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 Post subject: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:58 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Pietermaritzburg
Hi all
Have just returned from Addo - slept one night at Spekboom Tented Camp. What a lovely camp. There are 5 units, all of which are very private. The camping sites consist of a 3 x 3 canvas tent on a wooden platform with two beds inside, a little bedside table and a light, together with 2 camping chairs, a braai spot and a light inside and out run on battery power. The camp has no electricity but does have hot water in the showers courtesy of the batteries and (I think!) solar power.

There are two showers and two toilets, the only problem being the walk there through the bushes! The camp is of course fenced off, but it is quite windy and the paths are through the bush - great during the day but I suppose I little scary for the fairer sex at night!!

I would recommend taking a torch with - there is a black cattle at each tent which you just need to fill with water - there are gas plates at the toilets where you can heat your water or just put the kettle on the braai and let it boil! There is also a lookout point over a waterhole - we didn't see anything but did hear jackal and a hyena at night.

Regarding sightings in the park, it was our first time there so very interesting to see. NO impala can you believe it - but lots of waterhog! Also quite a few kudu and also saw red haartebeest, zebra, jackal, buffalo and elephant, and lion by 30 (name on the map) and two caracal sightings near the road that runs through the park to Addo Town! There are also leopard and black rhino, although the bush, especially down south near the bottom camp, is incredibly thick!!!

Overall a delightful camp to visit - there are braai facilities at Jack's picnic site which are in my opinion better than Kruger's, and the camp is very clean with obvious care being given to the maintenance of Addo. The park is quite small - there are a few loops you can do in the park but you will have to retrace your steps a few times if you are in the park for more than a day or two. Quite a lot of birdlife as well, especially Southern boubous, so nice to see!


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:48 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:52 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Port Elizabeth
HI Shortcourse,

Expect a reply from Addo Elephant as well.

The reason you did not see Impala is that there are, to the best of my knowledge, none in the game area, because Impala are not endemic to this region. Same applies to Springbok and Giraffe, and so many other species.

Addo is proud to be the only park with the Big 7!!! In case you are wondering, the other 2 are in the marine section - the Southern Right Whale, and the Great White Shark.

As for the size of the park, I do duty there as an Honorary Ranger, and even following the same route on 2 different days over a weekend, you seldom see the same animals, or birds, on both days. I suspect they have a co-ordinating committee to decide who will be seen where and when ;)

Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay - the tented camp was a great idea, and hopefully there is more in the pipeline...?

Regards

Vince


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:24 pm
Posts: 481
Location: Somerset West
Hi Shortcourse

Glad you enjoyed Addo! A real jewel of a park -- small but high concentrations of animals. I am surprised you didn't see eland -- they are quite common.

PrinceVince -- agree about the impala, but not about the springbok -- a parks worker told me they tried to re-introduce springbok from the university of PE a while ago, but the ticks got hold of them!
Actually, I am sure there are springbok in Addo, but in the Darlington section which is more open grassland. Am still waiting for them to get some back in the main camp area -- this would allow the re-introduction of cheetah -- I think they would do very well in Matyholweni section of Addo + open sections around Woodlands to Carol's Rest...

Thanks for the report -- going there next month with a group of 10 school kids on a photography tour.

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

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``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:08 am 
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Hi all,
Good to hear about your enjoyable stay, shortcourse!
As mentioned, SANParks' policy is to reintroduce the species which would have historically occurred in the Park. This makes sense in terms of trying to manage the park as naturally as possible and to restore the park areas to their natural state.
If we were to introduce species that do not naturally occur here, they would also have a negative effect in terms of competing with indigenous species e.g. nyala would compete with bushbuck because they use the same habitats and food sources.
The grasslands that can be seen in the main game area (including the Colchester area) are products of clearing of land for agricultural purposes before it was incorporated into the park. These grass patches are now perpetuated by species that do graze such as zebra, hartebeest and buffalo.
The thicket vegetation which covers 70% of the park does not include open grasslands or many grass species - except in the vegetation type called "bontveld" (referring to its patchy nature) which does have grass areas. You can see this veg type on top of Zuurkop.
An exciting project to rehabilitate the cleared grass areas back to their thicket state has started in the park. This is a long term intervention which will hopefully bear some good results.
There is definitely no plan to put springbok or cheetah into the main game area/Colchester area. We do have sprinbok at Darlington Dam, and in the future will have cheetah there too.

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Megan Taplin
Communications Manager: Frontier Region


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:31 pm
Posts: 13
Addo Elephant wrote:
The grasslands that can be seen in the main game area (including the Colchester area) are products of clearing of land for agricultural purposes before it was incorporated into the park. These grass patches are now perpetuated by species that do graze such as zebra, hartebeest and buffalo.
The thicket vegetation which covers 70% of the park does not include open grasslands or many grass species - except in the vegetation type called "bontveld" (referring to its patchy nature) which does have grass areas. You can see this veg type on top of Zuurkop.
An exciting project to rehabilitate the cleared grass areas back to their thicket state has started in the park. This is a long term intervention which will hopefully bear some good results.

This is very interesting. I've always wondered about the open grass patches in the (recently expanded) Main Camp area.

Does anybody know how to find out more about this? (Some links, research papers, etc.)

What will the impact be on the species currently dependant on these open areas? Will the remaining grassy areas be sufficient to maintain their populations or will the the Main Camp be linked with the northern/western sections and allow natural movement of the animals to more suitable habitats?

I guess we can only wait and see. :hmz:


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:42 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:24 pm
Posts: 481
Location: Somerset West
Thank you for the interesting news, Megan!

Kooning raised some interesting questions too. If I remember correctly, many years ago one hardly ever saw any grazers in the old, smaller park, except tortoises! :lol:
As more of this "man-made' open grassland was added to the park, the hartebeest, and latter addition? of zebra became more visible between Woodlands and Carol's Rest area.
Today this open area is prime for seeing big herds of elephant "skoffling" the short grass or purple vygies up with their feet, as well as zebras, hartebeest, kudus, eland, warthog and buffalo...
I know I very seldom bother to travel the Rooidam/Hapoor loop because you see so few animals in the thick bush; same for the main road between Woodlands and Hapoor. My favourite route is via Carol's Rest, over Zuurkop (more open territory), and then on to Hapoor. Special sightings always in the open around Wayne's valley and the open patches in Matyholweni. The last straight section of pristine indigenous vegetation down to Colchester is mostly a waste of time for game viewing except the odd bushbuck/kudu or verdwaalde elephant/lion one could possibly encounter...
Even the main drive outside the park from Paterson to Addo park is excellent for viewing of zebra, eland, elephant, hartebeest on your right hand side (Inyati section?). Once you reach the thick spekbos, all you see is trees.
I remember the serious recent drought when the buffalo at Hapoor looked like walking skeletons, and hundreds of warthog had to be culled because there was not enough food for the animals. It was rather ironical that a few meters south of the old southern gate, on those open man-made hills and valleys, there was plenty of lush grassland that could have been excellent grazing for these grazers but for the fence that separated them... and something tells me so many animals have ventured south because of abundant grazing and food, it seems as if even the lions spend most of their time in this area!
How would the envisioned longterm "reforestation" of these areas affect the grazers and game viewing? I hope the answer is more taking down of fences so that serious game viewing is not restricted only to the thick bushy main viewing area, but so that grassland can also be part of this experience.

Always good to hear about new developments in Addo!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

_________________
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:53 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:40 am
Posts: 159
Location: Port Elizabeth
Megan,
Please correct me if I am wrong but in the 70's I am sure I used to see springbok and they were later removed because '' they are not indigenous to the area'' and within fifty kilometers from Addo are some rock paintings of giraffe. Also in Addo were some hippo's at a small lake that we could drive up to that is not accessible anymore are there any plans for them to be reintroduced?. If we don't get cheetahs introduced Addo is still an exciting place to be especially when a young male came to my car and looked right in the window at me licked my car last Thursday.


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:30 pm 
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To answer some of the questions, Friedrick and Kooning:
Even with the new rehabilitation planting projects, it would take hundreds of years for thicket to reclaim the previosuly cleared areas. Thicket, although it look so "tough" and impenetrable, once cleared and impacted, is very slow to recover.
Of coures, there will also be impact on the newly reestablished thicket species from the browsers in the park, which will also slow down the reclamation of grassed areas by thickets.
The approach, therefore, will be to create "islands" of thicket in the degraded grassy areas so that there is a patchy effect, like you see in the natural bontveld vegetation which occurs in the park (most notably on the Zuurkop). This won't have too much of an effect on game viewing.
You will also see that there are sometimes what we call "cutlines" in the thicket areas - long straight narrow cleared areas dissecting the thicket. These are also relics from farming days before incorporation into the park. Farmers used these strips for grazing, for moving between open areas and sometimes for hunting too. We also aim to target these strips with planting rehabilitation excercises.

The long-term goal is definitely to link up all the sections of the park but there are some hefty barriers to overcome, like the railway line and public roads. There are solutions to overcome these barriers, but some are very costly.

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Megan Taplin
Communications Manager: Frontier Region


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:49 pm 
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jad wrote:
Megan,
Please correct me if I am wrong but in the 70's I am sure I used to see springbok and they were later removed because '' they are not indigenous to the area'' and within fifty kilometers from Addo are some rock paintings of giraffe. Also in Addo were some hippo's at a small lake that we could drive up to that is not accessible anymore are there any plans for them to be reintroduced?. If we don't get cheetahs introduced Addo is still an exciting place to be especially when a young male came to my car and looked right in the window at me licked my car last Thursday.


Yes, there were springbok in the main game area at one stage. But remember that conservation priorities and scientific thinking have changed and evolved immensely over the years. Now the aim is to conserve whole ecosystems and their essential patterns and processes and not necessarily introduce species just to preserve those species as might have happened in the past.
I'm not so convinced about rock paintings...who says the artist didn't see those animals thousands of km away - and people were very nomadic in those days - and paint them as a memory, or even for some kind of spiritual significance?
SANParks uses the historical records that have been recorded from the time that people first started official recordings of what they saw when they first explored an area to determine what species were historically there.

Hippos now occur in the Sundays River where it flows through the Park between Darlington Dam and Mvubu Campsite. There are about 20 hippo in the river. Cheetah do occur in Kuzuko area and will occur in Darlington once fences are taken down between the two areas.

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Megan Taplin
Communications Manager: Frontier Region


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 161
Location: Too far away from KNP,KTP or KNP
Hi there All.

Is this the only Spekboom thread? I have just booked for Spekboom for this weekend. A spur of the moment decision, but we got a tent for the 14th and 15th.

Any knowledge and wisdom to share? This will be our third time to Addo, but out first to Spekboom. We are very excited to be "out" in the game area.

Anything to remember or take with, look out for etc?

We are looking forward to this weekend and can't wait. We might end up booking 1 for Friday night in Bontbok.

Thanks and regards

_________________
Punda Maria 1 & 2 Sept
Sirheni 3 & 4 Sept
Olifants 5 & 6 Sept
Talamati 7 & 8 Sept
Tamboti 9 Sept
Satara 10 & 11 Sept
Pretoriuskop 12 Sept


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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Addo and Spekboom Tented Camp
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 161
Location: Too far away from KNP,KTP or KNP
We just returned from a wonderful 2 night stay in Spekboom. The camp really is very different and a real “bush camp”

Also, besides the already setup tent, and comfortable tents, it still provides the real camping experience, complete with long walks to ablutions. As previously stated, the walk is through the bush, and we found it to be a little adventurous at night. We loved it and thought that it added to the charm of the place.

We have camped in the main rest camp on 2 previous occasions, and although you hear the Jackals cries from there, and the occasional hyena, the experience in Spekboom is totally different, as the Jackal cries are closer, and all around. Also, on Sunday night, I could have sworn that there was a Hyena just a few meters away from the tent.

The only negative, was that the bottom zip on our tent. Number 4, was broken and we could not close it. We had a bit of a tussle with 3 mice on Sunday night who kept coming into the tent, and they were not at all afraid of us. Luckily, tent number 3 was vacant, we moved there, and sorted it out with reception the next morning.

We loved this camp and look forward to trying it in the summer.

_________________
Punda Maria 1 & 2 Sept
Sirheni 3 & 4 Sept
Olifants 5 & 6 Sept
Talamati 7 & 8 Sept
Tamboti 9 Sept
Satara 10 & 11 Sept
Pretoriuskop 12 Sept


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