Tembe Elephant Park
About Tembe Elephant Park
This reserve was established in 1983 to protect the last remaining herds of free-ranging elephants in South Africa, known as the 'Great Tuskers'. These elephants migrated seasonally between Mozambique and Maputaland (the extreme north of KwaZulu-Natal), however they faced constant harassment over the border, and preferred to stay in the dense sand forests of Tembe Elephant Park. Many of the elephants still bear scars of poaching attempts. The reserve was only opened to the public in 1991, which gave the animals time to settle in to their protected home. Although Tembe falls within a malaria risk zone, malaria is not an issue as there has been a successful spraying operation over a number of years.
Tembe Elephant Park covers a large area in Tongaland, on the border of KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique, over 300km² in extent. The area has differing terrains, including dense sand forest, woodlands, grasslands and swamplands, all of which combine to provide an ideal habitat for the resident elephants and the many other animal species, bird & insect species supported on the land. The area supports a mix of tropical and sub-tropical vegetation as it falls in a transitional area.
Tembe has a resident population of 150 elephants, which are a constant source of delight to any animal lover. To add to this, there are also lion (a fantastic recent addition, introduced in a controlled manner in 2002), black rhino, white rhino, buffalo, hippo, cerval cats, hyena, giraffe, leopard, jackal, wildebeest, kudu, water buck, reed buck, warthog and much more, including a range of antelope species. Bush babies and duikers are also a favourite sighting.
Being situated near to Ndumo game reserve which is world famous as a birding paradise, you can expect Tembe Elephant Reserve to also have prolific bird life, and this is definitely a big feather in Tembe's Cap. There are over 360 recorded bird species, including various raptors, vultures, hawks, buzzards, owls, sunbirds, rollers, louries, herons, cisticolas, buntings amongst a huge birding list. If you would like the full list to be sent to you, Please Click Here. Notables are the rare Rudd's apalis, the rufous-bellied night heron, the Natal nightjar and the Woodward's batis.
There are safari game drives in an open 4 x 4 vehicle which are offered in the mornings and the afternoons. Afternoon drives often turn into evening drives. There are many thoughtful extras which the reserve offers, including refreshments served at elephant hides, and whilst on game drives, so that your thoughts are only on the activity at hand. Not far from Tembe tented camp is Mahlasela Hide, and overlooking a pan in the Muzi Swamp is Ponweni Hide. Also on the tourist route is the picnic area at Manungu, a walking trail closed off from large animals by an electric fence and a viewing tower on Gowanini which offers a panoramic view over the reserve.
If you are staying at Tembe for a few days, there are other optional excursions which you may enjoy, including bird watching trips to Ndumo Game Reserve, boat trips across the Kosi Lake system, snorkelling & diving at Kosi Bay and Rocktail Bay, turtle watching in the summer months on the shores of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, exploring Lake Sibaya and much more.
Although the reserve falls under the management of KZN Wildlife, the accommodation is run privately. Tembe has a small luxury tented camp, which offers a fantastic bush experience. Each en-suite tent is surrounded by bush, and you will get the true feel of Africa with the unique sounds of the crickets at night, and the odd grunts and snorts that you hear are not always your partner next to you.
There is a fully equipped, air-conditioned conference centre a few minutes drive away from the Lodge, which can cater for up to 20 delegates. This modern building is equipped with an overhead screen, television and video facilities. Special rates for conferences are available on request. These rates are fully inclusive of entrance fees / accommodation / all meals / teas, coffees & light refreshments / game drives / use of conference facilities and VAT. Stationary and flip-charts and other items of this nature can be supplied as optional extras. There is a small reception area where teas, coffees and light refreshments can be served during breaks. Here, interesting items from the KwaZulu-Natal Nature conservation Services' Tembe Elephant Park are on display, such as elephant and hippo skulls and other artifacts. Make an enquiry for your next conference.
From Durban, travel on the N2 in a north direction. You will pass Empangeni, Mtubatuba, Hluhluwe and Mkuze towns. About 10 minutes after Mkuze town, you will turn right at the sign for Jozini. Continue on this road, and you will arrive at Tembe Park within 30 - 45 minutes. The entire trip from Durban will take approximately 4 - 4.5 hours. From JHB, you will be looking at approximately 5 hours.
Once at Tembe Elephant park, guests will park their cars at the conference centre, and will be collected by an open 4x4 vehicle. Whilst at Tembe guests will be taken on all game drives through the reserve, and are not permitted to drive their own vehicles for their own safety. Guests can arrive in their own vehicles, or we will gladly quote for a private road transfer. If you require more information please contact our office for a quotation. Day visitors pay an entrance fee at the gate. Only 4x4 vehicles are permitted in the reserve, and these are limited to 10 vehicles per day.
What to bring
Insect repellent and / or anti-malarial tablets, sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, camera & plenty of spare film, binoculars, light safari clothing for daytime, warm clothing for night time and game drives. Casual attire is the norm for Tembe Elephant lodge. Swimming costumes are highly recommended all year round.