2012 Afrishots Road Trip – Leg 3

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Addo Elephant National Park

Introduction

After a night in Port Elizabeth replenishing our supplies, getting a few extras for the Amarok and spending a wonderful evening in the company of friends and family we were off to Addo Elephant National Park.

The weather was dismal but it seemed to be lifting. There were now four of us in the car including Jenece’s sister and nephew, and packing the vehicle with the extra luggage in the rain was an exercise in awesomeness if I do say so myself. Everyone grabbed bags, dumped them in and the tarp was on and we were rolling.

The drive out to Addo didn’t take long, the southern gate is only about 25 minutes outside of PE and although we were staying at the main rest camp in the far north, we decided to use the extra travel time inside the park.

Arriving at the gate we received a warm welcome and explanation from the gentleman at reception, got our gate pass, took a few pictures and then started our drive through the park. I have never been to a coastal park before so the vegetation took quite a bit of getting used to and we were all concerned by how dense it was.

It wasn’t long until we had our first elephant encounter and yet, given the name of the park, it was one of the few we saw on the first day.

Addo Elephant National Park

African Elephant

The drive to the rest camp took us a few hours, as we’d hoped it would, and it’s incredible how often the scenery and vegetation changed. We stopped off at the picnic sight and another lookout point or two, checked the sightings board and continued to the rest camp.

Once we got there, things didn’t go as nicely as we’d hoped and experienced so far on our trip. Firstly, someone, somewhere, had messed up our booking and we didn’t get the accommodation we had asked for. This was followed by Madam Miserable at reception who was as approachable as an angry pride of lions.

The camp was, however, beautiful. Much bigger than expected. Their curio shop was big, well stocked and had all sorts of goodies to make the four of us very happy. There are two look-out spots at the camp, one that overlooks the watering hole and another that’s supposed to be an underground hide, but in reality its a hide at eye level with the watering hole with a large wall and roof. Having said that, we did enjoy watching the elephants from this not-so-underground underground hide.

Addo Elephant National Park

Our chalet was nice, even though it was not in the location we asked for (perimeter), nor the type we asked for (something completely different should a perimeter chalet not be available). It was big enough for the four of us, yet we are glad we took the inflatable mattress as the sleeper couch may have been a little unpleasant for an adult and child to spend two nights on.

The view from the chalet was incredible. You looked over a small valley and up the hill on the other side. The only thing deciding how far you could see was your own eye-sight.

We had an early start the next day and again the weather was far from great; overcast with scattered showers. Again we weren’t happy with the staff member we encountered. The gentleman at the gate can best be described as death on two legs. A more miserable man I have never encountered!

We spent most of the day exploring the park under a blanket of cloud yet we had a great time. The roads are in very good condition, both dirt and tar, and the park is big enough that even on a weekend, we didn’t encounter too many other vehicles.

The northern part of the park didn’t have as much dense vegetation as in the south and when you crested a hill, the view was breath-taking.

We stopped off at the central picnic site for a skottle breakfast and as luck would have it, it started raining right as we pulled up and needed to unpack everything. Fortunately it didn’t last and we had four full tummies and happy faces.

Our last night in Addo was spent under the stars by the fire, burning off the last of the wood we’d taken with on our road trip. This was a textbook case of an evening in the African bush; Fire, great company, stars and both hyena and jackal calling in the distance.

The next day we had an early start to get a few hours in the park before leaving for our last stop of the trip. We had a very nice drive through the park and on our way out, minutes from the gate, we spotted a male lion sitting in a clearing quite some distance off. We got to see him, however, and that’s what counts!

Sunday’s Rest

Our last night of the trip was spent with Jenece’s god-parents at their Bed & Breakfast on the Sundays River. We didn’t go there to review it, however, decided we’d add a small write up here about it anyway. Situated on the banks of the Sundays River, 25 minutes outside of Port Elizabeth and less than 2km from the Addo south gate, they have the perfect location for a weekend getaway from PE or a base for Addo should you not want to stay in the park.

They have two fully equipped cottages which can sleep five people each; one double bed, a single and a bunk bed. The kitchen has everything you need for a self-catering stay and the large lawn out front leading up to the river has ample space to sit and relax, or for the kids to play on.

Wayne has a small barge which he uses for a booze cruise or just for a little poodle up the river.

Across the river is bush veld where you can frequently see game coming to the river to drink.

For more information, and to book with them, please call Cheryl on +27(82) 568 6910

The End

That was the end of a truly magic trip and one that made it very difficult to come back to city life. We drove straight from Sundays Rest to Johannesburg with a quick stop at Nanaga Farm Stall for some yummy supplies. We had an absolutely amazing trip and can’t wait for next year for the next one.

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