Travelling 23rd August to 6th Sept with Tailor Made Safaris (tailormadesafaris.co.za)
Tembe Elephant Park was something that I confess, was not what I thought would be, or that it would be one of the holiday highlights but with sightings of 31 elephants, warthog, Inyala, impala, water buck, bush buck, zebra, buffalo and more birds than you could shake a stick at, this is going to be very hard to beat. In addition there are two things that I have been able to cross off my bucket list on this holiday; one is to stroke a cheetah which I did at Emdoneni, (search for the review) and the second was to see a leopard in the wild. This second one I did at Tembe on our last early morning drive before leaving and I was thrilled! I only became clear to us how lucky we were when discussing the sighting with our park guide who does 2 or three drives every day and he had not seen one for a month!
Upon arrival we were greeted by the staff who were singing to welcome us, the rather diminutive young local ladies took our cases from us which they took (some on their heads) to our rooms. We were asked to sign in and we were escorted to our room by the very informative and sweet lady who took our bag. I have to confess I would have been so out of breath I would not have been able to talk at all had I done what she had!
The room actually a permanent tent with a brick built wash area, toilet and outside shower attached. The bed was very comfortable and the whole thing was very cool. The trick here however is to shower during day light if possible as the moths and insects are attracted to the flood light that illuminates the outside shower area.
The restaurant is an open -sided thatched hut, the service is low key but efficient enough and there is always plenty of smiles on show which goes a very long way to make it all very pleasant. The food is plentiful and tasty and there are usual and some un-usual offerings for the adventurous of palette. We sampled Warthog, Impala amongst others.
The other highlight of our stay was a very close encounter with Isilo. He is the largest tusker elephant in the Southern Hemisphere (possibly the world) and being very clever (and very, very big), he lets himself into the camp at night. On our first night our son Ollie was tired and so decided to retire early after dinner. Two minutes later he came rushing back to our table to say that he had been walking back to his tent and had hear an elephant in the camp; it was Isilo and his friend. In the faint torch light this huge animal was even more impressive than one could imagine with his tusks only about a foot off the ground, his friend was very impressive too.
The park is made up of sand roads set in xx,000 areas and they only allow 10 vehicles into the park per day so you do not have to queue up to see sightings and the very good hide is not crowded.
The big question of any hotel/lodge is "Would you pay good money and go back" for us the answer is absolutely yes and in fact we have just booked to go back with Tailor Made Safaris.
On the subject of Tailor Made Safaris, we can highly recommend their services. If TripAdvisor provided ratings for guide companies, we would give 5 out of 5. This was our first trip to Africa and we needed someone to guide us and give impartial advice on what to see and do yet still keep us to our budget. Nick & Freya did this with great professionalism and expertise. Freya's guiding was first rate and because they propose the itinerary, they have been there and they will provide the guide to take you there. Everything was fantastic. They also offer self drive safaris too if that helps, look them up at tailormadesafaris.co.za.