Thanks to Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and SANParks, yesterday I was amongst a group of photographers, instagrammers and bloggers, on a day trip to Addo Elephant National Park for the launch of the 2016 SANParks Open Week.
I might be biased in saying this, just kidding I’m totally biased, but the Addo Elephant Park was the best location for the launch of the 2016 SANParks Open Week. Addo Elephant Park is the third largest national park in the country, and is roughly the size of Belgium. The park is home to thousands of animals, not only elephants.
Basically what the 2016 SANParks Open Week, is an initiative where SANParks grants South Africans free access to nearly all of their parks in the country. This runs from 12 September to 16 September 2016, but selected parks will also have free access on the weekend. More information can be found on the SANParks website.
When we arrived at the park, we got to wander around the main camp. Before the activities started, two elephants passed us by on the viewing deck. They put on quite a show, as they intertwined their tusks, giving us ample opportunity to photograph them.
Ryan, was our guide for the tour of the park. He knows the park, probably better than the palm of his hand. He guided us via sight, sound and quite literally, smell. Within 15 minutes of starting our tour, he took us off the beaten path and found two of the park’s lions. Gibson, the park’s alpha male, and his brother Melvin, laid napping under the shade of some thorn trees. Seeing them was amazing. What intrigued me was where we found them. They were less than 100 metres from a busy road. Dozens of cars zipped past, its inhabitants unaware that they were only a stone’s throw away from the Kings of the jungle. It made me think about Addo itself, so many people in Nelson Mandela Bay are zipping past the park, not realising how amazing it is and it is literally a quick ride out of the city. We don’t need to spend thousands of rands to travel to see all of these amazing creatures. They’re literally in our backyard, and that is amazing.
We saw so many animals including the only type of flightless dung beetle in the world (I got to hold one actually), warthogs, red hartbeest, more than one dazzle of zebras and a dozen of elephants. Ryan had mentioned that visitors are not always guaranteed to see the gentle giants. Sometimes you can take a trip and see none, or see dozens of them. Fortunately for us, it was the latter. It was also fascinating to see an elephant disappear behind a seemingly small bush.
Ryan explained that the safety of the animals, visitors and staff is of extreme importance to the park. This is why visitors are not allowed to leave their vehicles when going on tours. He went onto explain that because the animals are accustom to vehicles passing them, visitors often assume that they are tame. This is simply not the case. These are wild animals. Getting out your car puts you, your family and the animals at risk as they could charge you or you could be attacked by a predator lurking in the bushes, while you’re trying to get a good photograph.
We left the park, sun kissed and satisfied with an arsenal of beautiful photographs and memories. Thank you to Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and South African National Parks for an amazing day trip.
Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity and take advantage of the 2016 SANParks Open Week.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the event by NMB Tourism and views are my own, always.