Jabulani is a luxury safari lodge in the heart of the Kapama Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park. Unlike any other safari lodge or bushcamp, Jabulani has something extraordinary to offer its guests: the chance to form a real and lasting bond with some of Africa’s most beloved animals.
Beyond luxury accommodation, five-star cuisine, game viewing opportunities and activities in the bush, Jabulani offers an incredible, interactive and observational elephant encounter, where guests will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with a number of rescued and rehabilitated elephants.
A story of second chances, hope and a new lease on life, guests can meet members of the Jabulani elephant herd, learn more about each elephant’s incredible survival story and discover their unique personality traits. The interactive experience takes place in the elephants natural environment, wandering through the grasslands, walking through the reserve or swimming in the dam.
Read on to learn more about this truly special, unforgettable wildlife experience.
The Origin of the Elephant Herd at Jabulani
The story starts with twelve elephants which were trained for elephant-back safaris on a commercial farm in Zimbabwe. In 2002, a massive rescue operation was planned for the elephants to be removed from the farm during a highly unstable political period in the country.
Within a matter of days, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) relocated the elephants to South Africa and built stables for them to live. Since the rescued elephants were accustomed to being cared for by humans, there was no way that they would survive after being released into the wild.
As a solution, Jabulani was built to give the rescued elephants a new home, to sustain them and to keep them alive. There was no doubt that these friendly giants would have been killed had they not been rescued.
A few years before the rescue took place, an elephant had been orphaned when his herd abandoned him after getting stuck in a mud pool. The elephant, named Jabulani after the Zulu word meaning ‘rejoice’, had been rehabilitated and given sanctuary at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. When the new herd (all orphans themselves) moved into the stables, they welcomed Jabulani with open arms.
The Ethical Elephant Experience at Jabulani
The elephant herd spends most of their day roaming through the Kapama Private Game Reserve under the supervision of the elephant carers, who make sure there is no conflict with wild elephants on the reserve.
Jabulani invites guests to meet the elephant head, to learn about each elephants behaviour and personal characteristics and to raise awareness for wildlife conservation.
The First Meeting
The elephant experience for in-house guests includes a personal orientation and meeting with both the elephants as well as the elephant keepers. During this interaction, guests have the opportunity to touch and feed the elephants, and to have photographs taken in very close proximity.
Elephant Tracking on Foot
On this excursion, guests follow the trails of the elephant’s gigantic footsteps through the Kapama Private Game Reserve. The elephant tracking is led by a senior trails guide, a senior elephant keeper, as well as a ranger.
The walking safari teaches guests how they can use their senses to find particular animals in their natural habitat. Once the elephants are located, the afternoon will be spent watching the herd and hearing more about their individual stories and quirky behaviour from the elephant keepers.
Another incredible experience, here, guests meet up with the elephant herd as they enjoy a sundowner at the dam. After soaking in the magnificent view of the African sun setting over the horizon, guests follow the herd back to the stables where they will rest for the night.
The elephant manager will explain the layout of the stables, how it has been custom designed and built for the heard. The stable is cleaned and refreshed daily, and the elephants are grouped into camps based on their personal characteristics.
Watch the herd retreat to the stables as they get ready for bed. A particularly special moment is watching the babies at their bedtime.
In Summer, guests are transferred to one of the dams on the reserve in an open safari vehicle. Here, they can witness the elephant herd playing in the dam; splashing about and spraying water out of their massive trunks.
Not only is it an incredible experience getting to witness the spectacular sight of the elephants at play, but these moments also make for amazing photographic opportunities and are bound to give you magnificent shots to take home.
To learn more about Jabulani, the elephant herd and the various encounters, visit the Jabulani website.
For the chance to get up close and personal with one of Africa’s most beloved wild animals, book a stay and an elephant encounter at Jabulani during your vacation to Africa. If you have questions about safaris in Southern or Eastern Africa, contact us and a member of our knowledgeable team will happily assist.
If you love elephants as much as we do, be sure to check out our article of interesting facts about elephants!