I have just left Addo, but my second last night was spent at the highly recommended Narina Bush Camp in the southern part of the Zuurberg Mountains. It’s a small tented camp alongside a river deep in a kloof. It was only me and intern ranger Mfuneko Fezi, and we sat round the fire listening to the Knysna Loeries croaking to each other. Mfuneko is a graduate of the innovative Umzi Wethu program in Port Elizabeth, which trains local youth in conservation and tourism. They have made great strides in empowering local communities to become active in the conservation industry.
On my last day I drove into the northern Darlington section, and made my way over the Zuurberg via the Bedrogfontein 4×4 route. It takes about 6 hours to do, and is probably one of the best ways to get an idea of this mountainous region.
There is such a huge change in scenery. In the north there is plenty of noorsveld, the colloquial name for the euphorbias which grow almost everywhere here. It’s an arid place, receiving little rainfall because of the rain barrier posed by the Zuurberg mountains.
On the northern slopes, as you make your way up the pass into the mountains, you’ll see plenty of cycads, some of the most ancient species of plants in the world. As you make your way south into the mountainous valleys of the Kabouga section of the park, you’ll most probably be the only person for miles around. It reminds me very much of the Baviaanskloof. Deep kloofs with flowing streams and rivers, and quite a few kudu and warthog. I stopped for lunch at one of the many river crossings on the 4×4 trail, and two Knysna Loeries flew past me, their crimson wings like flashes of magic.
The trail ends near the town of Kirkwood, and from there it’s a short drive back to main camp. I’ve really been impressed by the diversity of Addo Elephant National Park. It’s got something for everyone. After the 4×4 trail, I headed back again to the forest and beaches of Woody Cape to do the 7km Dassie Hiking trail through the yellowwoods of the forest, and to spend the night at the Langebos Hut, near the start of the Alexandria Hiking Trail. Its remarkable how quickly the landscapes change…as much as I enjoyed the mountains and the wildlife of the main section at Addo, I still think the forests and beaches of Woody Cape are my favourite spot.
Thanks very much to conservation manager John Adendorff and marketing manager Megan Taplin for being so helpful to me.
John has given me some of his photos from the past few years…I’ve included them below. They give an idea of some “behind-the-scenes” conservation work that goes on in Addo – there’s plenty of work that goes into managing a diverse, disparate and large park, and I don’t think tourists always appreciate it, probably because a lot of it is unseen by the general public.
Photos below from conservation manager John Adendorff…
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