South Africa is certainly a wildlife mecca, and one of the best places to see Africa’s largest land mammal up close is at the Addo Elephant Park. Nestled in the bushveld of the Sunday’s River region, this impressive nature reserve was originally proclaimed a protected area in 1931. At that time, only eleven elephants remained in the area and they were in desperate need of these conservation and protection measures to ensure their survival.
Today this pachyderm sanctuary is home to over 450 elephants, amongst other wildlife. The reserve has been extended a number of times over the years and now encompasses the largest coastal dune field in southern Africa. Addo Elephant Park is home to the Big 7 – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark – as well as the largest breeding population of Cape gannets in the world and the second largest population of African penguins. In between the animals, the park has a rich heritage of archaeological and historical sites, a wide variety of accommodation, and five of the country’s seven major biomes. Other animals you can currently see in the park include Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope, the flightless dung beetle, the black-backed jackal, meerkat (suricate), zebra, ostrich and warthog.
The reserve facilities feature a restaurant, a lake, a small shop and more than one game viewing area. Accommodation includes bungalows that can be hired or camping grounds. There is a hotel a short distance away at Zuurburg. Visitors over the age of six can enjoy game drives, though it is advised that you not take citrus fruit with you whilst on safari. Drives can be enjoyed at sunrise, sunset, at night and during the course of the day and each different time of day will afford different game viewing opportunities. If you prefer to navigate your own way around the park, you can make use of the Eyethu Hop-on service where trained guides can join you in your vehicle and guide you through the area. In doing so you will be supporting a local community project and a family. Other activities at Addo Elephant Park include hiking, horseback trails, bird watching, 4×4 trails and day walks. Make sure that you make the most of your trip to Addo Elephant Park and you’ll never forget your stay here.