Tembe Elephant Park offers intimate encounters with some of the largest elephants in Africa. The 300km2 reserve, located in the Republic of South Africa between Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mozambique, is the ancestral home of the Tembe tribe who own and co-manage both the Park and the Tembe Elephant Lodge.
Apart from its magnificent elephants (including some of the biggest living tuskers), Tembe is home to the Big Five, as well as more than 340 bird species and a host of other animals and plants. Its unique sand forest, swamp and savannah eco-system is a timeless world of hot silence and white sand, a refuge from the busy modern world. Here you will discover the warmest of African welcomes and a unique brand of hospitality that brings visitors back time after time.
Enjoy a value for money safari experience that will immerse you in the natural splendour of Maputaland, and the warmth of its people.
It’s the Africa you’ve always dreamed of – and its waiting for you.
Support the Tembe Tusker Foundation
The Tembe Tusker Foundation was founded to secure the future of our gentle giants. Read more about our plans and vision for Tembe and support our work here.
From our waterhole to your device. Turn up your audio and journey into the heart of elephant country.
HOSPITALITY MANAGER OF TEMBE LODGE
MEET VUSI TEMBE
Vusi follows in the footsteps of Tom as Hospitality Manager of Tembe Lodge, we caught up with him to find out about his love for the wilderness area his tribe owns and co-manages and what makes it so special to him.
RELAX TO THE RHYTHM OF TEMBE
Enjoy an early breakfast followed by a morning game drive, returning just in time for a light brunch and an afternoon nap in the welcoming green shadow of your tent.
You could cool off in the pool near the boma later in the afternoon when the temperature dips before venturing off with your guide on your afternoon game drive to enjoy sundowners overlooking a water hole.
When you return, it’s time to enjoy wholesome bush cuisine served under the stars by lamplight in the communal dining boma, surrounded by the night sounds of the bush.
Swap tales with your fellow guests around the campfire, watching the evening display of acapella isicatamiya singing.
A TRIUMPH FOR COMMUNITY CONSERVATION
Tembe is an unparalleled community conservation success story. The Tembe tribe own and manage Tembe Elephant Lodge on their own ancestral land. Tembe Elephant Lodge is testimony to the care and pride the Tembe people take in a project that continues to uplift their community in many ways.
Tembe Elephant Park has grown to become the biggest private sector employer in the region and is the largest contributor to the local economy. The Lodge currently employs 55 people, all from the KwaTembe region who are provided with professional training in hospitality or as guides.
SAFARI GAME DRIVES
What makes a Tembe game drive so special? Firstly, your guide and tracker will have grown up in Tembe and will be showing you their ‘back yard.’ Combined with this local knowledge, is their pride in welcoming visitors to their ancestral home. Another thing that makes Tembe unique is the quality of interaction visitors receive with our elephants. Your guides know the elephants and the elephants know the guides, so they are calm and relaxed around the game drive vehicles. This makes for some unforgettable encounters with Tembe’s gentle grey giants.
Tembe is a Big Five reserve with abundant elephant and buffalo sightings. If you’re lucky, your guide will also be able to show you white rhino and the smaller, rarer black rhino, possibly lion and maybe even an elusive leopard. Of course, Tembe’s abundant wildlife extends far beyond the Big Five. Tembe is home to many antelope species, including the shy Suni, Africa’s smallest antelope as well as giraffe, wildebeest and a host of other small mammals, reptiles and insects.
Your guide will share their stories, and their place in the ancient, unspoilt tapestry that is Tembe.
A ONE OF A KIND LODGE EXPERIENCE
As the only community-owned full-service game lodge inside a proclaimed game reserve, Tembe Lodge is right in the middle of unspoiled bush, in a stunning sand forest eco-system.
You’ll be able to spot many of Tembe’s 340 bird species from your own verandah or spa tent, enjoy an open-air hot shower under the stars surrounded by the calls and night-sounds of the African bush. Small animals and wander through the camp grounds day and night (although an electric fence protects more dangerous species from entering).
The Lodge is so much part of the reserve that the animals hardly know it is there so, while your stay includes full service and game drives, sometimes it’s just an experience to stay in camp and let wild Africa come to you.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE LEGENDS & CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE
Learn more about the culture and traditions of the Tembe tribe and the stories of the wild handed down from father to son. Hospitality Manager Vusi Tembe and his team will bring the rich oral history of his people to life as you relax under the stars around a glowing campfire in the boma.
Tembe tribal dancers from the community will visit the lodge by request and bring their folklore to life through song and dance. All tips received from the audience are put into a fund that buys school uniforms for the local children who cannot afford to buy their own.
A BIRDER'S PARADISE
Tembe’s location and diverse habitat of scrub, sand forest and thornveld makes it one of southern Africa’s premier birding destinations. Of the more than 340 species to be found in the Park many are localised residents, others are endemic to South Africa and there are others that are tropical species at the southern limit of their range.
The rangers of Tembe are extremely knowledgeable about birds and their habits, and a trip out with your local guide will not only produce some rare sightings and possibly a ‘lifer’ or two. They’ll also introduce you to the lore of birds in an African context. There are check lists available at the Lodge for all the bird species to be spotted at Tembe.
IN MEMORY OF TOM MAHAMBA
The legendary Tom Mahamba was our Hospitality Manager from when Tembe Lodge was first established until his passing in 2017. He is sorely missed, and this short video is a tribute to this great man and his love for the place in which he lived and worked.
OUR GUEST BOOK
WHAT OUR GUESTS SAY
Visitors from all over the world share their experiences, and they’ll tell you more about Tembe than we ever could!
We visited Tembe Park for the first time 16 years ago and came back. We were surprised how nicely many things were rebuilt. Our big tent, good beds, nice restaurant and great safaris with the very friendly staffs we all very much. Thank you very much
We visited Tembe for the 3rd time and again were not disappointed. The warm and friendly atmosphere that we knew from the previous 2 times and that made us to come back was again felt immediately at arrival….
After hearing only good reports from friends we at last spent 3 nights at Tembe. We had a great time, good value for money, good service, great people. Being keen birders it was great having knowlegable guides who went out of their way to show us the specials. Will recommend it to friends.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
ELEPHANT COAST EXPERIENCES
Elephant Coast Safaris, the travel arm of the Tembe Elephant Park, now offers the opportunity to extend your Tembe trip with a stay on a Shayamanzi House Boat on Lake Jozini or at Kosi Mouth Lodge at the mouth of the Kosi Estuary. Let us help you create your tailored Elephant Coast itinerary.