Did you know?
Because they were fed oranges in the early years of the Addo Elephant National Park, local elephants still love citrus from the Sundays River Valley.
The story of the Sundays River in the Eastern Cape is really a tale of two rivers.
The first part is where the Sundays River (possibly named after an early settler couple called the Sontags) rises up in the majestic Sneeuberg range near Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo. It is fed by occasional – but dramatic – Karoo thunderstorms as it flows across a semi-desert landscape through mohair country towards the south-east.
The second part of the story is where it flows – bolstered by the waters of the Great Fish River - from the Darlington Dam towards the coastal village of Colchester, where it meets the Indian Ocean.
On this leg of its journey, the Sundays River nourishes a magical part of South Africa: Greater Addo and the dreamy Sundays River Valley. Here, the Khoisan called it 'Nukakanna' - 'grassy water'.
The Addo Elephant National Park is your first stop where, at sunset, you can watch the great grey beasts drinking at Hap Oor Dam. If you stay in the park itself, you’ll be able to get those dawn shots that make wildlife photography so special.
Should you be travelling in the area during October, the fragrance of orange blossoms will be everywhere.
There’s a lookout over the Sundays River Valley and its vastness of citrus where one can pay respects to James Percy FitzPatrick, the pioneer-author who lies buried here and who wrote the South African classic, Jock of the Bushveld.
It is said of Sir Percy, founder of the Sundays River Valley Scheme: 'He imagined rain in the Karoo watering the oranges that would be served at an English breakfast table.'
Nearby is the little town of Kirkwood, which hosts an annual wildlife festival which can also involve the competitive spitting of kudu droppings, a kitty show and arguably the best boerewors (sausage) in the world.
Top off your Sundays River Valley journey with a bird-watching cruise from Colchester to the nearby dunefields.