2012 was not a good year, not the least of which was my managing to break a femur which rendered me housebound for five months. However, you all know us well enough to realise that life’s little challenges don't get us down and we therefore decided to end the year on a high note by testing the proverbial travel waters up the Garden Route to Addo Elephant NP. En-route we first enjoyed a mellow escape to Storms River Mouth which, for the first time ever, did not live up to its name and provided beautiful calm weather enabling us to walk along the shoreline and watch the hyrax's (dassies) playing on the lawns and over the rocks.
At Addo we enjoyed some fantastic elephant encounters, and as a bonus saw two big male lions on the last day, a first for us in the park. The first elephant encounter was really exciting and we had to trust ourselves, and the elephants, and just enjoy the moment. At one stage we must have had about fifteen elephants, one of which looked no more than a couple of days old, standing around our car (both sides, front and back), all within less than an arm's length of our vehicle. Every window and every mirror was filled with elephants. They monitored us very closely since we were stationary, with the engine turned off, and elephants had approached us, not the other way around. We had to believe that they would not view us as a threat. In a second close encounter one teenager decided to test how well our rear bumper was attached to the car, and then went on to similarly examine the tail light, all this while Loretta was filming a youngster blowing bubbles in a waterhole on the side of the road.
It is the elephants which keep us coming back to Addo, but what helps to make it such an enjoyable destination is the fact that so much of the park is accessible to wheelchairs. We have stayed in their “chalet” accommodation before, but more recently have discovered that their “cottage” accommodation is more suitable for a married couple. The cottage consists of a single spacious room with a kitchenette, small dining table, double bed, and a separate en-suite fully accessible bathroom. Bookings are best handled through SANParks who have a particular lady in charge of all disabled accommodation (Sinah Makgala, Tel. 012 426 5306, firstname.lastname@example.org). She is both helpful and efficient and does an excellent job of ensuring that the facilities are not abused by those for which they are not intended.
Inside the game viewing area of the park there is a large enclosed picnic site called “Jack's Rest”, named after an old rhino that used to frequent the area. A number of the picnic areas within the enclosure are wheelchair accessible, and there is an accessible ablution block as well. The tar roads within the park are excellent, and the gravel roads are kept in very good condition, all of which makes for a pleasant game viewing experience. Outside of the game area the park's reception, shop, restaurant, exhibition centre, waterhole viewing site, and separate underground viewing site are all accessible.
In Addo you have a “big five” game park (elephant, black rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard), in a malaria free region of the country, which accommodates disabled travellers. A destination of choice for us!