Great South African Game Reserves-Addo Elephant and Mountain Zebra National Park.
Two special Game Reserves
Addo Elephant Game Reserve.
It is a full moon over the African sky as I sit in my campsite overlooking the Karoo mixed veldt. A Jackal calls in the distance and nearby an Egyptian Goose honks a greeting to its mate who replies in like voice.
A couple of hours ago we had arrived from the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock, just in time to pitch our tent and then go for an hour drive before the camp gates closed at 17.30. We were amazed to see about 5 herds of Elephant right next to the road. We watched with delight as a tiny elephant was led down to the dam to be given a lesson in drinking water by a protective mother. As the herd marched in single file down to the water’s edge the baby was gently guided by the trunk of an older sibling who draped its trunk over the babies back in a protective gesture.
In the starry sky I am astonished at the beauty of the Southern constellations and I can make out the Southern Cross that is much brighter here than in our City of East London. I determine to study up more about the night sky splendor when I get home.
On our way back from the drive we stopped next to a row of Aloes in full bloom to photograph the array of Sunbirds feeding on them. The green colors of the Malachite Sunbird stood in strong contrast to the bright red ones of the Double Collared Sunbird.
We were lucky enough to see a Black-saddled Jackal that had caught a large rat and was busy carrying it into the bush.
The Addo Elephant Park was originally set aside to protect a small herd of Elephant that survived in this area. Today is supports many of these large animals and also the Big Five. Located only about 90 km from the large harbor city of Port Elizabeth it is popular for visitors from that city and also for overseas tourists. One of its main draw cards is that this is a Malaria free area. Since its early days is has grown in size and continues to do so as surrounding farms are purchased and then included.
Mountain Zebra National Park.
Earlier today at the Mountain Zebra National Park about 150 km to the north/west we enjoyed the best view of a Secretary bird that we have had. For about 10 minutes the magnificent bird in full breeding colors walked next to our car as it searched for food in the grassy veldt. The Rhino and Buffalo we had hoped to see unfortunately evaded us but the beautiful hills and mountains in this area impressed as usual. The Mountain Zebra National Park is also in the area known as the Karoo located in the Eastern Cape. It was specially formed to preserve the Mountain Zebra that was seriously endangered earlier in the 19th Century. Thanks to conservation efforts the population has recovered and is no longer on the Red endangered list.
The campground at the Mountain Zebra is very pleasant as it nestles in between the mountains that are synonymous with this park. While it does not have the big five (Elephant and Lion missing) it is a great place to view the many Raptors that are masters of the sky and mountain slopes. Several rare endemic bird species can also be found here such as the Ground Woodpecker, Namaqua Warbler and the African Rock Pipit..
Last night a short and sharp thunderstorm had forced us to eat our supper in the kitchen of the camp ground were we met a delightful German family who were enjoying their first visit to South Africa.
But tonight in the Addo campground a perfect evening invites us to a meal of Karoo lamb stew under the stars. We stopped in the rural town of Cradock to buy some of this special Karoo lamb. The stew cooked with an assortment of vegetables in a typical African black cast iron pot over the coals is indeed a treat to be enjoyed and remembered. Food eaten in the wilderness always seems to taste better.