You can’t be in Port Elizabeth and not visit Addo Elephant Park, a mere 70km away. So that’s what we did… once on our own and once with the granddaughters.
As we have lived in P.E. for more than 20 years, we have taken oversees family to the Park on many occasions in the past. And sometimes you’re lucky and see lots of elephants and other animals, and sometimes you drive around in the park the whole day and see nothing. It is quite amazing how more than 400 elephants can become so invisible!
But… this time around we were lucky. Although the camping sites inside the park were fully booked and we had to camp at Homestead Caravan Park outside the park, we were lucky to have a Wild Card: a membership card that allows free entry into all South African National Parks. So we spent a few days travelling around in the park and we were sooo lucky!
The girls were especially excited to see all the babies: elephant, zebra, rooi hartebeest. Oldest granddaughter Lara fluctuated between outrage for the mommy hartebeest leaving her baby in the field while going to the waterhole and crowning her as ‘mother of the year’ when we saw her a bit later with the baby suckling! We spent many hours at the various waterholes to see elephant and buffalo and the cute warthogs, which we eventually referred to the ‘pumba’s’.
When we were still building our truck in Johannesburg, we had ooh’ed and aah’ed about a connecting door to the cabin: shall we? shall we not? After all: it would mean cutting away part of the back and top of the cabin, adding a reinforcing structure to fit a door and covering the whole thing. But we decided: let’s do this! And while we were at it, we decided to “close” the top with a hinged lid that we could open for better game viewing.
And man, were we happy that we had done it! While driving around in Addo we realised that in a game park like this you’re not supposed to get out of the car, so… getting out of the cabin, opening the “house” door and climbing back in was not an option. So whenever we stopped for a pee-break, or lunch, or just a break (colouring and drawing session) from the driving, the girls loved to use the “secret door” to get from the cabin in the house. At a certain moment we met another car, of which the occupants were in search for the nearest toilet, and all of a sudden we realised how fortunate we were to have a toilet on board and the secret door to stop and chill in the house whenever we wanted.
Add to that, that the girls had an extra high look-out point to see the animals, made it so worth while.
Back to the animals. We had a close encounter of the elephant kind when a big bull seemed fascinated by Trokkie (that was on the first trip without the granddaughters). We presume that, by now, the Addo elephants are quite used to a certain size of vehicles (4×4 suv’s and safari vehicles), but a 12 ton truck might not be so common. We think he was more intrigued than dangerous, even though he had to turn back to have another look and make sure. Seems Stefaan got a bit nervous when he turned back!
We saw dungbeetles working hard at the dung piles and the one chappy had a hard time getting his ball uphill: he was a prime example of ‘vasbyt” (never give up) and, supported by his personal 1-beetle-cheering-squad, eventually got it over the small ridge.
We saw tortoises and jackals (one was lying in the road, and when we got close he got up and, obviously being hurt, hobbled away to drop back down in the field – the park however has a policy of not interfering with the natural run of wild life so we presumed he might not survive), buffalo and kudu, zebra and red hartebeest and the quirky mongoose but unfortunately didn’t see any lions!
All in all a wonderful few days with lots of sightings!
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