In the shadows of giants - The Addo Elephant National Park

72 km outside of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, the Addo Elephant National Park represents one of South Africa’s major conservation success stories. In the early days of European settlement, elephants were hunted for the bounty of their ivory. By 1920, the entire elephant population of the region had dwindled to only 11 remaining elephant survivors. Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed an elephant sanctuary in 1931 and since then the elephant population of the Eastern Cape has grown to over 450. Here the majestic grey giants of the bush are safe from persecution, and roam the 164 000ha Park in peace.


The park offers visitors spectacular game viewing in a malaria free environment. Addo’s finely tuned ecosystem is nestled in the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape, and also contributes to the conservation of the endangered black rhino, with over 48 of these animals occurring here.

Addo’s Cape buffalo population is one of the largest disease-free herds in the country. Buffalo are being spotted more regularly during the day due to the influence of lion reintroduction to the park in 2003. Along with a family of spotted hyenas, six lions were introduced into the park at that time and have adapted well to their new environment, fulfilling their role as the restorers of natural balance to the ecosystems by controlling the number of herbivores. You can spot the Royal Family of the bushveld more often in the early morning or at sunset, or on a nightdrive, as it is during the night when lions are at their most active.

Leopard, being shy and secretive animals are very rarely seen, but do occur in most areas of the park. Antelope species are abundant and include kudu, eland, red hartebeest and bushbuck. Addo also supports the rare flightless dung beetle. This marvellous little creature is only seen during moderate conditions and plays a pivotal role in recycling nutrients and assisting in the growth of thicket vegetation.

Future expansion plans could turn the Addo Elephant National Park into a 360 000ha mega-park. These plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000ha marine reserve that will incorporate islands that are home to the world’s largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.

The park conserves five of South Africa’s seven biomes. (In South Africa the seven biomes found are namely: Fynbos, Savannah, Grassland, Nama-Karoo, Succulent Karoo, Desert and Forest) Stretching from the vast Darlington Lake, across the breathtaking Zuurberg Mountains, through the pristine dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River Valley to the lush green indigenous forests at Woody Cape which hug the largest coastal dune fields in the southern hemisphere, the Addo Elephant National Park also boasts the “Big Seven!” Referring to the well-known “Big Five” namely: elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard, the “Big Seven” includes the southern right whale and great white shark.

Accomodation options range from luxury five star lodges to tented camps and backpacker facilities.

Considered one of the top tourist destinations in South Africa, the Addo Elephant National Park promises the visitor a true African experience!

Easily accessible from Port Elizabeth, all the facilities of a large city are nearby, if required.

Things to do

  • Guided Game Drives or Self Drives in the Addo Wildlife Area as well as neighbouring Game Reserves.
  • Guided Horseback Safaris
  • Elephant Back Safaris
  • Sunset cruises on Darlington Lake
  • River Cruises on the Sundays River
  • Canoeing
  • Birding
  • Walking and Hiking Trails
  • 4X4 Eco-Adventure Trails
  • Various fine restaurants
  • Picnic and Braai Sites
  • Cheetah breeding project
  • Crocodile Farm

Contact details for the Addo Elephant National Park

Central Reservations (Pretoria):