Lizzie Williams
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Category: Amazing Wildlife Encounters

A feature of southern Kenya’s landscape is the vibrant red soil laden with iron oxide, which elephants liberally past over themselves during their daily mud and dust baths.

Ask anyone what color an elephant is and you may get a raised eyebrow (or two) but the answer will normally be grey or perhaps brown. Red would most certainly not be the answer, yet in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, red elephants wander across every horizon. I had one of my most memorable elephant experiences here while sitting on a veranda in a tented camp in Tsavo East overlooking a magical waterhole.

During the course of a day perhaps 400 red elephants visited, following well-trodden trails that radiated from the waterhole like spokes on a wheel. In the evening, the setting sun, then the camp’s floodlights and finally the moonlight glinted off their fiery metallic skins and shined up their tusks to an almost silver appearance. Grey elephants simply pale in comparison to these magnificent red-painted beasts.