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Cycling from Sabie to Hazeyview was a quick and easy trip after my long rest. Along the way I decided to pull into The Elephant Sanctuary – Hazeyview. And it turned into one of the highlights of my life. I got to walk with elephants and interact with these massive creatures. Absolutely amazing experience.

I managed to stick my foot in my mouth as I entered the place, but despite me basically insulting the general manager of the place out of ignorance, I was still welcomed and taken on the tour of the sanctuary. I sat and had some coffee and then it was time to head along the path with Sheppard, my guide for the walk. We spoke about the animals and their history, how the sanctuary operates and I learnt some interesting information about these gentle giants. But then it was the moment I was waiting for. And from behind us, in the bush, these two giants come strolling into the clearing. They walk almost silently. It is scary how quiet these giants are. I will admit I was nervous and a bit apprehensive of getting so close.

But I did it, I got to feel them, feed them and even get some photo’s taken holding onto their tusks. I got a kiss from Casper, he is the six ton boy I was lucky enough to become friends with. It was a slobbery muddy suction like feeling. I am usually a bit of a clean freak, but I did not care about the elephant boogers and slimy dirt on my head – I got kissed by an elephant! 

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We then left the clearing and moved to where I got to walk with the elephants. I got to guide Casper around a path and he basically holds your hand with his trunk and you get to guide him. The way elephants hold each others’ tails when they walk. I was the tail, I guess…

This is such an amazing experience. I cannot explain the feeling of standing next to such a huge animal and it is so happy to just let you touch it and feed it. And the respect and passion between the guides, handlers and animals is clearly visible. The animals never have to do anything unnatural, they sleep in luxury accommodation and get treated so well. I have slept in places that are less comfortable on more than one occasion.

When it was time to ride the elephants I was unsure of the arrangements of my tour and declined to have a ride, but in hindsight I should have done it. I was booked for the walk as well. Luckily I have been given contact details for the sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay were I am going to volunteer for a week and get my chance to ride on an elephant! I am more excited about this than my birthday. Maybe I’ll go for my birthday…

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