Overview – Addo Elephant NP
Addo Elephant NP has recently been expanded and is now the third largest national park in the country. It is the best place in South Africa to see large herds of elephant. The elephants are incredibly relaxed, and the low coastal vegetation and numerous waterholes offer very good opportunities to observe their social behavior. The other Big Five species are also present, but not regularly seen. Algoa Bay here has produced sightings of both great white sharks and southern right whales.
Pros and 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
- Horse rides available for beginners and experienced riders
- The small park gets very busy in high season and school holidays
- Tar road network creates a lack of wilderness appeal
Addo is a sanctuary for more than 600 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 meerkat are spotted regularly.
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 vegetation in the main area open to tourists is the succulent spekboom, a low growing coastal scrub plant and the main food for the elephants.
Weather & Climate
Unlike what happens in parks in other areas of South Africa, the rainfall of summer (October to April) at Addo Elephant 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.
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Addo Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
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?
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...
Latest User Review
Lots of elephants! Otherwise there was not so much on offer for us. Still worth a visit though.