I don’t mean to boast (oh ok, maybe a little) but I’ve just returned from a fabulous bit of winter sun in South Africa. Since I got back I’ve been jibed about my lack of tan (it’s there – it’s just hiding under 15 layers of jumpers) AND I’ve practically had people begging to see my pictures of lions, penguins and adorable baby elephants – so sharing them with you dealchecker readers seemed to be the nice thing to do.
But before I get onto the wild stuff I saw on the Eastern Cape, I spent a few days in Cape Town first.
(© Andrea Willmore)
I’m not quite sure how anyone gets any work done with that magnificent mountain backdrop – so one of the first things we had to do was scale it!
We opted for the cable car, but if you have a day and several gazillion calories to spare you could try the tough climb to the top!
Our advice: Do book your Cableway tickets in advance online and spare yourself the queues. Take something warm to wear at the top. And allow plenty of time because you’ll want to take a walk about to enjoy that sweeping view from every angle.
Knowing that the landscapes around Cape Town are nothing short of spectacular, we also spent a day exploring the Cape Peninsula, where we took a boat out to see seals playing in the waves and basking on Seal Island:
We snapped a very windswept pic at the Cape of Good Hope:
Met a very bold dassie:
(They’re related to elephants aparently – can you see the resemblance?)
And my highlight – seeing the penguins chilling out on Boulders Beach:
We then flew from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. We were staying at Schoenmakerskop in a residential neighbourhood beside a wild bit of coastline, where we routinely spotted whales and dolphins in the waves.
We found plenty of wildlife to see close to Port Elizabeth, spotting rhinos, cheethas, giraffes, zebras, baby warthogs and more on a drive through nearby Kragga Kamma Game Park.
But I really wanted to see an elephant, so we headed to Addo Elephant Park, just over an hour’s drive away. Addo is the third largest national park in South Africa, and they concentrate their conservation efforts on species that were intially native to the region. In addition to their 600+ elephants, that means the park is home to lions, buffalo, black rhinos, spotted hyena, leopards, and, last but by no means least, the unique Addo flightless dung beetle.
With the help of a ranger on a guided tour of the park we were not disapointed, spotting whole herds of elephants – including some rather adorable babies trailing their mums.
And the cherry on the cake was spotting this handsome fellow and his friend dozing just before the end of the drive.
Thankfully we still hadn’t had enough of exploring Africa’s wild side, because we were then invited on a game drive through Kariega, a private game reserve. This was a beautiful green park, where we got to eat lunch at the restaurant with a view of the entire park, before descending into the wilderness to spot hippos, baby zebra and even a whole pride of sleeping lionesses with watchful lion.
The holiday wasn’t entirely given over to animal spotting. Inbetween we also managed to make the trip to the surf town of Jeffery’s Bay. We didn’t catch any waves, opting instead to catch the rays on the endless white-sand beach.
Other Eastern Cape treats on the trip included the sand dunes at Sardinia Bay, and the holiday town of Port Alfred further along the coast, where canals run through the town, lending it a peaceful air.
And the verdict overall? Take me back! I haven’t spotted that Addo flightless dung beetle yet!