|Greeting the dawn|
|Tourists get excited by the presence of a wild elephant at the Domkrag Dam lookout point|
|A breeding herd of elephant raise clouds of dust on their approach to a drinking hole|
|Baby elephants are just too cute|
|The early morning riser is sure to catch glimpses of Black-backed Jackal heading home after a night out|
|Kudu seem to be the most common antelope in the park|
Although I hate to end this article on a gripe – I do have to warn prospective overnighters to the Park that the campsite is one of the worst of any – SANParks or otherwise – I have visited. Ablution facilities are fine, but the 10 campsites are at the back end of the otherwise spacious caravan area in what can only be described as a cul-de-sac alleyway. Camp spots are tiny – no more than 4x4 meters, have no view, and subject to noise pollution from the nearby trainline, passing vehicles and other park residents – the tented camp on the one side hosting drunken Germans singing ‘Buffalo Soldier’ all night, and I was kept awake by snoring residents of the camp itself on the second night. To round it all off, on attempting to check out the conversation with the receptionist when something like this:
Receptionist “All I need is your key”
AL: “I was camping”
Receptionist “Ah the tented camp…”
AL “No, in my own tent”
Receptionist: Pause to register that they have a campsite. “O, you can just go.”
AL: Thinks “What did I do wrong?!”
There is a lot of secondary tourism that has grown up around the park, and there are accommodation options between Addo and Kirkwood to suit all tastes, as well as a variety of other entertainment and eating options. The only benefit of staying in the park is one is given a 30 minute head start on the opening times at the gate. When the target animals are elephants, this is meaningless, but it does enhance the feeling of being in the wild a bit more in the early morning compared to later on when one has to deal with increasing volumes of vehicle traffic.
After all that you may be tempted to ask if I’ll be going again. The answer is a whole-hearted YES. Watching elephants is exciting, mesmerising, and tonic for the soul. They are the epitomy of the magnificence of the African megafauna. The tuskless females are a reminder of human ruthlessness as we continue to exterminate hundreds for ivory, and at the same time the elephant’s continued presence is a symbol of hope of how humans also care and desire to save and protect the victims of our conquest of the planet. Long may the Elephants of Addo send their rumbles across the plains of Africa.