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Thread: Addo National Elephant Park & Birds of Eden, South Africa

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    Addo National Elephant Park & Birds of Eden, South Africa

    Visited two very different and very cool places in South Africa: Addo is pretty self-explanatory. The parks hosts everything from lions (didn't see them) to, predictably, elephants. Birds of Eden is an absolutely enormous aviary holding hundreds (if not more) varieties of birds. A selection of some of the better:

    Addo:
















    Birds of Eden:







  2. #2
    Senior Member cancidas's Avatar
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    that's AMAZING jeremy great work!! i've always wanted to go and visit africa, just don't know if i'd rather pack my rifle or my camera...
    it is mathematically impossible for either hummingbirds, or helicopters to fly. fortunately, neither are aware of this.

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    Great images Jeremy! Looks like it was a great excursion.
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    Absolutely awesome Jeremy! Can't wait to see the next set from South Africa...

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    Thanks everyone! My goal is to post a new set from a new place or two each day, to help me stay on top of going through these. I’ve got near to 2700 pics (way less than I thought I would have actually) from nearly 18 days of traveling through mostly South Africa and a little bit of Ethiopia.
    My wife and I both have to give a big thanks to Mark Lawrence for helping us out on this trip. Mark, having lived in SA for quite awhile was really helpful in everything from planning out places to understanding local stuff like gas stations and grocery stores. In particular though he convinced us to stay overnight in Addo itself, which was one of the cooler parts of the entire adventure.

    The park itself is pretty large and separated into five or six sections. We stayed and travelled through the large game reserve section, which is crisscrossed with reasonably well maintained dirt roads (and sometimes paved roadway) that you can take your car on. Driving the most direct north-south route probably takes 90 minutes or so, but detouring through any of the loops can add a few hours easily. Of course you’re still in a place with live, basically wild animals. The park stresses that animals are used to seeing cars, but are not used to seeing people out of the cars…and that the park has a number of wild predators (like two lion prides) that are hungry and may think humans are just as tasty as the antelope (and probably take less work). You can take safari jeep rides provided by the park at a reasonable cost or drive yourself through the park (or both). The plus side to driving through yourself (which we chose to do) is that you can sit and wait anywhere along the car roads for as long as you want, whereas safari’s will not necessarily wait around for the light to become perfect or for the next animal to come out. The downside is that you can drive all day long and see nothing, which on the first day we thought for sure was going to happen. That is until we rounded a corner into a large set of fields and found literally dozens of elephants (probably 50+ easily) grazing and moving around. For the highlight we got stuck in the middle of a herd of elephants that were in the process of crossing the roadway, which is a little bit alarming when you are surrounded on all sides by an animal that, as a juvenile, is larger than your car. At one point two of the juveniles were ‘fighting’ with one another and were getting close enough to the car that I dropped the camera into the back seat and shifted quickly into reverse only to see a rear-view mirror full of three adult elephants: we were stuck. I thought for sure we were going to get hit, but they ended up chasing one another off the road a few yards before running into the car. The place we stayed in was in the deep south of the park, and one of the nicer accommodations throughout the entire trip. Warnings and mug shots were posted everywhere of the local problem baboons, which at some points of our trip concerned me more than crime from human sources.
    Strangely enough the waterholes, which we were told were normally active to some degree most of the day, were dead each time we passed them over both days (early morning, just prior to sunset, mid-day…it was weird). As this was the only park we visited that we could potentially see the big cats at, it was disappointing not to see them. But the copious numbers of zebra, antelope, kudu, bushbuck, warthog (they look nothing like the plane), monkeys, baboons, elephant, ostrich, and birds made the visit a big success. I would definitely go back again, though next time I would also try to add South Africa’s crown jewel park, Krueger, as well for a better chance to get some of the cats and the big five (black rhino, cape buffalo, African elephant, lion, leopard). Photography wise it was very easy to get good shots with only a 200mm on a 1.6 crop body, and with a bit of patience you can net most of the major inhabitants in a few days time. Next time I’d take a bigger lens though, which I found myself wanting for some of the more elusive animals we only saw at a distance, like the Cape Buffalo.
    Birds of Eden is the worlds largest free flight aviary, located just outside of the Tsitsikamma National Park area, or about a 3 hour drive west from Port Elizabeth. They currently house near to 250 different types of birds and 3500+ occupants. The birds arrive at the sanctuary for a variety of reasons, ranging from zoo overcrowding to no longer wanted pets. The place is enormous, and despite initially thinking we would be done and out in an hour or less my wife and I eventually took more than 2.5 hours looking around. Like Addo, photography wise it is a gold mine, if you’re willing to be patient. A lot of the birds are not too afraid of humans and will let you come reasonably close before flying away. Some, like the parakeets, will actually land on your shoulder and nuzzle you. A handful of them talk a bit. But still you need a decent sized lens for many of them, especially the ones that like the high tree tops, and 200mm was short much of the time. The place is also generally dark as you’re inside a forest for most of it, leaving you at a high ISO. That being said, I would go back in a heartbeat. It was super cool to see so many different birds in one place, the majority of which I hadn’t ever seen before. Birds of Eden is also paired with another animal sanctuary, MonkeyLand, which will come in another post. I’ll add some additional pictures from both Addo and Birds of Eden later on today.

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    Looking forward to seeing more Jeremy. After reading what you just wrote, I do believe you have me thinking about saving up for a year or two to take a trip like that myself. It definitely sounds like one of those trips that everyone should take at least once in their life.
    Steve Furst

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    Senior Member MarkLawrence's Avatar
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    Wow - awesome pictures Jeremy! Glad the country was good to you in so many ways! Glad I could have been of help!!
    Mark Lawrence - KFLL
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    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    KILLER photography Jeremy. Just beautiful. Wild subjects, but your photography made it come alive.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

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    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    Not short of outstanding Jeremy! It sounds like a trip of a life time. I can only image how beautiful it must be to see the various animals and birds in their natural surroundings. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more.
    Mark
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    thanks much guys!

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    Senior Member Derf's Avatar
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    Simply Amazing.... Speechless!
    The three most common expressions in aviation are, "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh Crap".

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    Awesome!
    It's hard to take chances but sometimes it's better if you do

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