Riding an elephant, unlike other forms of animal rides, can be quite a thrilling experience even if the elephants move at their seemingly slow pace. Sitting atop that magnificent beast as it briskly moves through its habitat can leave you feeling one with the wild.
Can You Really Ride an Elephant in South Africa?
All over the world, the topic of riding elephants is quite controversial. It is often a hot topic of debate between conservationists and those making available the service of elephant rides. It is usually a discussion of ethics based on animal treatment since most regard it as cruel to the animals.
Elephant riding is a practice that is approved by the South African tourism authorities. Of course, this approval is not to negate the fact that there are some in this industry that exploit the animals in their care. Throughout the world, elephant' breeding, like most other wild animals, has seen some bad practices if not well regulated. In some Asian countries, elephants are held in captivity from very tender ages and are often forced through extreme measures into domestication.
To tame wild animals and make them habitable to humans, many bad industry players use force to establish dominance over the animals. To facilitate the riding of elephants in South Africa, these magnificent beasts are gently trained for the task from a young age. The involvement of the South African tourism authorities and other players helps see to it that the elephants used in giving rides, among other tasks, are well taken care of and treated right.
To ride elephants, one prerequisite is to ensure that the elephants are in good health; both physical and psychological health. For the best experience, the elephants need to be in their prime age and quite used to having humans around them. Though having animals in captivity is a stretch to their wild nature, having the animals in a well-kept environment and giving them great care makes it quite easy for them to adapt.
Where in South Africa Are Elephant Rides Available?
Elephants in South Africa are among the best breeds of elephants on the African continent and the world, for that matter. This is in large part to the vast availability of natural resources that make it the ideal habitat for wild animals. This is not only a benefit to the animals, because South Africa boasts of multiple facilities where you can get to interact with elephants and other wild animals, it makes it an ideal location for tourists to visit.
When you stay at our beautiful, world-class lodge, it's quite an amazing feeling when you're transported to locations that are remotely beautiful yet relatively close to amazing tourist destinations. That neighborliness to the wild, coupled with a great ambiance and excellent housekeeping, is just what staying at the La Vista Lodge will have you experiencing.
The La Vista Lodge is adequately situated between several elephant sanctuaries and parks and is one of the best accommodation destinations if you want to ride elephants while in South Africa. Here are some of the available facilities where you can easily travel to enjoy riding elephants.
Being the first elephant sanctuary in the whole of South Africa to provide a home for orphaned African elephants, the Knysna Elephant Park has decades of experience in interacting and protecting elephants. Apart from elephant rides, the park offers a wide array of experiences featuring elephants that will leave you feeling one with the wild. Some of the experiences available at the Knysna Elephant Park include guided nature walks with the elephants in their wild habitat, elephant rides, and use of their grounds for hosting events such as weddings.
(Image Credit: Knysna Elephant Park)
Located along the banks of the Sabi River, Elephant Whispers, as the name suggests, will give you up close and personal interactions with elephants. Being home to a diverse group of elephants in terms of age, Elephant Whispers will have you interacting with elephants both young and old.
(Image Credit: Portfolio Collection)
This sanctuary offers an intimate interaction with the elephants, where you can ride, wash and feed the elephants. This hands-on experience guarantees that you have a personalized and intimate feeling of being in contact with the elephants.
(Image Credit: Elephant Hazyview)
Is It Safe To Ride an Elephant?
Of course, Elephant rides are not immune to dangers and possible injuries both to the elephant and the human rider. Though quite rare in occurrence, some reported instances of human or elephant injury due to riding are mostly cases of the animal getting startled. Due to this, it is greatly advised that you take part in elephant rides only in parks and sanctuaries whose elephants are taken care of and have a good track record of offering incident-free elephant rides.
What Other Fun Alternatives Are There To Riding Elephants?
When you're not off enjoying a ride on an elephant, the South African tourism scene has a variety of experiences available, and the La Vista Lodge is well situated to have you living these adventures. Here are some of the available adventurous alternatives to elephant riding in South Africa.
For those who love heights and that freeing feeling of the wind whipping across your face, kite surfing is a definite high adventure alternative to elephant riding. The beautiful and rich terrain of South Africa is rich with cliffs and other like surfaces which make perfect ground for diving off with that kite.
If you're a lover of water and recreational experiences, the vast South African coastline will present you with a lot of options for water and wave fun. Deep-sea diving and fishing, among other maritime activities, have a different feel when done in South Africa. This is because the South African coastline is blessed to contact more than one ocean.
South Africa is home to a rich population of elephants and a diverse collection of wild animals. From wild cats to troops of wild animals, driving (or hiking) a nature trail in the many parks and animal sanctuaries in South Africa is a definite adventure. We recommend guided tours for the utmost in safety and wildlife viewing.
(Image Credit: AfricaStay)