ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK
In the Addo Elephant National Park, as the park’s name suggests, you can watch elephants on a safari game drive. It is one of the National parks in South Africa where you can easily drive in your own car around searching for elephants and many other animals, including the big five. It is one of the few parks in this part of the country.
Most of the nature parks are far from Cape Town, but Addo Elephant National Park, is about 800 kilometers from Cape Town, is still within reach of this city. If you would like, you can drive from the Mother City in one long day of travel on the well-trafficted N2 highway to the park near Port Elizabet. And If you have the time enough, you can also make a several stops, to see other beautiful places along the way.
ADDO ELEPHANT PARK
Addo National Park was founded in 1931 to prevent the extinction of the region’s elephants. At the time, there were only 11 elephants. But today is hugely successful, and there are more than 500 elephants. The park and its surroundings have been gaining popularity on recent years, and the park is slowly expanding. As a result, more and better facilities are coming in and around the park. The fact that it is one of the few parks where there is no malaria makes the park extra pleasant.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE IN ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK?
It is almost impossible to leave the park without seeing an elephant. You can easily spend an entire day in the park, as the park is big enough to drive around all day without often getting to the same places. In the park you can encounter elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, ostriches, lions, meerkats and rhinos. Via the easily accessible roads you can easily drive to the corners of the park.
Also, the vegetation of plants, trees and shrubs in many parts of the park is not so high, so you can easily look far away and spot animals. Gorah Loop is the greatest road to take when at the park, it gives many chances to spot more animals. There is relatively little vegetation there and there are beautiful open plains, so you can look far.
Animals roam free
All animals can roam freely throughout the Addo Elephant National Park, making it difficult to tell where you will encounter which animals. That’s why there’s a handy sign at the park’s main entrance to keep track of the animals spotted every day.
Besides driving around yourself, you can also take a guided tour for 340 rand (± €23,-). Please note that children under the age of six are not allowed on such tours. One of the alternatives you have is to have a guide drive your own or rented car, so you can look around yourself instead of having to watch the road. This option is one of the best possibilities when you have children under the age of six with you. If you want to explore the park on your own, you pay 232 rand (± €15,-) entrance fee per person.
There are two entrances/exits in the park. The main entrance is called Addo main Camp. The other entrance is calledMatyholweni which is on the south side of the park. This entrance is almost directly on the N2, towards Colchester. This is a fine exit if you want to continue your way north. We recommend that you take at least a day to visit the park.
The roads in the park are in good condition and they are fine to ride with a 2WD car. It is therefore no problem to drive your own or a rented car through Addo Elephant Park. Most roads are asphalted, but here and there you have good gravel roads. In hot, dry weather, these are delicious dust roads and everything will be covered in dust. If you want to get to the southern part with your own transport, you can only do so by car, vans are not allowed to come here.
Although it is obvious, we only mention it for a moment: there are almost no toilets in the park. Only at the main entrance and at Jacks Picknic Site Botanical Reserve you can go to the toilet. Because you will do it in your pants when an elephant is coming to you, so you better empty your bladder first 🙂
Rules of Addo Elephant Park
The rules in the park are very strict and there is ‘zero tolerance’ policy. You can’t leave your car, except in the designated spots. You can also not hang out of the car, leave waste or drive too fast. The rule is that you can’t drive faster than 20 kilometers per hour. This rule is there so that you do not hit the animals and because you will not see the animals if you drive faster.
If you break one of the rules, you can be evicted from the park with a fine and end up on the wall of shame. You will find the wall of shame at the main entrance, next to the information board about the places where you can find the animals. Be warned.
When an elephant gets very close to your car, make sure you stay still. Wait for the animal to pass before you. Although you do know that the animals are gigantic, you really don’t feel like you’re very bad until they’re very close to your car. The natural reaction of most people (screaming) is the least useful at that time.
Busy in the weekends
During the weekend and holidays, it is very busy in the park, It is hard to sport animals, because of the cars and buses who are always trying to position themselves, while blocking the view of others. You can imagine that sometimes leads to a mess. This is unfortunately one of the disadvantages of the increasingly popular park.
To avoid this disadvantage, you can consider a high-speed tour car safari in high season. Or to visit the park off weekends, as most South Africans do. In general, you can see enough animals in other places with the regular car, but when busy it will be a bit more difficult at the hotspots (such as the Harpoor dam).
You have a very great chance to see herds of elephants on the Harpoor dam. Elephants regularly come here to cool down and drink. Sometimes they walk in a parade a metre from your car. Mighty beautiful and therefore also a sought-after place for people to hang out for a long time.
No petrol stations around
It’s best to go to the park with a full tank. At the main entrance you can refuel, but refueling in Port Elizabeth is a better option.
Be sure to bring the free Addo Elephant National Park card at the entrance. Very convenient to see the different routes and watering holes. You can also view the map online in advance.
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