It is not often that I get the chance to sleep within the sounds of snoring elephant, but I did at the Knysna Elephant Park guest house, Elephant Lodge. I also had the chance to ride one of the elephants, all of whom have been rescued and now make up a tight knit herd. Knysna Elephant Park are one of the good guys of elephant back riding, with strong ethics and the welfare of their animals paramount.
When Harry met Carrie
Harry is the dominant bull of the herd and the largest at about 3 metres tall. I felt like a pimple on his back, my legs didn’t even reach the end of the blanket.
Harry is enormous, and I had my arms firmly clasped around my softly-spoken guide. Harry was born in 1989, but arrived at Knysna Elephant Park with Sally when he was 5 years old – still a real youngster. Harry is a gentle giant and shows tenderness towards the babies, which is apparantly unusual for a bull elephant.
Harry and I were going along nicely when he decided it was time for bed and started trotting across the field towards his bed chamber. The Knysna Elephant Park ele’s have very nice quarters, each with their own stable (somewhat larger than for a horse) filled with leafy branches to strip and a bed of hay and straw. When an elephant trots, especially one the size of Harry, you know about it and I felt rather wobbly and liable to fall off at any minute.
My guide talked nicely to Harry, the chief honcho asked him politely to turn around and I begged him in an increasingly high-pitched squeal, to stop. He wasn’t having any of it, until suddenly, he acquiesed and turned back towards the dismounting boma. It was, after all, sunset and the full moon was rising and Harry had other things on his mind, as I found out the next morning.
Harry was horny…
Sally, or was it one of the other females, was in season and Harry woke up with a morning glory. I have never seen elephants mating before, and the herd was acting like they hadn’t either. Out in the paddocks, Harry was mounting Sally and the entire herd, big and small, started trumpeting and running over to witness the action. This went on for some time and the noise was incredible, with ele’s running all over the place in a state of high excitement. Then, it was all over. The deed was done and the audience drifted away to forage.
I witnessed this from my balcony of the Knysna Elephant Lodge – the guest house at Knysna Elephant Park, with an open-sided lounge that looks straight into the elephant’s sleeping quarters. I went to sleep with the sound of snoring elephants in my ears.
I can recommend it. The guest house is comfortable and a very unique experience. What with riding them and almost sleeping with them, you don’t get a much closer elephant experience than this.
Look at their website.