Addo Elephant National Park is an easily overlooked destination because of the world-renowned Kruger National Park; the bigger brother in the north eastern part of South Africa.
But don’t be fooled; Addo has a lot to offer.
Maybe even more.
I had the opportunity to visit Kruger National Park and Addo Elephant National Park in almost one go – one day the car was still cruising in Kruger and a few days later I found myself entering Addo on an impromptu visit.
The memories of Kruger were fresh in my mind before reaching Addo; I could still smell the marula trees and see the leopards, I could still hear the hyenas, but as soon as I entered Addo’s gate the memories fluttered away and waited for me at home. They were some of the best memories but they knew it was time now for some Addo memories.
I’ve always been fond of Addo and I’ve always been amazed by Addo, but during my last visit my mind was blown.
Addo Elephant National Park was lusciously green ; it was like viewing everything through an Instagram filter. A plethora of game stuffed their tummies with leaves, grass, green and everything in between. Within the first twenty minutes of entering the park I saw elephants, kudus, warthogs, jackals, buffaloes, zebras, monkeys, eland, baboons and red hartebeest. Striking scenes of green landscapes burned my corneas around every corner, shy antelopes grazed in open plains and appetising pastures turned all the lions (almost) vegetarian.
There was a party in Addo and everyone was invited.
And the party is not over…
Reasons to visit Addo Elephant National Park
- If you’re coming from the Eastern Cape or Western Cape, Addo is a lot closer than Kruger National Park.
- Port Elizabeth airport is just 75km from Addo Elephant National Park.
- Not only can you see the Big Five in Addo, but the Big 7; lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, rhinos, whales and great white sharks.
- There are cheap backpacking options just outside the Park for those on a budget.
- Most of the roads are asphalt and the dirt roads are in excellent condition.
- It’s the third largest National Park in South Africa.
- It’s a Malaria-free zone.
- Staff, facilities and services are impeccable.
- It’s safe.
- The Park contains the largest remaining population of the flightless dung beetle.
- There are plenty of accommodation options inside the Park – it ranges from sleeping in a fenced camp in the middle of the game viewing area, to tent sites and log cabins.
- For the adventurous there are horse trails, 4×4 routes and marine eco tours to experience.
- There is a lovely picnic spot (fenced) where you can have a real South African braai.
- Just around the corner you can find Suurberg, Nanaga Farm Stall and Woody Cape.
It’s impossible to leave Addo Elephant National Park feeling disappointed. It’s also impossible to “see nothing” while visiting the Park. I’ve heard these myths of people “seeing nothing” and I can say without a doubt that it’s just myths. Sometimes people look so hard to spot a lion or a leopard that they end up “seeing nothing” and missing out on everything.
Addo is a place you need to experience with all your senses and appreciate with all your heart. It’s a place where the history is part of the fences, where oranges are forbidden and where the skull of a tortoise has power. It’s where you park your car and watch elephants bathe, it’s where you drive circles around dung beetles and laugh at the warthogs’ antenna-tails.
It might not be the mighty Kruger, but don’t underestimate Addo.
Rise your expectations, be surprised and visit Addo Elephant National Park – there is a party and you are invited!
Where to stay in Addo
- Visit South African National Parks’ website at www.sanparks.co.za for accommodation in the Park.
- Budget Travellers can opt for The Aardvark Guesthouse just outside the Park.
Where to eat in Addo
- Those staying in self-catering units can bring their own food and/or buy the necessities at the Park’s Shop.
- There is a restaurant at Aardvark Guesthouse.
- There is a Cattle Baron restaurant inside the Park.
- Nanaga Farm Stall – famous for South African pies and roosterkoek – is situated only 25km from Addo.
How to get to Addo
For directions, GPS coordinates and more, click here.