Addo Elephant National Park : Everything You Need To Know

It began as a small sanctuary to just 11 elephants in 1931. Today, Addo Elephant National Park has grown into the third-largest national park in South Africa, home to over 600 roaming elephants. But it’s not only elephants who reside here. Cape buffalo, wild antelope, and the extremely rare black rhino are also protected on these grounds. The park boasts a spectacular range of flora and fauna, incredible landscapes and biodiversity. And not to mention, the famous South African Big 5.

The main drawcard for visiting the park is to spy on the impressive herds of wild elephants. But the experience is also about enjoying the tranquility of the area and soaking up the incredible views. Below you’ll find all you need to know to make the most of this spectacular national park and all it has to offer.

Getting To Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park is situated approximately 60 km away from Port Elizabeth (PE). The journey will take you roughly one hour from the center of Port Elizabeth.

Most international visitors fly into O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. From the airport, one can rent a car and begin the drive to the park. But the drive can be quite tiresome, and the road trip can take around 10 hours. It is easier to book connecting flights from OR Tambo Airport to Port Elizabeth Airport with an airline like Flysafair Airlines, and rent a car from there.

Where To Stay In Addo Elephant National Park

Staying in the park is the best option for those looking to go on safaris and witness incredible wildlife. From luxury backpack hostels to gorgeous lodges, Addo has become a popular destination largely because of its range of accommodation suitable for every budget. Below are the different types of Addo Elephant Park accommodation available.

Addo Elephant National Park Camping

One of the most unique features of the park is the waterholes, where animals group together in large numbers. Spend the night in the middle of the bush near the waterholes, catching glimpses of nocturnal animals and listening to the sounds of nature.

Some of the top camping spots in the park include:

  • Spekboom Tented Camp
  • Narina Bush Camp
  • Mvubu Campsite
  • Gorah Elephant Camp: Luxury Camping

Addo Elephant National Park Luxury Accommodation

Who said you have to rough it out in the bush during your safari? Game reserves were once seen as an ideal destination for campers, but nowadays, safaris have become quite luxurious. Some of the lodges offer incredible outdoor dining experiences, day spas, private game drives and 5-star facilities.

The top-rated luxury Addo Elephant National Park lodge and safaris include:

  • Riverbend Lodge
  • Kuzuko Lodge
  • Woodall Country Guesthouse
  • Shamwari Long Lee Manor
  • Addo Elephant Park Main Camp

Activities In Addo Elephant National Park

One of the top experiences in the park is a game drive, although there are many other adventures available, whether you are staying in the park or simply visiting for the day.

Addo Elephant National Park

Game Drives – Image by Hu Chen, Unsplash

Addo Elephant National Park Safari

To get the most out of your experience, guided game drives are essential. Game drives run at all times of the day, from the crack of dawn to dusk. The expert guides share their extensive knowledge of the wildlife, as well as guide you to the best places to spot wildlife. Game drives depart from the main camps and booking is highly recommended, to avoid disappointment.

If you’re watching your budget, opting for a self-drive can save you quite a bit. With the opportunity to still explore large areas of the park and enjoy wildlife spotting, they can be perfect for families or solo travelers. Pick up an Addo Elephant National Park map to find your way around and discover the best wildlife hotspots.

Keep in mind that even though you’re self-driving, you’re still required to pay an entrance fee. The fee goes towards good use – to protect the park and preserve the conservation efforts of the community.

Horseback Safari

Discover the park on horseback, with the Addo Horse Trails and Zuurberg Horse Trails. They’re a unique and fun way of exploring the park with a change of perspective. Whether you’re an experienced rider or not, you can still participate.

The rides start in the morning or evening, as it’s the best time for wildlife viewing. The morning rides are most suited for novice riders. All the tours are accompanied by experienced guides on well-trained horses, who have plenty of practice roaming the wilderness.

Hiking Trails In The Elephant Park

The Alexandria Hiking Trail is one of the most fun and unique hikes. It’s a 2-day circular trail taking you around the most beautiful parts of the park. Beautiful and rustic huts are available at the beginning or end of the trail to ensure a comfortable stay.

Zuurberg Hiking Trails are beautiful short trails, with the option of a 2 km (1.2 miles) or 8 km (5 miles) hike. The trails are free of charge but need to be finished before sunset.

Addo Elephant National Park

Lion, Image by Wade Lambert, Unsplash

Tips For Addo Elephant National Park

Take note of these useful tips that’ll come in handy during your visit to Addo Elephant National Park .

  • Hyenas and lions are most likely to be spotted in the early morning and late afternoon
  • You’re almost guaranteed to see elephants on hot days at the watering holes
  • Fuel for your vehicle is available in all the parks
  • If you’re self-driving, enter the Cradock gate as it’s the most scenic
  • Check out the ‘animal spotting’ board to find out the best viewing areas
  • Swimming pools and BBQ facilities are available to use
  • Rent a 4×4 to drive along the highly rated 4×4 trails

To Sum Up Addo Elephant National Park

With great herds of elephants roaming the park, Addo Elephant National Park is one of the best parks to visit for the ultimate ellie experience. Not only do you get to witness a thriving elephant population, but you also have the chance to encounter an incredible variety of additional wildlife. The other activities on offer will provide you with a chance to enjoy nature in other fun and memorable manners.

Addo Elephant National Park

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