Addo to Karoo – Day One

The Zuurberg Mountains and Addo Arrival

Addo Elephant National Park

Prehistoric images spring to mind as we wind our way up the dusty corrugated track into the Zuurberg. Horse rides and a sweltering hike remind us how much we need rain in the Eastern Cape. The Zuurberg section of the Park is characterised by grasslands, fynbos and deep rugged kloofs; and is a less visited but magnificent section of the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. At every corner as far as the eye can see, this land looks untouched and wild. The feeling that you could be intrepid explorers seeing this wild expanse for the first time tickles the back of our minds and we launch into discussions about the geological history.

February is the hottest month of the year, generally, and if you really want to experience true African summer here is a good place to come and feel the dry heat that sends spikes into your core and threatens to cook you from the inside out. I love summer in the bush for a few reasons but mainly for those midday highs when the thick bush shimmers in front of you. But that’s not for everyone so why you ask, why would anyone visit in this almost insufferable heat?  So you can sit all afternoon at the Hapoor Dam waterhole and watch hundreds (and I really mean hundreds) of wallowing elephants taking long slow drinks from the cool water. As they spray themselves intermittently you can’t help but wish you could run around under the shower of water as it splashes off their caked backs.

After an afternoon game drive and a quick supply stop at Main Camp we trundle to the Spekboom Tented Camp with the thoughts of a cold beer and dinner by firelight in our minds. As we unwind deep in the maze of spekboom (Portulacaria afra), which is what makes this camp so unique, the heat of the day is already forgotten and we watch quietly as the fire tries to lick the sky. The sunset makes an effort and we pay one last visit to the waterhole that sits alongside the camp and watch the silent approach of a loping elephant bull as silent as a deep grey shadow. The tents are perfect and the clear roof on the shower at the ablutions provides star gazing while rinsing off the day’s sweat and dust.  Plans to watch the sunrise and finding the longest route back to Main Camp are hatched by headlamp.  Tomorrow we’re off to Mountain Zebra National Park. For now, I say bring on the silence that rings in your ears and the night sounds that soothe the soul. There is no substitute for being in the bush.

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