Sunday, 22 May 2011

A weekend at Addo

I recently got back from a 4 day weekend at Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape. It's a relatively small park not too far from Port Elizabeth and in my opinion the best place to view elephant in a completely relaxed and comfortable environment. Anyone who is familiar with the Kruger elephants, and their antics, is sure to appreciate just how relaxed an Addo elephant is, and how relaxed the occupants of cars are, as the herds stream past the car without even batting an eyelid. (I know, as their eyelids are often so close, a small breeze would be created if they were to bat one...)

I love Addo, I always have. In the past 4 years we have had about 8 trips, and have seen lion on 7 of these. A bit of pressure then, as one of my friends Margot, had never seen a lion in 'real life' before...

Wimpy in George 8.30 am

Going away with friends is one of the best ways to spend a weekend. Sometimes we laugh until the tears run down our cheeks, other times we laugh until someone begins to squeal (generally me), bringing forth more laughter. It is most probably the best way to refresh yourself and to relax. Friends can do that to you. 

To start with, not one of us got to sleep on the way, despite the 3.30am start. Thats always a good sign! The company must have been fantastic...

When we arrived in Addo it was as usual a quick unpacking session before a bite to eat and a game drive. The weather was mostly overcast during our stay, except for the last day when the clouds parted and some glorious warmth shone through. Early mornings we use a spotlight, and when its raining into the car, people tend to get rather chilly! Fortunately coffee was never far from hand, and as usual was enjoyed with a good dose of Amarula (to warm the heart, of course).

Early morning at Zuurkop Lookout

The first few drives passed cat-less, and we were getting a little worried, as we'd really hoped to be there for Marg's first cat sighting. Then we saw a caracal, a first for both Margot and Romy, with its tufted ears and tawny coat. It disappeared quite quickly though, but left us on a high! We also saw a tiny buffalo calf, very nervously following its equally nervous mother. 

Addo has recently been opened up, so that it runs all the way to the sea. Its amazing what a difference in vegetation there is in the new section! We felt as though we had crossed into a new park, full of Euphorbia's and prickly pear type plants, surrounded by open plains. It was interesting to say the least, although it seems the game is still getting used to the added space, as there was not as much to see in the new area. 

Cold Black Backed Jackal

Elephant bull in Musth

On our last full morning in the park, after a breakfast of flapjacks with Nutella, we finally got our lions. They were lying near to Domkrag dam, grooming each other. There were 4 in total, 2 young males and 2 females. At one point they began to stalk some zebra that had moved close to the dam, but the zebra were spooked before anything exciting could happen. Either way it was really great to get to see them, finally!

Our last night we stayed at the new camp, which is very basic, and situated at the Spekboom hide. Its actually inside the hide enclosure and at night you have the hide all to yourself. It was a great end to a really fun 4 nights, sitting braaing under the stars, darkness all around except for a couple of gas lamps, and the call of the jackals in the background. 

Pale Chanting Goshawk, cold and wet

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