KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Tembe Elephant Park
The largest African elephants in the world, along with rhino, buffalo, leopard, hippo and antelope species in a 300km˛ park on the South Africa / Mozambique border. Excellent birding opportunities exist and scuba diving on the nearby Tongoland reefs.
Situated in Maputaland, the north-eastern region of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe Elephant Park is home to the province's biggest African elephant herd and its only indigenous elephants.
Tembe's African elephants used to be South Africa's last remaining free-ranging herd, at one time moving seasonally between Mozambique and Maputaland. In recent years they have sought refuge in the dense sand forests of Tembe to escape the depredations of border conflicts and landmines, and their continuous harassment by ivory poachers.
The magnificent African elephants, more than 140 in number, from massive fully grown adults to juveniles, are Tembe's main attraction and make for spectacular viewing. The larger adults are physically the biggest in South Africa and signs of their presence are everywhere, clearly evident through the broken branches and foliage left behind from their voracious foraging.
Tembe's mosaic of sand forest, woodland, grassland, and swampland, comprises an ideal habitat for highly visible elephant spotting, enabling them to be observed at close-quarters from game-drive vehicles or from the discreetly-located hides which overlook their watering holes.
At 300 km˛ in extent, Tembe Elephant Park is the third largest game reserve in KwaZulu Natal, home not only to the unique African elephant population but to a profusion of wildlife including the Big Five. Black and white rhino (more than 65 in total), buffalo, leopard, hippo, serval, eland, zebra, giraffe, hyena, jackal, wildebeest, nyala, kudu, water buck, reed buck, red duiker, warthog, and other small mammals thrive in abundance.
Tembe is also home to the rare and elusive suni antelope, one of the smallest and shyest species of buck in southern Africa, and the patient game-viewer is often rewarded with a sighting. Tembe is a bird-watching paradise, with more than 340 species recorded in the park - including the rare Rudd's apalis, the rufous-bellied night heron, the Natal nightjar and the Woodward's batis.
This is an Africa that tourists seldom see, where an abundance of African elephants, game and rare species live in an environment unchanged by time.
Accommodation in Tembe Elephant Park
Royal Thonga Safari Lodge
Royal Thonga Safari Lodge is the realisation of a dream of the local community, investors and the Royal Tembe Development Foundation to create a natural paradise for visitors to this unique reserve. The lodge is designed to emulate the...
More info and contact details: Royal Thonga Safari Lodge
Popular Activities near Tembe Elephant Park
Kosi Bay Trail
Whilst there is a Kosi Bay Trail that takes roughly four days to complete, which can also be done as a slackpacker version, there are variations and flexible trails, depending on your level of fitness. The old trail, remembered by seasoned hikers...
More info and contact details: Kosi Bay Trail
Ndumo & Tembe 4x4 Trails
The routes through these reserves are not guided and can be tackled sans a guide quite easily, albeit a bit of a challenge in places. The Ndumo trail showcases some fantastic fauna and flora, including crocodiles and hippos. Drivers and their...
More info and contact details: Ndumo and Tembe Reserve 4x4 Trails