My wife and I spent 5 lovely days in Addo just after the heavy floods hit the Eastern Cape. We camped in Addo main camp, hoping to have quiet and peace before the school holidays officially started. There were very few campers, which helped a lot. Sadly, not one day passed in which we were not disturbed by radios, TVs or loud music playing (from as early as 5:30 am till 10:00 at night). Suggestion: can someone patrol the campsite 3x per day (2 minutes each), and warn/fine offenders?
Weather was wonderful, wet and cool, so only saw 10 ellies per day! Second last day we saw a herd of about 70 in the bush between Rooidam and Hapoor, obviously enjoying water in a smaller pan. However, the freshness of new grass and flowers made the visit special. Here are a few highlights:
1. Giant earthworms crawling in the road after rain -- some about 1m long, forming lovely patterns in the wet road.
2. Stunning spekboom display of pink blossoms. It reminded me of the Musasa trees in spring in Zim...
3. Found a huge tortoise near Rooidam, being mobbed by 7 crows. It looked dead, since one crow repeatedly pecked at it's rear end, trying to get some meat to eat, or so we thought. Suddenly the crow made a huge lunge, tugged fiercely, and pulled out a fresh, white tortoise egg! This egg was rather large, and they all had a good old fight over it, but he flew off into the bush with supper in his beak.
4. Saw more than 200 buffalo in one day -- a fantastic herd of 100+ in the beautiful valley just before the new entrance gate, and close to another 100 at Zuurkop late afternoon.
5. Stunning scenery in new section of park driving down to Colchester gate. This is going to be a very special addition once the big game can get here. PLEASE make it a proper part of the park, not another paddock on its own.
Suggestions: Addo used to seem like a `large zoo for elephants, 3 hartebeest and 5 ostriches'', but now it is becoming a proper wildlife area with exciting game viewing opportunities, and areas where you don't have to view wildlife against a backdrop of farms, buildings, human structures -- please try to enhance this new Addo vibe by:
i. joining as many sections together as possible (obviously taking into account your efforts to preserve rare plants from elephant ravages etc.)
ii. creating a special `wilderness' campsite for campers/few forest huts only, IN THE MAIN GAME VIEWING AREA. You would know the best possible site, with shade like you find in Spekboom hide, but also a small waterhole, clearing, space to do a bit of game viewing. I think Matyholweni camp is in a stunning setting, but not good for game viewing. The bush is too thick. Try some place in the new section, that balances trees, shade, views, game viewing (something like Tzende camp site in Kruger).
It does NOT need shops etc, and will help to create the wilderness feeling, by being away from the railway line, tourist buses, restaurant etc., with NO human developments in sight!
Just a thought.
And thank you once again for making Addo better every time I visit it. God bless for Christmas,