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Knysna Elephant Park
Ranked #3 of 77 things to do in Knysna
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Founded in 1994, The Knysna Elephant Park was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants. The first orphaned calves (from a culling operation in the Kruger National Park) named Harry and Sally, after the famous movie of the time, remain part of the KEP family today: Harry as the dominant bull and Sally as the matriarch of the herd. Since 1994, we have cared for and raised more than thirty elephants. These animals include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls and ex-circus animals. Some have become part of the KEP herd, others have moved onto other reserves and facilities in the Western and Eastern Cape, taking in to cognizance their personalities, bonds with other animals and welfare needs. The present KEP herd numbers nine - the largest domesticated matriarchal herd in the country. Your elephant encounter begins starts in our Interpretation Centre where you are introduced to our elephants, through beautiful photographic and informative displays. Here you can also book an elephant-back ride, a sunrise walk with the elephants or special exclusive sundowner tour. A short video presentation gives you further insight into the Park and its elephant-orientated missions and goals, before you enter the Park to meet the elephants. Our facilities are world class and our style of management ensures that our elephants interact with guests on their own terms. Within this habitat, we call a "controlled, free-range" environment, our daily tours offer guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with our elephants; but still gives the elephants to some freedom and choice. Guests may remain with the elephants as long as they wish, before being transported back to the Restaurant and Curio Shop. A Photography Department is also available for guests to purchase personalized photos and DVD's of their Extraordinary Elephant Encounter - making your memories last a lifetime! Our newly refurbished night quarters consist of a large covered elephant boma, which leads into an outdoor fenced camp. For an animal that can eat for up to 18 hours a day, this arrangement allows our elephants to exhibit a large variety of behaviours during the night. They are able to choose where they want to sleep - indoors or outdoors; who they want to interact with, as well as where and what they want to eat. This again contributes to one of the highest quality captive elephant management styles in South Africa. Our elephant boma and night camp are viewed from above by our Elephant Lodge guests, another first for South Africa...nowhere else in the country can you 'sleep' with elephants The need for research was recognized by The Knysna Elephant Park who then created the African Elephant Research Unit (AERU, est. 2009), aimed at improving the management and welfare of captive elephants throughout South Africa. Visitors to the park are privileged to have a close-up and personal encounter with these gentle giants, and leave having gained a healthy respect for these wonderful animals, as well as a better understanding of the African elephant and their plight across the continent. EXTRAORDINARY ENCOUNTERS - BE TOUCHED BY AN ELEPHANT
Reviewed February 16, 2013

We had a great time there. We were able to feed, walk and interact closely with the elephants. The tour takes about half an hour and for me the time was more than enough. The guy at the information center in Plettenburg tried to convince us to visit the elephant sanctuary at the crags, that provides one hour tour and costs almost double. I'm glad we did not listen to him.

Thank Adriana F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 16, 2013

We joined one of the hourly tours around the park that allows you to feed and interact with the nine (soon to be eleven) resident elephants. The elephants eat from your hand and then you can walk these fantastic animals in the company of an extremely helpful and knowledgable guide. A must do experience on the garden route.

Thank TonyW1961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

We first visited Knysna elephant park in February 2011 and this time it was much better. The elephants are just roaming free and it's lovely to be able to interact with such wonderful wild animals in a natural environment. The elephants are rescued and the whole purpose of the park is to provide a safe environment as well as educating the general public. The staff seem genuinely dedicated and we recognised at least one guidefrom our previous visit two years previously. Training and development is on offer which enables the staff to progress and advance their qualifications. This was a humbling and moving experience which I would highly recommend.

Thank TelandShell2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

After an 8 minute tv presentation you are driven the short distance to where the elephants are grazing. Not being daft they all turn up as soon as they hear the trailer coming!

You have the option, when buying your ticket, to purchase a very cheap tub of food to give the elephants. This is a MUST, you will really miss out if you don't do this. You feed the elephants first by holding your hand flat and letting them take the food from you. Trunks appear from all angles as they are not shy in being first to each and every hand that goes out!!

Make sure you have some paper tissues or wet wipes with you, as your hands end up rather sticky and muddy!

Then you are assigned a guide and walk with one of the elephants towards the watering hole. En route you stop and feed him/her directly into their mouth, seeing their teeth and tongue very closely!!

Once in the water the elephants have a field day enjoying themselves and it's a delight to see.

Our guide was exceptional and took some superb shots of us with our camera.

We were not rushed and spent ages watching them. It was one of the highlights of our trip to South Africa.

There is a tip box at the end for all the guides which I am glad to say everyone was donating to as they richly deserved a tip.

The loos were spotless and there is a very pleasant veranda to sit out on and have a drink or something to eat.

It's very close to Radical Raptors so we combined the two as both should not be missed.

1  Thank dedicatedtraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 11, 2013

We did not book ahead, but were able to book on arrival and luckily wait only a few minutes before joining the next guided tour. A brief video presentation outlined the history of the Park and some safety guidelines before we could take our purchased bucket of veggies and fruit onto the minibus and head out to join the elephants. I was grateful for the presence of the guides and the safety briefing because I had been nervous. No need to be; the elephants we met were gracious, gentle and happy to interact. It felt awe-inspiring to be able to walk alongside them as they roamed freely across the 250 hectare park, after we had fed them their goodies in a carefully structured way under the watchful eyes of our guides. The guides clearly loved their work, communicated well, and brought the personalities of the elephants to life. It was a joy to see how the young elephants touched each other, checking to see they were close; yet ate standing apart, face-to-face, to avoid any sneaky moves from their counterparts. My fears allayed, I was finally able to spend time eye-to-eye with the large female, Sally, and what a moving experience that was - she was clearly checking me out too! :) Loved the way she made a little mud puddle and skooched it over herself with her trunk - did she purposely include us in the spray? Was it meant to be a friendly inclusive gesture? BIG GRIN! We loved every bit of the experience, and hope to repeat it one day. Highly recommended.

Thank margob99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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