The Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa, and lies roughly one hour’s drive from the small port city of Port Elizabeth, in the coastal province of the Eastern Cape of the country. It is malaria-free and therefore a great safari destination for families. Gorah Elephant Camp is the only private safari camp on a private concession within the park. Most visitors self-drive and stay at the rustic SanParks rest camps or at one of the luxury lodges on the outskirts of the park, like River Bend Lodge.
Stretching from the semi-arid Karoo area in the north, across the Zuurburg Mountains, through the densely bushed and verdant Sundays River Valley, southwards to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s River mouth, the park presently covers 1800 square kilometres (180,000 hectares).
There are however plans afoot to include into the reserve the proposed proclamation of a 1200 square kilometres (120,000 hectare) of Marine Protected Area; this area is to include islands which are home to the world’s largest breeding populations of Cape gannets, as well as to the second largest breeding population of African penguins.
The park sustains no less than five of South Africa’s seven biomes, making for varied vegetation and a finely tuned ecosystem, the park is Malaria-free.
When the original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, there were only eleven elephants remaining in the area; today this reserve is sanctuary to over 600 elephant (and you’ll definitely see them!), lion, Cape buffalo, Black rhino, Spotted hyena, leopard, and a variety of antelope and zebra species. Being surrounded by a large herd of Addo elephant is a truly breath-taking and highly evocative experience.
The Addo Elephant National Park can also exclusively claim to be the only national park in the world to conserve the ‘Big Seven’.
The Big Seven comprises the Big Five, along with the Southern right whale and the Great white shark, who loll off the coast of the reserve, an honestly unique accolade.
Accommodation within Addo Elephant National Park takes the form of SanParks (South African National Parks Board)-run rest camps.
Whilst these rest camps offer an acceptable level of accommodation to some, the privately-run lodges in the privately-run concessions, within, or just outside the park proper, in the Greater Addo Park area, offer a more luxurious experience and are recommended.
Due to it’s perfect location, incorporating both bush and sea, a visit to the beautiful and diverse environment of the Addo Elephant National Park is an altogether gratifying experience.