit waterholes during the dry season to see the most action.

Top tips for viewing elephants

The more you watch elephants, the more enthralling they become, whether it’s an individual quietly feeding or a boisterous herd interacting at a waterhole.

Especially impressive gatherings occur in Chobe and Moremi (Botswana) and Hwange (Zimbabwe). Other excellent locations include Amboseli and Samburu (Kenya), Tarangire, Ruahaand Serengeti (Tanzania), Etosha (Namibia), and the Luangwaand Zambezi valleys (Zambia).

Elephants habituated to vehicles generally allow a close approach. However, always be alert to signs of agitation, such as a raised trunk or flapping ears. Cows with young should always be allowed plenty of space. Watching elephants from a boat offers a different perspective – as does a guided walk in elephant country, where observing their tracks, droppings and feeding signs can be as exciting as finding the animals themselves.


Holiday ideas to see elephants

Based on our travellers experiences, these are the holidays which will give you the best chances of good elephant sightings

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Rock Hare Self-drive Safari

20 days • 12 locations

An in-depth look at Namibia from the Namib Desert to the Caprivi, with additional stops in Botswana and Victoria Falls. This three-week adventure includes an unrivalled mix of environments and is great value.

US$5,220 - US$7,420 per person

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Pygmy Mouse Self-drive Safari

18 days • 10 locations

A truly epic southern African self-drive safari adventure from Namibia’s mountains and deserts, along the lush Caprivi Strip to Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, staying at luxury lodges throughout.

US$6,160 - US$10,390 per person

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The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$14,360 - US$18,230 per person

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Hartebeest Self-drive Safari

16 days • 8 locations

This self-drive safari focuses on the best cultural experiences in Namibia. Visit a Himba village and enjoy three days living with the San Bushmen interspersed with some excellent wildlife watching.

US$3,510 - US$4,300 per person

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Dune Lark Fly & Drive Safari

14 days • 8 locations

A combination fly-in self-drive exploration of Namibia, with quick, easy and scenic flights in and out of Sossusvlei before a classic road trip adventure of the country’s rugged north.

US$4,690 - US$5,740 per person

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Wild Dog Safari

13 days • 5 locations

An in-depth discovery of northern Botswana’s wilderness, from Chobe and the private Kwando Reserve to the Moremi and iconic Okavango Delta with a great variety of activities and wildlife.

US$12,230 - US$21,930 per person

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Our top destinations for elephants

Click below for detailed information about elephants in these countries, including our latest sightings data from the camps and lodges there.

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