Up close and personal with the Addo giants

2018-09-19 06:01

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AS one of SANParks’ collection of 19 parks, this wild paradise is also the third largest safari park and has a huge diversity of animals and natural vegetation.

When we hit the road with our guided ranger, Headman Nogaya, we had no idea how large the park was and almost immediately bumped into some of the 4 000 wart­hogs.

Addo is home to large numbers of land-based animals, such as the 14 lions, over 1 000 buffalo, 2 000 kudu, 4 000 warthogs, over 600 elephants, leopards and rhinos. The sea-dwelling animals like the great white sharks and southern right whales also form part of the park. This means that Addo proudly conserves the Big Seven.

At first, the park was 2 500 hectares, which later stretched to 180 000 hectares in size.

The park stretches from Darlington Dam in the Karoo in the north, to the Zuurberg Mountains in the south and all the way to the coast.

As we spun our gaze even further, we spotted some lions named Malvin and Gibson – the two male lions that are often not seen for months by rangers. Stretched out and soaking up the sun while sleeping, these mighty creatures were the highlight of the game drive.

In 2003, lions and spotted hyenas were reintroduced to the park to help control the numbers of antelopes, which include kudus, red hartebeest and elands.

After some marvelling at the park, we came across some of the rare flightless dung beetles that are a more unusual attraction.

These beetles are always busy rolling perfect balls from elephant and buffalo dung and visitors are warned not to harm these creatures – they have complete “right of way” in the park.

On our way back to Port Elizabeth we decided to take a self-drive through the park to see more of its wonders, as we didn’t see any elephants nearby.

This, according to Nogaya, was mainly because of the recent rains in the area. “Because a lot of rain fell in the park, the animals don’t need to go to the watering holes, as there is a lot of water available all over the park. This unfortunately means that we don’t see so many animals in the open,” he said.

We stumbled upon a variety of antelopes and warthogs on our self-drive before finding our very first elephant up close. To be able to see these gentle giants up close was a moment of pure bliss.

Watching the majestic elephants roaming freely around in their natural habitat was a treat to the eyes.

Dating back to 1931, the park was proclaimed as a safe haven to protect the last remaining 16 indigenous Eastern Cape elephants. The park is one of the few places for close-up encounters with elephants.

Like most national parks, Addo also faces the challenge of rhino poaching.

However, a team of dedicated field rangers are always on the lookout to protect and conserve these creatures.

The tour through the park was not only breathtaking – it was a journey embedded in our memories, which will always be cherished.

The park has a variety of activities, which include:

. Guided game drives

. Guided horseback trails

. Self-drive game viewing

. Game viewing with hop-on guides

. The Alexandra hiking trails (two days)

. Zuurberg hiking trails

. Wheelchair-friendly PPC Discovery Trail

. Birding and bird hides

. 4x4 trails

For bookings and reservations call 042 233 8600 or mail


Office hours are from Monday to Sunday from 07:00 to 19:00

Watch a video of the PE Express tour in Addo Elephant National Park on our Facebook page


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