Jabulani… The story of an exceptional twenty-year journey

The story of Jabulani started some years before the luxury lodge ‘Jabulani’ was built.

An elephant calf of just four months old was taken into the care of Lente Roode (founder of Jabulani) at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre where she was involved in a cheetah breeding project.  Jabulani, the elephant calf, had been found injured, abandoned and stuck in the mud of a silt dam.

Jabulani as he arrived

A few years later, Lente was contacted to urgently assist in the rescue of a herd of elephants from an elephant back safari operation in Zimbabwe.  Returning to the reserve with the herd of elephants and their carers, Jabulani was introduced to them and a new herd was established.

Since then, five healthy elephant calves have been born to the Jabulani herd, two additional orphans introduced and in January 2017, all elephant back safaris conducted at Jabulani were discontinued.  Today Jabulani has evolved into a soulful safari experience.

The elephant experience at Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD) is extremely respectable and has been deemed acceptable according to the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA). 

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Guests normally get one opportunity to get closer to one or two of the elephants called ‘ambassadors’.  They are the elephants in the herd who enjoy being around guests.  The interaction is very respectful and educational, with a barrier of rocks or wood that divides them.  After learning about their personal story and elephant biology, guests have an opportunity to give them a handful or two of food, and come close enough to touch their trunk.  The other elephants, who prefer their own company, stay out in the reserve during the day and are only viewable from a respectful distance.


The custom designed Jabulani elephant stables are spacious and airy and give the elephants the freedom to choose between indoor or outdoor shelter.  Four separate areas under roof provide access to an outdoor paddock where fresh water and food is provided every night.

As a guest at Jabulani, part of your Elephant Experience is to observe the herd as they retire to their stables in the evenings and learn more about the herd dynamics, as well as the daily routine that goes into the upkeep and cleanliness of the stables.


On the 9th of January, HERD received a four-month old severely injured baby elephant into their care.  She is an albino.  And she is a miracle.  Trapped in a snare with severe injuries, watch Khanyisa’s journey to recovery on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HERDElephantsSA/.


Staying at Jabulani

Located within a Big Five private game reserve in the Greater Kruger Park area, Jabulani, a Relais & Châteaux property, offers a unique opportunity for gracious living in a five-star luxury lodge.

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Each of the 6 spacious and elegant suites are luxuriously furnished and features both a private deck and a plunge pool. Children are welcome at Jabulani from the age of six and at Zindoga Villa at any age.

Jabulani is a place to indulge your every sense, a place to explore the African wild and reconnect with nature, experience amazing wildlife and enjoy superb cuisine. Your dedicated Jabulani ranger will ensure that your safari experience is tailor-made to your personal preference, whether laid back and relaxed or filled with game viewing and other activities.

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Truly a soulful, insightful and unforgettable experience.

Combine the best of both experiences with a 3 night stay at Jabulani including an authentic elephant interaction with The African Elephant Project.

A consultant is just a call or email away to make a booking at Jabulani and the opportunity to experience the elephants of HERD first hand.

Contact a Thompsons Africa consultant today.

Email: info@thompsonsafrica.co.za

Tel: +27 31 275 3500



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