The last full day of our African Bikers adventure was a good one! We started the day off with breakfast at the guesthouse. Then we jumped in the van and drove for several hours, stopping along the way for gas and a few photos, before arriving at the Storms River Suspension Bridge.
We parked the van, climbed out, and then made a short hike up the hillside to the area where three large suspension bridges hung across the opening to a large river gorge.
Climbing out onto the bridge we were able to see several, large red-colored sharks swimming in the water below us. I had seen sharks in the wild before, but I had never seen sharks that were this particular color. It was amazing to see!
After spending a fair amount of time at the suspension bridge, we jumped back in the van and drove for a couple more hours to the famous Addo Elephant National Park. Unloading from our white tour van and climbing inside a giant green Land Rover equipped for African safaris, we were driven out into the wilderness by our Addo tour guide and did our best to spot at many animals as we could.
The first major animal we saw was a warthog. From a distance these pig-like creatures look kind of cute, but from up close the animals are really disgusting. Our tour guide informed us that there were as many as 4,000 warthogs inside Addo National Park. We ending up seeing about 12 of them (including a mother with about 5 or 6 baby warthogs running behind her).
Later in the tour we saw some springbok and a dozen or so zebras.
Our tour guide told us that the black and white stripes on a zebra are obviously not there to keep the animal camouflaged, but are there to keep the animal cool during the day (the white stripes) and warm during the night (the black stripes).
I was excited to have already seen so many animals on the tour, but what I really wanted to see was an elephant. Unfortunately, the way our tour guide was talking (saying that the wind can sometimes scare the elephants away), I was afraid we might not be lucky enough to see even a single elephant on our tour.
But just as I had about given up hope of seeing an elephant, a dozen or more gray creatures emerged from the bush all around our vehicle. There was one small group to our left and a much larger group straight in front of us.
Our tour guide put the car into neutral and we crept up on a large herd consisting of approximately 12-18 elephants. Our guide informed us that elephants have exceptionally poor eyesight, but that they can hear and smell very well (which seemed a little obvious to me, based on the sheer size of these animals noses and ears).
Now parked right in front of these large, wild creatures, we snapped an endless number of pictures from our cameras.
I could have sat there and followed that herd of elephants all day. But after what seemed like only a few minutes, we turned the vehicle’s engine on and drove back to the park entrance where our safari had begun.
After our incredible day inside the Addo Elephant Park, we drove to what would be our final guest house of the tour – a rustic (yet highly-elegant) property with thatched roof villas, a pool, and a large dinning area where we would later spend the evening.
At dinner our waiters serenaded us with several local songs. We discussed our favorite moments from the tour and shared our plans for our return trips home. While I would remain in South Africa for the next two-and-a-half months, everyone else participating in the tour was scheduled to return to their homes in either Germany or Austria. The following morning would be our last few moments together.