Words & Images Michael Harber
“You’ll never get a booking this late in the year,” I was told, quite frankly, by a colleague at work. And he was absolutely right. I’m sure you would agree that Addo Elephant National Park is not the worst of places to see in the New Year, and I was now determined to fit it in, since other holiday
plans had fallen through. My wife and I had seen an opportunity to squeeze in six or seven days at Addo between our Christmas commitments in Cape Town and the time that I unfortunately needed to be back at work, but it was already October when I had these thoughts!
So, after a rather optimistic call to SANParks, proving my colleague right, I hunted for, and eventually found, suitable accommodation just outside Addo town − at one of the many fine places to stay within a few minutes’ drive of Addo’s main gate.
Despite being the third largest of South Africa’s national parks, over 180 000 hectares in size, and home to over 600 elephants, the famous flightless dung beetle and a mind-boggling diversity of flora, fauna and landscapes, I am embarrassed to say that this was my first visit to the park. We obviously saw many elephants during our stay, but we also had the privilege of watching the little famous flightless dung beetle tirelessly
going about his business – always in reverse, of course − rolling the balls around the park roads, and entirely oblivious to us fascinated tourists with
Addo had been top of my hit-list for many years. Is there another park in the country where you can game-drive in search of the Big 5 in one day, hike through mountain forest the next, then follow this by a horseback safari and a sun-filled day at the beach? What was of particular interest to me was the opportunity to drive the beautiful self-drive 4×4 trail over the magnificent Zuurberg mountain range, and to explore one of South Africa’s lesser-known passes – the Bedrogfontein Pass!
As we planned our precious few days in Addo, I knew that I had to find time to fit in the Bedrogfontein 4×4 Trail (translated as “fraud fountain” – although I have no idea why;) but, upon hearing that it was over 100km long and would likely take the better part of the day to complete, my
wife quickly made me understand that she would not be joining me on this one.
She had more relaxing plans for the day, involving a sleep-in, and reading a good book by the pool. Our first couple of days in Addo were filled with beautiful game drives exploring most, if not all, of the tracks through the game-filled southern parts of the park − a section of Addo that is filled
with Albany thickets, exclusive to the region of the Eastern Cape. It truly is a unique part of South Africa.