Schotia

Our plan on reaching Addo was to visit the Elephant National Park, but the Dungbeetle suggested various other options and in the end we decided to spend our full day there relaxing in the morning and joining a safari in the afternoon and evening.

Schotia is the oldest private game reserve in the Eastern Cape with over 2,000 animals and 40 different species. We joined all the other tourists at 2pm and were assigned to Renier’s Landie, along with an English couple and two Dutch.

We were sitting over six feet up in open top of the long-wheelbase Landrover as we headed into the reserve over deeply rutted tracks and the first creature we saw was a warthog, a sight we were to become familiar with over the next two days.

I won’t list each and every species we saw, but just our personal highlights. The two that stood out for me were the white rhinos above because of how close we came to them as they grazed right next to the Landrover.

It doesn’t look particularly white, but then its name was originally the Wide Rhino because of its wide mouth. The name changed because of the assumed distinction between it and the black rhino.

The two we saw are a mating pair and it looks as if the female is pregnant. They are to be kept separate from where the lions roam until the calf is two or three years old.

My next favourite were the Burchell’s Zebras (right) with their distinctive shadow markings between the stripes.

Not only are the stripe patterns regional, but like fingerprints, no two zebras have the same stripes. But the big question is: are they black with white stripes, or white with black stripes? The answer is the latter, as Stephen Fry and QI will confirm.

We stopped for coffee and a comfort break before setting off again. The reserve is criss-crossed with deep-rutted tracks and groups of tourists in zig-zagging haphazardly hoping to spot a lion.

Renier seemed to be the most successful guide at finding them. We came close to a lioness snoozing in the shade of a tree and minutes later, half a dozen Landrovers were converging on the same spot as word got out.

There were three in total — the lioness and two of her brothers well camouflaged further back, but in true leonine fashion they didn’t much. The males eventually looked up as if woken on a bad hair day, while the female stood, seemed vaguely interest in a distant wildebeest and then flopped down again.

We stopped again around 7pm for dinner at a huge, traditional, open air lapa. It had reed and sneezewood walls, an open cooking area and thatched covered dining area on the outside from where we watched the zebras graze.

The meal was served by the guides and the food was fabulous, as ever — kudu antelope and chicken marinated in coca cola and syrup.

We left for the last stage of our safari to see the hippos that had left their wallow after dark and didn’t appear too impressed by circling Landies shining million-candle power torches in their eyes.

A moonlit drive around rough country followed in a fruitless search for the lions, but we did see one last creature — a puff adder that had been basking in the residual warmth of the road.

Our adventure ended around 9:30, yet another great South African experience and there are more images on my photoblog.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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