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Elephants at Addo National Park

Elephants at Addo National Park

fighting elephants
A New Zealander greeting – nose to nose

Lodging at Avoca River Cabins

Avoca means “the meeting of the waters”. Located on The Sunday’s River in the Sunday’s River Valley, Avoca is only about 15 kilometers from Addo. This place is divine. A working farm with lush grounds, citrus trees and rows of rose bushes, we were happy to spend two days here.

The view from our balcony at Avoca
The view from our balcony at Avoca

Rating our Chalet, Gymnogene, on a 1-6 scale:

Cleanliness: 4.5
It was clean enough, but even better, the cleaning lady did our dishes on the day we spent at Addo. After a grueling 10-hour safari in the wild bush of Africa :), that was a very pleasant surprise.

General Accommodations: 4.5
We loved this place, but it needs a little work. The shower door opened wide enough for me to shimmy through. The shower head (if you can call it that) leaves a lot to be desired.  And the water spray was really more of a misting than a shower. There was a hint of musty odor, likely due to being so close to the water. There was a kitchen with an electric (portable) burner. The bed was fabulous, which makes up for some of the other quirks. It was one of the most comfy beds we’ve slept in while in SA. Add to it, the room was spacious with an L-shaped sofa that eased any tendency toward couch potato-ness.

General Environment: 6
The deck overlooked the Sunday’s River. We watched two marvelous sunsets while listening to the chorus of waterbirds, frogs and crickets. Lush vegetation and canvas-worthy powder puff clouds garnished Cerulean blue skies. And all of this for only about $55.00 US/night.

Addo National Park

elephants Addo National Park

Amazing place, Addo. Located on the Eastern Cape and part of the Sunday’s River Valley, Addo is South Africa’s third largest park with Kruger being the first. Just to give you an idea of the size of Kruger: We spent 12 days in Kruger, driving (slowly) 8 to 12 hours per day, and still didn’t see the northern portion. We drove all of Addo in one 10-hour day.

Addo, a nature reserve, became a site of elephant conservation in 1931 when there were less than a dozen elephants left in the area. There are now over 450 thanks to the efforts of many concerned folks.

Addo claims to have the Big 7 – Elephants, Buffalo, Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Whales and Sharks. Plans are underway for the coastal portion of Addo to become a marine reserve in order to protect the nearby islands that are home to the second largest population of breeding African penguins.

We were blown away by the diversity of plant life and wildlife at Addo. I saw my first Eland, which I didn’t expect given how we’ve heard they are on the verge of extinction.

Eland! Finally we see an Eland!
Dung Beetles have right away
I Looove their conservation signs. We took great care of watching out for the Dung Beetles, of which there were many on the road.
Flightless Dung Beetle
Flightless Dung Beetle – now considered a vulnerable species

But the elephants stole the show! Looking at the pic below, you can see five of the eight elephants that eventually surrounded our car. We sat (engine off) for about 45 minutes watching them while they were eating, resting and watching us. And the BABY. Precious.

Baby elephant

We stopped at a picnic area for lunch, and this lil guy was showing off his acrobatic skills leaping from branch to branch, crashing and burning then picking himself back up. He approached me several times eyeing up my food. I backed off and he kept coming. Without a megabyte of fear, he jumped on our car looking for ways inside.


Bloomslang Snake
Bloomslang Snake
Wavy fields of fluffy White Stick Grass
Fields of vibrant Spear Grass
Long distance view of the coast – check out those white sand dunes!
What a pleasant surprise to see this little beauty. One of the many different animals we saw on this journey. Photo credit: Scott Pepper
Yellow Mongoose or Red Meerkat
Yellow Mongoose also referred to as the Red Meerkat I adore the curious Mongooses!

Red Hartebeest – and yet another new species for us to experience!

Red Hartebeest
What an uber cool animal, the Red Hartebeest
Herd of Red Hartebeest Addo National Park
Herd of Red Hartebeest

Bushbuck running from Jackal

I *think* this is a juvenile male Bushbuck but it *may* be a juvenile Nyala

Warthogs, Zebras and Buffalo – oh my!

Wart hogs

Black-backed Jackal

Black-backed Jackal Black-backed Jackal


Warthog and Ostrich
Warthog and Ostrich co-existing
Cape Weaver Addo National Park
Cape Weaver

The Blue Crane: Did you know?

I was surprised to read the Blue Crane is endangered. The Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird and is near endemic to SA. They’re found across the country, with the highest density being in the Karoo. Because they have a blind spot in their vision, they tend to collide with power lines and since they have very long, dangly legs, they get entangled in the wires. But their biggest threat is habitat loss.

What an stunning place – Addo National Park.
What an amazing journey.
Life is good.

Today’s post is dedicated to my wonderful parents who would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on this day. Love.


Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with wild, boisterous joy. There’s bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.
Jennifer Richard JacobsonSmall as an Elephant

Elephants have the largest brains of any mammal on the face of the Earth. They are creative, altruistic and kind.
~Ingrid Newkirk

Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.
~John Donne

We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.
~Graydon Carter


Photos, videos and stuff*** Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use. And please do follow this blog and/or write comments. A million five-hundred thanks.

Check out the other South Africa posts below:

South Africa Post #1: Our first Kruger National Park Safari
South Africa Post #2: Babysitting a Banded Mongoose Pup in Marloth Park
South Africa Post #3: When Zebras Visit
South Africa Post #4: Daily Living in Marloth Park, South Africa
South Africa Post #5: Kruger Restcamps: Skukuza, Satara and Olifants
South Africa Post #6: Kruger Safari: Full Moon over Letaba
South Africa Post #7: Kruger Safari: Treasure Hunting in Tamboti and Lower Sabie
South Africa Post #8: There’s a Mongoose in my Ear!
South Africa Post #9: Peering through God’s Window at Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Post #10: The Dam Boat Tour at Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Post #11: Rare Sexual Encounters of South Africa
South Africa Post #12: To the Wildlife of Marloth Park
South Africa Post #13: Nelspruit to Cape Town
South Africa Post #14: Moved to Tears on Freedom Day
South Africa Post #15: Penguins in South Africa?
South Africa Post #16: The Southernmost Tip of Africa
South Africa Post #17Birds of Eden at Plettenberg Bay
South Africa Post #18: Dear South Africa: I love you, but…
This is South Africa Post #19: Elephants at Addo National Park 
South Africa Post #20The Garden Route: Nature’s Valley and Wilderness
South Africa Post #21: Endangered Bontebok
South Africa Post #22Top Five Cape Town Experiences
South Africa Post #23Chasing Rainbows in South Africa
South Africa Post #24Vegan Wanderlust in South Africa
South Africa Post #25Ubuntu


  1. Pingback: 54 Reasons I'm Vegan: African Animals (39-49)


      Mom, when that baby elephant emerged from the herd, I was in heaven. She was one of the sweetest beings I’ve ever seen. And at one point, the entire herd surrounded our car. We were dumbfounded. This HAS been the experience of a lifetime. Love you! xoxoxo

  2. Cooper Gallegos

    Kenda, you are an incredible photographer. These photos are stunning and tender. I’m hoping for a book in the future! Thanks for letting me come along on this fantastic journey!! (p.s. I like your hat. Good ‘girl.’) 😉


      Coop, thank you kindly. Photographing these amazing animals is a delight. They get all the credit for being so easy to photograph. What a joy to be in their presence. Maybe there is a book in here somewhere! The hat, while it annoys the hell out of me, I know I gotta do it. 🙂


    Thank you my friend! We fell in love with the baby elephant. Scott took a video that I hope to upload as soon as he’s finished editing it. That baby elephant – shaking his trunk all around. Super cuteness. And the monkey! He was testing us, me, really. We’ve heard they’re more “assertive” around woman. He got so close that I wondered if he was going to jump on me. If I took a step back, he moved closer. If I took a step toward him, he stepped back. We were doing the cha cha. But mostly, I was just trying to get back in the car without him jumping in there first! Amazing. xo

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