Seeing Elephants : 6 of the Best National Parks

Elephants are just one of Africa’s iconic creatures. These majestic animals are revered for their intelligence, social bonds, and sheer power. Seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a bucket-list experience for many wildlife enthusiasts. Sitting and watching the interaction of a herd is fascinating, watching the hierarchy, listening to their rumbles, a form of communication, as they move silently through the landscape looking for food is wonderful. In this blog, we’ll embark on a journey across Africa to discover some of the best places to encounter elephants, from the desert-adapted herds of Namibia to the lush valleys of Zambia.

Mother and calf, Savuti Camp, Botswana

Samburu, Kenya

Samburu National Park, nestled in the rugged landscapes of northern Kenya, is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including a thriving population of elephants. They are known for their distinctive appearance, with long, slender tusks and large ears adapted to the arid environment. The Ewaso Nyiro River, which flows through the park, provides a vital water source, drawing elephants and other animals to its banks during the dry season. Visitors to Samburu have the opportunity to witness these majestic creatures up close on game drives and guided walks, observing their social interactions and witnessing their daily routines against the backdrop of the park’s breathtaking scenery.

Samburu is also home to Save the Elephant and visitors can witness firsthand the conservation efforts underway, from anti-poaching patrols to community outreach programs aimed at promoting coexistence between humans and elephants. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Reteti Elephant Orphanage are also both located in Kenya and provide amazing opportunities to see first hand the conservation efforts being undertaken.

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Game drive at The Elephant Camp, Samburu National Park

Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is renowned for its pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife, including a thriving elephant population. The valley’s meandering rivers and lush floodplains provide both vital water sources during the dry season and plentiful food throughout the year, attracting large herds of elephants and other animals. In the dry season it is not uncommon to see a herd of elephants crossing the Luangwa River, an iconic and beautiful sight. Walking safaris and game drives offer intimate encounters with these gentle giants, allowing visitors to observe their behaviour up close while respecting their natural habitat.

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A classic Luangwa Valley scene, Nkonzi Camp, Zambia

Savuti Marshes, Botswana

In Botswana’s Savuti region, which borders the Okavango Delta to the west, the seasonal ebb and flow of the Savuti Channel creates a dynamic ecosystem that sustains a rich diversity of wildlife, including elephants. Savuti offers lush marshlands, extensive savannas and open grasslands, ideal for these large pachyderms. During the dry season especially, elephants congregate in increasing numbers around waterholes and marshes, providing excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Visitors can witness dramatic interactions between elephants and other predators, such as lions, as it is one of a few areas in Africa where lions have been known to take down elephants.

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A boat safari, Savuti Camp, Botswana

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest protected area, is home to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations, often referred to as ‘The President’s Herd’. The park’s diverse habitats, ranging from open grasslands to dense woodlands, provide ideal foraging grounds for elephants year-round. Hwange was declared a national park in 1929 and it soon became clear that a permanent water source would be required; unusually there is no natural and permanent water source in the park. Wildlife which would traditionally have migrated in the dry season required a water source and waterholes were drilled. Elephants tend to be the dominant visitors to these and now associate diesel engines with water which has resulted in them being calm around vehicles.

Visitors will often be able to enjoy watching elephants from the comfort of their lodge with water holes located nearby. Game drives and walking safaris with expert guides offers the opportunity to explore the park’s vast wilderness and encounter elephants alongside all the other wildlife that makes this park home.

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Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Desert Elephants, Namibia

Whilst Namibia is not perhaps the most obvious country to see elephant due to its desert landscape, a unique population of elephants has adapted to life in the harsh environment here. These desert elephants roam the remote regions of Damaraland and Kaokoland, where water sources and vegetation are scarce. Tracking these resilient herds through rugged terrain offers a fascinating insight into their survival strategies and the challenges they face in this unforgiving habitat.

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Damaraland Camp, Namibia

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe on the banks of the Zambezi River is another national park renowned for its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife, including a significant population of elephants. These majestic creatures roam freely across the floodplains and forests of the park, creating unforgettable sights for visitors.

Visitors can witness these gentle giants grazing on the lush vegetation, bathing in the meandering channels of the Zambezi River, or even standing on their hind legs to reach for leaves in the trees. Guided walking safaris offer a thrilling opportunity to track elephants on foot. With its unspoiled wilderness and incredible biodiversity, Mana Pools offers an unparalleled safari experience for elephant enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

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Chikwenya Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe


From the deserts of Namibia to the savannahs of Kenya and the floodplains of Zambia, Africa offers a wealth of opportunities to encounter elephants in their natural habitat. Whether tracking desert-adapted herds, witnessing conservation efforts firsthand, quietly observing a herd at a waterhole or exploring pristine wilderness areas, a journey to see Africa’s magnificent giants is sure to be an unforgettable experience for any wildlife enthusiast. These are just some of the prime areas in Africa to see them, perhaps offering unique perspectives into these magnificent animals.

If you would like to discuss a holiday to go on safari to see elephants, or any other particular species, please do get in touch to discuss your wishes. We would be delighted to help you.