08 February 2009
Last night our family did our first real camping trip- to a nearby national game reserve, called Addo elephant park. We took along two tents, some food, eating utensils and I think for a first camping trip it was all very civilised indeed. The loo was a long walk away for (me) and a child who only wants to use the loo now (Miss S), but very clean and so that was fine.
The animal viewing was stunning. We thought we'd struck it bad because we hit an unusual heat wave and had been told the animals would be hiding in the bushes. Well, maybe we could have seen other species, but we saw elephant aplenty. It was beautiful. The park is well set up with drives around water holes for good viewing and then also hidouts at various spots were you can get out in safety and take a closer look. We never saw lion or caracal, but we did see jackal. We also saw and heard a variety of birds: different barbets types, plovers, dikkops, weavers, red and yellow bishops, and larger birds of prey which I am not great at identifying. We also say Kudu, male and female, lots of warthog, some with cute little babies, and tortoise.
The elephant enjoyed bathing at the waterholes, squirting themselves with water, rolling in the mud and splashing with their feet. It was quite noisy as they made low rumbling noises, and occasional soft trumpets. Beautiful music to the ears. Though the water hole was a distance from our tent you could hear the sounds from our tent, they carry far.
When the warthog tried to get near the mud the make elephant were a bit cheeky and chased them off, often giving a mock charge, or squirting them with water, which I do not think they minded too much. Amongst the warthog there was much squealing for a spot of cool mud to roll in as they faught for a little patch of coolth between the sessions when there were no elephant.
I was amazed to see the tiniest elephant calf I have ever seen. It was still very hairy and it really struggled to reach up to drink to its mother. I could not get a good shot as it was very well protected by the herd. It was a lovely sighting.
Just before we left this morning we stopped at a hideout and were a few metres from a waterhole, we were able to get the closest to the sound, sights and smell of the elephant. First one herd was at the water, then it was joined by another herd, which had a calf. The calf had an absolute ball in the water, it rolled over and over in the muddy poolo, squirting the water and flapping it's ears. It was very clumsy so it looked so sweet. The adult protectively draped their trunks over it every now and again.
I hope we can go back again. It was about a 3 hour drive to the camp site, taking the slow scenic route.