Monday, January 10, 2011

Cruising the Garden Route to the Land of Elephants

The beauty of having your own car is the ability to change plans on a whim.  Especially if that whim is stopping at a town that is your worst nightmare of the Jersey Shore and the prospect of sleeping in a 16 bed cramped dorm that was once a railcar.  Sounds romantic, but you’d be wrong.  Instead of that, we jumped back in the trusty Yaris and drove to Wilderness where we relaxed at the Wild Farm Lodge, set between the Indian Ocean and the foggy Outeniqua (“those who bear honey”) Mountains.
The Garden Route was a spectacularly scenic drive as we continued eastward, back to our Eastern Cape, passing Knysna and the old growth forests and through Tsitsikamma (“great waters”) Park and onto the Sunshine Route. 



Nature's own Map of Africa




We finished our roadtrip on a high note with a visit to the Addo Elephant National Park.  I tried not to get my expectations up that I would be carried off by a herd of friendly elephants but within about an hour of driving through the park, we noticed a collection of cars pulled over.  Right beside them was a herd of about 10 grazing elephants.  With tears in my eyes, I finally got to see my favourite animals in the wild!  Almost immediately after, we pulled up over a hill to an amazing sight of a field of elephants; eating, standing by the watering hole, and enjoying the cool weather.  Numerous videos have me fumbling to keep the camera straight as I was totally overwhelmed by watching elephants trumpet, use their trunks to forage, and nurse the babies. 

At any big tourist site, there’s always the jackass in the game drive truck who decides to herd the elephants and get just that much closer.  Even if that means forcing two girls and a Yaris to reverse down a potholed narrow road with a herd of elephants slowly but methodically making their way towards them.  I was hanging out of the backseat window trying to get photographic evidence for our future generations (too many videos to put online!) while also acting as Sarah’s lookout for when they were getting too close! 



Finally, attempts to do a 3 point turn proved futile and we decided to just let the elephants pass our baby Yaris on the tiny road.  I could have stuck my arm out the window and touched an elephant leg they were so close!  It completely surpassed my wildest expectations to be surrounded by these beautiful and massive animals! 















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