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 Post subject: Bush Baptist Addo in style April 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:58 pm 
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Very early on Friday, SO & I leave to take up the smashing prize I won last year.

2 nights in the Gorah Elephant Lodge.

Watch this space.....

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:03 am 
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Wow. Where do you begin to describe such an experience!

I suppose by thanking all those who made it possible. :clap: :clap: :clap: Firstly, to Addo Elephant for personally advertising the writing competition celebrating 80 years of Addo and the team who put the competition together, and judged in my favour. Then to the proprietors of Gorah Elephant Camp, who donated this generous prize.

As we drove on the approach road to Gorah’s private entry to the park, we saw a signpost that informed us that we were now driving alongside the southern part of Addo.

Shortly afterwards, with the camera still safely packed, we drove past our first elephant, and what a specimen. He was huge, with magnificent curved tusks, and on a mission. We later found out that he was Valli Moosa, one of the imported Kruger bulls. :dance: Also before the gate, we saw some vervet monkeys climbing the fence, and some plains zebra.

At the gate we were greeted by a guard. We showed him our reservation in exchange for directions to the lodge. “Follow the road for about 10 km”. It had rained a lot during the night, and this was the part was that the fire engine loved the best, splashing through puddles and a bit of rock n roll. Some guests commented on the road later regarding their hired car, but don’t they know that hired and company cars are honorary 4x4s? But I digress.

En route we saw more zebra, quite a few red hartebeests, ostriches, various warthog families, and a black backed jackal. Evidently we had also missed a wow sighting….. :wall: However, the lodge loomed in the distance, resplendent on a green hillside overlooking a deep valley. It is not difficult to see why early settlers chose this place to build their home.

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All pics taken by my wife unless otherwise stated.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:58 pm 
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We were met like long lost family. The fire engine was whisked away to the unobtrusive parking area and we were served iced tea in the lounge overlooking the deserted waterhole 25 metres from the small manicured lawns bordered by a massive tree.

It was lunch time, so at our leisure, we sat and took in the glorious view as we were served the delicious 3 course meal in the style of Masterchef, of tomato soup, beef kebabs and crepes Suzette. It seemed very odd to these two ordinary people to be the only guests at lunch in such sumptuous surroundings.

I guessed that when the concession was granted, as there was no electrical ‘connection’, a condition would be that none would be made to scar the natural surroundings, so the lodge has no electricity other than generator power for necessary functions. Gas and paraffin lamps provide all the heat and light.

After lunch we went to our sleeping quarters, a large tent on the hillside diagonally behind the lodge. Each of the 11 tents has a great view.

Our luggage had been taken there for us, and we discovered that except for the modern shower and toilet cubicles, the colonial theme was continued, with a large room divider separating the ‘antique’ washbasin stands and the ablutions from the rest of the tent. In front of that was a huge bed larger than John Denver’s grandma’s featherbed, with period furnishing, including a crisscross strap based desk chair.

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Washbasins

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Bed & room divider

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 2:52 pm 
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While we were settling in, two other couples arrived. Later we were told that the ‘season’ had just ended, so the lodge was not full. High tea is half an hour before the afternoon game drive, and we reluctantly forced down some sumptuous cake and tartlets, and warm liquid. The guide introduced himself and we met the other couples – one from England and the other from Germany.

The vehicle was totally open and as we all climbed aboard, the English couple announced that they had seen lions on the way in. I decided that in spite of all my crossing swords on the forum with lion hunters, I would go with the flow on this trip, because there would probably be people who were in Africa for the first time and I would like them to call the shots, and I have never seen lions in Addo.

We found Gina and the boys, 2 almost adult cubs, not far from where we had stopped for a group of red harties on the way in, but we either missed them or they had been behind bushes. But now Gina got up, moved a bit and lay down again. They were just chilling like lions do during the daytime.

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Sorry about the quality of the pics, it was not a great sighting.

Now that the lion hunt, so to speak, was over, I asked the guide if we could find rhino. The other guests agreed and we set off for rhino territory.

I really enjoyed riding through parts of Addo that are well off the main tourist roads, but the sightings were not very plentiful. It was still very cloudy after the overnight rain, and we stopped for sundowners out of sight of the tourist roads, and the guide set up a table in the veld and topped it with various drinks and snacks as we stood around chatting. after the (unarmed) guide had declared it predator free.

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Also not a great pic because of the gathering gloom.

I find it amusing that on one hand we can do this legitimately under these circumstances, but we cannot protrude under others. I asked the guide about the lack of a firearm in an open vehicle and was told that Addo is not a dangerous place.

It is always a pleasure being in the African bush as evening draws in, even if the sightings are not plentiful. By the time we arrived back at the lodge, we had also seen a number of red harties, kudu, warthog and zebra.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 9:21 pm 
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THank you all again!

@missings.a.! All will be revealed in due course....

Now to continue.

The day’s birding had been quite good as well, with plenty of herons, both grey and black headed, Cape robin-chat, white browed scrub robin, black shouldered kite, including a mating pair, rednecked spurfowl, all 3 mousebirds, hoopoe, Cape longclaw, southern boubou, bokmakierie, Denham’s bustard, fierynecked nightjar, Cape bulbul, and spectacled weaver.


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BSK with dinner


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Mating over........

We were welcomed to a fire in the hearth and pre supper drinks.


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I was surprised that all 3 couples dined separately, as if in a restaurant. I had thought that it would be communal.


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Dinner consisted of butternut soup, kudu steak or seared salmon (somebody must have pre-warned them of our favourites) and crème brulee, at a leisurely pace, so that around 21h00 everyone retired for the night, escorted to their tent by the guide with a torch.

This was not because you didn’t know the way, but there might be something on the way that might fancy you as its meal in the dark. I still don’t know how the intrepid guide would protect you with a torch.

No missings.a.!, there were no fences at all.....

Once inside the tent, with the sliding glass doors shut and the outside flaps zipped up, we discovered that it was being kept warm by 2 gas heaters, one in the lounge/bedroom area and the other in the ‘bathroom’ area. The bedcovers had been turned down, and a mint chocolate placed on each pillow.

We decided not to avail ourselves of the complimentary port and cookies,


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and my wife proceeded to shower, and slipped into the gown and slippers provided. After I had showered, with a choice of soap, shampoo and gel, we got into bed exhausted after having left home at 2h00, to find that there was a hot water bottle each, at our feet.

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The standard has been set. l could get used to it.....

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Thanks again all of you. :thumbs_up:

@missings.a.! I have been captivated by the thought of meeting lions without a fence for a while now, and speaking to a few who have more experience than me, and others who have encountered them, lions generally give man a wide berth and rather move on when there is a 'meeting'. I have yet to test this though, and when I have the privilege, I hope they are correct!

It had been very quiet, but a piercing noise woke me in the middle of the night. I will never tire of hearing the ‘laughing’ of the spotted hyena, followed by the plaintive cry of the jackal while lying in bed.

We awoke with the sun shining brightly on the front of the tent a few minutes before our morning wake up tea and coffee arrived. After dressing, we prepared for the morning’s proceedings, breakfast and a game drive.

Breakfast was yet another sumptuous affair, with a buffet of cereal, fruit, salmon, meats and cheeses, with a menu choice of about 4 cooked breakfasts, including an English breakfast, finished off with tea or coffee, and freshly baked muffins and croissants, at a table on the terrace overlooking the waterhole and watching red harties, zebra and kudu wandering about. The start of another day to endure in Africa!

Since we were in Addo Elephant Park, the others were keen to see some, so we set off on the morning drive in search of them. Wherever we went it seemed that we just found red harties – I was thrilled to see that they are now here in good numbers – kudu, from solitary to groups of about 10, lots of warthog, groups of plains zebra, and the occasional bbj and yellow mongoose.

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The eles were avoiding us. We had just left Rooidam and were headed back to the lodge when we spotted a breeding herd making its way through the bush.

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We watched them cross the road on a mission, in the direction from which we had come. We rode back to Rooidam and waited. Sure enough, the grey shapes ghosted through the bush in our direction, and we saw them emerge and charge to the water. It seems that when they get the whiff of it, they, especially the youngsters will be held back by nothing.



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It appears as if all the eles had been in hiding like a rugby team in the changing room before a match. The ref blows a whistle and they all run out onto the field. The ele ref had blown, because suddenly everywhere we went, there were eles. That was the first of twelve sightings of over 100 eles, including one at the main waterhole, and the pair that was in front of the lodge when we returned three quarters of an hour late. Nobody complained, and our overseas friends were beaming.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Broccoli soup, pork cutlets and orange tart were the delights that had to be negotiated at lunch.

I suddenly remembered that there was life outside of our wonderful cocoon here and asked the manager if he could find out the score in the Stormers game. I couldn’t have cared if world war 3 had started, or if there had been a coup, or another depot met a grisly end, just the rugby score. 17-3. Thanks.

Thereafter, we watched a large bull ele saunter up to the lodge waterhole and slake his thirst. I wandered around the lodge ground, including the deserted boma and swimming pool areas, looking for birds.

I found some Cape weavers, a hoopoe, Cape wagtails, forked tailed drongoes, common fiscals and glossy starlings.

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On the morning drive we had also seen African stonechat, white browed scrub-robin, white faced duck, South African shelduck, black winged stilt, zitting cisticola, dusky & fiscal flycatcher, sombre greenbul and many of yesterday’s sightings.


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High tea again….. Another couple and two Italian sisters had arrived in the meantime. The memory of lunch was still lingering, but how could we offend the baker of such delicious fare?

Once again I requested black rhino on the afternoon drive. It met with approval from the other guests.
Some rides have quantity, but this one had quality instead. Apart from the usual suspects, we saw only 1 ele. Early on the ride we had a great sighting of a marsh owl – a lifer for me – flying around looking for dinner.

We then found a mum and small baby rhino – the first blackies I have ever seen in a SANPark – in the distance. She was not aware of our presence as she slowly sauntered along with the calf stopping and skipping after her. It was only for about a minute before they were swallowed up by the thick bush, but it was a great sighting nevertheless. We tried to get to where we thought they might emerge, but they didn’t.

Instead we came across a dagga boy with a huge set of horns. This was one big unit. He looked at us assessing any danger, as only buffalo can, and then trotted across the road in front of us looking for a place to bed down for the night.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Thanks again for all your comments. It WAS great, the accom, food and the experience.

N.B. Pics for this bit to follow later.

Later at the lodge, we had leek soup, ostrich steak and malva pudding for dinner.

I had been told of barn owls roosting in the gables, so I went outside afterwards to the palm tree and looked up with my feeble pocket torch. Nothing. It was a bit chilly and I swung my arms around. Suddenly there was a screeching from within the tree.

I went inside and was given a more powerful torch. Now my wife and others came out with me. I shone the torch up the tree and two owls broke into flight after a loud screech. I picked out another two above them. The staff showed me their favourite feeding spot in the big tree. The grass below it is littered with regurgitated bits of ex rodent.

Meanwhile back at the tent, it was the same procedure as last night, except that this time I test drove the port, gown and slippers.

Something woke me at 3h30. It sounded like some sort of machinery trying to get going. While I was rationalising that there was no machinery at the lodge and at 3h30 I am not at my sharpest, the thought of what it could be crossed my mind just as the confirming roar exploded on the still morning air.

When the other guests later asked what it was, I could happily tell them they had heard lions from their beds. Sound travels far without residual noise to interfere, and they were surprised when I told them that the lions had been at least a kilometre away, not at the side of their tents.

While pouring our wake up tea and coffee, I realised that we had to pack up before breakfast as we were leaving today. How time flies. While waiting for my wife, I saw a grey headed bush shrike, but by the time she had emerged with the camera, it had flown.

Breakfast was the same as yesterday, on the terrace in prefect weather, but I had the omelette and my wife had the English breakfast. We watched as kudu, zebra, red hartebeest, warthog and a yellow mongoose made their appearance at one time or another.


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I was amused at how quickly the house sparrows sneaked into the dining room and set about the confectionary, and even though I shooed them away, they took their chances and sneaked in again.

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Thu May 17, 2012 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Addo in style
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:57 am 
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Sorry for the loooooong delay in completing this report. I lost my notes file, but found a backup today, and I have been offshore for a month, so here is the conclusion, with pics to follow.

The morning ride produced the usuals, plus 6 ele sightings, including an amusing time at Carol’s Rest. One young bull decided that the water was all his, and was not letting the others get a drink. He would try to chase them off and protect ‘his’ waterhole, and so the rest took tentative drinks, until an older one tusked bull came on the scene and charged right through the pack to drink. The others took this as their cue and drank also.

Meanwhile another young bull had wandered off a bit and found a mudhole where he was rolling about and having a jolly time. Suddenly a group of others saw this and went to join him. He was not happy. It was interesting observing ele behaviour for half an hour or so. On the way back to the lodge, we added a new antelope, the largest of the lot, eland. We saw 4 large herds for good measure. We also saw some bull eles on the plains, and it was interesting to see how they locked trunks and tusks in a gentle greeting.

Arriving back at the lodge would signal the end of our stay, so part of me was hoping the drive would linger on, but the other part knew we had a long drive home. When we did arrive, there were 3 bull eles at the waterhole, so we took a few pics and enjoyed it for a few minutes. This now to me, is iconic Gorah, and will always live in my memory.

The fire engine was delivered to us, washed, complete with our luggage, and complimentary padkos and water.

It was hard to drive away after saying our goodbyes to the fantastic staff and new friends we had made. Very hard.

At the gate, the guard asked us some friendly questions that (almost) disguised the fact that he was giving the fire engine a good once-over for anything suspicious.

On the access road, we once again saw Valli Moosa, and thought that this was an appropriate way to end a magnificent life experience.

Thanks so much again to all who made it possible. :clap: :clap:

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