Elephant Sanctuary

Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, has African elephants and offers an interactive elephant experience and elephant back riding.


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The Elephant Sanctuary – South Africa – has three African Elephant Sanctuaries across three provinces in Southern Africa. The Elephant Sanctuary started in 1999, grew from five elephants to a total of twelve African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana). These Elephants have been domesticated through positive reinforcement animal management principles, and as a result, provide us with the unique opportunity to interact with them.
Visitors are taken on a journey into the world of the African elephant and are guided through an unforgettable experience with these magnificent creatures. Visitors are able to touch, feed and get to know these animals. The Elephant Sanctuary is unique in that it offers visitors the incredible opportunity to walk hand-in-trunk with the elephants. Enter the world of the Elephant with Elephant Back Riding. Bare-back Elephant Back Riding enables us as humans to feel the power and bulk of an elephant in contrast with the quietness, delicateness, and grace of these mammoth creatures’ movement as they walk/glide across the ground. Understand the height at which an elephant stands and experience their environment from an elephant’s perspective.

The Elephant Sanctuary offers experiences/tours/programs daily. Each sanctuary has different time slots and these vary slightly. Details of what each sanctuary specifically offers, plus the rates can be found under each one. The close encounter with elephants you experience at The Elephant Sanctuary truly is one of a kind. When meeting them you will discover that each one has a different character, personality, and temperament. GENERAL INFORMATION, THE CRAGS PLETTENBERG BAY
Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, has African elephants and offers an interactive elephant experience and elephant back riding. We offer hands-on educational elephant interactions. This provides our guests with a far more intimate experience with the elephants. Our dedicated staff is committed to the use of positive reinforcement elephant training methods and as a result, we have relaxed elephants who enjoy interacting with our guests.

Elephant Tour Overview
Guests are guided on foot through The Elephant Sanctuary. Guides will provide in-depth information and insight into African elephants. You will be introduced to our elephants in the forest area, and here you will be able to touch and interact with the elephants. You will see the special relationship that the elephant handlers share with their elephants and become a part of it.

Walk trunk-in-hand with the elephants. See the stables where the elephants sleep at night. Guests learn about elephant anatomy and are able to feed them. On some hot or rainy days, you may see the elephants swimming. Enjoy a drink and visit our curio shop. Remember to wear flat walking shoes, sun hats and bring your camera.
Brushing the elephants down is offered on the Elephant Brush down Experience Tour which starts at 07h30 and 15h30. Elephant Back Riding is a stand-alone activity or an optional extra. We offer various tours depending on the duration and intensity of the experience you desire. The different tours are listed below with summaries as to what to expect and the rates.

Elephant Back Riding
Riding is an opportunity to experience elephants from a different perspective. It is not a safari experience. (Only for the fit and adventurous). Wear jeans or long pants. Guests may choose Elephant Back Riding without doing an Elephant tour or they may add it onto any of the Elephant tours. Children must be 8 years+ in order to ride elephants. The Elephant Ride is bareback and is only for a short duration of approx 10-15 minutes.

Did you know? 25 Interesting Facts about Elephants
• The elephant’s foot is constructed in such a way that the animal is virtually walking on tiptoe, with a tough, fatty pad of connective tissue forming the sole.
• Elephants tusks are overgrown incisors protruding from the upper jaw. They grow at a rate of 15–18cm a year, depending on their diet.
• Jan van Riebeeck’s first mention of ivory in his journal is a record of three tusks bartered from Hottentot hunters for 250g of tobacco.
• The skeletal frame of an elephant allows the animal to stand upright on its hind legs.
• Elephants wear down 6 sets of molars in a lifetime.
• Elephant herds consist of females, who are usually related, calves and young bull calves. The eldest female, called the Matriarch, most often leads the herd.
• Bull calves get kicked out of the herd when they reach about 12 years of age to join the bull “bachelor” herds or to become a solitary bull. Bull herds will only join a female herd when it is mating season, or at a waterhole.
• The average speed for charging elephants is about 35–40km per hour.
• A calf will only learn how to use its trunk properly at about six months of age.
• Elephants are known to display a deep sensitivity and awareness of death and will return repeatedly to carcasses and skeletons of deceased herd members, running their trunks gently over their remains as though paying their respects.
• Elephants spend as many as 18–20 hours a day feeding and drinking.
• An elephant generally sleeps for only three or four hours a day. Very occasionally they may lie down for an hour or so, but mostly they take short, cumulative naps, usually standing upright or leaning against a tree or termite mound.
• A fully grown adult bull’s tusks can extend to 3m and weigh as much as 100kg each. The heaviest recorded tusk weighed 102.7kg.
• Like man, elephants are usually left or right “handed” and will use one tusk almost exclusively.
• Elephants have a highly developed social structure, with family bonds, love, loyalty, and intelligence.
• African elephants have four hoof nails on their front feet and three nails on the hind leg.
• The elephant brain can weigh up to 4,8kg depending on the age of the elephant.
• The small intestine is 82 feet long; the large intestine is 21 feet, and the rectum is a further 13 feet. That makes a total of 116 feet of intestine that the food has to pass through. Digestion of food can take 22-46 hours.
• An elephant’s jaws can crack open the thickest and hardest shells of fruits, releasing the seed kernels inside.
• Elephants use a wide range of sounds to express their moods and feelings.
• The gestation period in female elephants is 22 months. When the calf is born it can weigh 100kg-120kg and stands about 85cm tall.
• Another adaptation that the elephant has is its appendix. This organ is 5 feet long and its role is to process and break down proteins, starches and the simple and complex sugars that are found in its food. Larger than the stomach, this organ is where the majority of the intestinal bacteria are located that are required to digest the vegetable materials.
• The bone structure of an elephant is similar to that of human beings, for example, they too have a wrist joint in the front legs as well as kneecaps and ankles in the back legs. Even the shoulder blades are positioned in the same place as in humans.
• When standing on hind legs, the kidneys are in the same position as that of a human being.
• The elephant’s memory surpasses that of humans.

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