How’s this for ignorant… Before actually arriving at Addo Elephant Park I had absolutely no idea that there was other wildlife there, you know aside from elephants. Like obvs they’d have buck and snakes (if you’re lucky/unlucky enough to see them) but I was not expecting them to have lions or leopards. I’m not exactly sure why, but I just assumed that they weren’t there. Which then posed the question of why the heck we’d never been there before?!
It’s so close to home (considering how far away a lot of the other big parks are). Plus elephants are just incredible creatures, they are the ones that I was most excited to see.
We stayed in the caravan area of Addo Elephant Park near the main reception entrance. I wouldn’t recommend sleeping there in a tent unless you have lank under sheets and things for the gravel, or like, whatever it is that people that sleep in tents would put under their beds. But in the van it was perfect. The kids had a great circular route to ride their bikes on and they loved racing around with friends they made over the time that we were there. I liked that the caravan areas were also quite private with bushes separating the areas.
You have seen all the pictures of this on my Instagram or Facebook while we were there so instead of reusing stuff you’ve already seen, I’m only sharing the pictures that I took my my DSLR. Keeping it fresh you know. But if you have missed what our site looked like, how we set up and what happened on each of the days, don’t fear. You can go to my Instagram or Facebook or you can scroll to the bottom of the post! I gots your back bro.
We went on our first game drive and we weren’t even 10 minutes in and we drove right into a herd of elephants. It was something magical to see them up close. We drove a little further and then there was another herd of them, but on the road! Heading straight for us! We had no idea what to do. Do we reverse?! Do we scream out in panic?! Do we head forward and hope for the best?! In the end we opted for just staying exactly where we were, praying under our breath and marvelling at how close we were to these majestic beings. They walked right past our car, giving us a look but not really bothering with us at all.
This is when we really started using audio books. Guys, nothing better than keeping your mind busy while you drive around aimlessly in search of animals. It nips the annoying bickering that usually happens in the back of the car right in the bud. WINNING!
At this point we were basically three weeks into the adventure and hadn’t touched school work even once. Not really setting a good precedent huh? So we got stuck in and I think the kids enjoyed having a bit of routine again.
Apparently seeing the lions at Addo is not something that happens often. So imagine our excitement when we checked out the sightings board and saw they were spotted near the road. Off we went and after waiting in a line for what felt like forever we passed two beautiful male lions having a kip in the grasses near the roadside!
They were pretty incredible but with the line of people behind us and the fact that they weren’t actually doing much, we headed on. Did basically an entire round trip of the whole park and then figured, let’s just pass the lion spot on the way back and see what happens. OH MY WORD. They were very much awake. Growling and chatting to each other. Then to our absolute delight, they walked some of the way right next to our car!
I can’t actually explain what it felt like being so close to them. I got full on goosebumps when they were roaring at each other. Such beautiful creatures!
We also managed to see a bunch of other animals like various buck, black backed jackal, ostrich, warthogs, vervet monkeys, tortoise, dung beetles and a variety of birds. It was fun trying to spot them and mark them off on our list. We really wanted to see hyena and even though there were some sightings, we never saw them ourselves.
The weather also turned on one of the days and so Seth made a little vlog of what we do when it rains. I know some of you probably wonder how we deal with the small space in bad weather and it does get real up close and personal.
If you have never been to a game park yet, I’d seriously suggest going to Addo. I would also suggest getting a Wild Card because then entry in to the park is free. Yup – do it!! It’s so worth it.
We also ended up staying at Addo Elephant park for 10 days. Our longest stay in one place so far. I think we needed the stability but the other reason that we stayed was because Riya wanted to. Usually that wouldn’t hold enough sway, but it was her birthday, so we agreed. Here’s a little vlog of what we got up to on that day to celebrate.
OUR DAILY INSTAGRAM UPDATES WHILE WE WERE IN ADDO – A MUCH MORE DETAILED LOOK AT OUR EVERY DAY LIFE ON THE ROAD.
Day 20 – Addo Elephant Park 1. That first photo right there is us completely blown away with having just seen elephants for the first time. Yes we’re squinting into the sun pulling weird faces, yes my arm is squashed weirdly into my body making it look like a drumstick… But there in the background are a whole herd of elephants at the waterhole grumbling to each other. I can’t even explain the feeling of seeing that in real life. 2. We are getting into the home school vibe properly today which was great so I got a chance to work in the daylight hours – yes please. 3. If you watch our stories you’ll see a whole herd of elephants walking up to our car. I wish I filmed the end but I was actually just so scared. They walked right past and man, it was was the highlight of my day. Such amazing creatures. 4. We made a lekker fire to braai with this evening. Classic van life. ? 5. The kids kinda lost the plot on the game drive. And I don’t blame them. Seeing the first couple of elephants was cool but they were over it pretty quickly. Audiobook to the rescue!! I don’t know how I survived without them for so long! Thank you for your suggestions yesterday, at the rate we’re going, we’ll need them all. 6. Had the first blog post in over a month go live today. It’s just really a catch up on what we did to almost get to the point of leaving in the van. I cried for a solid hour editing the pics and writing it. I think it just finally hit that this is real. We’re doing it. 7. I had more to say but I can’t remember what it was. So I think I’m going to call it and snuggle up with my book for a bit instead of working tonight. Yay!
Day 21 – Addo 1. Emotions were a bit raw today. Seth spent the day fixing stuff in the van and we spent the day farting around outside the van. It was chill for the most part until supper time. Look, I’ll admit I was hangry. But yoh, Seth pressed all the wrong buttons and I got so mad I stormed out the van and for good measure punched him in the back of the head as I left. Not usually something I’d ever do but yoh man, it was satisfying. (He totally deserved it) 2. Despite slight unconsciousness, Seth connected the water pipes, fitted the sink, repacked the bathroom and kitchen cupboards. Which is great. A tidy van does us all good. 3. The kids found friends in the campground which is cool. The problem though, is the language barrier. We really need to get them speaking Afrikaans and Xhosa. But the girls also made a friend from Holland which was cool. 4. We’ve been playing card games and listening to a bit more of the current audio book – Danny Champion of The World. I’m digging the chilledness of life right now. We needed this. 5. Two out of five of us have had nosebleeds. The air here is different, the water too. Our hair and skins are drying out like crazy. Need to pop into a store and get some good skincare things. 6. I know there’s apparently a way to make it so that you get notified for every post that goes up of ours on Instagram or Facebook, but I don’t know how to do that. But if you’re keen to not miss any of these daily posts then maybe switch it on? I dunno, it’s up to you, but someone asked about how to catch up and not miss out today so I thought I’d just let yall know that it’s possible.
Day 22 – Addo 1. Today we dedicated to heading out into the park with the goal of seeing Lions. We turned on our Lion King sound track to get into the mood (and act like real tourists) and we saw some!! They were sleeping in the midday sun. It was amazing. Not so amazing were the 6 other cars trying to get the prime spot and staying forever in that spot, but I suppose that’s totally normal. 2. Lions sleep, rest or chill for 21 hours of the day which means that to get them walking around is pretty rare. So we left the lions behind to get down to the bottom of the park. We saw a herd of elephants and a little warterhog (as our kids have decided to call them) trying to get passed them to the waterhole. It was cool to see them working out normal life like that. 3. It took us about 3 hours to get from one side of the park to the other and that’s with doing only one of the loops that we knew the lions would be on (thanks to others that put the info up on the communal map). Getting back was a race against time but we managed it in the dusky hours 5 minutes before they shut the gates. We were stressing that we’d be locked in but trying to act totally chill about it with the kids ? 4. We knew that we had a time crunch but decided to go back passed where the lions were this morning. And it’s a good thing we did!! They were moving and we literally drove right next to them and heard them roaring at each other. Lions in a cage are one thing. Lions in the wild roaring at each other gives you goosebumps you can’t control. Amazing, wonderful creatures!! 5. You’d think that doing some game drives and therefore sitting in the car all day would mean that we’d have energy but it seems to be the opposite. Granted we only went to bed at 10pm, but heads hit the pillows and everyone was gone. 6. I killed a moth today with my bare hands. This is monumental because I’m pretty freaking terrified of moths (and a million other things). But I figure there’s so much to work through in this lifestyle that I just don’t have the energy to care about my stupid little fears anymore. Although that’s easy to say without a spider on me!
Day 23 – Addo Elephant Park 1. Not many pictures today because we’re finally getting a chance to experience a “normal” day. Where we wake up, have breakfast and then get into work or school vibes. This morning I sat in the driver’s seat and got through my emails while the kids did school. It was cool. The only thing I think we need to do there is invest in a few easy-ish readers for the girls and I cannot under any circumstances leave the cab area unless I want to be roped into playing a game of cards or darts. 2. We found the pool that was basically Artically cold. The kids couldn’t even deal with it, so even though it was 30 deg, I didn’t even dip a toe in. 3. The other day someone told me that I smell really nice. It’s stayed with me because i think it’s probably one of the nicest things to say to someone living in a van. I mean obvs we shower and stuff, but everything either smells like smoke, food or petrol. I don’t dig it but what can you do. 4. We had a proper meal this evening and cooking properly in this space was interesting. Cooking was never really my thing but I see it becoming less and less of my thing as we move along. Say hello to wraps and fresh salads. My kids are going to hate me 5. It’s been 23 days and I think today was the first day that I craved the creature comforts of home. Like a shower that I know won’t change temperature half way through or a toilet I know 3627477 other people haven’t sat on. Or the ability to have my own space for a bit. Like private space. Where I could be butt naked and not worry that I’d be seen. Not that I’m usually walking around like that, I just want to know I can if I wanted 6. We’re probably going to pop back into PE tomorrow to get a few essentials that we can’t get in the store here and weirdly I’m excited to go back to civilization for a bit. I’m pretty sure I’m a city girl at heart 7. We’ve extended our stay here till after Riyas birthday, she is so excited to be spending it with the elephants 8. I went the entire day today with out any make up on. And I even saw people and looked them right in their eyeballs. It was weirdly terrifying but liberating at the same time. Plus no make up to wash off ??
Day 24 – Addo 1. Seth had a mild tummy bug that had him up most of the night running to and from the ablutions. Definitely the most unrad part of living in a van. Not that living in a van gives you a tummy bug, but having to deal with the effects of it in the middle of the night – not lekker. 2. We had plans that involved getting up early to head into PE to take care of some admin things (like returning the key we accidentally stole from The Plantation). But life got in the way and we ended up heading out around 12. 3. The road between PE and Addo is hectic. This one chop was driving like a manic with his trailer and I swear my heart moved to about 25 different places in my body once I realised we were OK. But on the plus side the same road has incredible views as the sun sets. 4. We headed to the biggest mall that PE has. Seth and I have always loved a good mall. It’s actually a joke between us. Once, on our honeymoon in Durban we spent an entire day in a mall. Why?! I have no idea. But we did. 5. Even though we only bought groceries and a few very necessary odds and ends for the van, the retail therapy did us all some good. Even though we really curbed ourselves in not buying anything we didn’t need (like any of the clothes that were on sale ?) 6. Kylas t-shirt with things I love should include cucumber – the girl is obsessed. 7. It’s really difficult to keep the joy level up. You’d think with all the fun things we’re doing it would be easy, and it is on the doing fun things days, but it’s a lot more difficult when you’re constantly dealing with things breaking in the van, kids whining, tempers flaring, pressures of life still working on that last nerve. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I didn’t really realize how much effort it would take to keep it positive. I sound like an ungrateful butt head, I know. It’s not that I don’t get how awesome it is, it’s just a lot to process. Usually this is the time you head home from a holiday but we’re just getting started really. Getting our heads in the game is quite something. But we’re getting there ?
Day 25 – Addo 1. Another day of chill. I worked, the kids played. Everyone was relaxed and chilled. It was a really good day emotionally, physically and just overall. Yay! I love these days. It makes it all so worth it. 2. I was up until 4am reading. Yes, i was a little frag this morning but it was so worth it. This combined with a little quiet time last night really helped to get me back into the right mind space. I needed that time just for me to regroup without my kids mumbling at me in the background or needing to be fed or whatever. It changed my entire mood today, the tiredness didn’t even touch me, I was just enjoying life. It was great! 3. Knox and I finally had a chance to take some pictures for his little shoot with his @keedo_international gear. It’s been the best choice having these beautifully, thoughtfully created items as part of his wardrobe. The whole mood and vibe is on par with our adventure! I love it. Plus good looking clothes are always a win, especially well crafted and durable ones!! 4. The second pic is what it looks like when the fridge is out and we’re busy making food of some kind. In this case, Seth was making breakfast. The pictures often make the space look huge, but it really isn’t. Like at all. Teeny tiny. ??(this emoji is to show how small, not that it’s lekker) 5. I sat in the cab today and got a lot of work done. It really does a lot for my mind space to know I’m on top of things. 6. Although having all that time to myself last night I’m feeling it now. Ready for bed. Bring on sleepy time. 7. We had a stir fry for supper followed by the motivation of hot choc for dessert. Winning at life I tell you! 8. Sent out a little newsletter tonight and realised that it didn’t include any of the Facebook posts that I included. So annoying. I’m so over things that don’t work. The long and the short of it is if you want to see what we get up to on the daily you either need to follow here on Insta or on Facebook. Soz.
Day 26 – Addo 1. I think that we are starting to really get this lifestyle waxed. Although I guess that’s easy to say because we’ve been in one place so long, but still. The van is working well aside from the stove burning the countertops, some cupboards coming apart, buying water things with holes in it and a few other random things. What I mean is just getting around each other, having space for things, working and that kind of thing, that’s all going well. 2. Knox wakes me up like this every morning. Seth takes him out of his bed and puts him on ours (so that we can move around). He then comes and literally uses me as his pillow, wanting to look at Pokémon haha. 3. The kids played really well with each other today. It was amazing. Usually they fight for what feels like the entire day, but today was a good one. ?? 4. I worked for a few hours and for the last couple Seth took the kids on a journey of discovery (a pathway close to the game area). People often ask how I can be with my kids all day without losing my mind and before we started this, I wondered the same thing. But I’m so enjoying it that I felt total FOMO that I wasn’t there with them on this mini adventure. Weird. But then I heard that they saw signs warning them about snakes and I was like, nope, I’m done feeling any kind of FOMO. 5. The only thing I do miss from our “old life” is consistent, limitless internet and having date nights with Seth. You’d think with being all up in each other’s faces the whole day, every day, it would be one long date night, but that’s so not the case. We hardly ever have the luxury of an adult conversation that is not being overheard by little ears. 6. We went for a little game drive and the only new thing we saw was a black backed jackal and some tortoises. Saturday we’ll go for our last drive and then hope to see a hyena and the ever elusive leopard. 7. My main man @moderndaddiy hasn’t given up Insta stories altogether but he is taking one for the team and doing some gopro videos, then converting them into a daily vlog for YouTube and probs Facebook too. The first one might even be up tomorrow! Look at us being productive and stuff.
Day 27 – Addo 1. We’ve been blessed with amazing weather since we left Plett 2 weeks ago but today it rained. It’s amazing how quickly I forget how much more that complicates things. 2. It was OK though, we made it work with many games of Uno, journal writing, picture drawing, audio booking and chilling in the van. 3. We had our first guests come to visit us that actually had to sit inside the van! It made the van heck of a cosy but it’s totally doable. Although warmer days would be WAY better for having friends over, obvs. 4. I’ve gone 3 whole days with no make up. Even when we had people over. Yes, I might have twitched a bit (OK, a lot) but I did it and lived through it. It is still heck of a difficult for me to watch these YouTube videos that we’re making though but I’m sticking to my guns. 5. Riya turns 8 tomorrow and has a laundry list of things that she wants us to do – go to the shop to buy things, go on a game drive, go out for supper, everyone listen to every order she gives all day… There’s more but I forgot, it’s hard to keep track of the ever growing list. 6. Addo has been great but I’m actually really excited to move on from here. Bring on the next leg of the adventure! From here we go to Riebeek East (many thanks to Yvonne who has graciously offered us her house), then Hogsback (still to find accom), then Morgan Bay and a few others I forget the name of along the Wild Coast till we get to Cebe River and stay at Cebe River Cottage. We’ve never driven further than PE and only flew into Durban for our honeymoon so this is all completely uncharted territory for us and I can’t wait to explore it.
Day 28 – Addo 1. Today we celebrated our Riya Ray turning 8 years old! It was at her request that we stay the extra nights so that we could be here to enjoy her birthday and she made a whole list of things she wanted to do. 2. So top of the list was that we went to the shop for them to spend some of their money – they blew it all on sweets. Shame they are so deprived ? 3. Then we went down to the pool and even though the water was still freezing they took a dip. Kyla filmed Knox “putting his head under” but actually just wetting his nose ? 4. We got some lunch and went for our last game drive in the hopes of seeing hyena. We didn’t see any, but we did see a zebra crossing (the road) as well as dung beetle, elephants and kudu all crossing the road too. It was amazing. Elephants are just incredible and might just be my new favourite animal! 5. For supper we went to the restaurant here to celebrate 8 years of Riyas glorious life and it was so lekker going to a restaurant again. 6. Seth lost his 4th wedding ring down the floorboard holes at the same restaurant this evening. I swear he just wants everyone to think he’s single! I’m debating between cutting the finger right off or tattooing something on there myself. 7. The requests ended with a movie night kitted out with some popcorn and snacks. I have eaten so much today my body is quite literally in shock! 8. We are so blessed with our Ri-Ri. She is a force of nature but blossoming into an incredible, empathetic young lady right before our eyes! We love you Ri.