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Addo Elephant National Park
Author: Alison Westwood: Multimedia Images.
Source: Southern Africa’s top 21 parks taken from the April 2010 Issue of Getaway Magazine.
Conveniently close to Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant National Park offers the most affordable wildlife viewing in the Eastern Cape and is the only park in the world that’s home to the Big Seven.
Addo Elephant National Park is probably South Africa’s fastest-growing national park. The small reserve proclaimed in 1931 to save the region’s last elephants now stretches over 168 000-hectares from Karoo to coast and includes Bird and St Croix Islands in Algoa Bay. Plans are afoot to expand it to more than twice its current size, along with a huge marine protected area. This will make it South Africa’s third-largest conservation area after Kruger and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Even more impressive is the park’s diversity. It protects five of South Africa’s seven biomes and, uniquely, all of the Big Seven: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, the great white shark and southern right whale. Its elephant population is now one of the densest in Africa and the success of its largest attraction has helped its smallest: the rare flightless dung beetle, which has right of way on the park’s roads.
Conservation is focused on species that historically occurred in the area, which is why you won’t find any impala, giraffe or white rhinos there.
With a good road network suitable for normal sedans, Addo Elephant National Park is a convenient self-drive destination. The Matyholweni Gate at the southern end is just 40 minutes’ drive from Port Elizabeth and the main gate is one hour. If your time is limited, you can maximise your game viewing by entering at one gate and exiting at the other.
Be sure to stop at Hapoor Dam, where scores of elephants congregate. A pleasant new picnic site in the botanical reserve offers a chance to enjoy a braai in the wild. Although most of the action is centred on the main game area, the park’s other sections offer plenty besides game drives. The Alexandria Trail is a two-day circular walk in the Woody Cape section, which takes hikers through indigenous forest, along wide white beaches and over the largest dune field in the southern hemisphere.
In the hilly Zuurberg, you can take in the scenery and spot non-threatening game on guided horseback rides. The Bedrogsfontein 4×4 trail between the Kabouga and the Darlington sections offers 45 kilometres of scenery spiced with sagas of the Anglo Boer War.
How to book
What it costs
Visitors without a Wild Card pay a daily conservation fee of R30 a person for South Africans, R60 for SADC residents and R130 for international visitors.
Park accommodation includes campsites, safari tents, cottages, forest huts, a bush camp and guesthouses. Prices range from about R75 to R580 a person a night. There are luxury lodges inside the park and many guest-houses and lodges nearby on the Greater Addo Route. Tel 071-437-8487, e-mail or website.
- Addo is malaria free, but insect repellent is highly recommended
- No citrus fruits are allowed inside the wildlife area
- The best time and place to see elephants is on hot days at the waterholes
- With more than 400 species to spot, twitchers should visit the Sasol Red Bishop Bird Hide
Text by Alison Westwood. This article was taken from the back issue of Getaway. April 2010 Special Edition.
|More info on the town of Port Elizabeth||More info on the Sunshine Coast area|
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