Addo Elephant National Park

30 Dec

Addo ZebraLike any Eastern Caper knows, the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown borders so many private game parks that you’re guaranteed to spot at least some zebras, hartebeest and probably some eland and giraffe as you whizz by.  Once (and only once) we even spotted a lion from the road and did a dangerous u-turn and pull over with our hazards on so that we could  ogle it through binoculars as it trundled back into its expensive bush hideaway.  Speed spotting at 120km/h is hardly “game viewing” though and while I’m sure all those luxury reserves are very nice (enough Hollywood schlebs seem to think so) for those of us without foreign currency burning holes in our pockets there’s a far more accessible option, right in the middle, and that’s the Addo Elephant National Park.  It’s the third largest national park in South Africa and home to the big five (or seven if you count the marine region), as well as an abundance of other interesting and prolific game and birds (I’m not even going to start on the flaura).

It’s becoming a tradition that whenever I go back to visit my family in Grahamstown for Christmas, H and I do a day trip to Addo to get our bushveld fix before returning to the more domesticated Western Cape.  On our previous visit two years ago the drought was in full swing and although the landscape was desperate and barren, it ironically made for good game viewing as thirsty animals congregated at waterholes, queuing for a muddy sip (click to zoom on the picture below where hartebeest, warthogs and a tortoise wait for a Buffalo to drink his fill).  Addo waterhole 09There have been record rains in the area this year however and at the moment the park is lush, green and bushy.   This does make spotting a little more tricky but luckily my sharp eyed middle brother was with us to spot the buffalo in the bushes right next to the road that all the other cars whizzed past, and the jackal padding quietly past the reservoir at the main reception area.  We also saw our fill of zebras, warthog, hartebeest, eland and kudu on this trip and while we didn’t spot the elusive lions or rhino (it’s amazing how at a distance a warthog can look frustratingly just like a rhino though), we did see the majestic elephant the park is renowned for.   The dusty pictures of the big herds below are from our previous visit and the green pics of the solitary ellie is from the most recent one.

Addo Elephant bums

Addo Elephants 09

Addo Elephant 2

We had a picnic lunch at the well maintained Jack’s Picnic site in the middle of the park although there is also a restaurant at the main camp reception.  If you want to stay over there’s everything from a campsite and chalets to luxury lodges to suit any budget.   A day visit costs just R38 per adult (R19 per child) though and is well worth it, unless of course spotting animals in the distance at 120km/h is enough for you – it’s not for me!  In the meantime check out their waterhole webcam.

Addo Kudu

3 Responses to “Addo Elephant National Park”

  1. Astrid January 2, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Definitely something to do next time one is in this part of the world. thanks for the tips, Cathy!

  2. Anne January 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    As a regular day-tripper, I can fully endorse your enthusiasm about the Addo Elephant National Park. We have camped there several times – bliss – and most recently spent two nights in a chalet. Tip: double check your booking to ensure you are getting EXACTLY what you have ‘ordered’. Sitting on the veranda at dawn, I soon had a list of 23 species of birds – without even moving from my chair! Your drought pictures are a stark reminder of how well the veld has recovered with the good summer rain.

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