10

Addo Elephant Park – Last Day

I am not lying when I tell you that I saw a lion today but he was far away and lying flat in the long grass – so I’m not even going to bore you with a bad photograph!

There are more interesting things to write about but this will be a short post.  I took dozens of photographs;  too many to post and difficult to know which ones to choose.   So I am going to be brief and hope you enjoy the photo story instead.

In a small park like Addo it’s easy to get around the whole game area in a day.    It’s always wise to try to stick to early morning and late afternoon but as a day visitor this is not so easy.   We might have had a chance to see lions had we stayed on till the end of the day but that would be exhausting.

The main stars of Addo are definitely the elephants. Zebra can be mighty entertaining too and even though the warthogs are everywhere, I just love them and can watch their antics for hours.

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This poaching monitor and his anti poaching dog kindly posed for a photo at the entrance. Dogs like this one are invaluable in keeping poaching to a minimum

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A Pale-chanting Goshawk was more obliging than the lions we saw nearby

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Such an attractive antelope is the male kudu

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So easy to ignore these guys after a while – but they’re really cute

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Hapoor Waterhole hosted a huge herd of ellies this morning

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They just kept coming

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Group Bath-time!

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Breathing with a built in snorkel!

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Fun fun fun

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Here we go again

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Elephants just wanna have fun

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We came across three zebras having a group hug!

At Marion Baree Waterhole another group of ellies were kicking up mud

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Glorious Mud

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Water and mud play is good for kids, Mom

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This little one certainly enjoyed it

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Mommy Pig and Baby Porkie looked on enviously waiting for their turn.

It was our last day visiting Addo today but we will be back another time.  It’s such a fab place to visit.

 

9

Addo Elephant Park – Another day in Elephantasia

Staying outside of a game reserve is not ideal but it’s better than nothing.  We’re loving The Homestead which is just a short distance from the entrance gate.   Day visitors may only enter the game viewing at 7:00 am while for residents it’s an hour earlier.   In the past we would be first at the gate!  But today we only woke up at 7 and entered the park after 8.   Then we had a leisurely breakfast at The Cattle Baron before setting off on our game drive.

There are many different types of antelope in the park and they’re all thriving.   First we were greeted by this beauty.

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Lovely male kudu with another in the background

Addo Elephant Park is one of the few places in the country that is home to the flightless dung beetle. Visitors are warned to watch out for them on the roads as they cannot fly away to safety.

The flightless dung beetles mostly feed on elephant or buffalo faeces, but they have been recorded to also feed on dung from other species such as rabbits, baboons, antelope and ostrich.   Read about dung beetles  here

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We really enjoy the birdlife in the parks we visit but Autumn in Addo hasn’t produced anything too exciting.  These are some of the birds we managed to photograph

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Cape Wagtail collecting nesting material

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Speckled Mousebird

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Cape Glossy Starling

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Red-necked spurfowl

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Southern Boubou

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Capped Wheatear

Tortoises tend to be less plentiful as winter approaches but we did find one who was still quite wide awake

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We found lots of plains animals in the south today.   There are a number of waterholes that attract them and the grazing in also very good.   All the animals are looking very healthy.  We enjoyed seeing a number of different species making Addo look like what one expects Africa to be.  It was lovely to see a mix of zebra, kudu, red hartebeest, warthogs and elephants spread across the veld.

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We learned that elephants were starting to dominate the waterholes and leaving little over for the other creatures.  So the authorities have placed an electric fence around one we saw today.  The wires hang down to a certain height and prevent the elephants from drinking but are high enough for the smaller animals to be unaffected.  No chance of the zebras being squirted by elephants at this waterhole!

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Do you see the wires hanging just above the zebras

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This elephant walked right past – obviously knows what will happen if he goes to this pub!

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Oh the bliss of elephant free water!

BUT at the waterholes where they’re free to frolic there was a lot of fun today.  They swam and played and rolled in mud to their hearts content.

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It’s hot – I need a swim

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Oh what fun

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Look at me!

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Mom – I love this

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What’s going on here?

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Time to get out

 

Most of the waterholes we visited had tons of frisky elephants taking the waters.  It was fascinating to watch them.

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We stopped at Jack’s picnic site for coffee

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And the final excitement of the day was this young hyaena lying next tot he side of the road – not often seen in Addo so we were thrilled.

 

 

 

8

A Visit to Addo – Carol’s Rest is Elephantastic

Today we left Jubilee Farm and headed to Addo Elephant Park. Their camping was fully booked so we had to find accommodation outside The Park.  Our intention was to stay  at the south end near Colchester.   However, we heard on the radio that there was rioting on the N2 and in the village.   Rocks and burning objects were being thrown around so we thought it best to stay out of the troubled zone.    News 24 Report

The other end of the park was not affected so we booked into The Homestead just 10 minutes away from the Addo Rest Camp entrance.   By 2:30 we were set up and ready to go adventuring.

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There were lots of black-headed heron around

After enjoying a variety of zebra, red hartebeest, kudu and millions of warthogs we stopped at Carol’s Rest where one male elephant was hogging the water hole while another two were fooling around and a fourth made a later appearance.  A thirsty zebra was too nervous to drink while Jumbo was taking up most of the space

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Please can I join you for a drink?

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Clearly you’re not sharing with me!

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The cheeky warthogs had no fear and joined right in

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Still the zebra was not too sure

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A jackal decided to make do with a muddy puddle further away

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Thirst drove the zebra to take a few steps closer

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Brave boy – you did it!

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Aaah that’s better 

The zebra got his drink then what the camera missed was hilarious.  The elephant squirted him with his trunk!  We nearly fell out of the car laughing and the zebra leaped out of the pond!

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I think he’s telling his friend all about it

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These two entertained us with their interaction

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They twisted their trunks together

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And seemed to really like each other

We spent ages just watching these wonderful creatures interact, push, pull, chase and scratch each others ears with their tusks – it was amazing.

But as we had to leave the park by six we made our way back to the gate and out again.  On our way home we stopped at Lenmore to shop for fresh veggies at their deli.  We also decided to go to their restaurant for supper.  What a great decision as their lamb shank was to die for.   It was served with delicious veggies too – green beans, cauliflower cheese, creamed spinach, glazed carrots and roasted baby potatoes.

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A fabulous ending to a perfect day

 

 

 

 

5

Fun Photo Challenge – Z

This week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee calls for pictures of anything beginning with Z.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind is Zebra.

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Part of the challenge includes photographs of  ‘catching zzzs’

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Lazy Lion 

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Sleeping Puff Adder found in our Kgalagadi Camp!

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Went straight back to sleep when he was caught and put under a distant tree!

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A very comfy position to sleep in

12

The Long Road to Struisbaai

Since our ‘holiday’ in Italy, The Earl’s health has improved, we’ve sold our Sun Valley Home and had a great holiday with The Rural Family in Kokstad.   There was a hiccup with chest pains in Kokstad but they were caused from Fly Fishing and not his heart!   However, it did prevent us from taking our grandchildren to Tala Game Reserve.

Once that settled down it was time to return to the Fiefdom of Struisbaai.  We decided to take it slowly and take the scenic Garden Route.

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It was raining again this morning.   We were up and packed by 5:30, went to say farewell to the family and then hit the road.

We stopped at Stone Junction in Maclear for breakfast.  It was lovely.  We had eggs, bacon, pork sausage, mushroom and tomato. The coffee was good.

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Delicious Breakfast at Stone Junction, Maclear, Eastern Cape

Our next stop was Queenstown where we fuelled.  The roads were not too bad but we had to look out for cows, goats and donkeys.  The scenery was stunning.

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img_2674We arrived at Casa Mia near Addo Elephant Park at 15:30 had some coffee and rusks and a bit of a rest then went to dinner at Lenmore Family Restaurant about 5km away.   We met a young family – Mom, Dad and five-year-old Noah from England.  They were on a round the world trip.   Tomorrow they’re doing Addo and we gave them some advice as to where to go and what to do.

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Saturday 7 January 2017

The alarm woke me at 5 and I had no trouble in jumping out of bed to ready myself for a day in Addo Elephant Park.   I was not anticipating too much as we were there just a couple of months ago and the sightings were average – no big cats and nothing unusual. But just being in the park again would be enough for me.   We packed our picnic breakfast and set off in high spirits.

It was 6:00 am when we entered the main gate and were slightly put out when we were told that reception would only open at 7:00 and it was there that we had to get our day passes for the game viewing area!  Never mind – we could have breakfast at Cattle Baron  and eat our picnic for lunch – no such luck – The Baron opened even later!

So we went to the waterhole and enjoyed the birds then got our day pass, had a coffee at Barons and set off to find what we could find.

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The Egyptain Geese were feeling frisky

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A good start to the morning

By 10 o’clock we had photographed some lovely birds, kudu and zebra.

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Ant-eating chat

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African Pipit

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Lone Buffalo

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Beautiful Male Kudu

 

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Malachite Sunbird in transitional plumage

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Southern Boubou

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Karoo Scrub-robin

But what we really hoped to find were the Bat Eared Fox cubs that everyone on The Addo Facebook page was raving about.  And we were in luck – a single car was parked on the side of the road to Carol’s Rest and pointed out the den to us.  We spent half an hour enjoying their antics and taking photos and soon there were several other cars joining in the fun.

 

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After that we headed up to the Zuurkop Outlook.   “Look at all the dung beetles and worms on the road,”said Earl  trying hard not to run over any of them.

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The mighty dung beetle cleaning up the landscape

At Zuurkop we hopped of the car and were joined by a few other tourists.  We got chatting to a Mom and daughter, saw some elephants a short distance away and I lingered to look,  a few feet away from Earl while he chatted to some people.  My back was to him and when I heard him call to me to look at something. I turned around and my heart almost stopped.  He was teetering backwards in the most alarming way – I ran – and as he fell I heard a gurgling sound, his eyes rolled back in his head and he dropped flat on his back – out cold.   Crazy thoughts raced through my head – he’s dead – what am I going to say to the girls, I’m not ready to be a widow – I have to get him breathing again – I pinched his nose, put my mouth over his and started blowing what I thought was life back into him – not holding out much hope that it would work – what the hell did I know about CPR – nothing! Suddenly he shook his head, giggled and said, “What’s going on. I’ve just had the most beautiful dream.”                                                                                                                                              I freaked out – “You fainted – I thought you were dead!”

“Keep calm,” said a soothing voice, the lady to whom we had been chatting.  “If you’re calm he’ll be calm.”   I found out later that her name was Ayshia.  She put a pillow under Earl’s head and it was then that I realised he was bleeding.   I ran for the first aid kit, couldn’t find the wipes so Aishia gave me hers, I cleaned it then put a plaster on his wound.  We checked that he wasn’t hurt and he insisted that he was fine.

“I just bent down to pick up a worm to show you,” he said, “I did feel a bit light headed so I must have passed out when I stood up.  I really am fine now.”

Well – it’s not normal to just keel over like that.  I wanted to take him straight to a doctor.   He agreed to let me drive and after we both calmed down I got behind the wheel and drove to reception to get names of doctors.  Not helpful at all – You have to go to Port Elizabeth, they said.

So we drove back to Casa Mia and Earl said his neck was sore.  He just wanted to rest.  I massaged him with Traumeel and gave him an anti inflammatory.   I then asked reception hostess for the name and number of a doctor.  She suggested a practice in Kirkwood.  The reply from them was – the doctors are going off duty now you must go to outpatients at the hospital.

Earl thought he didn’t feel up to driving anywhere. He just wanted to rest.  I allowed him to do this but after consulting with our Jeffrey’s Bay friends who we were due to visit the following day we decided to go straight to St George’s Hospital Outpatients just to be on the safe side.

It was about 3 o’clock on this Saturday afternoon when  we arrived at the hospital. We parked the car and trailer in the street and a car guard offered to give the vehicle a wash.  It really needed it so we agreed.  It cost us R100.

Earl was ushered straight into the emergency room and given an angiogram. I remained behind to fill in forms and it was half an hour later before I was allowed in to see what was going on.  The staff were amazing and after Italy we were delighted that everybody spoke English!!!   A young lady doctor with the gentlest bedside manner broke the news – “I have spoken to the cardiologist and as your husband is a high risk patient he would like to do some more tests and so he must remain in hospital overnight.”

I was devastated.  Stupid thoughts raced through my mind. Where would I go?  We had a trailer – where would I park it – how would I get it off the car.  I have no sense of direction – I will get lost in Port Elizabeth.  You would swear I hadn’t dealt with worse in  Italy!

I heard Earl say to the doctor –“Can’t I just take my wife to a B&B and come back later?”

No – she said.

It must have been the fainting episode that had put me into panic mode.   I felt like I was falling apart – my arms and legs didn’t belong to me, I had to take control of them and instruct them what to do. I had to gear my mind to the right thinking paths. I had to assure my husband that I would cope!

I heard myself say, “I will be fine, Darling.  I can tow a trailer – nothing to it.  And I will find a B&B with space to park it!”

The doctor said, “You can ask the nurses at reception for if they know of accommodation nearby.”

But I started googling.   A few minutes later the doctor reappeared.  She handed me a slip of paper – My fiancé’s parents have a B&B in Summerstrand.  They have space for your trailer and will help you unhitch it.

Wow  –  The Lord once again sent an angel to our aid

I rang the number and made the necessary arrangements.

After getting lost for an half an hour because I entered the address into the GPS incorrectly, I finally made it to the B&B a mere 10 minutes away if you have your mind functioning correctly.

Bev met me at the gate.  “You must be stressed out,” she said and gave me a comforting hug.  Another one of God’s Angels.  She told me she had been a nursing sister and had looked after her own dad who was a heart patient too.   Her stories were most reassuring and she told me that St George’s was an excellent hospital and that E would receive the best care.

After settling myself in I walked to the shopping centre just around the corner and had a glass of wine and some sushi at Taste of Asia.

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I felt much calmer when I went back and was able to contact the girls to give them the news.

Sunday 8 January 2017

I was confident that Earl would be discharged today.  I phoned the hospital and they said, “Your husband had a good night. No pain and no dizziness when mobile.  The doctor still needs to see him but we are don’t see any reason for him to remain another day.”

So I cheerfully packed him some clothes and made my way to Life St George’s arriving around 10 o’clock.   When E saw me he said, “Why have you brought my clothes? I sent you a text to tell you I have to stay another night.” The Port Elizabeth doctor needed to consult with the Cape Town doctor and as it was Sunday it would have to wait till tomorrow.  “Oh, I’m sure that he will let you go and you can stay with me at Le Fishermans and then see him in his rooms tomorrow.”

We got into conversation with the 2 other women in the ward.  They were convinced that they were going home today too.  “I’m not staying here another minute,” said the one next to the window.  “Neither am I,” said the one across the way.   Nobody’s going to make me shower at 4 in the morning again!”  They dug in their heels and prepared for battle against the great doctor.  The staff who were in and out, looked on with knowing smiles.

Earl was first on his list. I introduced myself.   “So your husband has been picking up worms and then keeling over unconscious,” he said.  “Yes, he is not in my good books at the moment.”

He asked me my version of the story and then checked the dosage of his medication.  He said to stop taking the Cardicor so now all Earl needs to take is Pritor for blood pressure, cardio aspirin and Crestor for cholesterol.

I asked him if Earl could be discharged and see him in his rooms tomorrow morning.  He was appalled – “Absolutely not,” he looked at me in horror. “I need to monitor this man’s heart!”

“But I thought everything was fine.”

“No it’s not.  There is something strange about his cardiogram”  He spoke to the attending staff member – “how was he last night?” – and he looked at the chart. “No irregularities” said the nurse.   But he wanted to see if the strange thing came up again and he wanted to know if it was a new phenomenon or whether it had been seen on his angiograms before.  That is why he needed to speak E’s cardiologist in Cape Town.

He then went to speak to each of the other patients in turn.  Each of them begged to be discharged.  He wasn’t having any of it.  “Doctor, I promise it won’t happen again,” said the one old duck.   “O really,” came the reply “and how did this happen in the first place?”  “I don’t know, Doctor.”  “And neither do I so that’s why you’re staying so I can work out how to fix you!” And that was that.

When he left and the nurse returned to check on the patients, she smiled and said – so you’re staying, you’re  staying and you’re staying!
I said, “Now ladies – I hope I can trust you with my husband.”

“Ha ha,” said Mrs wont’t shower at 4 am.  “We’re too weak to do anything.  Your husband has more energy than either of us – can you trust him with us!”

At 11 I left and went to the coffee shop for breakfast.   I phoned each daughter to break the news – Laurie – Oh no man – now listen all this travelling around has to stop.  You have to make dad take it easy.  No more travelling for the next six months!”

Lisa – “So hasn’t the bypass worked?”   “Yes it has darling. This is something new.”  “Oh well then it’s good the doctor is doing something about it.”

Lauren – “Oh dear – How are you handling it? Are you taking strain –  Don’t worry – it will all work out.”

After several long conversations I finally drove home.   On the way the phone rang.  I stopped to answer.  A friend of mine when she heard I was in Port Elizabeth asked her friend who lives nearby to contact me.  I also knew Brenda when she lived in Cape Town so it was great to hear from her.  We arranged to meet for coffee later in the afternoon.

So after I’d visited E she collected me from Le Fishermans and we went to the Beach Hotel which was wonderful. We sat on the deck on comfy couches and chatted and chatted.

 

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Thanks for a lovely afternoon, Brenda

Monday 9 January 2017

I packed up but left everything in the room and by 8 o’clock I was ready for breakfast.   I was the only guest there and Bev provided a delicious meal.  I started with Greek Yogurt sweetened with something delicious she makes herself.   I added some fruit to this.  Then she asked how I would like my eggs – medium – and it was served with bacon, tomato and fried zucchini – fabulous.  The coffee was excellent too.

I then dashed off to the hospital with high hopes the The Earl would be ready for discharge.  I was allowed in but when the doctor arrived was asked to wait in the foyer.    But all was well. The two cardiologists had consulted and they concluded that the strange pattern in Earl’s cardiogram was normal for him  – so no further intervention needed. The fainting was simply due to a fluctuation in blood pressure when he stood up too quickly.

So after 2 nights of excellent care – in English! – we went back to Le Fisherman’s, hitched up the trailer, bade farewell to my amazing hostess and headed to Jbay.

We had a great time with our friends there and the following day stopped at Great Brak for a visit with relatives.  We are now back and settled in good old Struisbaai!

 

 

 

 

1

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

Homestead B&B and Caravan Park is just a few minutes away from the Addo Elephant Park entrance gate.  The site provides excellent shade and the ablutions and facilities are adequate and clean.  We paid R200 per night.   If you can’t get into the Addo Rest Camp this is an excellent alternative.  They also have Bed and Breakfast facilities.  I forgot to take photographs but rest assured it is great!
We set off for a game drive at about 3:30.  What a great afternoon we had.   The weather was stunning – clear skies and quite hot.   It was great to see plenty of the game grazing on the hillsides and in the veld. There is no shortage of warthogs, red hartebeest, kudu and zebra.  And it’s certainly the place to go if you want to see elephants.

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The buffalo are fat and healthy and the favourite food of the lions

We found that most of the animals were in the South of the park and that the elephants had spread out and could be seen at most of the waterholes.   In the heat of the day they were enjoying themselves in the red muddy holes along with their little friends the warthogs who seem so tiny when seen right next to these gentle giants.

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We left via the South Gate and then had a long drive back to camp but it was worth it.  On the way we found a number of delightful birds.

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The common but very pretty Cape Glossy Starling

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Always friendly – the African Pipit

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The red-faced mousebird seldom sits still long enough for a photoshoot so I was delighted to get a reasonable shot of him

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And he obliged to pose with his cousin the speckled mousebird

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The Southern Boubou tends to hide but he was quite conspicuous on this day

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Not just a pretty face but pretty feathers too has the emerald-spotted wood-dove

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A Bird of Prey that has me foxed

The evening was warm enough to sit outdoors without a jacket and we enjoyed a braai of ostrich steak and sausage.

We were up before six the next morning and in at the gate by 7.  Unfortunately when you are a day visitor you may only enter at 7 so miss the early 6 o’clock opening to the game area.

It is definitely better to stay in the park as you can then easily go back to your camp for a break in the middle of a hot day.   We took our breakfast break at Jack’s Picnic Site which is named after Jack the Black Rhino who was one of the first to be brought to Addo. He was kept in the enclosure which is now the picnic site. It has a security gate and well looked after, clean ablutions.  The picnic areas are also secluded and shady.

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Muesli and Yogurt followed by crackers and olive paste with a cup of coffee at Jack’s

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Cape Robin-chat came to check us out but did not like our food.

The bokmakierie is a common resident in the park and showed himself to us quite a few times.

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Such a pretty bird

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Plenty of these guys in the park

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And aren’t the zebra gorgeous

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At lunch time we went to the Cattle Baron in the Rest Camp   The food was good. I had a chicken salad with a generous amount of grilled chicken strips, greens, tomato and avo and Earl had seared chicken and Camembert with a salad which was delicious.   Cost – Around R190 altogether including a glass of wine and 2 beers.

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You may alight from your vehicle at certain viewpoints

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But entirely at your own risk!

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The warthogs are so amusing

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A nice muddy bath will do the trick

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And even the Dung Beetles are fascinating

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Elephants love the glorious mud

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The babies are adorable and so well cared for by the moms, aunts and sisters

Before lunch we came upon a traffic jam and were told that there was a lion under a tree – I managed to glimpse it but encouraged Earl to move on and come back later as all it was going to do was sleep for a few hours and it was not worth fighting for a good viewing spot.

When we returned at about 4ish we saw elephants at the nearby waterhole and quite a few cars were parked watching them.   Suddenly Earl called – “There’s the lion,” and toward the elephants a lion stealthily crept.

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Lions will not drink at the waterhole alongside ellies as they’re afraid of them – for good reason.   She soon dropped down behind a bush and then we spotted two others.  The elephants were well aware of them and some decided to leave but two remained for ages.  One of the younger lions quickly came down and took a few sips and then ran off as fast as she could.   We thought she might grab an unsuspecting warthog but he saw in in time and ran for his little life.

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The warthog is unaware of the pending danger

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But she justs wants a drink

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She is the only one of the lions brave enough to sneak a sip or two while the giants ignore her.

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Only when they leave do the others come down to drink

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This one was the last to arrive from the opposite direction and she was wearing a collar

We left the park at about 5 and it was a short drive to camp.   The evening was even hotter than the previous night so we once again sat outdoors in shorts and t-shirt.  Quite a difference from our evenings at Warmwaterberg and Buffalo Bay!

We packed up to leave early this morning with the intention of a stop-over at George or Gouritz but we decided in the end to press on and arrived home at half past three.  It was a good week away!

 

 

2

NaBloPoMo 25 – The story of the Proud Hoopoe

NaBloPoMo

Our holiday to the Eastern Cape has come to an end and sadly we bade farewell to our wonderful friends, Jim and Maureen this morning and made our way back to Struisbaai.  Thanks J&M for being such amazing friends and sharing your beautiful home with us. Thanks too for the tour guiding around the area.  Earl loved seeing all the boats and the birding was great too!  We are so privileged to have you in our lives and we look forward to meeting up again soon.

Of course after a stay away there is the unpacking and sorting out to do back home.  I am pleased to say that the caravan is cleaned and sorted and the washing is almost done!

My blog post today will be a story about a bird from our holiday.

Hoops the Hoopoe is an impressively handsome bird but even his stunning good looks don’t always get him the attention he craves from Hettie his girlfriend.  He needs to find something else to impress her.  Not even the Addo Park tourists are looking at him this morning because his friends Elroy and Eliza the baby elephants are making them giggle as they enjoy a lovely messy mud bath at Marion Baree waterhole. Suddenly he spies a fat, juicy worm popping its head up from its dingy hole and instinctively he nabs it with his beak.  Now where is Hettie?  He calls – Hoop-hoop, hoop-hoop as loudly as he can without opening his beak.  Hettie does not appear but all the tourists in their cars are enthralled and he struts about proudly hoop-hooping away and even displaying his handsome crest.   But where of where is Hettie – she needs to see this – I want to invite her to lunch!  Then suddenly out of nowhere comes a flash of black and a cheeky Fiscal grabs the worm from the puffed up hoopoe. Poor Hoops – he’s lost the girl and the worm!

 

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 23 – Addo to Jeffrey’s Ba

NaBloPoMo

We couldn’t resist going for one last game drive before packing up this morning.  I’d heard lions roaring in the night and though we just might be able to find them but that was not to be.  We did, though, find two jackals at Ghwarrie Pan and I managed to persuade one to pose.

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On our return Early made breakfast and then we packed up and made our way to Jeffrey’s Bay.  It’s lovely to be here catching up with our friends Maureen and Jim. Maureen cooked us a delicious Roast Leg of Lamb for dinner tonight and we enjoyed the company of their friend, Errol too.

 

Yesterday I took some videos of the elephants and I am including them here

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 22 -Birthday Surprises

NaBloPoMo

How the weather can change so rapidly is a mystery to me.  It was pouring at bedtime last night and I thought it would go on for a week!  But this morning dawned bright and sunny with not a cloud to be see.  It was, however, still a tad chilly but it warmed up to short and t-shirt temperature by midday.

We did not dash out at dawn but were on safari before 7 am.

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Speckled mousebird catching the early morning rays

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This common waxbill teased me by flitting from tree to tree while I tried to snap his portrait.  After much begging he finally obliged.  Can you see that – oh all right then – expression on his face?

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This red-necked spurfowl is far friendlier and quite likes the attention of the  paparazzi

We had a pleasant drive and then returned to have breakfast at Cattle Baron at 10 before setting off again.

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Because it’s my birthday I was treated to breakfast in a restaurant!

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Warthogs have this cute habit of kneeling down to get closer to their food.

The elephants were having fun today.  At Hapoor we watched herd after herd come down to drink and play in the mud.  The babies always amuse me.

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Later in the day at another waterhole, we found a small family group having a muddy bath.  The two youngsters were rolling on top of each other and I could almost hear them singing – mud – glorious mud.  If eared that the smaller ellie wouldn’t be able to make it out of the mire but his elders used their trunks to help him out.   It was fascinating to watch.

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This is fun – really, truly it is!

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Do I have to get out?

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Okay, I’m coming

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Don’t forget my brother!

I took a video of the adults helping the baby out and will post it when I’ve worked out how.

We were looking at some creature when I suddenly became aware of a hoep hoep sound behind me.  I knew that sound and turned to look and sure enough there was an African Hoopoe right beside the road.  He was strutting about proudly showing off his catch – a lovely juicy worm

He kept strutting about and calling and I wondered if he was going to give it to his mate but she was nowhere to be seen.

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Look what I’ve got – Aren’t I clever!

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And don’t you love my gorgeous crest – I’m such a handsome boy!

Well no other hoopoe made an appearance and for several minutes he continued showing off his catch.  Then all of a sudden a Common Fiscal appeared from nowhere and snatched it from his beak.  Not so smart anymore Mr Hoopoe – that will teach you to be such a show-off!

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Another fine bird make my day – malachite sunbird

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And a glossy starling too

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Buffalo are the lions favourite food and these we saw near Zuurkop lookout.  We heard roaring but no sign of the predators looking for lunch.

Our drive produced many of our favourite creatures including zebra, red hartebeest, kudu,jackal and meerkat.   It was four o’clock and we were making our way back to camp on the hapoor loop when up ahead we saw four cars stopped on the road.  “What can you see?” asked Earl.  “Lion” I said, “in the shade on the side of the road.” “No way,” he said.  But soon we were able to get closer and there he was – a single male lion – definitely there to wish me Happy Birthday.   He was like a great big pussy cat washing his face and paws!

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We invited our German neighbours, Ruth and Klaus to join us for a braai this evening. What a lovely way to end our stay in Addo Elephant Park.

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And as I write this post I can hear the lions roaring not too far away!

 

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#NaBloPoMo 21 – A Wet Day in Addo

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Who would believe that we would have rain in Addo Elephant Park in November!  It was so hot on our arrival day but now it is cold and wet!  But this has not dampened our enjoyment of being in the bush.  We are not diehards but we certainly make a plan to make things more comfortable.  Thank Goodness I thought to pack some warm clothes.

It rained throughout last night and was still raining this morning so we stayed in bed a little later – no point rushing out in the cool of the day as the whole day would be cool!  It let up enough to make a hearty breakfast and while Earl was preparing he had a demanding visitor.

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This cheeky fork-tailed drongo asked to share our breakfast

It seems that butter is a delicacy enjoyed both by the drongo and the weavers. Before Earl could stop the drongo he’d taken off with the butter from the egg pan!

After rescuing our breakfast from the birds we sat down to eat and then set off to explore. It rained on and off the entire day!

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Mr Kudu was the first to greet us

We saw elephants frequently and I will just show a few of the special ones here

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King of the road was this bull leisurely strolling towards us and not given a damn about the cars. This is taken through the windscreen

 

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Don’t worry he was really friendly

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He could have put his trunk right through the window but he was more interested in eating his lunch

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He uses his trunk with such skill

Of course the warthogs have the run of the park and we saw plenty of them.

We also got up close and personal with red hartebeest and zebra.

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The babies are adorable

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In spite of the rain the plains were full of game

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The zebra were in playful mood

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And quite affectionate toward each other

The birding was most rewarding – they did not seem to mind the rain.

 

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Glossy starlings made many appearances

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Two beautiful spotted thick-knees

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An orange throated longclaw posed like a model

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Of course he is a handsome chap!

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A red-necked spurfowl showed off her chicks

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The hyperactive stonechat was hard to get but finally he sat still and obliged me with a half decent photograph

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The resident Jackal Buzzard shows he’s just as handsome as the visiting steppe buzzard

We exited the south gate and went to the little village of Colchester   just outside the park to do a bit of shopping and had lunch at Taste of Africa – a chicken salad that lacked imagination!

We arrived back at camp at 4 o’clock.  We had every intention of doing a braai for supper as the rain had stopped but by  5 it was raining again so we opted for dinner at the restaurant.  Our venison hotpot was served with mash, butternut and spinach and was to die for!

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Early looking surprised at the excellent food

We’re having trouble with our portable wireless devise so might not be able to do a blog post tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be able to use my phone or Earl’s tablet as a hotspot – depends on how much data is left!

But now I will be going to sleep with the sound of rain on canvas – I do so love my offroad caravan!

 

 

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 20 – Lions and more@ Addo

NaBloPoMo

It was the call of the fiery-necked nightjar calling loudly that woke me at a rude hour this morning.  I lay listening to The Good Lord Deliver Us over and over again before reluctantly climbing out of bed and heading to the showers.  Good thing too – because it was already light and gate opening was at 5:30.  We made it to the gate by 5:45.

The weather was somewhat cooler but still warm enough for shorts and t-shirt but I took along a jersey for when the windows were open.  Our first bird of the morning was this summer visitor from Eastern Europe

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Although the steppe buzzards breeds in Eastern Europe they migrate to Southern Africa in summer arriving in October and leaving in April

Another non-breeding summer migrant is the barn swallow

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These birds start arriving in September and the last ones leave in April

An intra-African migrant Lesser Striped swallow greeted us early this morning.

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Lesser Striped Swallow – present in South Africa from July to March

The Southern Masked weaver is a common resident in South Africa and is not too shy to pose for a portrait.  They can become quite tame and frequent campsites in the hope that they pick up a snack or two from the friendly humans.

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How those vicious thorns don’t stab them I do not know.

As we drive around the reserve we frequently hear – Willie – come out and fight – scared.  Or that is what the field guides tell us the Sombre bulbul is saying.  But I think it sounds more like. Look out – you can’t find me – whaaaaa.  But today we did find him – right out in the open too.

Another one who calls out loudly and likes to hide is the very pretty little Diderick Cuckoo.   Today Earl found him trying to camouflage in the foliage.

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The male cuckoo is very good looking – but he and his wife don’t raise their own chicks.  The female chooses a variety of hosts including the southern masked weaver, red bishop, Cape sparrow and Cape wagtail. She lays up to 20 eggs per season so that’s a lot of surrogate mothers she has to find!

It is important to get out into the park early if you want to see predators. Lions are lazy and sleep in a shady spot most of the day.  Today we found two large males at Carol’s Rest and they were just lying there – awake and just staring into the distance.

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Lions Rule

Red Hartebeest, zebra and kudu were waiting, dead still, over the road on the hillside, very aware of the enemy and too scared to come down to drink.

We parked off, had breakfast and drank our coffee while we waited to see if anything would happen.  Warthogs have to be the bravest and cheekiest of animals.  The appeared from the other side of the waterhole so did not consult with the herbivores on the hillside.  They boldly approached their kings and I wondered how the conversation went.

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Please, Your Majesty, may I go down to drink?

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Now let me think – I’ll check with my brother

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NO!  Get out of here or we’ll have you for breakfast!

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The cheek of those subjects!

You would think the others would learn from the warties – but no – all of a sudden a herd of donkeys in prison clothes came racing across the road – then stood dead still in front of their sovereign.

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We’re just out of jail and very thirsty – May we have a drink please sire?

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Oh sure – if you want to be steak!

So they turned tail and headed back to the hill.

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They have to leave some time – we’ll just have to wait!

We watched these antics for over an hour and then decided to head back to camp.

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We were thrilled to find two meerkats – but only one photograph is worth posting.

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Life is good in Addo Elephant Park

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Jackals are usually on a mission but this one must have had a tough night as he is settling for a nap

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I’m watching you – please leave me in peace.

Back at camp we decided to follow the jackals example and have a nap before going out in search of more game later in the afternoon.

It was 3 pm when we set off again and I have to eat my words about summer reaching the Eastern Cape ahead of us.  A cold front sneaked up, strong winds blew and the heavens clouded over.   It is calmer as I type but freezing cold!   It will probably rain in the night.

Anyway this did not dampen our spirits and we had an enjoyable game drive.  Surprisingly there we saw no elephants until the very end.

It was great to see a black-shouldered kite

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A greater double-collared sunbird posed and sang for us.

And finally at Hapoor we found a small herd of elephants

We decided to do a small potjie over the fire for tonight’s dinner

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And just to make our day a bushbuck came to visit

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#NaBloPoMo 19 Garden Route to Addo

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Last night’s dinner was great.  We went to Royal Siam a wonderful Thai Restaurant in the Milkwood Village Shopping Centre, Wilderness.   Milkwood Village is centred under the beautiful protected milkwood trees and has a variety of shops and restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating. As it was a tad chilly we decided to sit indoors but the ambience was still great.  The service was wonderful and we enjoyed the food – a prawn and avo salad and zebra rainbow rolls for me and sweet and sour pork for Earl.

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Good cuisine in a beautiful setting

We were packed and ready to leave at a minute to six this morning. It is a beautiful part of the country to travel through and if ever you do it don’t rush past as we did today but rather stop and explore as many of the wonderful spots that you can. Knysna with its stunning lagoons and lakes is a particularly lovely place to stay.

Our friends Jim and Maureen had been at Addo for 6 days and were due to leave today so they waited for us to arrive and we had breakfast together at the restaurant.  They had also saved a good caravan site for us.

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All set up and ready for a 4 day sojourn

The climate in the Eastern Cape is very different to where we live.  Summer has truly arrived here while back home it is a tad warmer than last month but we still need our jackets in the evenings and early mornings!   Addo is hot!  We are in Africa!  We immediately shed our jeans and long sleeved t-shirts for short and cool tops!

Addo is an elephant park – so yes on our first drive this afternoon we saw them aplenty.  But we also saw other creatures.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a warthog park because there are thousands of them about.  Still, I just love the ugly creatures.   They stick skinny, little, aerial tails straight up in the air when they run from danger, so that their kin can follow them through the bush and not get lost.

I was thrilled to get piccies of this mother and her piglets.

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Leave my babies alone!

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Aren’t we adorable

Only the males of the kudu antelope have horns.  They begin to grow when he is between 6 and 12 months old and he usually has 2 and a half twists by the time he is six years old.   Sometimes a male may get up to three twists in his horns.

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A male kudu gives us a meaningful stare – he is about 2 years old

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Two twists and growing!

Eland are not as commonly found in the game parks as kudu, but Addo has a fair number of them.

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Both male and females have horns

Although it’s great to see the big animals, I just love the smaller ones too.  This cute little yellow mongoose gave us great pleasure

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He is an inquisitive creature

The yellow mongoose, is sometimes called the red meerkat. He weighs about 500g and is about 50 cm in length.

We also saw tortoises both big and small. This chap is a leopard tortoise

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world. The adults reach 56cm in length and weigh up to 18 kg.

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I think he likes us

We found this handsome heron atop a dead tree. The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan.  It usually fishes for fish and frogs but will also hunt away from water and wait silently and still before capturing an unsuspecting small mammal or bird. He also eats large insects.

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Seeking non-aquatic prey, I think.

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This pretty little Karoo Scrub-robin posed nicely for us

We found these tiny goslings while watching elephants at a waterhole and I couldn’t resist snapping them.  They were quite unafraid of the enormous pachyderms

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Mom and Dad were close by.

We saw scores of elephants but I will just post a few here as there will be plenty more in the next few days.

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The driver of this car was a tad nervous when Jumbo came right up and stared at him through the windscreen

Both the male and female African Elephant have tusks – except in Addo Elephant Park.  This was due to years of interbreeding but new stock has been introduced and some of the new generation females are beginning to sport tusks again.

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Note the lack of tusks in this female elephant

Stay tuned for more Addo reports over the next few days.