Elephants in front of the veranda, warthogs as neighbours. The Gorah Elephant Camp in South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park celebrates the authentic safari style of past centuries in luxurious manner.
The noise that jolts me from my sleep at five in the morning is unfamiliar to me, yet I know immediately what it is: it is the call of a hyena, a barking laugh. Only the thin canvas of my safari tent stands between me and the South African wilderness. An exciting feeling. I can’t go back to sleep now. There is no point anyway, because a 6.30 the game drive begins. Here at the Gorah elephant Camp, just an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, wilderness experts ensure the security and safety of the guests. There is no question about it, I certainly feel taken care of. How else could I feel. The setting is simply breathtaking.
ELEPHANTS AT YOUR DOORSTEP
The five-star hideaway, part of the renowned Hunter Hotels group, has just eleven guest tents. The luxurious safari camp was the first lodge to be granted a private concession in the malaria free Addo National Park. There are no fences or ditches separating the animals from the guests. Whilst guests take break - fast on the terrace of the historic main building, Gorah House, erected in 1856, zebras, antelope and numerous other wild animals come and drink at the adjacent water hole. The warthogs are regulars here – and are also effective lawnmowers. Hyenas splash in the water, whilst elephants come right up to the tents. Even lions put in an appearance from time to time. I could sit here for hours. This is more relaxing than any mediation, more informative than any wildlife documentary.
SAFARI IN STYLE
The real highlights are the approximately three-hour game drives in open-top jeeps. Mornings and evenings a maximum of six guests explore the third-largest National Park in South Africa. The famous big five of elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino are also present in the Addo Elephant Park. However, the chances of seeing all of them are slim. After all, the park is around 180,000 hectares in size and a good deal of luck is required to discover them – along with experienced rangers that know the country like the back of their hand, obviously. I especially love our encounters with the gray giants. I know that the Addo National Park has the densest population of elephants in the world, but this is simply incredible. Often several herds meet simultaneously at the waterhole, and one is lucky enough to observe more than 100 animals at the same time. It is astonishing that such large animals can become invisible behind such a small bush. No wonder elephants are also known as “grey ghosts“. In response to my question of whether elephants sometimes attack cars, Corny answers with a grin: “Not really, but sometimes there are feint attacks, but rangers can spot those. It’s important that the guests stay calm. “Still euphoric from our experience, we drive back to camp. Once arrived we partake of an excellent lunch. Here, in the middle of the bush, gourmets are regaled with select cuisine.
We have some time before the next game drive in the afternoon. I make myself comfortable on the veranda of my luxury tent. The view is wonderful, as is my accommodation. Simple on the outside, on the inside it is exclusive colonial style. There are no televisions and stereos to be found. Nor do I miss them in the slightest.
SUNDOWNERS IN THE BUSH
It is tea time in Gorah. This heralds the evening safari in style. After biscuits and cake it is back into the jeep – and on to the next adventure. Zebras and antelope pass us, here and there a jackal emerges, a meerkat makes an appearance. Then comes the radio message that a male lion is very close by. He is looking for his lioness and his offspring. We discover him far away and wait for the beautiful big cat to approach us. "We just have to be patient. He will come in our direction", says Corny. In fact, the lion strolls towards us, past our jeep and disappears in the thicket. We are excited. What an experience.
Corny takes us to our sundowners. We sip our wine in the middle of the African plain and discuss the lion episode again. The return journey in the darkness is an experience. Above us glitters an unbelievable starry sky, even the Milky Way puts in an appearance. In awe, we listen to the sounds of the wilderness, the snort of a buffalo, the bark of a hyena, the howl of a jackal. What a location, what a day. It simply does not get better than this. This is exactly how I imagine “out of Africa“ to be.
Text: Petra Dietz
LAST MINUTE SPECIAL:
INSIDE 7 DAYS
♦ luxury accommodation
♦ 2 game drives p/day
♦ all non-alcoholic beverages
♦ drinks on game drive
♦ all teas
INSIDE 7 DAYS for only R5,828 pppd.
The rates are valid for reservations made within 7 days of your stay:
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GOOD TO KNOW
The 5 000 hectare private concession is located deep in the heart of the malaria free Addo Elephant National Park, 70km north-east of the Eastern Cape coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the nearest centre with a major airport.
- 11 luxurious, spacious colonial-style tent suites with shower, toilet, ceiling fan and veranda with outdoor seating and breathtaking views of the African bush
- included: breakfast, lunch, tea-time and dinner as well as drinks and snacks during game drives
- free WIFI
- parking available
- airport transfer for a fee
- included: 2 game drives (morning and afternoon / evening) accompanied by an experienced ranger
WELL-BEING & SPORT
- Beautifully landscaped pool in a lovely garden (fenced).
- The most beautiful relaxation treatment: nature and animals!
- Coffee, tea and snacks before the game drives.
- The delicious breakfast and lunch are mostly taken on the veranda overlooking the waterhole in front of the manor house. The exquisite dinner is served in the elegant dining room by candlelight.
MUST DO & MUST SEE
- You should spend every free minute to observe and enjoy the incredible wildlife. Different animal species are constantly appearing at the large waterhole in front of the Manor House - and you never know what is happening next: the interaction of the animals, how they splash with their offspring in the water. A sight you will never forget.
- What to bring for your stay: camera, binoculars, sun protection, head cover and a warm jacket (it can be chilly while the game drive). A wildlife determination book is not a must, but fun.