Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape, lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.
The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area but today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. And there, Addo has only just begun, with plans to expand the 164 000 hectares Addo National Elephant Park into a 360 000 hectare park. In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 hectare marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.
The Addo Elephant National Park itself has no natural waterholes; the water is supplied from boreholes. These manmade waterholes have the advantage that they are by the roads and can produce some excellent photo opportunities, with many different animals going to the waterholes at any one time. The Spekboom waterhole and hide is fantastic for photographers. Hapoor waterhole is named after a bull elephant that was the dominant bull of the Addo herd for some 24 years, after being ousted from his herd by Lanky, an upcoming bull. Hapoor escaped through the fence developed by Graham Armstrong, he was the only elephant ever to do so. He was found grazing by Coerney Station and had to be shot as he was an aggressive animal - a cast of this giant elephants head can be seen in the restaurant at the main rest camp in Addo Elephant Park.
The main camp offers good quality accommodation from chalets to camp sites, there are also safari tents which look out directly over the park and it is not unusual to have an elephant or a herd of buffalo pass you by. Horse riding and bird watching safaris are available, these tours go through the game area and can be quite nerve raking, a bit of experience is required. Mornings, sunset and night drives are also offered from the main camp and are good value for money as well as very informative. Eyethu hop-on, PPC discovery trail and hiking trails have been carried out in the park.
How to get there
The directions from Port Elizabeth to Addo main Camp have got 3 alternatives:
1) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown. Take the turnoff to the left signposted “Motherwell” and “Addo Elephant National Park”. Turn left at the top of the off-ramp and proceed through Motherwell. Follow this road until you see the entrance to the park on the right.
2) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown and carry straight on until the N2 splits off to the left from the N10. Carry straight on, following the N10 towards Cradock/Cookhouse. Take the R342 to the left when you get to the intersection with Paterson on your right. This will be sign posted “Addo Elephant National Park”. Follow this road, looking out for the entrance to the park on your left.
3) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown, pass Coega harbour on your right. Cross the Sundays River Bridge. Turn off to your left at the sign that says “Camp Matyholweni”. Follow this road for about 3 km until you enter Matyholweni Gate at Camp Matyholweni. Follow the southern access road inside the Park until you get to Addo Main Camp. You will cross over a gravel public road.
1. Africanos Inn is located near the village of Addo, only a short drive from the well-known Addo Elephant National Park, this inn provides guests with 3-star accommodation in tastefully furnished chalets.
2. Cosmos Cuisine Addo is just minutes from Addo Elephant National Park. It welcomes guests to one of the most popular holiday destinations along South Africa's Eastern Cape.
3. Kronenhoff Guesthouse is set in the charming Sundays River Valley bordering the Addo Elephant Park and is accessible from the entire Eastern Cape road network.
4. Lemon3Lodge is located in Kirkwood, a town on the banks of the Sundays River, this lodge is tucked away on a private citrus farm and impresses with its modern design.
5. Radisson Blu Hotel, Port Elizabeth boasts a distinct architectural design as well as state-of-the-art spa facilities.
Africa Safaris and Tours - One Stop Point for all Africa Safaris!