Addo Elephant Park is one of the most visited game parks in South Africa.
But does it live up to the hype? What to expect plus tips for your visit.
Located an hour from the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Addo Elephant Park should not be missed on a Safari In South Africa. As the third largest park in the country, it’s well known for, you guessed it, the 700 elephants who reside in the park.
Addo lies just north of Port Elizabeth, and whilst neither Addo Elephant Park or Port Elizabeth are technically part of the Garden Route, Port Elizabeth is a good place to start or end your Garden Route , due to its great air connections to Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
Established in 1931 as a safe haven for the last remaining elephants in the area, the park has continued to expand to include a variety of terrains and one of the longest coastal dune fields of any national park in South Africa. In addition to encompassing fynbos scrubland and arid, semi-desert areas, the park also stretches to the coast. This offers visitors the chance to experience not only the Big Five, but the Big Seven, with the addition of the southern right whale and Great white shark.
The Alexandria dune fields of Addo is also a hub of archaeological significance, as shells and bones from ancient ‘Strandlopers’ (San nomads who lived around the coastal regions of Southern Africa) evidencing a predominantly seafood-based diet, as well as pottery, stone tools and rock art in the Zuurberg Mountains.
Addo is perfect for families. Not only is it a malaria-free safari destination, but it is a really affordable alternative to other national parks like the Kruger. During July and December, there are a variety of holiday programmes for kids that are both educational and fun.
Aside from the elephants as the stars of Addo, the park is also home to Black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, hyena and many antelope. Look out for the peeping meerkats and Black-backed jackals. Birding is popular here too, with the changing landscape offering the right environments for a multitude of species.
Self-drive enthusiasts will appreciate that Addo offers this budget-friendly activity. There are a variety of picnic spots, and budget self-catering chalets to enjoy if you’re doing it on your own and the park can be accessed from a variety of gates depending on your location.
In addition, there are marine tours, deep-sea fishing excursions, canoeing and cycling available. Horse riders will love that there are beautiful trails to explore on horseback.
If you are going on a self-drive adventure to Addo, try entering from the main gate which offers a beautiful scenic drive. You can eather drive all the way south to exit the park there or do a round trip and it will take you about half a day.
Self drive take a map by the main gate or dowload it on maps.me and drive from water pond to water pond as that is where you can find the Elephants.
Where to stay:
We stayed at Addowildlife as it's just a few minutes drive to the gate of Addo Elephant Park.
Situated about 40 minutes from Port Elizabeth, Addo Wildlife is the perfect place for a getaway. Experience a sense of tranquility whether it’s pristine accommodation or a meal at Tangelo Restaurant. Take a glimpse into the rich diversity of life in the wildlife center or enjoy a close encounter with many local animal species on a game drive. Whether it’s just the two of you or a family, be entertained by the surroundings of Addo.
We would suggest you should at least spend 2 days here in Addo if your itinerary allows, so that you don’t have to rush on things & to understand the diversity of this beautiful park which is packed with Safari and game drive thrills and adventures.
How to reach Addo Elephant National Park?
From Cape town, Johannesburg, Durban directly fly to Port Elizabeth International Airport(also the nearest airport) and from there to Addo it is less than an hour drive.
Drive the Garden route and at Addo as your end point or start point
Best time to visit Addo Elephant National Park?
While Addo Elephant National Park is an excellent destination to visit all year-round, its best during dry season (May-Sept) when the wildlife gather around the waterholes to quench their thirst making it the perfect time to spot maximum animals. If you get lucky you may even spot all the big five.
We visited in January and found it easy annyway to find the Elephants as they where all going to the water ponds
Here are some tips for spotting wildlifes while in Addo Elephant National Park:
The very first thing is to get a map from the reception, which would direct you with the roads and plan your driveways where the spotting zones are marked.
Try to go around the waterholes and lookout points, its likely you can spot more animals
Try to get in touch with other approaching cars and ask them if they had spotted somewhere already. Because there are no ranger vehicles around to guide you with radio transmissions.
Things to keep in mind For A Great Addo Elephant Park Safari
Do not try to get out of our car to approach any animals(except at specified locations), it might trap you with serious penalties.
Try to maintain a distance from the wilds and also maintain silence. If noisy the animals might get scared and run away before you even notice them, and you don’t want that right?
Maintain your speed limit to 40kph.
Don’t drive over the elephant dung you see in the road as endangered flightless dung beetles breed there for food and reproduction.
Do not throw any trash outside from your car,as wild animals might consume those and suffer.
You may only drive on guided trails, and not drive off-roads with boards bearing no entry sign.
Entry of pets and drones are restricted inside the park
Addo Elephant Park Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for Addo goes towards conservation costs for the park, therefore it’s referred to as the Conservation Fee.
You’ll pay this fee for every day you spend in the park.
If you’re staying outside of the park or are only visiting for a day you’ll pay when you enter.
If you’re staying at one of the rest camps inside the park, you’ll pay at check-in for all of the days you’ll be in the park.
The rate for foreigners is R360 per day for adults and R180 for children.
Rates for South African citizens are much lower.
For more information, check the official site here.
Here are some resources to help you get your trip going:
Travel Essentials what's in my bag: To help you get started on packing, here are my essential travel and photography gear
Flights: WayAway to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
Car Rental: DiscoverCars.com is a great and reliable platform to find rental cars all over the world.
Internet: Airalo is the best way to get a sim card and has reliable internet access for your trip. All you need is an Esim-compatible smartphone, install it on your phone prior to your trip, and you are all set.
Tickets & Deals: Tiqets is always my go-to website when I want to find cheaper deals for entrance tickets to tourist attractions
Klook to find the best deals for trips in Asia, somehow they are 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency
Train, buses, and ferries 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.