Addo Elephant Park
home of the
Elephants at dusk
Port Elizabeth the friendly city on the southern coastline of South Africa has much to offer the visitor.
Not only does it have lovely beaches, good roads and friendly people it also boasts a number of top class hotels.
The most well kept secret however, is its game reserve which is just an hour's drive away.
The Addo elephant park is home to the BIG SEVEN which is more than the well known Kruger Park can boast about.
Addo is hidden in the thick bush that runs along the banks of the Sundays river and is home to 420 elephants, 450 Cape Buffalo, rhino, various species of antelope and the flightless dung beetle which is only found in this part of South Africa.
The park was established way back in 1931 when the last eleven elephants of the many thousands that once roamed the area came close to extinction.
Hunters and farmers were responsible for the demise of the large elephant populations.
Today Addo is the fastest growing park in South Africa.
The 120000 hectare park has recently had another 360000 hectares of land added to it.
An exciting development is that lions and spotted hyenas have once again been released in the park after being absent from the area for more than a 100 years.
With the reintroduction of the lion the big five have been restored to the Eastern Cape.
Addo however boasts the big seven.
They are elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lions plus two marine animals being the whales and great white sharks.
Whales and sharks in an elephant park?
Addo's boundaries run along the coastline east of Port Elizabeth and a 120000 hectare marine park has been added adjacent to the park.
Included in the marine park are a number of islands where gannets and penguins breed.
Addo is unique in that it has land and sea animals within its boundaries.
Visitors to Port Elizabeth have the best of both worlds.
A large city and a nature reserve covering 480000 hectares on their doorstep.
It's easy to do day trips into the park and see the big five even if you are limited for time.
For those who love nature and want to spend time in it in relative comfort there are various types of accommodation available including chalets, rondawels and guesthouses.
A shop and an a la carte restaurant cater for the lazy and those who have forgotten something at home.
The main camp in the park has been established near a watering hole.
To make the visit more memorable the hole is illuminated at night and the chalets have been erected close to it to allow visitors to watch the animals come in for a drink during the hours of darkness.
A unique experience for those who have not experienced the African bush before.
The park is open daily throughout the year and has 75 kilometres of roads for visitors to drive along and explore the park.
Finding something to look at and stopping your car to do so can be great fun.
Any car following you will pull up behind you to see what you have found.
Sometimes an emergency toilet stop can get mighty embarrassing when everybody stops to watch.
Of course this is not allowed as wild animals are dangerous and you never know when there is a lion lurking behind a bush.
Park rangers provide guided tours and night drives through the park for those interested.
They can be great fun especially at night when a lion could sneak up behind the open vehicle that you are in and roar.
Panic reigns when this happens.
Driving yourself is the best way of seeing the park. It allows you to do your own thing and to travel at your leisure.
You are able to settle down beside a water hole as evening approaches and watch the wildlife as it comes to quench its thirst after a hot day in the African sun.
It's amazing what you will see if you keep your eyes open.
Addo Elephant Park is a well kept secret in the Eastern Cape and in terms of large animals offers more than any other park in South Africa.
When all its newly acquired land is included Addo will be one of the largest parks in South Africa.
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Cape Town = Addo Elephant Park