Overview – Tembe Elephant Park

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Tembe Elephant Park is a place for all elephant lovers. This is one of the few places in Africa (and the only place in South Africa) where you can still see some of the remaining legendary big tuskers. The park is Big Five territory and offers a very exclusive wildlife experience.

Tembe is a public park with the lodge being owned by the local community. It offers all-inclusive packages. When staying at the lodge, you'll get an experience that is somewhat comparable to a private reserve but at much lower rates. There is a limit to how many self-drive visitors are allowed to come into the park; only 4x4 vehicles are permitted.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season October to March (The camp can get a bit busy)
Size 300km² / 116mi²
Altitude 42-134m / 138-440ft

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent elephant viewing
  • Good wildlife viewing with the Big Five present
  • Good photography shelter for watching elephants coming to drink
  • Great birding in rare sand forest habitat
  • Reasonably priced lodging in the park
  • Limited number of self-drive day visitors allowed
  • Only 4x4 vehicles are allowed because of sandy roads
  • No choice of accommodation in the park; no budget or upmarket options

Tembe Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Tembe's elephants are acknowledged giants. The bulls are huge in size and their tusks are phenomenal. The wildlife shelter at the waterhole is the best place to sit and watch these giants coming and going. All other major safari animals are present, but big cat sightings are hit-and-miss.

Scenery

Tembe Elephant Park is a critical part of a planned transfrontier park on KwaZulu-Natal's northern border with Mozambique and Swaziland. It protects a tract of very rare sand forest, home to many birding specials. Other habitats include thick woodland and wetlands.

Weather & Climate

As Tembe is located close to South Africa’s east coast, rain sometimes falls during the dry months of winter (May to September). However, in general, the sunshine will not be hampered by cloud cover. The warm days of this period transform into cold nights. The summertime (October to April) sees frequent afternoon downpours, and the temperature shoots up, along with the humidity.

Best Time to Visit

The elephants and other wildlife in the park are most visible during the Dry season (May to September) when a lack of available water forces the animals to gather at the main waterhole. Conditions for game drives are also quite pleasant, with clear skies and little rainfall, unlike the Wet season (October to April) and its daily thunderstorms.

Want to Visit Tembe Elephant Park?

Tembe Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Southern Africa’s largest tuskers
3/5

Zululand’s counterpart to Addo Elephant National Park, the little -known Tembe Elephant Park protects an elephant population that once ranged freely into neighbouring Mozambique and is famed for producing massive tuskers – indeed, the...

Latest User Review
5/5

Love Tembe. The elephant sightings are fantastic. Mahlasela Hide is a real highlight. The lodge si tented and community owned and run by a great team under Ernest. Love it!