Waking up on a cold, overcast, blustery morning in Port Elizabeth usually has me longing for a day filled with steaming coffee, a comfy couch and hours lost in the pages of a good book, but not so this past Friday.
Despite not-so-promising weather predictions, I was a girl on a mission. It was the final day of the S A National Parks week, when South Africans (with an ID document) gain access to most of the country’s national parks free of charge. Every year I say I’m going and every year, I don’t. This year would be different!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though I couldn’t go at any time, I could. Addo Elephant National Park is less than an hour’s drive from home and the entrance fee is very affordable, it’s just that I don’t. So, after packing a delicious picnic (after all, what’s any kind of car trip without one), my trusty chauffeur (aka my long-suffering husband) and I grabbed our cameras and set out on our one day adventure … and what a wonderful adventure it was.
Sadly, the drive on the R335 towards Addo is unpromising as it passes through the poorest sections of Motherwell Township on a road that is littered and potholed. I have subsequently been told, however, that the entrance near Colchester is a much better bet, so rather try that.
Once there, entry to the park was a swift process and soon we found ourselves driving along well maintained roads (tar or gravel, depending on your chosen route), detailed map (free with your entry) in hand.
I don’t know if it was the cooler, overcast weather or if we were just very lucky but the volume and variety of game we saw was amazing. It wasn’t although it was at a distance either as most were within 50 meters of the road. Elephants big and small, kudu, various buck, buffalo, zebra, ostrich, warthog, bush pig and hundreds of dung beetles … the array was astounding.
After a morning of incredible highlights, it was time to head off to Jack’s picnic site for lunch. This is an enclosed camp complete with secluded braai areas, shaded picnic tables and spotless toilets. Despite being busy on the day we were there, we still managed to find a quiet spot to enjoy our picnic.
Soon, it was back in the car for another couple of hours game-spotting and photography before the predicted dark clouds rolled in and amid the raindrops, we headed for home.
So, if you’re like me and haven’t been for years because well, it’s just down the road and you can go at any time, or even if it would take some time, effort and money to get there, I heartily recommend you make the effort. It’s really awesome and, according to a sign at the reception, the only national park in the world where the Big 7 are all protected!
Visit the SANParks website at https://www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/# for more details.
A range of accommodation is available within the gates if you’d like to stay somewhere near but outside the park itself, try the Zuurberg Mountain Village. See my post A weekend of Edwardian elegance!