Saturday, 1 December 2012

Back from South Africa Part 2...

The road trip that followed was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Overall, during our stay in South Africa, we did around 2,200 kilometres, most of which of course were done during that road trip. We had to travel to the Addo Elephant Park, which is very close to Port Elizabeth, but far from Cape Town, so far that we had to book hotels on the way there and back. That wasn’t really a problem, but part of an adventure. We spent quite a few hours in the car almost daily, but the scenery was great.

Between the Western and the Eastern Cape, I don’t know about the rest of the country, there are some massive mountains following the coast line. These mountains block lots of clouds from passing through inland. So, there is more rainfall in one side than the other. That means that the side closer to the beach is green and is called the ‘Garden Route’. Driving through there is like driving through Austria. There are lakes, forests and breath taking canyons through that route. It’s really beautiful. The other side of the mountains is drier, less green, with vast areas covered only in very low grass or bushes.  Since we were driving to Addo and back, we decided to take both routes. We drove easterly from the north and westerly from the Garden Route. It was so interesting to see the difference.

On the way to the Addo Elephant Park we stayed in two places, Oudtshoorn and Knysna. The first as a town wasn’t that amazing, but it hosts some amazing cave formations (Cango Caves) and a very interesting Animal Park, but the second is a very picturesque town by a lagoon next to the sea. In Oudtshoorn’s Animal Park we spent the greater part of a morning looking at beautiful animals, serpents and birds. This is where for a small fee I met and petted a cheetah. The experience was really nice.

Cango Caves

The animals were brought up in captivity since pups and they were used to people. So, guests were able to pet them. Being pure felines, during the heat of the day, they were simply dozing under a shadow. They liked being treated and petted, so they were simply happily pouring. I was instructed not to touch them on their paws, tail and face, especially to block their eyesight. But I could happily caress them on the back of their head, back and belly, which I happily did. The cheetah was happily dozing off while being treated to such attention.

When we finally arrived in Addo Elephant Park, we found out it was definitely worth the drive. We had booked a chalet for two nights, a sunset game drive (between 6pm and 8pm) and a sunrise game drive (between 6am and 8am). We didn’t know exactly what to expect. We hoped to see some animals, but we didn’t really want to be disappointed, so we hadn’t had our hopes high. Thankfully, we were wrong. Even upon our arrival to the chalet, when we walked on the veranda, in the front of the house, in about 30 meters away, there was an elephant munching happily on the surrounding bushes. We were so surprised we wanted to scream, but we didn’t, so that not to scare the poor creature!

So happy to see the elephant outside our door

In front of the chalet, 2 meters away there were the electric fences to keep the animals away, but after that the vast area of the Park stretched. There were over 25,000 hectares of wilderness with a variety of small and big creatures for us to discover! It was something I will never forget. The next two days after our arrival, during the guided game tours and during our own driven tours, we saw a variety or animals, mammals, insects and birds. We saw kudus, elands, bushbucks, elephants, dung beetles, eagles, cranes, jackals, buffalos, zebras and even lions!!!!

An amazing picture JJ took

Especially during our own drives through the well-marked roads of the park, we had the time of our lives. The map we had with us marked the various waterholes where the animals gather, so we tried to visit all of them. In-between we were slowly driving around and checking movements between the bushes and photographing animals. Randomly running into an elephant in the middle of the road eating from a nearby bush or galloping zebras is not something you easily forget. The excitement we were feeling exploring the area and discovering its beauties was great.

So cute...

A random encounter while we were driving in the Park

A very close encounter. He was hungry, we were waiting... 


A kudu...

On the way back, we stayed in village called Wilderness where we put our feet in the Indian Ocean. It was so warm but we didn’t go any further. The waves were massive and we didn’t know what we’ll find deeper. We did enjoy a very nice stroll on the coast. The road trip ended with some whale watching in Hermanus! Unfortunately, JJ wasn’t feeling that well and just to be on the safe side, I went on that boat trip on my own. Since it was so late in November, most of the whales were gone. After they give birth in that area, they travel thousands of kilometres southbound to feed. We managed to find some though. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get very good pictures. The sea was a bit rough and I was concentrating more on staying upright on the boat. Looking at whales though is something very exciting nevertheless…  


  1. how wonderful; thank you for sharing these photos.

    1. You're very welcome. It's very nice sharing this experience. :-)

  2. It looks amazing. I could make crude jokes about you stroking a large pussy but I wont.


  3. I'm so jealous! I've always wanted to go on safari and see the wild animals of Africa! And you pet a Cheetah?? How cool is that! it was purring??

    I hate you.

    1. Now now cb... Calm down.
      (yes, that was a typo from my part). The cheetah was indeed happy and purring... :-)

  4. What wonderful pictures...and I am sure even better memories, What an awesome experience to have had.

  5. This looks like the adventure of a lifetime. JJ's pic is brilliant. I love silhouette. And the other pics, especially the one of the zebras racing across the road, are spectacular.

    1. I really like that picture too. It's brilliant. We should frame it.

  6. Wow! Good that you enjoyed that South Africa adventure. Thank you for sharing your experience.