There were two activities I knew I wanted to do during my short time in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The first: walk with the lions. The second: an elephant back safari. With very limited time in the country, I booked them both for my only full day there.
I headed to Wild Horizon’s elephant camp on the evening of my first full day in Zimbabwe. After signing a waiver and learning a bit about the camp, we were able to meet the elephants first hand. We were introduced to each elephant by name and age, and were invited to make as much personal contact as we’d like. The elephants were very friendly and affectionate, which made me fall even more in love with these gentle giants.
After some time getting to know the animals, we headed over to the loading area, where we climbed up to a platform and loaded on to the elephant. There we met our guides, who made sure we were comfortable before heading out, and we followed the line of elephants throughout Victoria Falls National Park.
The views surrounding us were beautiful no matter where you turned, and my guide, Lovemore, spent the safari telling about his life growing up in Zimbabwe. His father had three wives and he was one of twenty-three children. He also told us that he was the only person in his family who had a job, as eighty percent of people living in Zimbabwe were unemployed. He had been working with elephants for over seven years and really loved what he was doing. It was wonderful to not only have a ride around the park, but also to gain an insight into the life of someone who was born and raised in Zimbabwe.
While the park was beautiful, the wildlife seemed to be hiding from us that evening. Aside from a few water buck, buffalo, and many species of birds, we were left wanting more, but Lovemore informed us that usually the other animals in the park get frightened away by the elephants who are marching through.
Even though the wildlife was lacking, the experience was one that was not. Seeing Africa from the perspective of an elephant was truly unforgettable. We also were able to end the night by feeding the elephants a snack, and then enjoy a glass of wine, or two, while watching the sun set over the park.
Before leaving, we also got to meet a tame cheetah, Sylvester, who the company uses to educate travelers and students alike. All in all, it was the perfect end to my first day in Africa.
If you’re looking for an activity that’s a bit different, look no further than taking an elephant back safari. There’s something special about connecting to nature, while actually feeling like you’re a part of it.