Final report on Addo game viewing:
Friday, 16 January 2009
The last day, and not pleasant to say goodbye. Addo has been cool for 3 days, with so much to see. I hitch my trailer, and head off to Carol’s Rest – maybe those male lions will be there, but of course, they aren’t. I take the 4x4 route, and notice a zebra on the ridge above us. Maybe I can see them against the sun – but no, they are gone about 1 km down the plain in a cloud of dust! I keep going – maybe I can catch them as they cross the valley to the dam on the open plain. And yes, there they come! They screech to a halt in a cloud of dust and just stand there, splendidly and proud. Thank you, Lord, that was so lovely! I decide to do the tar road to Hapoor, maybe Roy and Megan will be around – I heard them roaring faintly this morning. Nothing. See a group of kudu on the verge of the road, eating next to the remains of a dead kudu. I remark on the irony -- they are now eating the greenery growing from their deceased relative!
I leave my trailer at Spekboom, and at Marion Baree I discover the beauty of this place when a herd of elephants politely files out of the forest, circles the waterhole carefully, then all pose on the opposite bank and gently lean forward to the water 1m below them....
All the way to South Gate, but no lions or caracal. Back at Marion Baree a lone hyena with a collar has a bath. The last picnic is celebrated with the last mango.
Time to leave. The friendly caretaker tells me they saw 2 young lions on a kill on the main tar road I just travelled on earlier. Is that possible? Lets take a last look.
Yes, Megan and Roy have killed a kudu within 50m of the kudu carcass we were commenting on this morning – irony again – the kudu that ate where one had died, has now himself died to become more greenery for the rest of the kudus... The traffic jam is terrible, so we turn around, hitch our trailer at Spekboom, and SLOWLY do the last few kilometers through `Lion Alley’ to Southgate.
I tell my wife: Peter Betts always sees his caracal around here... 100m from the gate, and an Isuzu stops. He saw a caracal somewhere down there in the bushes. I look, and yes, there he is sunning himself, and licking his paws! After 2 minutes he disappears – what a lovely end to an amazing experience in Addo.
Thank you, Addo, you have now become a PROPER WILDLIFE DESTINATION!
To all the staff at Addo – thank you for your vision – it has been a revelation to us. Now put the cherry on the top, and do the following:
o ADJUST GAME VIEWING TIMES ACCORDING TO THE SUN, like all other great game reserves! (it won't cost half as much as you think)
o Consolidate a few more of the bits and pieces of Addo, and TAKE DOWN THE FENCES BETWEEN! (start with Matyholweni)
o START ON A WILDERNESS CAMP IN MATYHOLWENI NOW – I saw lovely huge shady fig trees near the current roadcamp’s HQ – 10 campsites and 10 Safari Tents, with only an electric wire around to keep elephants, rhino and buffalo out; and a waterhole CLOSE BYE.
o GIVE US A PROPER HIDE IN THAT THICK FOREST OF MATYHOLWENI, OVER A WATERHOLE (like those in Mkhuzi, where you get CLOSE to the animals)
God bless for 2009,
Friedrich von Hörsten
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay