Addo Elephant Park is located in the Eastern Cape Bush region the southeast of South Africa, near the city of Port Elizabeth. There are living more than 550 elephants in this park. Hence the name. In addition, there are plenty of other animals including lions, antelopes, rhinos and the pride of the Addo area: the Dung Beetle. Believe me: they are hilarious, maneuvering with their large bulbs of dung. When I arrive, I pray to see an elephant. It turned out: I see dozens. It is a beautiful park in a frenzied environment where the chance of seeing elephants is very large. I have a weakness for elephants. They are sensitive, heartbreak, mourning, learn quickly, they are faithful and caring and they have humor.
Addo Elephant park. My first real contact with pure wildlife. There where my South African adventure begins. Five years ago, January 2009. The first wildlife park that I visit in the first free weekend since I set foot on this beautiful continent. The first part of 2009 I live in Port Alfred, near Port Elizabeth and therefore near the Addo Elephant Park. The second part of 2009 I live within this fantastic place, where I am trained to become a junior ranger. My wildlife adventure starts here, but in the months before that I want to see, of course, as much as possible of the country and the amazing animals. The first weekend off I find myself driving directly in a rented ramshackle little car. I leave for the Addo Elephant Park.
There where you can drive around in your own car. There where I instantly jump out of the car when I see my ‘first animal’…a land turtle. Not a coincidence when your name is Laura. Hoping for a baby elephant and almost crash with a land turtle. At that moment I don’t realize that in this park there are not just turtles but lions and other voracious animals as well. So there I find myself sitting next to my turtle. Deliriously happy. Addo. There where I suddenly come face to face with an elephant family. With baby, yes. I still own good karma somewhere. There where I spot more animals during the day. Where I almost drive into a lake. Where elephants are washing themselves. With more babies. Splashing and playing. I don’t have the words to describe how amazing this day is for me, barely a week living in this county. There where I have to drive back like a maniac in a sandy maze because I have five minutes left before the park closes. There where I see the sun drop while a few elephants are walking on a hill like shadows.
In the free months between and after my studies in South Africa I float around the country and I still have enough stories to tell you about this contradictory but beautiful country. Here, in Addo Elephant Park, my love for the Earth and all that it has to offer grows. Here I find myself in search of adventure. At the beginning of my everlasting journey.