Go­rah Ele­phant Camp, Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park | TRAVEL

Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park, Eastern Cape, south africa

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - | BY HELÉNE RA­MACK­ERS

The only pri­vate con­ces­sion camp in Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park, Go­rah Ele­phant Camp is home to the most as­tound­ing num­ber of ele­phants. They take cen­ter stage and are peace­fully joined at the wa­ter­ing hole by an ar­ray of other an­i­mals, in­clud­ing ze­bra, warthog, buf­falo, eland, os­triches, black backed jackal and in a per­fect world, lions and hye­nas.

A large bull ele­phant is strid­ing to­wards us, his trunk aloft. My hus­band starts back­ing up the car, not know­ing whether the ele­phant might be in musth. We swiftly re­fer back to our let­ter we re­ceived at the gate “please do not be alarmed if an ele­phant should ap­proach your ve­hi­cle, sim­ply give them space to move on by. They are very ‘re­laxed’ but in­quis­i­tive and will sim­ply wan­der on in their own time. How­ever, do not at any time get out of your ve­hi­cle.”

We find an em­bank­ment to ‘give him space’ and he struts to­wards the right-hand side of our car, prob­a­bly snig­ger­ing at us be­cause we fell for his clever ‘game’ and dis­ap­pears into the thicket to feed.

At Go­rah House, we are met by se­nior guide Gabriel Roux, who will be look­ing af­ter us for the du­ra­tion of our stay. We ar­rive later than ex­pected and Gabriel bun­dles us and his other pa­tient guests into the game drive ve­hi­cle for a quick sun­downer drive. With over 500 ele­phants

in Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park, you will surely en­counter loads of ele­phants dur­ing your stay at Go­rah Ele­phant Camp, which is ex­actly what we are see­ing on our drive, in­clud­ing the cutest baby ele­phants.

Af­ter wit­ness­ing the most in­cred­i­ble sun­set, we make our way back to the lodge where din­ner is greatly an­tic­i­pated. For pre-din­ner drinks, we meet in the lounge area, beau­ti­fully il­lu­mi­nated by can­de­labra, bear­ing tes­ta­ment to the by­gone colo­nial era which makes Go­rah such a spe­cial place.

Tonight, we dine on tomato, moz­zarella & basil tart, beef fil­let, pulled pork or gnoc­chi for main course and for dessert, malva pud­ding or cheese plate. The food is de­li­cious to say the least and we leave feeling sa­ti­ated and ready for bed.

We are stay­ing in Tent num­ber 4 and be­cause the camp is pur­pose­fully not fenced to al­low an­i­mals ac­cess to the nearby wa­ter­ing hole, a ranger is ac­com­pa­ny­ing us to our tent. Our tent is lux­u­ri­ously fit­ted with all the con­ve­niences you could want in the mid­dle of a na­tional park. Af­ter a warm shower – the gey­sers are gas-lit and the camp is so­lar pow­ered, min­i­miz­ing it’s car­bon foot­print, you can be as­sured of a great night’s sleep. In­dulging in a mouth­wa­ter­ing break­fast is a sure way to start the day on a good note. Add to that a scenic game drive with an­i­mals around ev­ery bend – ze­bra, buf­falo, os­trich, red har­te­beest and even lions hav­ing a snooze.

Back at Go­rah, brunch is best spent with a view of the wa­ter­ing hole, where three sep­a­rate ele­phant herds take their turn to quench their thirst. The most amus­ing sight­ing is a tiny black backed jackal be­ing ‘rep­ri­manded’ by a large bull ele­phant for his pres­ence at the wa­ter­ing hole.

The day has warmed up sub­stan­tially and some ele­phants are ‘bathing’ in the drink­ing wa­ter, hav­ing a mud-splash. A tiny baby ele­phant is stand­ing on his own, not cer­tain how to use his trunk yet. He even­tu­ally gives up and suck­les from his mother.

Din­ner is a gas­tro­nom­i­cal de­light; my hus­band and I or­der the per­fectly pre­pared Ka­roo lamb rack while our daugh­ter opts for the grilled chicken breast. Dessert is the mouth­wa­ter­ing Amarula Panna Cotta.

I wake early from the call of a jackal and not too far in the dis­tance, I hear the un­mis­tak­able sound of a lion roar­ing. It is get­ting closer. I grog­gily climb out of bed and cau­tiously open the cur­tains. It is

06:45 in the morn­ing and the sound re­ver­ber­ates through camp. Then I see him, the most beau­ti­ful sub-adult lion strolling past our tent on the way to the wa­ter­ing hole, closely fol­lowed by a fe­male.

We wait un­til it’s safe to leave our tent as we wouldn’t want to be­come a preda­tor’s break­fast. The lioness is al­ready at the wa­ter­ing hole, joined by four of her sub-adult cubs. Gabriel asks if we would like to get into the game drive ve­hi­cle to see what the lions are up to.

Sud­denly, a ca­coph­ony of roars and shrills pen­e­trate the early morn­ing air and there they are – five lions and twelve hye­nas! The hye­nas aren’t quite sure how to re­act in the lions’ pres­ence; they even­tu­ally saunter off into the early morn­ing sun­rise. Gabriel sug­gests that we head back to en­joy break­fast on the ve­ran­dah.

As I sit in my com­fort­able chair on the porch, I am taken back to what it must have felt like to be on sa­fari in the 1900’s, with style and lux­ury at my fin­ger­tips. I look out over the plains and as the sun rises over another beau­ti­ful day in South Africa, I can­not imag­ine want­ing to be any­where else but at Go­rah Ele­phant Camp.

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