Sunday, October 18, 2015

South Africa's Garden Route - Knysna to Addo Elephant National Park

Continuing on our epic road trip along Africa's Southern coast, we arose and began our journey to Addo Elephant Park. This parks boasts "The Big 7" as they have a coastal region where you can view whales and sharks, in addition to Africa's Big 5: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. We weren't expecting to see much more than elephants as I know numbers of some of the other species are pretty small, especially when compared to places like Kruger. As we set off on the drive, the scenery was spectacular, as it had been the whole way. We were a bit further inland though, so a lot of the dramatic coastlines gave way to gorgeous, sweeping vistas of wine country.

 Wind farms

We came into the park on what turned out to be a side road that didn't lead to the actual entrance. The ranger was nice enough to just let us in anyway! It was pretty awesome of him not to turn us around, and we immediately started spotting wildlife.

First we came across a new type of roadbloack (no baboons in the way here.)

And then we saw the elephants. It is simply incredible to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat. I was totally blown away. 

Zebra. Just chillin.

I'd thought that townships were mostly in big cities but after traveling through South Africa, I learned that they are everywhere, including one at Addo.

Warthogs are most definitely in the house.

Finally we got to the actual park entrance and continued an epic drive that became one of the most memorable days I've ever had...

I can't say I took this warning super-seriously... but sure, we'll look out for lions (as if we'd be lucky enough to see lions!)

Lots more warthogs around ...

And please, dung beetles have the right of way!
And they handle it ...

I was loving the sites of all these elephants just doing their thing. But it was getting late and it was time to head out of the park. My husband decided we could go for one more loop and just as we turned the car around ....

a rhino!!!!! !!!!

How incredible! I don't really have words to describe how amazing it was.

We could've watched him all evening, but sadly, had to continue onward so we'd make it out of the park on time...

This guy was almost the size of a moose! Hard to tell from the picture, but I assure you, this animal is is called a Nyala, and can grow to be 300 pounds. Males have horns; females do not.

As we continued, we saw water buffalo! Slightly obscured by trees and brush, one laid in a watering hole. But down the road, there was another enjoying some snacks by the side of the road. I got a little scared when it started to run after the car.. they are huge and they can move REALLY fast. So we got out of there after a few snaps.

It was getting late, and we only had a few minutes to get to the gate. No problem, we thought. But we were not counting on the South African roadblocks..

 ..and we came upon a lioness (!!!!!) blocking our way.
Queen of the jungle liked her path and we weren't sure about passing her. Our time was running out, and driving slowly behind a lion was a really strange, thrilling and slightly terrifying experience! I don't have many photos because quite frankly, I was nervous.

 And maybe a little relieved as we passed her.. but wow did we feel so lucky to do this!

Our stupendous day was coming to a close... I hope everyone gets to have a day as wonderful as this.

The next day we'd get up and begin our return journey.

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