Addo Elephant Park in a day

After a solid 48 hours journey we could officially say we were in South Africa! We heartily consumed a filling healthy breakfast (bacon and eggs is always healthy come on!) we headed out to Addo Elephant National Park.  I am an animal lover, specially wildlife in all shapes and sizes, and we decided to do a Safari right off the bat to get our “feet wet” in “African Nature”.

After an hour or so we finally arrived at Addo, the most economic Game Park in the area at just $15 to enter. I’m not lying to you … $15 per person!

Here’s a blurb from their website:

“Discover…Experience…Explore a world of diversity in one Park. Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide range of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora.”

They weren’t kidding.

Baby Elephant with her mom

After living in the States for so long and after not being home in way too long the shear expanse of open valleys and hills was humbling.  Added to that, Addo is one of the most beautiful Game Reserves I have ever experienced, thats saying a lot as I have been to a number of them within the Southern African borders.

As the name implies, the Addo Elephant National Park is filled with baby and adult elephants, added to that and if you get there early in the morning (They open at 7am), you will be able to spot both Lions and spotted hyenas, kudu, impala, wild dogs, jackals, an abundant birdlife and other critters like dung beetles.

GETTING AROUND

I found in other parks you really have to do a lot of driving in order to see the wildlife, not so in Addo.  5 minutes after entering the park we got our first glimpse of a heard of elephants, impala and mongoose spotters.  These creatures are the most majestic animals I have ever had the opportunity of seeing in the wild.  I know thats subjective but if you ever find yourself in Addo you will understand what I mean.  The mothers, fathers and their babies roam the park at will, hundreds of them everywhere. Everywhere!

Elephant on the road

WHAT DO YOU MEAN DRIVE AROUND?

In South Africa and in most of the game parks in Southern Africa, driving your own vehicle within the park to do the “game drive” is normal practice.  After driving around ourselves we decided to go for the $25 Safari Drive on an open top Land Rover.  The guide showed us all the paths we weren’t allowed to take our own car on and got us so close to the elephants we could touch them. Though that is not allowed. In all we got to see a sugar load of elephants, zebra, jackals, kudu, impala, mongoose and meerkats. Sadly the lions were off sleeping somewhere and the rhinos were hiding out.

DON’T WANT TO DRIVE? NO PROBLEMO

If you prefer not to do the driving and leave it up to someone else there are Game Drives available at a small cost of approximately $25. Yes just $25!  Game Drives are recommended for anyone who wants to get to know the landscape better, the knowledgable and trained guides tell you about the ins and outs and if you’re lucky you’ll get to spot a few Rhino while out with them.  The rhino’s locations are not shared with anyone anymore, only the guides know where they are chilling out.  This sadly is due to the fact that they are one of the highest poached animals.

In all honesty we did both, drove around first in our rental car then hopped on a guided safari.  Both options are awesome on their own though so it’s entirely up to you and your budget!

WANT TO DO MORE?

Now if you’re feeling more adventurous there are also additional activities available such as horse riding, hiking trails (personally I wouldn’t do this in the morning with the active lions on the prowl for food… but perhaps midday?), the bird hide, the PPC Discovery Trail, picnic and braai (BBQ) sites, the shop and restaurant.

HOW ABOUT FOOD?

After driving our own car through the park we stopped off at the Cattle Baron for a tasty meal of Ostrich and Springbok. The restaurant I recommend regardless of whether you have that delicious packed lunch or not.  If you’re a meat lover and want to try something new The Cattle Baron is the place to be… Tasty and affordable.

WANT TO WAKE UP WITH ELEPHANTS ON YOUR DOORSTEP?

If you’re wanting to wake up to the sounds of the wildlife or Elephants in your back yard there is accommodation on site ranging from Tented camps ($30 a night) through to Luxury lodges which range from $100 a night and up. We didn’t get to stay there on this trip but a number of my friends have and they’ve all raved about it.

OVERALL WOULD I VISIT ADDO AGAIN?

Hell yes, the feeling of freedom and awe you feel looking and admiring all these wonderful creatures made me feel alive again, it helped restore my adventurous nature and gave me a new appreciation for nature and wildlife.

Added to that I must however warn you.  After our trip to South Africa and visiting all the wonderful parks and sanctuaries we will never look at a zoo the same way again.  We are also more steadfast in our belief that when we visit a new place we go explore and support the wildlife sanctuaries when ever we can.

All Important Details

Prices fluctuate according to exchange rates, these are estimates

Entrance fee: $18 |  Game Drive: $25 |  Horse Rides: $38 |  Hiking Trail: $12

If you plan to do more than one Park and spending some time traveling around South Africa it may save you money to get a Wild Card.  This card gives you access to all the parks within South Africa including Cape Point, Game Reserves, Table Mountain etc.  The cost is around $160 and is valid for a year. For more information click here.

Game Park website www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/

Park Highlights:

  • Addo incorporates the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere
  • It is home to the unique flightless dung beetle
  • Is also home to one of the densest African elephant populations on earth
  • It also protects the world’s largest Cape gannet breeding population on Bird Island
  • The park boasts the Big Seven: (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark)

Photos from the day

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