Addo Elephant park is located 85km’s north of Port Elizabeth and offers a wide spectrum of accommodation, from guesthouse to cottage and then safari tent experience. In addition to the national park offering, there are private lodges like Gorah Elephant, River Bend which cater to those who want to be indulged and to be honest, there is nothing more romantic and relaxing as enjoying spa treatments within meters from wild life. Lately I have been enjoying the most simplest of bush experiences, which allow me to challenge my cooking skills and also to run my own bath.
Either way, animals do not distinguish between upmarket and entry level accommodation as humans do. So too on game drives, for example, lion do not see humans in a vehicle, but rather the form of the vehicle. However, if one was to jump up or put an arm out a window, thereby breaking the form, the lion would see this as something worthwhile investigating. It is quite easy to forget how dangerous animals are, especially when they appear oblivious to our human presence, or so we think.
It was therefore not surprising one morning to round a corner and find a gentleman out of his car walking towards an elephant. When he saw our vehicle he scurried back to the drivers seat. We were obliged to stop and inform him that he had transgressed a national park law. From his response we gauged that he was a foreigner who did not understand English (or he was a damn fine actor). I had a similar experience in Sabi Sands two years ago; I had come onto deck to see two Spanish brothers taking photo’s of each other with an elephant in the background, flapping his ears and rocking back and forward – clear signs of a build up to a charge, mock or otherwise. How I managed to call them away without screaming I will never know. When I explained to them that they should not approach the elephant as it was wild, the older brother asked “is it not domestic?” Incidences like this occur in both national and private game reserves and it is all down to ignorance, genuine naievity or plain stupidity.
December and January generally offer excellent sightings as it is relatively dry, culminating in animals seeking out watering holes. Last week’s trip was exceptional in terms of sightings and I managed to see nine of the twelve lions in the park. Sightings were best early morning around 6 – 6.30am and one morning we experienced bush Roll Call. Lion x 4, hyena x 3, Elephant x 3 herds, Black back Jakkal (BBJ) x 4, Kudu, Red Hartebeest, Zebra x 4, Warthog, Blue Cranes and Stanley’s Bustard.
A visit or stay at Addo will certainly not disappoint and apart from doing your own game drives, the park offers morning and evening game drives from R200 per person and morning horseback rides. The park also has a swimming pool, walking trail, restaurant and pub facility and a shop stocked with general supplies, nature books, clothing and curios. If that is not enough to keep you occupied, then head to Zuurberg Mountain Inn, 18 km’s away for a change of scenery and pace.