Day 7 in South Africa: Addo Elephant National Park, Grahamstown

April 28, 2016

*Note: This post has been truncated due to length.  Please click on “read more” below to see the rest of the post, including pictures of zebras, elephants, and leopards!

Elands at Addo Elephant National Park
Elands at Addo Elephant National Park

We didn’t have quite as busy of a day planned, so we slept in a bit before heading to a local grocery store to grab some food for breakfast and lunch.  We then headed to Addo Elephant National Park.  We had planned on doing a guided tour, but we went to the wrong entrance, so we missed the tour.  Instead, we just drove through the park on our own, which took a total of about 4 hours.  We saw plenty anyway, and this allowed us to go at our own pace.  We saw lots of elands, elephants, and wart hogs, as well as quite a few zebras.

Eland at Addo Elephant National Park
Eland at Addo Elephant National Park
Zebras at Addo Elephant National Park
Zebras at Addo Elephant National Park
Zebras at Addo Elephant National Park
Zebras at Addo Elephant National Park
Wart hog at Addo Elephant National Park
Wart hog at Addo Elephant National Park
Wart hogs at Addo Elephant National Park
Wart hogs at Addo Elephant National Park
Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park

The most exciting, however, was definitely the leopards- a rare sight, even on guided tours.  We were able to get within about 20 feet of them and could see them very clearly (in our car, of course!).  There were three of them.

Edit: A reader pointed out that these felines are not leopards, but actually cheetahs!  We had believed that there were only leopards, and not cheetahs, at Addo, so we never thought to check and make sure we were correct.  Apparently, there is a VERY small population of cheetahs in the northern section of the park in an area that is not open to the public.  These cheetahs are not supposed to wander into the public parts of the park, but it has happened on a couple of occasions in the past.  The sightings are so rare (way rarer than leopard sightings) that cheetahs are not even listed on the comprehensive animal list that can be found on the Addo website.  So cool!

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Cheetahs at Addo Elephant National Park
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Cheetah at Addo Elephant National Park
Leopards at Addo Elephant National Park
Cheetahs at Addo Elephant National Park (photo cred: Todd Ogden- my dad)
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Eland at Addo Elephant National Park
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Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
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Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
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Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
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Turtle at Addo Elephant National Park

It was pretty cool to drive through and see so many wild animals.  We had hoped to see a lion and rhino, but seeing the leopards definitely made up for not seeing those.

From Addo, we headed to Grahamstown.  Our initial reaction was that there’s not really a whole lot there.  We had a bit of difficulty with our airbnb apartment (we don’t have a phone, hadn’t had internet in a couple of days, and the lady didn’t show up to let us in at the correct time).  Luckily, a couple of really great college students helped us out and let us use their internet and phone to get ahold of the host to let us in.  We stayed in an apartment within a large, gated complex.  It’s almost entirely student apartments, which was a little weird, but the apartment was very nice (no internet, though, which was a bit of a bummer).  We then tried to find a place with internet so we could contact my sister.  Wifi is very hard to find in Grahamstown, but I was eventually able to get onto the wifi where we ate for a few minutes, and arranged to meet up with her after dinner.  We met her at a restaurant/cafe called “The French Quarter”.  We had desert, tea, and coffee.  After, we went to my sister’s “Res” (dorm room) to check it out, went to the grocery store, and eventually headed back to the apartment to sleep.

4 thoughts on “Day 7 in South Africa: Addo Elephant National Park, Grahamstown

  1. Octavian May 9, 2016 / 3:27 PM

    Hi,
    The felines from your pictures are cheetahs. You can easily identify the species from the black lines on bowth sides of the nose linking the eyes with the mouth.
    I’m a native of Romania that, besides language, has many cultural similarities with Moldova, so I know why I’m wishing you good luck and resilience 🙂

    • Beth Ogden May 9, 2016 / 4:54 PM

      I looked it up, and you are absolutely right! Cheetahs are not listed on the species list for Addo, so we thought they must be leopards! Apparently, there is a very small population of cheetahs in the northern part of the park (so few that it is not listed on any of the animal lists on the park’s website), and they are pretty much never seen by visitors- so we were even luckier than we thought! The last time they were seen by park visitors appears to be in 2015. Thanks for pointing it out!
      Thank you for your kind words of support as I head to Moldova soon, as well!

  2. Bruce May 29, 2016 / 9:10 AM

    I studied elephants at AENP for 10 years- glad you were able to visit!

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