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The Addo Elephant National Park is one of the Eastern Cape’s major drawcards as it is home to the densest elephant populations in the world. Set deep within the bushveld of the Sundays River Valley region of South Africa, here visitors can enjoy thrilling Big Five game viewing, guaranteed elephant sightings, an amazing variety of plains game and antelope, and even whale watching on the Indian Ocean. Stretching from the semi-arid Karoo in the north, over the Zuurberg Mountains and criss-crossing the Eastern Cape’s lush citrus growing valley, the Addo Elephant National Park includes Bird Island and St Croix Island, encompassing an immense wealth of land and seascape for visitors to explore.
Besides the presence of over 600 elephants, the park hosts lion, leopard, cheetah and rhino as well as iconic African plains game such as kudu, springbok and impala, found in good concentrations. Other wildlife commonly sighted include zebra, giraffe and warthog, while the park’s well marked gravel roads lend themselves to easy and enjoyable self-driving safaris and day trips.
Guided game drives are also offered and ideal for non-South African guests, as well-informed professional rangers assist visitors in identifying wildlife, birds and indigenous plants. Self-driving options only extend during daylight hours, however guided 4 x 4 drives are available into the night, when a spotlight illuminates the dark African bushland and the magic of nocturnal life comes alive.
Boat cruises round off the fabulous offerings of Addo, taking visitors out into the Indian Ocean for whale watching (seasonal); great white shark sightings; and trips to the African penguins and Cape fur seals that inhabit St Croix and Bird islands.
Spending a few nights in Addo is highly recommended as the immense size of the park (approximately 180 000 hectares) lends itself to lengthy exploration. Accommodation is plentiful and varied, covering all budgets and tastes with rustic camp sites immersing guests into the African wilderness, and luxury lodges offering gourmet meals and great South African wines in a stylish and contemporary setting.
In the heart of Addo visitors will find the tourist information centre where day trippers and self-drive safari visitors can pick up maps of the park and information on the most recent predator sightings. There is also a restaurant, souvenir shop, and interesting history of the park to peruse.
The Addo National Elephant Park is a malaria-free zone and conveniently located close to Port Elizabeth and the Port Elizabeth airport where overseas holiday makers can organise car rentals or meet and greet with their tour groups.
Lying at the entrance to South Africa’s renowned Garden Route, Addo is also the perfect location to begin or end a travel itinerary that includes Eastern Cape highlights and the hidden gems of the Western Cape, culminating in the mother city of Cape Town.
Activities in Addo Elephant National Park
- Self-drive safaris (no additional charge to visitors staying in Addo)
- Guided morning and afternoon open-air game drives
- Guided night drives with a spotlight
- Bird watching
- Photography (well-placed hides)
- Guided horseback safaris in the park
- Sundowners in the bushland (prior arrangement necessary)
- Deep sea expeditions