SO and I made a last minute call to visit the Addo Elephant NP on Sunday 04/0710. Fortunately we live close enough to the park to make these hasty decisions. We quickly grabbed binoculars, cameras etc, packed a picnic basket for lunch and set off. We did not put much thought into this though - we forgot that it was school holidays and that a FIFA World Cup quarter final had just been played in Port Elizabeth. I have never seen so many vehicles in the park. At one sighting of an elephant breeding herd there were 29 cars parked in a row! Anyway there was nothing we could do about it other than to simply enjoy the outing.
We stood in the queue at reception to get our permit - mostly German tourists who had arrived in local taxis! The check in went smoothly and we were soon on our way - in the middle of the convoy! We decided to follow the quickest route to Carol's Rest. Our first sighting was that of a very noisy female Northern Black Korhaan
We decided to do the Carol's Rest loop in an anti-clockwise direction. This majestic Elephant bull was grazing all on his own at the Zuurkop turn-off. He must surely be one of the biggest ellies in the park.
It was very pleasing to see that there had been rain - the open plains had a distinct green tinge to them and there were numerous kudu to be seen grazing on the fresh grass shoots. This young kudu bull crossed the road before we went up the hill to the Carol's Rest Waterhole
There was not much to see at Carol's Rest. Two Black-backed Jackals were in the vicinity - both seemed to be infested with fleas judging by the way they were scratching! We could not believe the number of Kudu that could be seen in the distance, most of which were young bulls. Once we reached the eastern loop of the Carol's Rest drive we saw a large breeding herd of Elephant (this is where the traffic build up was).
These two youngsters had a bit of a stand-off untill their mothers made a timely intervention
Further along we came across a group of Ostriches. These two females decided to put on a show for us. This ostrich
was being chased all over the park by this one
Having completed Carols Rest loop we then drove the bottom loop passed the Domkrag Dam. There was nothing much to see there so we moved on. A number of large puddles all over the park were full of water. This one had a Red-billed Teal swimming in it
We then decided to do the Rooidam - Hapoor waterhole route to Jack's Picnic Site where we would have a leisurely braai lunch. We felt that we needed to be at the Picnic site by 12h00 judging by the number of visitors in the park. Near Rooidam we came across this unfortunate Kudu bull with one horn. I can only assume that he lost the other one in a scrap.
This Grey Heron was wading in the water at Rooidam
We found eight Kudu bulls grazing in the vicinity of Hapoor Waterhole. These bulls had reasonable horns but it was clear that the dry conditions of the past year had taken its toll on their body weight. It is not often that a kudu grazes on short grass as can be seen in this picture
We by-passed the Spekboom hide (7 vehicles there ) and headed up to Jack's Picnic Site. Just before we entered the picnic area we came across these ellies having a drink
The gate to the picnic area was standing open. I asked the attendant on duty what had happened and he simply replied "It is broken". Well that all sounds fine but I reckon there would be a lot more broken if a herd of elephant or a lion got into the picnic area! We arrived at 12h00 as planned and were very fortunate to find the last picnic site available! Many vehicles came in after us and had to leave because no sites were available.
After lunch we decided to visit my favourite waterhole - Marion Baree. True to form we found a breeding herd of elephant there that kept us entertained for a while. Sadly we witnessed an idiot (in a hired car wearing World Cup regalia) get out of his car and walk to within 5m of a large elephant cow so that his mates could take a picture of him with the elephant in the background! One sometimes wishes that these clowns could be given one heck of a scare by these animals. Anyway he was very pleased with himself - I suspect bouyed on by Charles Glass! This is the ellie that posed in the photo with him
Another pool yielded this African Spoonbill hunting for nourishment under the water
We then decided to do a u-turn and do a quick drive up to the Zuurkop Lookout before heading home. It would be unusual to visit the park without seeing one of these guys
Zuurkop Lookout was quiet but no trip to Addo is complete unless you spend a few minutes on the benches here. We have seen many pictures of the Lion sharpeneing their teeth on the benches but alas, we have never seen the Addo lions!! Hard to believe when one considers how many times we have visited the park.
Our last sighting before exiting the park was very special. This little calf could not have been more than a few days old.
On the way out we popped in at the Red Bishop bird hide which was very quiet. Here is one of the regulars - Southern Masked Weaver.
We will be back and one day we will see the lions!