Today, the malaria-free Addo Elephant National Park, or just “Addo” to people in the know, is South Africa’s third-largest national park at 1,640 km2 (630 sq mi) and conserves an incredibly wide range of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora.
The park is unique in that it contains five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones, but also because it is the only park in the world to house Africa’s “Big 7“ (African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, Lion, African Buffalo, Leopard, Southern Right Whale and Great White Shark) in their natural habitat!
There is much to do and see in Addo, including self-drive wildlife viewing on about 120 km (75 mi) of tourist roads. There are also hiking trails, a 45 km long 4×4 trail, horse riding trails, a beautiful picnic site, and the Addo Indlovu Spa in the main rest camp. The Addo Elephant Trail Run is held in parts of the park every year in March, with distances ranging from 44 km to 100 miles.
There is a vast amount of fauna and flora present in Addo. The park is home to 95 mammal species, but the pachyderms are the stars! Addo offers some of the most spectacular African Elephant viewing in the world, and you are guaranteed some close-up viewing of the 600 or so individuals in the park. They are very accustomed to cars and people, so relax and enjoy the close-up experience!
Other mammals include African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Hartebeest, Common Eland, Greater Kudu, Bushbuck, Plains Zebra, Common Warthog, Black-backed Jackal, Vervet and Chacma Baboon. Rare mammals include Smith’s Red Rock Hare, Southern Tree Hyrax, Brown Hyaena and Aardwolf.
Some 417 species of bird have been recorded in the park, including special species like Southern Tchagra, Knysna Woodpecker, Red-billed Oxpecker, Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Southern Black Korhaan, Martial and Booted Eagle, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Cape Bulbul, Knysna Turaco, Brown Scrub Robin, Narina Trogon, Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbill, Red-fronted Tinkerbird and Olive Bushshrike.
Reptiles in Addo include several snake species, Angulated and Leopard Tortoise, lizards, geckoes and skinks, as well as at least three species of chameleon. The park also has a huge population of Flightless Dung Beetle, a fascinating insect that has right of way on Addo’s roads!
Furthermore, several species of rare and endemic plants, particularly succulent shrubs and geophytes that are native to the South African region can be seen in the park. One plant that is seemingly everywhere is the Elephant’s Foot Portulacaria Afra, also called the Pork Bush or “spekboom” in Afrikaans (literally meaning “bacon tree”). It is a very special and proudly South African plant. It can absorb an incredible amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; between 4 and 10 tonnes of it per hectare per year. That’s ten times more effective than a hectare of Amazon rainforest! And it’s edible too – have a taste!
Join one of our South Africa Safaris and Tours to experience this wonderful safari destination with us.