One of the things we love about living in the Eastern Cape (also locally known as ‘the adventure province’) are the numerous game parks scattered through the province. This post will take you to the Addo area, which is home to the Addo Elephant National Park. The Park is one of the largest South African National Parks (SANParks), covers five different biomes and hosts the Big 7 – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, elephant, southern right whale and the great white shark (we saw your Big 5 Kruger and raised you by two 😉 ). The Park includes a Marine Protected Area. Addo sees hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.
Addo Elephant National Park entrance costs
These are the 2018 costs (see the link to the tariff webpage for updated prices here):
South Africans: R69 per adult per day (R35 per child per day)
SADC national: R138 per adult per day (R69 per child per day)
Foreigners: R275 per adult per day (R138 per child per day)
Proof of identification is needed. Locals can present their ID, drivers license or passport. Foreigners should have their passports with them (or at least know your passport number).
We entered the Park from the south gate in Colchester – Matyholweni Entrance Gate. The plan was to enter the Park from the south and travel up to the Addo Main Gate. The beginning section of the road is gravelled (busses and cars towing caravans and trailers must avoid this gate); the rest of the road to the main gate is tarred. Be sure to stick to the speed limit and watch the roads for flightless dung beetles (a rare species who always have right of way!) and tortoises.
Lions are commonly found in the southern regions of the Park and the best chances to see them are in the mornings and evenings when it’s not too hot. Unfortunately, we have yet to see them in Addo.
Travelling upwards we went around most of the loops. Some loops are gravelled roads, but are well maintained and can be driven with ‘normal’ cars. There are various lookout points where you can leave your vehicle at your own risk. These are demarcated on the map all visitors receive upon payment at the entrances.
We stopped at Jacks Picnic Site for a rest, leg stretch, bathroom break and some snacks. The picnic site is a fenced off area within the Park so you can exit the vehicle without worry. There is also a map of the Park where you can place magnetics of the different animals at the locations you saw them, and look for the sighting locations of animals you want to see.
Staying true to its name, elephants were seen throughout the Park. The watering holes are always the best places for animal sightings, especially Harpoor Dam.
Addo main gate and camp
Travelling from the south means you reach the main camp around lunch time. The Cattle Baron is the restaurant on site where you can enjoy a meal if you haven’t brought food along with you. There is also a shop where you can buy snacks and souvenirs.
The Interpretive Centre provides information on the area and animals of the Park. Game drives are booked in the reception area of this centre. We joined a game drive and had some lovely sightings. There was a snake that had been captured and it was released in the beginning of the game drive. This experience was very cool as we had a mini information session on snakes in the area.
Addo is host to many animal species – over 400 bird species, almost 100 mammal species, and a variety of reptiles and fish. Some animals, like the zebra, are very comfortable with cars in close proximity to them. They even seem to pose for you and, in our opinion, are incredibly photogenic 😉
There are some cute and funny moments that happen so enjoy watching the animals for a bit. There was a little elephant who was very amused with a branch, playfully running around with it. There was an ostrich who got a little too close to an elephant and was promptly chased away.
There are large buffalo herds and multiple antelope species to look out for.
There is a lot to do in the Addo area so stay for a few days and travel around. Zuurberg Mountain Lodge is just under 30 minutes from Addo main gate (see our post here).
Addrelin Addo is nearby. Here you can go down the highest and fastest double zip line in South Africa, get your adrenalin rush on the giant swing, or canoe on the Sundays River.
Addo Wildlife centre is also close. Enjoy a meal here after a walk through the wildlife centre and learning about the various animals.
We posted about our day trip to Kragga Kamma Game Park (see post here) – a beautiful game park just outside Port Elizabeth.
We would love to hear about some of your experiences in the Addo Elephant National Park, so feel free to share with us in the comments below or on our social media platforms. Save this post on Pinterest with the images below: