This past weekend I eventually did what I have been wanting to do for a long time, take a day trip to Addo. Living in PE, means that Addo is really close, however I never really got round to it, until last week when all of a sudden I just decided that on Saturday, a close friend of mine and myself would go to Addo. Below is a trip report from the day (sorry no photos at the moment, need to get them developed onto disk, which once done, will then post).
My friend had a test in the morning, so it was agreed that at 10:30 I would meet at her house and we would go from there. As it turned out, 10:30 became 11 as I had some last minute padkos to organise. We left at about 11:30, but had to stop for a quick snack along the way. This all resulted in us only arriving just before 1 in Addo (we went along the N2 and at Patterson turned left - which I highly recommend as the road is way better than the other route).
Well the shortness of the trip did not result in a lack of sightings. To be perfectly honest, the trip was amazing with a first time sighting of something special, which I will get to a little later.
We entered the park, and the first sighting was that of a group of piggies feeding next to the road. They were very relaxed and we could clearly hear them tearing the grass from its roots. We then turned left onto the loop that has the Domkrag Dam on it (The map supplied by the park, which I am using does not indicate loop names). Just before the dam, we came upon a car that had stopped. I stopped and asked what they were looking at, but my friend found this very embarrasing, telling me that they were just chatting and that we must drive on, which we did. We then stopped at the dam, and had an amazing view of a herd of elephants drinking. The interesting thing was that they were not drinking from the dam, but were drinking from some sort of man-made fountain. It was very interesting watching them take turns covering their trunks over the opening and then sucking the water up and then drinking.
By fortune I managed to overhear a lady say that it was amazing that so many people were out of their vehicles with the lions so close. Not having been to the park since the lions had been introduced, a sighting of a lion was definately at the top of my wish list, so I immediately asked her where they had been seen, and sure enough, she said to turn left and just a little further on, on the left hand side a male was sleeping. Remembering earlier, I drove to the exact spot of the parked car, and sure enough, not 10 metres into the bush was a male lion, in the depths of slumberland, not moving a muscle. We had not been in the park for more than 20 minutes, and had already had a major tick, I was so excited. Knowing that the male would probably spend the rest of the day there, we decided to move on and did a quick u-ie and continued on the loop, once again passing the dam. I was also amazed at how close the lions were to the people, thinking back now, it was fairly dense bush around the parking lot, and if the lion decided to take a walk, Im sure it would have only been noticed by the people too late.
Continuing on, we had a sighting of a large leopard tortoise next to the road, and then a huge herd of very relaxed Kudu. Overall we saw loads of Kudu, but I noted two things about them, firstly that they all looked very thin and scruffy compared to other Kudu seen in other parts of the Eastern Cape and also in Kruger, and secondly, that the majority were seen out on the plains, compared to my usual sightings of them in fairly dense bushes in Kruger. Anybody know why this is?
Carrying on with the trip report, we continued on the Domkrag loop and then turned left onto the road down to Carols Rest. This road did not dissappoint, with a large number of sightings. This included a herd of approximately 15 ellies walking through the bush and eventually coming out parrallel to the road in a long line. We also managed to see Zebra, what I think was Eland in the distance as well as other herds of elephant, loads more Kudu and Warthog.
Arriving at the Carols rest waterhole, we were greeted by 3 ellies drinking as well as 2 Dagga boys grazing a short distance away (these are the first Buffalo that I have seen during the day, not sure if these have been introduced and are not nocturnal like the original Addo Buffs?)
We finished the loop and turned right, back to the Domkrag loop to check on the lions. Not having gone more than 20 meters up the road, I noticed a car stopped. I looked to the right and noticed some more Kudu. I was about to leave, when all of a sudden I noticed it, a CARACAL.
This is a first for me. Quite ironic, because of Friday I was reading on Friday about how a forumite had seen 7 this year, and me saying I wish. Boy do wishes come true!!! The Caracal was quite far off behind bushes, but I managed to get one photo of it. It then dissappeared again, but soon one of the Kudu started walking in that general direction, and all of a sudden the Caracal appeared with the Kudu right behind it. It then dissappeared again, so I decided to follow the Kudu's movements, and which worked as I managed to get one last glimpse of the animal before it finally dissappeared for good.
After this amazing sighting, about 2:30, I was so excited. We had been there for only about an hour and a half and had seen sightings I could only dream of!!!
We returned to the lion, and found it in the exact same spot. Luckily for us, as we got there it rolled over a bit and so we managed to see a bit more of it. We moved on again, and then drove down to Hapoor Dam. The only sightings along this road was a few warthog, 3 dung beetles on the road (all alive, and all dodged) and a few Kudu at the Hapoor Dam.
From there we travelled up to the Zuurkop lookout, and really enjoyed the view. Managed to see another lone Dagga Boy walking along the road down to Carols Rest road from the lookout, but that was pretty much it. From there travelled back to the main road and on to Gwarrie Pan where we had a lovely sight of 3 Ellies coming down to the waterhole and drinking. We finished the loop to Hapoor again and returned up the main road again, the only nice sighting being meerkats (Timon and Pumba tick completed
). We once again returned to the lion and after waiting a while in line, managed to see him again, still in the same place. We were happy to see though, that he had been joined by his coalition partner, who had been sleeping unseen under a bush close by. Just before we had got there, he had moved and "Cuddled up" right next to his buddy.
We then left very happy with the afternoons worth of sightings. All in all I can say that I was very impressed with Addo. The abundance of game, especially in the Domkrag and Carols Rest area is amazing, you literally see animals all across the plains.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip report as much as I enjoyed sharing these amazing sights with you. Sorry it is so long, but that was the nature of how great the afternoon was. I hope to now make Addo a more regular trip, and when I do go, I will be sure to post here.