Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape
If it is elephants you want to see then head to Addo Elephant Park. Now South Africa's third largest national reserve, Addo Elephant National Park lies in the malaria-free Sundays River valley in the Eastern Cape, just over an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth. It stretches from the semi-arid karoo of the north, over the Zuurberg Mountains and down through the Sundays River valley to the coast, to between the mouths of the Sundays and Bushman's rivers.
Addo is home to one of the densest African Elephant populations on earth, roughly 550 of them. They once roamed the entire continent. By 1979 there were only 1.3 million African elephants left, and in 1989 they were added to the international list of the most endangered species, with only sixteen left in the Addo area. They play a key role in the environment - pulling down trees, breaking up bushes, and digging waterholes and trails. Their droppings are particularly important as baboons and birds pick them over for undigested seeds and nuts, and the dung beetle (the flightless dung beetle is only found in Addo) use them in which to reproduce.
More recently the Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to become the only park in the world to lay claim to Africa's 'Big 7' - elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark. It has done this by expanding along the coast from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria, and by adding an offshore marine reserve that includes St Croix Island and Bird Island, both essential breeding grounds for penguins and gannets. St Croix has the largest African penguin colony in the world.
The main rest camp in particular overlooks a waterhole with an underground viewing area that gets you up close to the elephants. Often you need do little more than remain around this hole to see herds of elephant. An overnight stay out of season is even better, as once the noise of the daily visitors subsides then the watering hole becomes quiet and still. Guided game drives at sunrise, sunset and at night offer more chance of sighting the rest of the Big 5. And if you prefer to do the viewing in the comfort of your own car, guides are available in a 'hop-on' service. Elephants are known to come within metres of visitors' cars.
There are four accommodation options in the reserve the Addo main rest camp, camp Matyholweni rest camp, Narina bush camp, and the Spekboom tented camp. At night you can hear hyenas and lions really close to the camp.
Hiking trails in the reserve include the Alexandria Hiking trail a 2-day, 36km trail in the Woody Cape part of the park, Tree Dassie Trail a 7km day hike, Zuurberg Mountain Trails that range from 2.4km to 8km in length, and the PPC Discovery Trail through the Albany thicket ecosystem. To reach the coastal area of the park, head to the Sundays River mouth off the N2 near Colchester, or to the Woody Cape ranger's offices off the R72 near Alexandria where there is a walking trail and boardwalk.
If you are considering a visit to this famous National Park then you may find this article helpful: Addo Elephant Park - a commune with Elephants.
Addo Elephant Park
Find a place to stay in the Park
Addo Elephant Park
Game Lodges in Addo Elephant Park
Tranquility, luxury and exquisite cuisine describe the gracious living at the River Bend Lodge. River Bend Lodge is situated within the 17 000 hectare Nyati Private Concession of the Addo Elephant Park ...
Walk with the Elephants through the diverse valley bushveld, ravine and forest habitat. After the walk, we offer you the exhilarating experience of riding these magnificent animals - revel in the natural beauty of the ...
The comings and goings of wildlife around the waterhole situated in front of the main verandah are a constant source of fascination. The natural rock swimming pool is the perfect place to beat the African heat, otherwise ...
Long Hope Villa is a beautifully restored exclusive safari villa, located in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, on a private concession. All meals are prepared by private chef, all game activities with private game vehicle ...
At night let the "Sky Rangers" enhance your nature experience with cosmic safaris from our deck using our eight inch telescope. With unforgettable morning and night game drives experience the diverse wildlife on ...
Addo Elephant Park
Did you know?
The highly adaptable leopard has always managed to survive in the area and with the consolidation of the land during park expansion, lion were reintroduced to complete the big five. Furthermore, with the park now stretching to the shores of the Indian Ocean, whales and dolphins swell the viewing opportunities. Among the smaller mammals to search for, family groups of meerkat may be seen.