Addo - Day 1 - July 23, 2007 - part 1
After a very pleasant breakfast overlooking the sea and Mosselbay, we heeded east towards Port Elizabeth and Addo. The drive took us through the garden route, and through the towns of George, Wilderness, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay. What a lovely part on the country that is – such lovely scenery of mountains, forests, the sea, and lagoons. We stopped at the Bloukrans bridge to take a look at the worlds highest bungee jump. I wondered if I would have the guts to do it, but (fortunately) did not have the time, so we head on towards Addo.
We kept driving and driving and driving without a garage in sight – and the fuel gage was getting lower and lower and lower. The light came on, but still no garage in sight. I finally had to turn off from the freeway into a little place about 20 km from Port Elizabeth in search of a garage. I don’t know who was the most nervous, Linda or I, because running out of gas would not be a pleasant experience!
We entered Addo at the Colchester Gate (thanks for the advice about this) and drove through the southern section of the park.
There were not supposed to be any game in the area yet, but the first animal we saw was a kudu in this section, followed by warthogs right next to the road.
Within about 200m of entering the main game area, we came over a little ridge and... THERE HE WAS!
I stuttered “o…o…O... OLIFANT!!!” I was so excited I couldn’t even think of the English word “elephant”. What an exciting moment – our first wild African Elephant of our trip, and Linda's very first wild elephant ever! And what a beauty it was! It was a big bull, standing in the road and leisurely eating on the bushes next to the road.
I slowly crept closer for a better view and to get the light better for some photos. I also thought that if I get close enough he would move out of the road a bit and let us through. Well, he had other ideas, just standing there chewing on the branches, but he did keep an eye on the car all the time. We stood there watching him for quite a while, and I managed to get a couple of photos. He was too close to get his whole body in the frame with my 70-200mm lens even at 70mm, but I was not even going to try and change lenses at this stage – I kept my eyes on him to see if he looked agitated, and my foot ready on the gas-pedal! I slowly drove on until we were right next to him – not even 10 feet away!
I swear he could hear my heart beat. It was such a mixture of excitement and nervousness. When he turned his head around at one point, and blew a “swoosh” through his trunk, I was gone in a flash! Linda just laughed, saying that I chickened out before her! But the look on her face watching this elephant was absolutely priceless. She didn’t need to say anything – her expression said it all. The best I can describe it is that is was a mixture of astonishment, excitement, awe and wonder. I knew then that she also loved the “wild South Africa”. I did manage another photo just as he walked off into the bushes.
Shortly after this, we were waived down by another car. The driver told us that they saw a female lion lying next to the road a few km further, and explained to us where it was. We set off in high hopes, but alas, when we arrived there, there was no lion to be seen.
to be continued...