It was a perfect day for visiting the Addo Elephant National Park on Tuesday: overcast with the temperature rising to a pleasant 26°C during the course of the day. A light breeze was blowing when we entered the Matyholweni Gate in the southern section of the park, which later strengthened to whip up clouds of dust in the latter part of the afternoon. The green trees and the good grass cover was a stark contrast to the drought conditions I have described in the Kruger National Park, although we soon realised the northern section is a lot drier and large areas look barren. May good summer rains fall soon!
The Ndlovu lookout point was our first port of call. One can get out there – at your own risk – to admire the splendid view, which includes the well-worn animal tracks at the bottom of the valley.
One can also get a closer look at plants such as the Spekboom (Portulacaria afra). Not only is this plant sometimes appropriately referred to as Elephant Food, forming as it does up to 80% of the diet of the elephants at Addo, but it has developed a reputation for its incredible ability to absorb carbon. I have read that one hectare of Spekboom can remove up to 4.2 tonnes of CO2 per year! The leaves that fall to the ground provide food for tortoises.
The Park was dominated by blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) which, despite having been browsed almost to ground level in places, is putting out new shoots and leaves as well as flowers.
Pink trailing pelargoniums (Pelargonium alchemilloides) make a show too as they sprawl against rocks and other plants.
We were met with a sea of yellow when we got out to stretch our legs at the Algoa Bay lookout point. If anyone can identify these flowers, please let me know.
There were also small patches of this purple flower that looks like a verbena. Again, if you can identify it I would love to know.
The enormous donga near the Ngulube Waterhole is showing signs of rehabilitating itself: trees and shrubs are beginning to grow within the deep scars of erosion. There is clearly a long way to go still.
Where would we be without waterholes, especially after such a long dry period? Both Rooidam and the Arizona Dam were empty, but others contained sufficient water to attract animals. At the Peasland Waterhole elephant bulls grudgingly shared the water with a group of warthogs.
We came across a spectacular scene at the Ngulube Waterhole of elephants, zebra, warthogs and buffalo.
It is unfortunate that reeds / bulrushes are encroaching on both the Hapoor and Domkrag waterholes. Not only are they absorbing a lot of water, but there is less open water available for birds and animals. On that note, it is pleasing to see that the tangled growth of reeds have been cut down in front of the bird hide at the Main Camp.