While the buildings here do not generally have screening, there are many bugs and flying insects, including mosquitos. The cockroaches are huge and there are many new plants and animals to see. Our first safari was to the Addo Elephant National Park. It is located a little more than an hour west of Grahamstown, so we were able to do just a day trip. It costs 12 rand ($2) per person to get into the park, but we chose to do a guided tour with Schotia Safaris that cost us 200 rand per person.
Elephants are difficult to keep penned in. Some places have tried electric fences, but elephants are pretty thick skinned. At Addo, they sink railway ties into cement 2 meters in the ground and string old elevator cable between them (donated by the Otis Elevator Company). We heard a rumor just recently that even this doesn't hold them if they want to go somewhere else. Supposedly, they'd moved some of the elephants at Addo to a new area. They wanted the old and broke back in. :-)
The tours are done in rovers that are open with fairly high seating so that animal spotting is easier.
We were out in the rover about 5 minutes when Chad, our guide, pointed out elephant; they looked like brown rocks. (The soil around here is red clay and elephants dust themselves to keep cool - or roll in the mud.) The elephants on the left are a bit closer than the first we saw. The males tend to hang by themselves or straggle behind.
Soon they were passing on both sides of the rover, including the babies.
If you look closely, you'll notice the male on the right would make an excellant advertisement for Viagra.
Walt is checking out the grassy consistency of elephant dung. Many places around here sell elephant dung paper (writing paper).
Here Chad is showing us a flightless dung beetle. It lays its eggs in a ball of elephant dung and rolls it around until they hatch.
We saw several ostrich and in fact, have seen herds of ostrich elsewhere. It is a common staple. This is a male ostrich; the females are brown. When aroused sexually, the male ostrich's legs and beak turn red.
This is the same type of monkey (vervet...thanks, M. Kriek!) that Walt had spotted on the way to Hogsback. We saw five or six here.
Hardebeest; tan line anyone? :-)
These are termite mounds. It is not uncommon to see feilds covered in hundreds of them. The one on the left has been broken into, possibly by an aardvark.
Besides elephant and the other animals we've shown you above, we saw lot's of varieties of birds, zebra, kudu, warthog, meerkat (somewhat like a prairie dog), and a leopard tortoise. We also saw signs of a small cat (left).
After the safari was over, we were served an excellent lunch (right, included in the fee).
Go back to Part II - South Africa
Nan Schaller's and Walt Bankes' Sabbatical Page