Oh I wish I had a 4×4

Oh how I wish I had a 4×4. A proper bakkie (or SUV, I’m not picky) to explore the backroads with. I love my Polo, don’t get me wrong, but I feel for her every time I hit a dirt road. But a bigger vehicle would allow me to discover places I’ve been avoiding. Crossing the Zuurberg Pass, taking the Elands River road, have a proper Wild Coast trip, do the Baviaanskloof from end to end for the first time, head to the mountains of the North-Eastern Cape to tackle some of those beautiful passes and get lost on the dirt roads of the Karoo Heartland. And that’s just all things in the Eastern Cape. I sometimes wonder how people can afford to drive big 4×4’s when I can barely afford my second hand sedan. Maybe it’s because we’re comprehensively insured, medical aided, long-term policied and retirement annuitied that I don’t have the finances for a luxury like that. My bosses see my posts so I’m not going to say perhaps I don’t earn enough. Maybe I should do something on the side to earn more. Who knows?

In my dreams a car company will one day call me and say something like, “Hey Jonker. We see you and everything you do. How you promote the Eastern Cape and South Africa not just for work but because you have such a passion for it, showcase everything there is to see and do, your online presence and promotion, you passion and your value. We would like to sponsor you a 4×4 to use and put your branding on along with ours and in return you make sure you showcase the vehicle as much as possible, include it on your destination photos and always mention it in your posts.”

Oh well, a guy can dream, can’t he. Maybe one day when I’m big.

Relaxing after a mud bath

Ellies love to cover themselves in water and mud. You will often see that they arrive at the waterholes in Addo, have a drink and and then start to spray water over their backs or roll around in the water and mud. I have to correct myself though. They don’t literally spray themselves, but rather throw the water from their trunks with a swinging motion.

Why do they do it though? The elephant’s skin may look think and rough, but it is quite sensitive in fact. They have very few hair and sweat glands and find it hard to cool off in the harsh African temperatures. The mud not only cools them down, but it also provides a protective layer on their body to shield them from insect bites and sunburn.

Something else you often see is that an elephant would stand around lifting one leg slightly while putting their weight on the other three legs. I read somewhere that it is to relax their legs one at a time as they always stand and don’t really lie down.

I have also read that they don’t just hear airborne sounds over distances by holding their ears out, but that they listen to the ground. They pick up low-frequency rumbles caused by other animals up to 20 miles away via their feet. They put their weight on the front feet and sometimes lift one foot off the ground “to hear better”.

Domkrag Dam lookout

One of the spots you can get out of your car in Addo Elephant National Park is Domkrag Dam. It was named after a mountain tortoise called Domkrag that used to walk under cars and looked like he was trying to lift them up. Domkrag is the Afrikaans word for jack, as in a jack to lift a car. Other places you are allowed to get out of your car includes Zuurkop, the Spekboom enclosure, Jack’s picnic spot, Algoa Bay lookout and the Ndlovu lookout. At each of these you get out of you car at your own risk and need to stay alert at all times.

Buffing at the local waterhole

A Buffalo having a drink at one of the waterholes in Addo Elephant National Park with the Zuurberg Mountains in the background.

The Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is one of Africa’s Big 5, are grazers that feed mainly on grass and are known to kill lions while defending their own. A bull can weigh between 650 to 1000 kg, the distance between the tips of its horns can reach upwards of one meter and the buffalo kills more hunters than any other species.

Addo babies and a few elephant baby facts

I think one of visitors to Addo Elephant National Park’s favorite parts is seeing baby elephants. They are cute and look cuddly, are very inquisitive and draws many ooohhh’s and aaahhh’s. Here are a couple of “Did you know” facts about baby elephants.

  • An elephant’s gestation period is 22 months. The longest pregnancy of all mammals.
  • A baby elephant is called a calf
  • When a calf is born it can weigh up to 90kg and stands about 1 meter high
  • Like all other baby animals a baby elephant is very vulnerable to predator’s. For the first three months he will stay very close to his mother at all times for food, warmth and support.
  • The elephant is the only animal other than primates that have their mammary glands in the form of what looks like “breasts” between their front legs.
  • A baby elephant can consume over 11 liters of milk a day
  • The calf only gets weaned off at between five and 10 years of age so you will often see bigger calves still drinking from their mothers.
  • For the first year of their lives the baby elephant can’t really control their trunk. They need to learn how to use it like a baby human needs to learn to walk.
  • When a calf grows up the females will stay with the herd for life, while males leave to begin a solitary life at about 12 to 14 years of age. They are normally pushed out the family group when they start to show an interest in the females.

A Bird of Paradise

Every morning I walk past a patch of Strelitzia on my way to the office and when there are flowers in bloom I can’t help but pause for a moment to enjoy it. The Strelitzia reginae is also known as the crane flower or bird of paradise. In Afrikaans it’s called a kraanvoëlblom and in Nguni it’s an isigude. The Strelitzia reginae occurs naturally only in South Africa along the eastern coast from Humansdorp to northern KwaZulu-Natal in coastal bush and thicket. It often grows along river banks in full sun, however, sometimes it occurs and flowers on margins of forest in shade. The inflorescence stalk is 700 mm tall with 4-6 flowers that emerge in succession in a boat-shaped spathe.

Source – SANBI

Sunrise over Algoa Bay

I’m still here.  I may not have posted anything on my blog for a month but I’m still around.  It’s scary though how busy my life has become between work, family, sport (the kids’, not my own) and everything else I’m involved in.  The two things that have suffered the most are my blog and exercising.  And to a lesser extend Geocaching.  Plus my laptop at home has packed up again.  You know how it is.  When it rains it pours.  If it would only do that literally in our catchment areas.  So I’m currently trying to wrap my head around how I can juggle it all and get blogging again.  In the meantime, I just had to stop on my way to the office this morning and grab this photograph to share.  Doesn’t matter how busy you are, you can’t help but stop to admire true natural beauty.