Arriving at ADDO Elephant Safari Park

Published: February 27th 2015
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Map of the Addo Safari Park Map of the Addo Safari Park Map of the Addo Safari Park

we stayed at a forest cabin for 4 persons near the Main Camp in the north. Excellent quality.
Addo minutes after arrival at the camp around 445pm, we checked in to the very comfy log cabin, and then impatiently set off on our initial exploratory self-drive jaunt.
Almost instantly, on leaving the enclosure and entering the wild, we encountered a giant bull elephant in the bushes, then a family of 3 elephants with accompanying heaps of poop on the road. Soon becomes obvious to anyone that the heaps of giant size poop are tell tale signs of elephant life. Elephants are enchanting. I could happily sit and look at them feeding or at the watering hole for hours. With their thick grey wrinkled skins, stringy swishy tails, thick unshapely posts for legs, big flapping ears and floppy long 'snouts' reaching the ground, you'd expect they would be clumsy. Far from it. They are delicate. When eating they carefully peel and wipe leaves off branches with their trunks in flowing movements, before carefully placing it in their mouths. Or, with quiet deliberate movements, lift and place their feet as they sway and walk along. They do not rush but move along like giant ships under full sail. Stately and steady. They are elegant in their own style, if not dainty! The pint-sized babies are playful and precocious learning how to behave from the matriarch, slipping between legs and under bellies, or being prodded and nudged to move along. This is a matriarchal society. Baby elephants take 22 months to be born then are sheltered and well protected. Both the male "bull" and female "cow" ellies have tusks but the males are larger and heavier. Ellies keep together as a herd, but when a male is 12 or 13 years old it is time for him to leave the group and if he doesn't leave he is forced out, physically chased out of the group. We saw this in action - one young bull tried to stay in the group but was charged at and chased away into the wings. A bit scary to some onlookers. He looked forlorn and quite lonely. It would take a few days for him to understand and then he would find a group of lonely males to hang with in a loose arrangement. The older Bulls are solitary. Then in swift time we saw several zebras grazing near the roadside. A group of zebras is called a Dazzle! And they do dazzle in the sunshine
Our first sighting within minutes Our first sighting within minutes Our first sighting within minutes

as soon as we drove out of the protected area, there they were!
but on this short drive we had to move along. I had to get back to camp promptly for my tour leaving at 530pm and the car needed to be inside when the gates also shut to the public.
530pm Night Drive Tour with our guide Joseph .... We drove for 2 hours almost continuously on the surprisingly comfortable bus seating 22 persons, of which I was No. 22 to board so I got to sit near the back row in an aisle seat. It was too dark to photograph successfully and my view was of heads and beyond. But I was excited and in great anticipation of what might be.We went off the tarred roads driving onto dirt tracks through the bushes, where cars couldn't go. For the night drive there was a dedicated driver and a dedicated guide called Joseph who carried a powerful torch light with a long beam with which he constantly swept from side to side, illuminating the road and bushes and hillside. Otherwise all we would have seen is dark black African night! Joseph had amazing eyesight, spotting things no one else had seen in the sweeping light.... Four porcupines in the middle
Landscape of wide rolling plains with shrubsLandscape of wide rolling plains with shrubsLandscape of wide rolling plains with shrubs

And there are very good pitch roads so most drivers can get out and do some exploring
distance looking quite rolly poly and prickly and grey.A rare sighting of a Black footed cat or Small spotted cat. Joseph spotted it in the light beam sweeping the open slopes with bits of scrub bush, backed up the bus and checked again, then hustled across driving into the bush itself. We saw it just before it disappeared to safety into its borrowed hole. I did see it clearly in the torch beam. Two Bat eared foxes, with prominent ears were also picked up in the beam. The good thing about having a guide.... he identified everything that we saw, and he saw creatures we wouldn't have seen in the first place! Hyenas, three or four individual ones, were seen running away from our bus. I was surprised how small they seemed. Almost like play things, not the ferocious ugly snarling creatures I'd imagined. Too much tv.A group of ostriches .... which failed to interest Joseph or stop our bus though it would have been new to me! It turned out to be the only sighting of ostrich in the wild there except for one lonely bird as we were leaving the park. You never know what you will see,
The landscape and horizon at AddoThe landscape and horizon at AddoThe landscape and horizon at Addo

Zebras are commonly seen, here crossing the road in single file
it is so true.Hundreds of Ellies were constantly seen, everywhere. Large herds were gathered around the waterholes. There were dozens of zebras.... Zebra seem able to mix with everyone... with creatures of every stripe uh huh!
Night touring was my time to simply focus on experiencing the event... No distractions like taking photos in the dark! No note taking in a dark bus on a tough road! So I've certainly forgotten some of what we saw but I remember the drive for its air of anticipation that anything could happen, and my own mind asking myself if we could get stuck when we drove on to the bush land. But at no time did I ever fear or worry. The guide and driver were confident and always in charge. They were well informed and knew what they were doing, so we all sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the drive.
It was a good introduction. My thought after the tour was to go to the observation deck.... A nearby illuminated waterhole near the restaurant but outside the fenced camp area, where nocturnal species could be observed. But I was truly exhausted from the day's long long journey and the tour just ended. And I was booked early next morning for the Sunrise Tour at 530am. So, Time to sleep. No time to even make blog notes! Alarm set for 4.45am to get me to the tour office by 5.15Arrival at Addo Elephant Safari Park was now over.

Additional photos below
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Large bull elephantsLarge bull elephants
Large bull elephants

so big they tower above the trees and bushes

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