Addo to Karoo – the beauty of Mountain Zebra National Park

Posted by Colleen Blaine on 23 April 2014

Day two of Colleen Blaine’s Regional Adventure from Addo to the Karoo took her to two of the Eastern Cape’s quiet, beautiful national parks: Addo and Mountain Zebra National Park.

Iconic zebra shot at Mountain Zebra National Park, Eastern Cape.

Laughing and wailing wake me from my dreams and plunge me straight into memories of nights camping in the Kalahari. That familiar feeling sends shivers up my spine as I wonder how far away the hyenas are from the tent. A bead of sweat forms on my forehead and I pull the duvet up around my shoulders.

Wait, duvet?

Slowly I wake up properly and remember where I am as the moonlight outside shines through the little canvas window, lighting up my tent, safely behind the fences in the Spekboom Tented Camp in Addo Elephant National Park. I turn onto my back to make sure that both my ears can soak up the beautiful wild sounds as the hyenas, successful in a kill, celebrate their hard work with whoops, wails and laughter that reverberate in the night air.

We’re up and about early on a mission to catch the dawn sky as it colours the landscape. As we creep down to the waterhole for a quick peek before heading out into in to the park, we are not disappointed. Two hyenas lie bathing in the golden water cleaning one another. They yawn as the sun’s rays massage their dirty hides in an effort to speed up their sleepiness. Our jam-packed itinerary on this Regional Adventure meant we couldn’t spend too long watching the hyenas, so when they padded off to their dens we too headed out to find some more elephants.

Hapoor Dam was still teeming with elephants of all sizes. Two, three and sometimes four generations all in a row, every one of them stretching for drink from the glossy water. The lack of rain showed it’s effect as trunks stretched to their limits and little ones had to kneel right on the edge for the smallest sip of muddy water.

In photos: the wonder of elephants

With the mercury climbing we met up with the rest of the group at Addo Main Rest Camp and said our goodbyes to Addo as we climbed up into the Karoo via the N10 to Cradock.

Mountain Zebra National Park

My last memories of Mountain Zebra National Park were of sweltering hikes and dry, dusty plains. However, what greeted us on arrival, was green upon green. Graceful slopes littered with imposing dolerite boulders and three iconic Karoo koppies standing sentinel in the distance brought about an instant feeling of peace and tranquility.

Our activity for the afternoon was to go in search of some of the rock paintings that had been found in the park, which boasts over 30 prehistoric sites, identified in an archaeological survey in the 1970s. As we stood there, marvelling at view down the ridges and kloofs, we took turns telling our versions of how we imagined the San would have ended up on this little ridge and what would have led them to paint these images.

Related: three lions released into Mountain Zebra National Park

A threatening looking slate sky chased us all the way to our the secluded Umthombo Mountain Cottage and as we were settling in we watched the ground steam as giant-sized rain drops splashed into dust and rock. Rainbows appeared and the landscape glowed in the evening light, the sunset colouring the clouds from behind turning everything a dusty pink. With no electricity (the cottages are run entirely on solar power and gas), signal or fences we settled in for the night listening to the rain as it drummed its own rhythm on the tin roof.

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