Percy’s Place – the most scenic view in the Sundays River Valley

I'm sure most South Africans have read, or at least heard, of the book Jock of the Bushveld. The book was written by Sir Percy FitzPatrick, (24 July 1862 – 24 January 1931) who in his younger years was involved in gold and diamond prospecting in Mpumalanga where Jock of the Bushveld also plays off. He also had involvement in the Anglo Boer War and politics. Not many may realise though that the Sundays River Valley has very strong links…

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Swallows planning their winter travels

I visited the Sundays River Valley in early April and while enjoying the view from the Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Lookout noticed a couple of swallows on an aloe. It looked like they were having a conversation and I imagined it to be about their upcoming trip north. I'm no bird expert so as soon as I got home I had a quick look in my bird book to see what they were, and they turned out to be lesser striped…

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Addo’s endangered Flightless Dung Beetle

Driving around Addo Elephant National Park one tends to keep an eye on the bush and the distance fields. If you heed the warning signs close to the gate though you will also keep one eye on the road as well. You may just spot, and safely avoid driving over, one of the park's endangered residents. The Flightless Dung Beetle. I recently took the Addo Heights access road between Addo and Nanaga and spotted quite a few of these guys…

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Zebra in Addo

The age old question about zebra that every tourist guide asks his guests when driving through Addo Elephant National Park. Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Today I want to share with you some "Did you know?" facts about these donkeys in pajamas. Addo's zebra are Burchell's zebra (Equus quagga burchellii) and is a southern subspecies of the plains zebra. It is named after the British explorer and naturalist William John Burchell. Zebra stripe patterns are…

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Addo roadblocks, big butts and all

Don't you just hate a road block? A lady or gent in uniform with a reflector jacket walking around your car and then asking you for your license. Or the "in thing" lately, the burning tires and throwing stones type roadblock. Or the pothole in the road roadblock where you have to wait for cars from the other side to pass before you can drive around it. Then there are the roadblocks you encounter on the roads in the old…

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Mamma elephant in the lead

A group of elephants is called a herd and is usually made up of females and youngsters. As soon as a young bull reaches sexual maturity he gets nudged out and joins other bulls in a bachelor herd of some sorts. Each herd is basically a family group led by a matriarch, an older and more experienced female, and is made up of her sisters, daughters and their calves. The matriarch needs to be a lady of wisdom, strong connections…

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Waterhole gatherings

The best places to watch elephants in the Addo Elephant National Parks are at the waterholes, most notably Hapoor, Domkrag, Gwarrie Pan, the Woodlands loop dam and Marion Bree. This is often where you see the biggest groups together as well as the most activity and interaction. So that it is possible to sit at a waterhole for literally hours observing and photographing them. Not that most people do. They enjoy the sighting and move on to see what else…

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Relaxing after a mud bath

Ellies love to cover themselves in water and mud. You will often see that they arrive at the waterholes in Addo, have a drink and and then start to spray water over their backs or roll around in the water and mud. I have to correct myself though. They don't literally spray themselves, but rather throw the water from their trunks with a swinging motion. Why do they do it though? The elephant's skin may look think and rough, but…

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Domkrag Dam lookout

One of the spots you can get out of your car in Addo Elephant National Park is Domkrag Dam. It was named after a mountain tortoise called Domkrag that used to walk under cars and looked like he was trying to lift them up. Domkrag is the Afrikaans word for jack, as in a jack to lift a car. Other places you are allowed to get out of your car includes Zuurkop, the Spekboom enclosure, Jack's picnic spot, Algoa Bay…

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Buffing at the local waterhole

A Buffalo having a drink at one of the waterholes in Addo Elephant National Park with the Zuurberg Mountains in the background. The Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is one of Africa's Big 5, are grazers that feed mainly on grass and are known to kill lions while defending their own. A bull can weigh between 650 to 1000 kg, the distance between the tips of its horns can reach upwards of one meter and the buffalo kills more hunters than…

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