(work in progress)
Vistors are not allowed to drive off road is allowed in any of South Africa's national or provincial game reserves. In private reserves, game rangers may take vehicles off road - for example, to view animal kills - but this is the exception rather than the rule and is only allowed with the permission of the reserve management (a privelege that is very unlikely to be extended to visitors).
The logic behind this is twofold and eminently sensible. Firstly driving off road leads to soil compaction and/or erosion, which not only scars the landscape - often permanently, especially in arid environments, which are particularly sensitive. In addition, off road traffic destroys grazing and habitat, and smaller animals seeking refuge in long grass may also be run over.
Secondly it is a safety consideration. Roads in reserves - even if they are dirt roads - are regularly maintained to provide driving conditions which allow visitors to remove themselves from situations of potential danger in a swift and safe manner. Off road conditions are very different, and getting stuck in the mud or soft sand when a bull elephant in musht is charging you is not a situation you want to find youself in!
If you need yet more persuasion to abide by this very sensible rule, bear in mind that driving off road in reserves where this is prohibited is a sure fire way to invalidate the expensive holiday and car insurance you bought for your dream safari ... assuming that the bull elephant has left you in a condition to lodge a claim in the first place!
Although most wildlife look and seem placid, they are still WILD animals.Therefore it is advisable to stay in your vehicle while travelling through Addo Elephant Park. To enjoy the natural beauty and the thrill of being up close and personal with these animals, it is advisable to rather travel with a game keeper from Addo.
Do remember that these animals are not tame, although they might be use to vehicles. Elephants are very protective about their young, so be a bit more carefull if there are youngsters in a group crossing etc.
Only get out of your vehicle at designated areas!
Do not bring any kind of citrus fruits into the park if it can be helped. Oranges, pineapples, clementines, naartjies etc.
The park has decent fences around the it, but in times past, it didn’t, and animals used to get out of the park and into the citrus fruit trees and eat whatever they could find.
Naturally this enraged the local farmers and many elephants were shot, maimed and killed because of it.
Animals have excellent memories generally, especially elephants, and they associate the smell of citrus fruits, with that of pain and suffering.
This might make them restless and even angry, so best to play it safe and not bring them into the park.
The roads in the rest camp are tarred, but the roads in the park are sand and gravel. We have been to quite a few game parks, and we found some of the roads here the worst we have ever found.
Hopefully they have flattened the sand roads a bit since, but when we were there it was incredibly bumpy in some areas and this is not fun.
Interestingly enough (although I am not sure this had anything to do with the bumpy road), the steering wheel came off (yes, it just came off!) whilst we were driving.
We were doing the speed limit, so we could stop almost immediately.
My husband had his penknife with him and fixed it. NOT the place to become stranded, especially as there is no phone signal or anything. We would have had to wait for a passer by to raise the alarm had we been unable to fix it.
Handy little Swiss Army knife!
We got back to the cottage and he spent the rest of the afternoon surveying the bushveld around us up on the verandah pillar... not wanting to venture into the car for a little while.
I personally have found that the elephants here are a lot tamer and calmer than the elephants in the Kruger National park.
However, with the advent of lions and cheetahs (more predators), this balance has changed slightly. They are more aggressive than they were before.
Never come between an elephant and her baby ellies.
This is only asking for trouble.
If you see the elephant suddenly flapping its ears, snorting and perhaps moving its one leg up and down a bit, then get out of the area. Quickly.
This is typical charge material!
A man was killed in the park in 2005.
He was trespassing and was walking in an area he shouldn’t have been in, and, besides the fact he was trespassing, that area is home to predators and other animals that are ferociously guarded and protective around their young.
A female elephant charged at him and killed him.
Upon doing their routine fence patrol, park guards found him, trampled in the vegetation.
Do NOT get out of your cars when in the game park area.
Be responsible at all times!
No this is not that famous english rock band from the 60s and 70s. These insects carrying balls of poop may be crossing roads. The parks are fairly serious about keeping their dung beetle populations high. The dung beetles use the dung for sustanance as well as a place to lay their eggs. So watch out!
It´s like in the Kruger Ntl Park, only 10 times "worse".
The Elephants here are not shy. They come real close to the cars, nursing their childs, just walking by, or playing with each other.
Be sure not to interfere with them. An angry Elephant can shatter your vehicle without any problems.
It is advised to keep the motor running when coming close to Elephants, so you won´t loose time trying to start your engine when the Elephant is running at you....
A "special" here in the Park: DO NOT BRING ANY CITRUS FRUITS ! (means Oranges, Citrons and so)
The reason for this is, that there are Citrus Plantations all around the Park. Before they built an Elephant-proof fence, the Elephants went there to feed, and the farmers shot at them. The ones that survived remember the pain combined to the odor of the citrus fruits. So if they smell them they get angry. And.. see above.
I know - they look super cute and I so much wanted to walk out of my car and hug them (or since they are so big, hugging would probably have been impossible... so maybe I just wanted to pet them!). But please don't put yourself under a risk - these are wild animals and can kill you in a matter of seconds. Also, when elephants get close to the car, be careful with opening your window and photographing them. It may happen that they will 'get interested' in your camera and you will never get it back !!