Addo Elephant Park

The Eastern Cape offers a many different game reserves in a malaria-free environment. Amongst them the Addo Elephant Park is perhaps the one that no visitor would want to miss. Proclaimed as a park in 1931 to save the then 11 elephants that were left, the park has been incredibly successful. Today it offers visitors the chance to see not only the large elephant population, but many of the Big Five and more.

The Addo Elephant Park is situated about 73 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, deep in the Sundays River region. The park extends from the Sundays River towards Alexandria and includes a large marine conversation area that includes St Croix Island and Bird Island. On land the park covers about 1 500 km2 along with over 1 200 km2 marine area.

A young elephant plays in the park

Today the Addo Elephant Park is home to over 450 elephants. They share their home with other iconic African animals including 300 Cape Buffalo, over 40 black rhinoceros, a wide variety of antelope (including springbok, impala, eland and others), scattered lions and a few leopards. In addition, whales and great white sharks can be seen in the marine conservation area, making Addo Elephant Park one of the few places in Africa where you can see the ‘Big Seven’.

Aside from the ‘Big Seven’, the Addo Elephant Park is the only place where a rare species of flightless dung beetle, Circellium bacchus, can be found. The islands in the marine conservation area are habitats for scores of gannets and African penguins. Over 120 000 gannets that live and breed in the islands and the colony of penguins is the second largest in the world.

Visitors to the Addo Elephant Park can stay in one of five rest camps run by South African National Parks or in one of the ‘private’ rest camps that inside the reserve.  Activities include guided safaris, boat trips and shark cage diving, if conditions allow.

Only a few hours’ drive from Port Elizabeth, the Addo Elephant Park is worth a visit. Your chances of seeing the elephants that make the park famous are very good and you might spot one or more of the other ‘Big Seven’ that call the park their home.

 

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