Cape Town is a great place to live except that for someone like me, who loves the African bush and wildlife, it is thousands of kilometres away from any wildlife parks that boast the Big Five. I was fortunate growing up in Zimbabwe where we often went away during the holidays to the various national parks across the country where rhino were plentiful. Every time friends from abroad come to visit and say they want to go on a safari and see lions, the conversation starts to resemble what one might hear in a courier dispatch office trying to get a package overnight from Heathrow, road freighted to Kruger and back, before same day delivery to Cape Town.
There is one alternative though, Addo Elephant National Park! Situated just outside Port Elizabeth, Addo is a mere 819km from Cape Town along the beautiful Garden Route. While not the typical African savanna vegetation that I know and love, Addo does have the Big Five and is also a non-malaria area. I had heard lots of good reports about Addo and so I thought it was about time I went to see it for myself.
While you could drive from Cape Town to Addo in one day, it is quite far and there are so many great places to stop along the way, like we did in Tsitsikamma (read more here), and it’s worthwhile breaking the trip if you’ve got the time. After a quick stop in Port Elizabeth to stock up on provisions, we arrived at Addo mid afternoon. Having checked in we went straight to the underground bunker at the main rest camp for our first glimpse of game and weren’t disappointed. We found a
Last month I took a few weeks off and with a friend embarked on a road trip along the Garden Route. An early start from Cape Town and 5 hours later we stopped in Knysna for lunch at the Heads before carrying on to the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. We had planned to camp but I was little nervous of the winter weather along the coast and so opted to stay in the Forest Cabins. Nestled in amongst the dense foliage they don’t have a sea view but you are only 50 metres away from the Indian Ocean crashing against the rocks of this rugged coastline.
I had never been to the Tsitsikamma National Park before and I have to say it was spectacularly beautiful. We met a couple in the caravan section who said that they’ve been coming to the park every year for a week they love it so much. You might not be able to go on a game drive or see any of the big five in Tsitsikamma but what you can do is continue reading + 7 photos
The sun rose to reveal a beautiful dawn with just a few clouds in the sky proving the old adage correct. There had been talk of cancelling the morning’s itinerary if it was wet but now it looked certain that we would get to do what was probably the most anticipated activity of the weekend – quad biking on the dunes in Lamberts Bay. We did first have a two-hour drive to get there but we had Piet, a West Coast Tour Guide, ride along with us who was a font of information on the area. He explained how the dunes in the WCNP are moving inland at a rate of 3 metres a year and may one day cover the R27 and how the trains on the Sishen-Saldanha railway line that are up to 4km in length, including 10 locomotives and 342 cars, are some of the longest production trains in the world.
By the time we got to Lamberts Bay the weather had closed in but it wasn’t raining so the quad biking was still on. At West Coast Safaris and Quads, we were greeted by Johan who gave us a quick demonstration on how to operate the quad bikes, which were fully automatic so even a complete novice would have no trouble. Then a safety briefing and we were ready to go.
I had been quad biking before but this was different. continue reading + 6 more images
Quad biking, sand boarding, bird watching and delicious seafood are just some of the attractions of the West Coast outside of the flower season. This last weekend we got to experience a selection of these as guests of SANParks on a weekend of discovery.
We all met up at the SANParks offices in Kirstenbosch gardens from where we were taken by the Green Cab to our base for the weekend, the West Coast National Park. As much as I like driving it was actually a pleasure to be driven and before we knew it we had arrived at the park which is just 120km outside of Cape Town, perfect for a weekend away. There are several options of accommodation within the park and we stayed at the Duinepos Chalets nestled in amongst the natural fynbos.
After dropping our bags we went out for a quick tour of the park and to the lagoon for a swim as it was a very warm day despite the cloud that was blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean. While the West Coast National Park may not be able to boast the big five it is home to several of the smaller cats like the caracal and African Wildcat as well as several antelope such as springbok, eland, red hartebeest, bontebok and my favourite, kudu, which we were lucky enough to see.
Anyone who has visited Cape Town will know just how cold the Atlantic Ocean is. Even in summer, the beaches are packed but there are very few people in the water. The Langebaan lagoon however is usually several degrees warmer making it a great destination for water lovers and some of our group took full advantage of this. continue reading and see 7 more photos