Everything you need to know about Addo Elephant National Park

Posted on 15 January 2018

There are over 600 elephants in Addo Elephant National Park. Despite having ‘elephant’ in the name, Addo Elephant National Park also extends right down to the ocean and currently protects some very important islands in Algoa Bay too, namely St Croix and Bird Island.

This area is difficult to research online. Typing in ‘Addo accommodation’ is not going to give you the full spread of options. Essentially, there are four main areas: Colchester, Addo, Sunland and Kirkwood. Of these, the best in terms of proximity to the gate are Addo and Sunland (though, just to confuse matters, quite a few properties located in Sunland are listed as Kirkwood).

The park itself is also split up into separate sections, from high up in the Karoo, right down to the ocean, which is confusing. Hopefully these sections will one day join to create one open area. To make it easier, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about travelling to this beautiful park.


1. How to see elephants in Addo Elephant Park


Addo’s Main Game Area and Colchester Section are the regions that most people think about when envisioning the park. Together they are roughly 24000 hectares and this is the place to see elephant hoards. This self-drive route (doable in a sedan) will help you see the best big animals in the park.

Do it: the best elephant-spotting route in Addo Elephant National Park


2. Find penguins on a road trip: Port Elizabeth to Woody Cape

African Penguins Addo

See the biggest African Penguin colony and explore the coastal forests in this secret section of Addo Elephant National Park. You may not know it, but Addo Elephant National Park extends right down to the sea and currently protects the largest colonies of Cape gannets in the world and the largest breeding colony of the precious African penguin (6500 breeding pairs, at last count).

Do it: a marine adventure in Addo


3. The best-budget break

The Kabouga Section is far bigger than the Addo Main Game Area and absolutely breathtaking. There are creased valleys and mountain slopes, rugged roads and soft pink clouds that flood over the hilltops during a good sunset. This weekend adventure costs just R1902 per person for two including a 4X4 trail, conservation fees and three nights’ accommodation in an uncrowded section of Addo Elephant National Park.

Do it: the most affordable 4X4 Addo adventure ever!


4. There are two ways to walk in Addo Elephant Park

There are no guided trails in Addo Main Game Area because the bush is too dense. With the Big Five potentially lurking behind any thicket, it’s just not safe. There are just two places you can hike in Addo: either the jaw-dropping day trails on the slopes of the fynbos-covered mountains in the Zuurberg Section or, if you’re fit and strong, a two-day trail along the coast in the Woody Cape Section.

Do it: where to walk wild in Addo Elephant National Park


5. If you can’t get into the park

The Sundays River Valley, a booming citrus farming area, is close to Addo Elephant National Park which makes it a great getaway option if you want to take in some amazing wildlife experiences. The focus here is often on hospitality in the true sense of the word, with welcoming hosts sharing – at extremely generous prices – their good fortune to be living in this fertile, lush valley. PE, you are so lucky to have all of this on your doorstep!

Do it: 14 fantastic stays near Addo Elephant National Park


6. 10 things you didn’t know about Addo

Want to uncover the best-kept secrets at Addo Elephant National Park? There are two new accommodation offerings and the sprawling park has an interesting history. Here are ten things I learnt on my trip to Addo.

Read the list: 10 things you didn’t know about Addo Elephant National Park

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