Addo

The journey back to Cape Town was going to be harder, with longer drives and fewer stops, so we made the most of our last morning at the Dungbeetle to chill out before moving one.

We left about two in the afternoon, the plan being to drive through the Addo Elephant National Park which is enormous, some 180,000 hectares, or 700 square miles in old money, sweeping down in a huge crescent from Darlington to the Sundays River mouth.

But we intended just to drive from the main camp down to the southern exit on the coast because what we were really interested in seeing were the elephants.

Our first animal sighting was yet another warthog shown above, but unlike his cousins in Schotia, this one was unphased by cars passing close by and didn’t run off and hide as they had the previous day.

We took this as a good sign and stopped to take the panorama below to give some idea of the size of the place, but we drove further and further without seeing what we come for.

Finally we did spot some elephants in the distance on a hill, but so far away that they might as well have been mice as far as my photos were concerned.

We were beginning to resign ourselves to having a bad day when our luck turned. First a lone male grazing close to the road and then a group of matriarchs and their young close enough to drive alongside.

It was an amazing experience to be so close and yet the elephants ignored us and the other cars that were grouping in higgledy-piggledy fashion, camera motors whirring. I took lots myself, like the one on the right.

At one point a young male attempted to mount and even younger female which brought down the wrath of mum. Elephantine parental discipline is quick and fierce and the male was left in no doubt that such indecent behaviour would not be tolerated.

We’d turned the car round ready to leave when two other males decided to have a duel that involved them going head to head and trying to push the other backwards.

All they succeeded in doing was to sway around in a circle, like two drunks half-heartedly brawling on a dance floor, but it had us fearing for our no-claims bonus. As it did everyone else and a hasty retreat was beaten by their car-bound audience.

Job done, we hurried on our way, but were brought to halt by an adult male standing in the middle of the road. He was making his way to a watering hole and I tried and failed to get a decent shot of him hosing himself down because I was leaning between the front seats, shooting through a window into the sun.

There were no other elephant encounters after that, although we did see yet another warthog with her brood snuffling by the side of the road.

We left the southern gate at around 4:30 and joined the N2, reaching Plett by nightfall. There are more images from Addo 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.

1 comment… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 19th February 2011

    A place called Dungbeetle? Dungbeetle? Is that between Armpit and Skid Marks? Your encounter with the elephants sounds so memorable making my meeting with a troop of wild macaque monkeys in Thailand seem rather passe!

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