HIT THE ROAD JACK – IN SEARCH OF UNUSUAL WILDLIFE
AARDVARKS OR ANT BEARS ARE EXTRAORDINARY; THEY RESEMBLE SOMETHING BETWEEN A KANGAROO AND A PIG. BEING NOCTURNAL THEY ARE HARD TO SEE BUT SEASONED SAFARI-GOERS WILL TRAVEL LONG DISTANCES, OFTEN IN VAIN, TO CATCH SIGHT OF ONE. IN SOUTH AFRICA, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PLACES WHERE THEY CAN BE SEEN SO ITS EASY ENOUGH TO MAKE ONE OF THESE AS PART OF A ROAD TRIP
Samara Game Reserve, in the Eastern Cape is one of the few places that pretty much guarantees visitors aardvark sightings. Evening game drives are timed as these creatures emerge from their burrows. Apart from the aardvarks, Samara is home to a variety of plains game as well as cheetah and the delightful meerkat. It’s an easy three hour drive from Port Elizabeth so very do-able for a weekend.
An hour’s drive further north will get you to Graaff-Reinet. The fourth oldest town in South Africa situated in the heart of the Karoo, it is well worth a visit. The Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of town is one of the most beautiful of its kind I have seen whilst the whole town is steeped in history. There are a number of delightful little properties from which to base oneself – The Drostdy is one of them.
The Camdeboo National Park is located near the town and whilst this park is best known for The Valley of Desolation, the bat-eared fox is one of the more unusual residents. Crepuscular mammals, they use their huge ears to locate their favourite snack – insects. The families live in burrows or hollowed out tree trunks; it’s really worth keeping an eye out for these endearing little fellows.
If you don’t have time to head as far afield as the Karoo, close to home for those that are in the Cape, lies Franschhoek. Our favourite is Le Quartier Francais; wonderful food, luxurious rooms, happy staff, plenty to do in the area and guests that return again and again. What more could you ask for? Oh, I nearly forgot – the unusual creature that you are looking for is the porcupine. He is to be found on one of the nearby wine estates and has become quite an honoured guest.
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