Addo Elephant Park is the third-largest national park in South Africa. It was set up in 1931 to protect the last eleven elephants remaining in the area. Nowadays it’s home to over 600 African elephants, as well as lions, warthogs, zebras, hartebeest, and ostriches. Thanks to its incredible success in preserving the area’s elephant population, the park has been expanded to protect the coastal and marine environment. Islands within the marine sections of the park are home to the world’s largest breeding colonies of gannets and African penguins, while the waters support whales, dolphins, and sharks. This unique combination of habitats means it’s the only place in the world that is home to Africa’s ‘big seven‘ – the elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale, and great white shark!
Average rating: 4.0 (very good)
Average cost: entrance to the park is around $5 for locals and $22 for international tourists. Game drives cost around $25 or you can do your own self-drive safaris.
Best time to visit: the winter months of May to September are the best time to visit the park. During this season the lower rainfall means wildlife gathers around the available waterholes creating excellent wildlife watching opportunities.
How to get there: the park is around 9-10 hours drive from Cape Town along the spectacularly scenic Garden Route. If you have the time it’s a great self-drive. If you’re in more of a rush you can fly to Port Elizabeth airport where you can pick up a car or join a game drive. There’s a great guide to exploring the park here.
Typical activities: 4×4 safari, animal watching, bird watching
Number of reports: 1
WILDLIFE IN addo
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
African elephant – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
With a name like Addo Elephant Park, you might expect elephants to be one of the big draws of the area – and you wouldn’t be wrong! With over 600 African elephants in the park, they are hard to miss. When we went we were surrounded by around 40 elephants calmly going about their business and enjoying the tiny pool of water. It started with a group of about 20 and then more and more just kept arriving, one by one, and walking right between vehicles – it was quite incredible!
The best place to see them is the Main Game Area and Colchester Section, although you can find them pretty much anywhere in the park. Key spots are the waterholes which attract a range of game, particularly during the dry season. Addo’s elephants are used to people so you may well get a close encounter! If you’re on a self-drive there’s a nice elephant spotting route for the park here.
Lion – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
In 2003 six lions were introduced to the park. The iconic black-maned lions of the Kalahari were chosen for the reintroduction as they are the closest match to the now-extinct Cape lion which used to roam the Addo area. Nowadays there are an estimated 17 lions in the main section and 26 in the wider park. Lions like to avoid the heat of the day so you’re chances of spotting them are highest in the early morning or on sunset and night game drives. If you want to see Sylvester, the famous lion who managed to duck under the fence in the Karoo National Park, then head to Kuzuko Lodge in the northern Darlington section. There’s a good blog post about the lions of Addo here.
Warthog – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Warthogs are abundant in Addo and can be seen throughout the park year-round. They are conspicuous and easy to spot with their upright tails, erect manes, and regal bearings. Warthogs are herbivores that spend most of the day foraging for food. Their keen sense of smell allows them to uncover roots, plants, and bulbs. Warthogs are not native to the area and impact on the grassland ecosystem in the park. Numbers are high and the National Park is looking at culling up to 1,000 of these fascinating creatures.
Zebra – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Addo is also home to a large population of Burchell’s zebras. Their distinctive black and white stripes are easy to spot on game drives pretty much anywhere in the park. Interestingly, many of the zebras in Addo have an unusual pale colouring – resembling the extinct quagga. Quaggas were a subspecies of zebra that used to live in South Africa. They were only striped on half of their bodies and looked like a cross between a horse and a zebra. An ongoing project in South Africa is trying to selectively breed the paler Burchell’s zebras to try and recreate an animal which looks like the extinct quagga. Some of these have been released into Addo Elephant park – so look out for these unique creatures!
Photo credit: Mopsgesicht under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay