Posts Tagged With: Addo Elephant National Park

Addo To Karoo: Day 2

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Sunrise…

Staying in the tented camps at the Spekboom Tented Camps meant that we had the privileged of waking up to a beautiful sunrise peeking through the bushes. Some of us decided to get up and go for a self drive through the park and others headed down to the Hide and watch the animals that arrived for an early morning drink. After all our things were packed and gathered, we headed out to breakfast at the main camp restaurant to fill our bellies before taking on the day ahead.

Before leaving the park we decided to pop into the  Interpretive Centre to see what it is all about. This is an amazing spot to take your child to learn more about our nature and heritage in a fun way. They have a family tree of all the elephants over the years as well as the famous head of Hapoor on display in the centre. This is a space where stories are told with photo’s, physical items and audio-visual tools. You also have a couple of interactive games that can be played outside if you go as part of a school group, learning about nature in a fun way.

Hitting the road to Mountain Zebra…

Mountain Zebra Family

Mountain Zebra’s                                

From here we head out to Mountain Zebra National Park, which is in the Cradock area, and on route you can see a lot of random wild animals next to the road as you are looking into some of the game farms in the area.

As we arrived our guide, Charl, was all ready and waiting for us to go and explore some Bushman Paintings that aren’t too difficult to get to. There are other sites that are more adventurous if you feel like scaling rocks and working for the pleasure of seeing the paintings.

PAintings

Bushman Paintings                                                                                     

As we were driving through the park , Charl was pointing out the different animals that they have as well as chatting to us about how the park has expanded in the last couple of years. It was quite fun listening to all the tales and understanding the landscape and animals better.

Springbuck

Springbuck                            

Ostrich Egg

Abandoned ostrich egg                                                                                     

Squirrel

Squirrel entertaining us next to the road.                         

From the first moment that we arrived at Mountain Zebra, we felt welcome were treated as valued guests by all the staff. Apart from the people ensuring that we had a pleasant experience, the park itself is perfect for that break away from everything. It has that luxurious upmarket feel, lots of peace and quiet, yet it’s still down to earth and accommodating.

Bedroom

Main bedroom in self-catering cottages.               

We stayed in the self-catering cottages which are very simply equipped, yet has everything that you might need away from home. They have two bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with two singles and one bathroom. You’ve got tea’s and coffees available along with a kettle, microwave and fridge in the kitchen as well as a fire-place in the lounge for those cold nights.

Bedroom View

Access to the patio from the main bedroom.

After lunch in their cosy restaurant we had some fun splashing around in the swimming pool, which has a lovely grass area surrounding it if you’d like to have a picnic while enjoying the refreshing water. Mountain Zebra National Park is the perfect get-away with scenic nature all around whilst still enjoying all the comforts of life at your finger tips.

Follow the series from Day 1 or continue and see what happened on Day 3

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

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Categories: 10 Day Trips, information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Addo To Karoo: Day 1

Addo To Karoo is a 5 day series written by Lize-Mari Arthur as she explores our South African National Parks from Nelson Mandela Bay through to Beaufort Wes.

Our adventure starts on horseback…

5 Strangers met up early last week Monday morning to take off on a week-long adventure together to learn more about our South African National Parks throughout the Eastern Cape and surrounds. We were ready with our bags packed full of insect repellent and sunscreen.

3 riders

            3 Riders kicking off their adventure on horseback.                

First stop was at the Addo Elephant National Park’s Zuurburg Trails, where 3 of us went on a horse ride trail and the other two went hiking  through the fynbos. I ended up on a beautiful stallion called Flap. He was the most docile creature ever, obediently following the horse in front, never trying to pass him, never giving any problems. Perfect for a beginner rider.

Flap

Beautiful and gentle Flap 

As we were riding along, our guide told us about the nature around us. What the different plants are called and what makes them special to that specific environment. If you’re lucky, you’ll also bump into some wild animals like red hartebeest and because you are on horseback you can get quite close without them running away.

Heading through to the main camp…             

From there we headed to the main camp at Addo for lunch at the restaurant, where they are busy renovating and soon we’ll be dining at a Cattle Baron in that space. I quickly popped into the tourist shop to see what they’ve got on offer and I was quite surprised at the range of goods that they’ve got. Everything from food to clothing and proudly South African gear as well as any overnight essentials that you might need.

Before heading out on our scheduled game drive, we needed to kill some time and took a walk to the Hide. This is an enclosure that’s situated next to one of the waterholes in the park, which allows you to freely observe any animals that make their way to this precious recourse. This is the perfect spot to get some beautiful photo’s of the animals in the park, the only rule of the Hide is that you have to be quiet.

Elephant Water

Elephant cooling off at the waterhole by the Hide.

After this we went on our much-anticipated game drive with Jonathan as our guide. He pointing out all the different animals to us and shared as much info as he could about each of them. Any questions from our side was quickly answered with a smile and the trip was a fun as well as insightful one. On route we also came across some lion prints in the sand and got quite excited because they were fresh, but unfortunately that was the closest we came to the lions at Addo.

Elephant Eating

Elephant bull next to the road as we enjoy our game drive. 

Addo Elephant National park got its name for a reason, so we came across quite a couple of elephants throughout the drive, as well as zebra’s, warthogs and red hartebeest.

Elephants Group

Elephants enjoying an afternoon at the watering hole.

That night we stayed at the Spekboom Tented Camps, which is a small enclosed camping site in the middle of the national park. The camp has 5 tented sites which are all very private from each other and are equipped with two single beds in each tent as well as camping chairs and a utility box with all you’ll need for the stay. There are well taken care of communal bathrooms as well as a small kitchen with a fridge to make use of if you need to.

The camp site also has it’s own Hide, which means only those that stay there have access to this particular spot to watch the animals. 

Tented Camps

Spekboom Tented Camps

Keep following the series and see what happened on Day 2

Lize-Mari Arthur is the Lifestyle Presenter at Kingfisher FM and is a lover of  food, good books and healthy wholesome entertainment. She enjoys new experiences in life and going on adventures. You can find her on her blog where she does weekly updates on some of the content on her show.

Categories: 10 Day Trips, information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kudu Ridge Game Ranch

Location: 50 kilometers from Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Take N2 in direction of Grahamstown.  Just past Blue Water Bay, take the turn-off to Addo.  Kudu Ridge is approximately 22 kilometers before the village of Addo on the left hand side of the road.

Date Visited: 8 – 10 June 2012 (Winter)

Accommodation: We stayed in comfortable safari tents.  Kudu Ridge also offers chalet accommodation.  The tents are neatly furnished and each tent have its own bathroom with shower, as well as coffee-making area & veranda.

What we Drove: The Jeep Wrangler from Maritime Motors

What we did: We lounged, talked, read, drove through Addo Elephant National Park & enjoyed the company of friends & family.

Recommendation: Kudu Ridge is very well positioned in proximity to the Addo Elephant National Park.  It is well suited for a relaxed family weekend and perfect for conferencing or team building in groups of forty or less.  There is no ‘self-catering’ option, which is nice, since Brian & Jenny create wonderful food and not having dishes or clean up is part of the fun of spending time at Kudu Ridge.

Website: Kudu Ridge

Tribe Special: Mention the ‘Traveling Tribe’ & claim free accommodation & meals for your own children under the age of twelve for a 2-night stay, for a family of minimum two adults, until the end of August 2012.

We met the Stevnsons at the corner of Westmead & Old Seaview Road.

It was just after two on this cold winter’s afternoon.

We’d been looking forward to this weekend.  For both our families it would be a weekend of firsts.  Our first time to travel together.  our first time to stay in safari-tent accommodation.

Our children were ecstatic.  They were looking forward to the opportunity to spend a whole weekend with Gary & Jane’s daughter.

Our worlds are somewhat different.

Ashleigh is schooled at one of our city’s well-known private schools.  Our children find education under Zuko’s guidance in the privacy of our little wooden house on the not so little hill.

Gary & Jane both run their own companies.

Gary runs Organic Footprint.

Jane runs with Jane Stevenson & Associates.

I do radio & Zuko, when she’s not guiding our four children in the world of discovering knowledge & insight, takes pictures.

Even though our worlds are somewhat different, our values or what we value is surprisingly similar.

This is something I’ve noticed more & more.  People finding each other in what they value & not so much in where they come from or how they would be defined in archaic social terms.

We all value our children’s education.

We give expression to this in different ways, but our high regard for the education our children receive & our willingness to adjust our lifestyle, so that an exceptional education may be had, is something we share.

As is a love for our environment.

An awareness of how contaminated life & living could be.

Of how central relationship is to our being & joy.

How often this is less than what we hoped for & yet exceptional and surprising in other ways.

We all believe fiercely, but despise cheap lip-service & empty religiousness.

Or so we see our friends & experience them this weekend as we talk & share & discover throughout this weekend at Kudu Ridge.

That is the wonderfulness of spending time with friends & family in a place which is not familiar.

It is as if, in a new space, we are more relaxed, more willing to share and be honest & intimate.

It is only three in the afternoon as we arrive at Kudu Ridge.

The Jeep Wrangler which Vaughan hand-picked for us from his sales floor for this weekend, was an easy & comfortable drive.  The powerful 3.8 liter engine accelerating easily.   The automatic gearbox shifting almost unnoticed on a very short drive to a very lovely destination.

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Brian & Jenny gives us a warm welcome.

They show us to our safari-tents & allow us to settle in.

We meet up at the main lodge area where we find steaming hot coffee & a warm fire.

Brian explains the menu for the evening.

Butternut Soup & freshly baked bread.

Kudu Fillet with hand-cut chips & fresh vegetables and salad.

Ice cream & chocolate sauce is desert.

The afternoon dwindles into evening.

We discover that coming to Kudu Ridge is returning to his first love for Brian & his family.

They’d been here no more than a year.

He spent years in the corporate world.

Before that he was a game-rangers for the Natal Parks Board.

That is what his heart hankered after winter after cold winter spent in offices & board rooms.

Now they spend time in nature.

Entertaining guests.

Growing their flock of antelope.

Over supper we talk of the joy Brian & Jenny find in their refound passion.

The evening is cold, but the conversation is warm.

It is evident that this couple hope to come alongside corporates & companies as they create a fresh environment in which people can rediscover themselves, unwind, dream & plan.

‘What we have to offer, is a completely new environment, a place where people can get in touch with who they really are,’ he explains as we enjoy desert.

Then it is off to bed.

Our first night in our safari-tented accommodation.

The kids are tired.

Andrew, Brian & Jenny’s son who shares this dream with them, took the children for a discovery walk in the late afternoon.  Then they fed the latest addition to the Kudu Ridge Family.  A baby owl who was rescued & is being hand raised by the falconer who hopes to establish an activity with falcons & a very interesting pointer which he is training.

‘Soon we’ll be able to hunt with the pointer & a falcon.  Man, bird & dog in the perfect collaboration.  Perhaps it would unlock something in people’s minds of how we can collaborate in the workplace & in families.

In their family collaboration is certainly the norm.

The meal is cooked together.  The guests are cared for alongside each other.

Saturday morning is slow & easy.

We hide from the cold in the warmth of our safari-tents.

Pippin makes coffee.

Zuko & I talk.

Of what we hope for.

What we dream of.

Then a hearty breakfast welcomes us in the dining room.

As we eat we decide to drive to the Addo Elephant National Park for the day.

Brian unfolds a map & shows us where he believes we’ll spot the lion & the elephant & the buffalo.

We enjoy a last cup of coffee & then we’re off.

We huddle together in the Jeep Wrangler.  It is no fun to go wildlife spotting in separate vehicles.

The girls jump in the back.

Zuko & Jane take the back-seat with Maddi & Theunsie.

Gary & I take shotgun & driver’s position.

10 minutes later we’re in the park.

Despite the weather we see herds of elephant, Kudu, Zebra, Blesbok, Hartebeest & Blesbok.

A black backed jackal surprises us & a secretary bird takes notes on our arrival.

The drive is easy & comfortable.

The Jeep Wrangler as at home on tar as it is on gravel.

We stop for a late lunch at the Park’s Tiger’s Eye Restaurant.

Every time I stop here, I am surprised by the quality of service.  The excellence of the well-trained staff & their friendliness & knowledgeably.

I am also astounded by the effort & investment we make as a country into conservation.

And I am proud to be an African in general & a South African in particular.

It inspires hope.

If we can get this right (conservation & tourism), then there is hope that we might get the other things right as well.

If only we would believe it.

Dream it.

Reach for it.

Imagine a South Africa in which our education & healthcare resembled the same excellence so very evident on this Saturday afternoon in one of our National Parks?

Gary orders a venison hotpot.

Jane takes the fish of the day.

Zuko chooses a vegetarian wrap & I go for the Thai Chicken Salad.

The children enjoy chicken nuggets.

We eat slowly.

Talking.  Remembering.  Sharing the moment.

We’re in no hurry.  Kudu Ridge is a few minutes away.

We resolve to take an afternoon nap as we get home & we take our resolve seriously as the Jeep Wrangler brings us home to our weekend-destination, each family heading off to their respective tents.

The hunger for time together and conversation is too strong though & moments later we’re together again at the warmth of the fire at the lodge-area.

Conversation is easy.

We talk of how we came to where we are.

Of what we face from day-to-day.

Of what we hope for, dream of, for our own tomorrow.

The optimism in our circle makes me smile.

Where there is hope, there is hope.

That we would still be journeying.

That we may even one day find our dream a reality, as Brian & Jenny found it at Kudu Ridge.

The afternoon becomes evening.

Supper is served.

The children play pool & darts, hide-and-seek and truth-or-dare.

Theunsie beats me at a game of pool.

Then his mom.

At the dinner table we share stories from our lives.

Beautiful stories of exquisite experiences.

In the silence of a moment I think about how no one is talking about what they own.  Everyone is talking about what they shared.  A moment.  An emotion.  A disappointment.  A breakthrough.

Perhaps we need to hang on to that more tightly.

That it is in moments shared that life exists.

It is late & cold when we head to bed.

The rain pours down throughout the night, but we sleep warm & dry in our safari-tents.

Even Maddi only wakes once for a midnight feast.

And then it is Sunday.

The day I always dread, for it signals the end of another journey.

And it always comes too soon.

Breakfast is intentionally slow this morning. Brian & Jenny & Andrew act like old friends who do not want their loved ones to go just yet.

The sun is out for the first time this weekend.

After breakfast we take a game drive on Kudu Ridge.

They show us the ‘Bus Bar’ created by Andrew.  The excavation area where fossils were found.  A Kudu & some Impala greet us on a clearing.

Brian talks with love of this wonderous new place they are transforming into a getaway for corporates & families as we drive along the ridge.

Then it is time to pack & greet.

Ashleigh still has a project to finish.

Zuko wants to stop at her parent’s before we go home.

We say our goodbyes.

And as we drive off in the Jeep Wrangler I remember moments shared & I hope for more.

More moments.

Of honesty.

And intimacy.

For it is in moments shared that life unfolds.

 

Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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