The Addo Elephant National Park which was declared a National Park in the year 1931 is one of the most visited National Parks in the country and this is because it gives the real African touch to tourists who visit it. It is 70 kilometers away from the Port Elizabeth and covers a large piece of land that harbors what are considered to be the largest animals that is the elephants. Just like its name, the National park has quite a large number of elephants that can be seen moving in large herds across the vast land with the other wildlife.
History of the Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Elephant National Park has a tragic start that started during the colonial era. During this era, the elephants used to attack people in the neighboring villages destroying most of their gardens and it was decided that they should be hunted down and the government by then employed a major who went by the names of Major PJ Pretorius and he started hunting down the animals with his appointed team. Note that the Addo elephants were considered to be the most dangerous elephants in the whole world and they tried many things like using electric fences, hunting them down and also burning.
Within a period of one year, they had already killed over 120 elephants and this forced the remaining batch of elephants to leave that area and they escaped to the bush and it is within this bush that a fence was built to conserve it for the elephants and that area is what we know today as the Addo elephant National Park. The area at first was a little bit small but as the years went on, it kept on expanding and right now it is a home to some of the largest animals in the world.
Getting to the Addo National Park
You can either fly to the National park or drive although most people tend to go with diving as it has a more appealing scenery through the garden route. After landing within the major international airports, you can book with the domestic flights to get you to the airport at Port Elizabeth from where you can rent a car and spend the next 70 kilometers or more before you arrive at the gates of the Addo Park. Some of the local flight couriers that you can use include Mango, SA Airlink and Kulula among others.
The Addo National park entrance fees
164R per child
328R per adult
South Africa citizens and residents
41R per child
82R per adult
SADC nationals with passports
82R per child
164 per adult
The above entrance fees to the Addo National Park were set up so as to improve on the development of the National park as a whole in terms of services and they will be running from November 2019 to October 2020 when new fees will be announced or the old ones maintained depending on the administration of the Park.
Reasons as to why you should visit the Addo Elephants National Park
Besides the activities that are carried out within the Addo national Park, there are a few reasons as to why you should really try out this park and these include:
- The National Park is located in a malaria free zone which means that you can travel and camp within the Park without worrying about the mosquitoes however this does not mean that you should not carry some insect repellent with you.
- The Park is filled with a diverse nature that you should check out especially it being the third largest national Park in the country. From the vegetation, the animals, birds, walking trails and many more others.
- The accommodation that is found within the National Park is quite affordable and comfortable for all types of tourists irrelevant of your budget.
- The Addo has a wheel chair service that helps even tourists who are disabled to enjoy their trip within the Park without worry.
- Finally the main reason as to why you should visit is to enjoy the famous Addo elephants that have been in existence for a very long time.
Addo National Park Activities
The Addo Elephant National Park has a lot of activities that a tourist can engage in with each person irrelevant of the age getting something to do for fun while on a trip to the Park. Some of the activities that can be carried out here include hiking, horse riding, game drives, birding and bush walks among others.
Birding in the Addo National Park
The Addo elephant National Park has a registered number of over 400 bird species and it is a home to the most of the endemic birds in the South African country. The best time for you to go for birding in the Addo is during the wet season that is experienced from November to April but you can still go to the Park for biding all throughout the year although the number of bird species will not be as many as those that can be seen during the wet season. Below is a list of the bird species that you should look out for while in the Addo Elephant National Park.
- The white browed robin chat
- The southern Tchagra and this is near endemic
- The little grebe
- The pearl breasted swallow
- The lesser striped swallow
- The cape penduline
- The forest canary which is endemic
- The ground woodpecker
- Cape siskin which is endemic
- African dusky flycatcher
- The cape sugarbird which is endemic
- Black bustard which is endemic
- Blue crane
- African firefinch
- Cape reed warbler
- The black crowned night heron
- The capped wheatear
- Grey winged francolin
- Knysna woodpecker which s endemic
- Denham’s bustard
- Long billed crombec
- Karoo scrub robin
- Southern double collared sunbird
- Pearl breasted swallow
- Orange breasted sunbird among others
Hiking through the Addo Elephant National Park is done during the dry season when the hike routes are dry and not slippery. The different hike routes that you can use while in the Park include:
- The Zuurberg hiking trail
This is the easiest hike trail route that tourists can use while hiking within the Addo Park. Located just twenty minutes away from the Addo National Park entrance, the Zuurberg hike trail is divided into two trails that is the Doringnek hike and the Cycad trail.
The Doringnek trail is a little bit tougher and it takes around eight hours for it to be completed.
The Cycad Trail is just three kilometers and it takes about an hour and it is just 3 kilometers long. Both hikes are easier as compared to the Alexandria hiking trails.
- The Alexandria hiking trail
The Alexandria hiking trail is a two day trail and unlike other hikes, it is a little bit difficult but one of the best in the National Park. It will take you through the dense vegetation, the dunes before it takes you to the beach.
The trail is 36 kilometers long and it is what you can refer to as a circular trial that is it takes you around the park showing you the different diversity within the National Park. On the first day, you will cover half of the kilometers and the rest are completed on the second day.
Although the top attraction in the National Park are the large elephants found in the National Park amounting to over 600, it is also a home to quite a large number of animals including the big five. The Addo National Park can be visited all throughout the year but the best time for wildlife viewing is during the dry season which runs from June to September. During this time, the animals can be seen crowding the waterholes with animals due to the scarcity of water. Some of the animals that you can find in the Addo Elephant National Park include the following:
- The flightless dung beetle which is endemic
- The greater Kudu
- Hippos although they are extremely rare
Horse riding in the Addo Park
Horse riding is one of the activities that you can enjoy while in the Addo National Park. Usually done by only those that are 16 years and above, horse riding is a good way for tourists to get close to the animals within the park. You will have a tour guide with you all throughout your horse ride to ensure your safety from the animals by taking you through the safe routes and the horse ride trip will take you about two hours only.
Horse riding is done in the mornings and afternoons and in each session, there are only five people who are allowed to participate. The morning session is for those who do not have a lot of experience in riding whereas the afternoon session is for those that have experience in horse riding.
When to visit the Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Park can be visited all year round that is either during the wet or dry season depending on the activities that you want to carry out. The best time to visit the National park is from May to September during the dry season when the animals can easily be seen roaming around the park in search of pasture and water.
The wet season which is experienced from November to April is also a good time for birders because this is the time when the migratory birds fly into the country joining the endemic ones. And this is also the breeding season and the best time to see many of the new born animals from the different wildlife that habitates in the park.
Accommodation in Addo elephant national Park
There are various accommodation facilities that are found within the park and below are some facilities that you can choose from before travelling to the country.
- The Addo Riverside villa
A room at the Addo goes for 47 US dollars per night and it is located right next to the Park giving tourists easy access to the animals. You will get to have great meals that are prepared by the owner, enjoy the free Wi-Fi, private parking and the self-contained comfortable rooms.
- The Elephant house
A night at the elephant house goes for about 118 US dollars. It is found just 8 kilometers away from the park with free Wi-Fi for the guests, meals, a swimming pool, self-contained rooms with a classic touch of grass thatches and a garden from where you can relax. It offers game drives to the tourists at a fair price and a local guide is provided to you by the management.
- The Ikwanitsha lodge
The Ikwanitsha lodge is strategically located with a garden, restaurant where both local and international meals are served, Wi-Fi, free parking, self-contained rooms and not forgetting the great view of the River which can easily be seen from the confines of your room. A room at the lodge goes for 30 US dollars per night.
How to organize a safari to the Addo National Park
Organizing a safari involves a lot of things that is accommodation, transportation, food and the number of days that you are willing to spend while in the park. All these need a lot of planning and with the help of a tour operator, you can organize your trip to the Addo earlier on so that you have few glitches affecting your trip. A few things that you should put into consideration while planning your trip to the Addo elephant Park include:
- The type of accommodation that you are going to use while in there.
- The number of days you are willing to spend that is two or three days.
- How you want your trip to be that is self-drive or getting a tour guide.
When all these are put into consideration, determining the amount of money that you are to spend on your safari becomes easy.