Overview – Addo Elephant NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Addo Elephant NP has recently been expanded and is now the third largest national park in the country. It is one of the best places in South Africa to see large herds of elephant. The elephants are incredibly relaxed, and the numerous waterholes offer very good opportunities to observe their social behavior. The other Big Five species are also present, but not as regularly seen.

Best Time to Go January to December (All year)
High Season October to March (The park gets crowded)
Size 1,800km² / 695mi²
Altitude -14-901m / -46-2,956ft

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent elephant viewing
  • Very accessible and easily combined with the popular Garden Route
  • Good facilities and roads
  • A variety of lodges and rest camps for all budgets
  • Malaria-free
  • Horse rides available for beginners and experienced riders
  • The small park gets very busy in high season and school holidays
  • Views of bordering farms diminishes wilderness appeal

Addo Elephant NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Addo is a sanctuary for more than 700 elephants, which are the main attraction of the park. It is home to all of the Big Five including the elusive black rhino and over 400 Cape buffalo. Burchell's zebra, red hartebeest, greater kudu and yellow mongoose are spotted regularly. Algoa Bay here has produced sightings of both great white sharks and southern right whales.

Scenery

Addo encompasses five distinct vegetation areas: Albany thicket (dense woodland), fynbos (fine-leaved plants), forest, Nama Karoo (dry shrubland) and Indian Ocean coastal belt. The characteristic vegetation of the main area open to tourists is Albany thicket, which is dominated by spekboom (literally ‘bacon tree’), a low-growing succulent shrub that forms the main food for the elephants.

Weather & Climate

Unlike in most other parks elsewhere in South Africa, the summer rainfall (October to April) at Addo doesn’t entirely cease in the winter months (May to September). It just diminishes, along with the heat. In fact, the midwinter nighttime temperatures can sometimes drop to freezing.

Best Time to Visit

To avoid the crowds and increased prices of the park’s high season, not to mention the heavier rainfall, visit during the drier months (May to September). You will need to bring your warmest clothes to deal with the low temperatures on early-morning game drives. But at least the elephants and other animals will be easy to find, being needy of the local waterholes. In the wetter months, the wildlife disperses among the park’s thick vegetation.

Want to Visit Addo Elephant NP?

Addo Elephant NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Melissa Shales  –  
United Kingdom UK

Melissa is an award winning travel writer for Fodors, Frommers and Insight, including guides to Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Addo – elephants, penguins and the flightless dung beetle?
4/5

It’s hard to keep up with Addo. I think it has secret plans for world domination. The first time I went there, it was this tiny, insignificant little park set up to protect the last surviving handful of elephants in the Eastern Cape. Now...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Jess  –  
South Africa ZA
Reviewed: Aug 4, 2019
Worst service at Addo Elephant Park
1/5

We arrived with no water at our accomodation and still had no water when we checked out. The park did not even have the decency to inform us of the problem let alone deliver a bucket of water for toilet use. We ended up having to go with...

Full Review