It’s love for South African holidaymaker on elephant sanctuary trip

Holidays to South Africa usually encompass spectacular scenery, a stunning coastline and excellent weather – not falling in love.

But 32-year-old Londoner Mel Coppola, who travelled to South Africa’s Western Cape for her annual break, did just that, the Daily Mirror reports.

The veterinary nurse travelled to South Africa to pursue her love of animals, and she quickly found work as a volunteer at an elephant sanctuary.

It was here, at the Knysna Elephant Park, that she fell in love with 30-year-old elephant trainer Ree Manyepera – and now she plans on quitting her job and making the move to South Africa permanent.

“I had been single for two years but I wasn’t looking for love when I met Ree,” she told the newspaper.

“But from the first moment I saw him there was an undeniable connection.

“Still, I do find it funny to think my boyfriend’s an African elephant trainer. I’d never have thought that would happen.

Ms Coppola initially travelled to South Africa for 10 days in April 2011. She had been to the country twice before, but this was the first time she visited alone.

“Ree and I clicked ­immediately – I never felt chemistry like it,” she added.

According to findings from Mintel, as many as five million Brits travel on holiday alone – a figure that may be on the rise as more breaks targeted at single travellers are made available.