Both the park and the size of the elephant population have grown substantially over the years. Addo is now the third largest national park in South Africa, stretching from the Zuurberg mountains to the coast and including two offshore island groups.
Addo is now also home to the Big Five with the reintroduction of a small pride of lions, along with spotted hyenas. Other megafauna that call this park home are buffalo, black rhino and leopards.
Accommodation options include several luxury lodges, a main camp and a satellite camp, as well as several bush camps. Due to the park’s accessibility and popularity, advance bookings are essential.
A unique experience is the chance to book a horse trail in a Big Five area. The park also offers game drives and ‘hop-on’ guides for those who wish to be guided in their own vehicle.
The park is one of the best places in Africa for close-up encounters with elephants. However, be prepared for a little discomfort as they have been known to come really close to cars – they are accustomed to the presence of people. The rest of the Big 5, though, keep a low profile.
The park has ballooned into one of the country’s largest national parks, so that it now incorporates vastly different landscapes – from mountain Kalahari desert to fynbos and coastal sand dunes. As a day trip it shapes up well. Overnight is even better. Other sections of the park are meant only for 4×4 vehicles, or for hiking only, and are closed to the public.
There are lions, cheetah, hyenas, rhino, leopard, whales and great white sharks.(This is not a typo error)
Addo Elephant National Park’s boundaries extend right down to the coastline east of Port Elizabeth to incorporate a marine park, which is why you can also sight southern right whales (in season) and great whites.
The park also includes a couple of islands on which there are penguin colonies. It’s the only park in the world to claim the Big 7, the spotted hyena, over 400 buffalo and a healthy rhino population.
It is not only the big game that count, the Addo flightless dung beetle; completely unique to the park can be encountered. They are protected and have complete right of way, so don’t think you can drive, or step, over them. But you will have to look for them (it’s not unheard of to stop and examine elephant dung for the pleasure of finding them). The leopard tortoise, with a propensity for hyena dung, is another little guy to look out for.