Feeding elephants and watching a wildebeest give birth

I should begin this post by giving a little shout out/thankyou to the wonderful Helen and Rasheida at Mile Crunchers Backpackers in Mossel Bay. As I travelled around South Africa with the Baz Bus, it meant that getting to places outside the city or town centres could be a little tricky. Botlierskop and Zorgfontein game reserves are about a 30 minute drive out of Mossel Bay, and the absolutely lovely staff at Mile Crunchers, drove me to Zorgfontein for my lion walk, to Botlierskop for my game drive and back to the hostel that evening for only $15 AUD! I would have needed to pay at least three times as much otherwise, so I really cannot thank them enough.

Botlierskop Private Game ReserveΒ  is one of the few private game reserves that not only welcomes, but also encourages day visitors. It is not uncommon for luxury game reserves to refuse to accommodate people not wanting to actually stay in the park, so it was definitely a breath of fresh air. Due to having to pay to get to and from the reserve, I wanted to do several things in the one day. This was very easy to organise through email with the staff, and I was able to do the Catwalk with the lions, an elephant feeding, a three hour game drive and indulge in a full body massage at the bush spa in just the one day. Perfection!

After the Catwalk, it was time to interact and feed some beautiful elephants. There are four African elephants on the reserve, including one very small baby elephant! Only the eldest male elephant named Sam, and the younger male are used for the feedings, as the baby was at the time of visiting, still being nursed by mum.

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Due to the increasing problems with poaching in South Africa, these elephants are watched 24/7 by a team of specialised handlers in order to ensure their safety. These handlers are very chatty, informative and obviously care for the animals a great deal.

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Getting so close to these animals was an amazing experience, and getting to feed them resulted in many smiles and laughs; I couldn’t get over how squishy the inside of their trunks felt!

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After a lovely lunch and the most incredible African Rungu full body massage ever, it was time for the final activity, the 3 hour game drive. Although I should note that it ended up being more like a 4 hour game drive because our driver was determined that we would find and see the Zebras! After hopping on board and immediately grabbing a few blankets (it is always cold on the game drives, so make sure to get a blanket at the start to avoid freezing), we were immediately greeted by the sight of a herd of wildebeest, and to make that even more amazing, one of the wildebeest was in the process of giving birth. We were not able to get close enough for me to take any decent pictures, but watching the baby being born and taking its first steps within only a few minutes is something I will never forget!

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On the drive we were also able to get super close to white rhinos (dehorned to ward off poachers), giraffes, eland, monkeys, buffalo, lions, zebras and more. Our driver and guide was accommodating, informative and as friendly as they come, and it only cost R500 ($50 AUD)!

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Spending a day at Botlierskop was absolutely perfect, and a great way to go on a mini safari if you are not able to fit in a trip to the famous Kruger National Park.

Have you ever touched/fed an elephant before? Or is that something still on the bucket list?

Posted by

20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

15 thoughts on “Feeding elephants and watching a wildebeest give birth

  1. When i first came to Uganda, I was able to to go to a wildlife refuge, where I had the fantastic opportunity to pet and feed a 3 year old elephant named Charles. Definitely a beautiful experience! We also fed Giraffes, and I got to pet a pair of White Rhinos, who are part of a breeding program to try and keep them from going extinct. My heart is filled with joy for you!!!!

  2. Wow the baby elephant is actually the most adorable things I have ever seen!
    I’ve only ever come in to contact with elephants on Koh Samui island on Thailand, and I don’t think they were treated very well, so it was not the best experience. Looks like the ones that you visited are well looked after though πŸ™‚

  3. What an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing this with the world. We live in an incredible world if we only walk over the hill and look for experiences like this.

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