YOU CANNOT BOOK THE WEATHER

The camp sites in the Addo Elephant National Park are so popular – even during the week and out of the traditional ‘holiday seasons’ – that one has to book way ahead. As the time approached we scanned the expected weather daily: cold and rainy … cold and rainy … then our day of arrival was forecast to be warmer and dry: good for pitching the tent at least. The day before we left the temperature had risen to 46°C and all signs of rain had disappeared.

We had not bargained for either the strong wind or the smoke and dust-laden air that filled the sky at least from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown. What should have been a twenty minute job of setting up camp became longer: the ground was so hard that we had to drill holes to get the tent pegs in; the wind whipped every corner of the tent and flysheet and shook it; the tent billowed and guy ropes were whipped out of our hands even as our eyes filled with dust and grit and the smoke from veld fires assailed our nostrils. Thank goodness for the thick hedges of Spekboom planted between the camp sites: they not only provide a degree of privacy for campers but afford some protection from the wind.

At Domkrag the reeds swayed and bent in the strong wind which shook the carefully woven nests without mercy.

A Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata) battled its way through the water weeds as the wind swept down the hill and buffeted all the water fowl that dared to be out on the open water.

Others, like this pair of Yellow-billed Ducks (Anas undulata) sat on the bank with their heads tucked well in.

The late afternoon air was thick with smoke and dust.

With the bonus of a dramatic sun approaching the horizon, casting its golden glow on the surface of Ghwarrie Pan.

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11 thoughts on “YOU CANNOT BOOK THE WEATHER

  1. Is it always windy in Addo this time of year? Two years ago I had a quick work trip there in late October and WOW did it howl!
    We loved camping at Addo in December last year – the sites are nice and large, private thanks to the spekboom hedges, the kitchen roomy and the ablutions spotless. Also lots to do in camp when its too hot to be driving around.

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    • Addo is a lovely place to camp – the rest camp is a good area for observing birds, quite apart from the bird hide there. This does tend to be a fairly windy period, although not consistently so. The Berg Wind has brought us colder weather but no rain yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Berg Winds can be very fierce. Although there was a veld fire nearby, the blanket of smoke that engulfed us at the time was swept up from the enormous fires along the Garden Route, reported to be covering over 85 000 hectares. That fire is about 35km wide with a front of more than 180km.

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  2. Great photographs of a challenging outing. I liked your including small details (holes drilled for tent spikes, ducks holed up on the bank, windbreaks at campsites). You are quite an adventurer.

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      • That photo was taken a year ago while we were on a modest cruise ship headed to a few ports in Alaska. Great memories.

        P.S. Just got my own copy of that field guide you mentioned (Natal Drakensberg, or is it the other way round). Fascinating material. Ill go back through your posts looking for pictures and stories.

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      • Wow! That is fortunate for it has been out of print for some time. We spent many weekends traipsing up and down those mountains to collect information and take photographs for the book.

        Liked by 1 person

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