So, I’ve been lambasted by a friend for recently straying from the travel firmament in my Posts. He even threatened to unsubscribe! Well, then, back to travel tales… I’m going buffalo-rogue. Because that’s the name of Addo’s new(ish) — and very stylish — camp, Nyathi, directly north of Addo Rest Camp in the northern part of the central core area.
And wouldn’t you just know it. As we step onto the deck of our beautiful beehive-shaped unit, below me hidden in the dense tangle of spekboom and sweet thorn is the huge boss of a buffalo bull. A fleeting glimpse before he is swallowed up by leaves and branches. And that’s the last I see of him. Sublime coincidence, just a moment in time. I only learn later that i-nyathi is the Zulu word for buffalo.
The 11 units, some of rounded construction, draw also on Zulu heritage, while the thatched conical rondavels reference many African cultural groups. Inside, all surfaces are textured with the indents, striations, wood grains and basket weaves of Africa. Brass and copper fittings gleam with natural warmth.
The best part is how discreetly each unit is tucked into dense leafy vegetation with, from the deck, views onto the most verdant, forested, rounded hills (the Zuurberg). And open grassland in between. Best place to be is on the deck with its braai nook; around the corner, a dinky plunge pool.
The name Addo is of Khoekhoen origin, believed to mean “poison ravine” in reference to the abundance of euphorbia species, a succulent plant known for its poisonous milky sap.
And then, Addo of course is about elephants. Where to find them? Our best bet is always the waterhole at Hapoor. Yet … we’ve had visits that have produced not a single ellie there. Mercifully, this is the wild, where foraging groups follow the vagaries of rain (or lack of it), abundance (or not so much), vegetation sweetness, the muddiest most wallow-able waterholes. There are times we’ve had to drive to the highest view point to search for the remotest clue of a dusty-red back knitted into the green shroud unravelling below. Sometimes we’re successful, sometimes not.
This time Hapoor delivered. First a family of five absolutely revelling in the mud. They wallowed and rolled and snorkelled and blew bubbles. The water was a seething cauldron of grunting and tusselling and piggyback play. Tusks clacked. Trunks curled and unfurled in communication.
All ellie photos by Hirsh!
Then the support troops poured in. By the end of it, there were some 50 to 60 elephants posturing and pushing and shoving. A teeny baby collapsed onto its knees to try to reach the water with a little straw-trunk. A subadult let out a resounding trumpet as he eased heavily up the bank. A sibling thrashed the water from side to side with his trunk.
“How come I was never allowed to have such fun in the bath?” Hirsh asked.
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