TIPS ON VISITING ADDO’S MAIN GAME VIEWING AREA, which forms just a part of the Greater Addo Region, all the way to the ocean including Bird Island.
We’re incredibly fortunate to live only half an hour away from Addo’s MATYHOLWENI GATE. As a result, we spend a fair amount of time in the park, often popping in for just a few hours. As with any game reserve, different times of the day are good for spotting different kinds of wildlife. Lion/hyena/bat eared foxes/rhino for instance are mostly mobile very early and very late in the day. Great elephant sightings, on the other hand, are best in the middle of the day especially on HOT days when they stream into the waterholes.
The first TIP has to be that one should visit the park often, or as often as possible as the more time you spend within a park – the more you get to know the lay of the land, get to know the habits of it’s inhabitants and their favourite hangouts.
If this is not possible then second best is to join facebook groups like Addo Elephant National Park – Home Of The Big 7 where folk who are able to visit regularly, post their photos and provide details of sightings etc. These people are also extremely helpful in answering your questions and helping provide the information you need to plan your trip and help ensure that you have the absolute best time in the park.
Addo can be accessed from either the MAIN CAMP via the town of Addo, but even better is that the fairly new MATYHOLWENI GATE is just off the N2 and only half an hours drive from Port Elizabeth. Even if you are checking in to accommodation at main camp, its so much nicer to drive right up through the park than to go via the Motherwell route. You can also do any last minute grocery shopping at the SPAR shop in Colchester which is a 5 minute drive from the southern gate.
EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM – It was years of visiting without hyena sightings before our luck finally turned. Early mornings are usually ones best chance at seeing these beautiful critters. Staying over in Addo’s SPEKBOOM TENTED CAMP is a firm favourite with us. Not only are you serenaded all night long by Hyena in their nearby den ( as well as visiting ellies all night long ) but you are already deep in the park at gate opening time which hugely increases your chances of seeing Addo’s nocturnal wildlife.
MORE TIPS from fellow Addo Fanatics: Queenie Grootboom-Khondleka 1) Patience, expect to be surprised. Lady luck being part of Your day is part of the experience. 2) Sunscreen 3) Water and lots of ice to keep drinks cool 4) if You have Passengers remind them to also look down, lots of beautiful little souls crossing the roads 5) Trust Your instincts, if You feel and see that the camera click is annoying the animals it probably is, change to video. 6) Keep wet wipes and a packet in the car with You for Your dirt. 7) A Good positive attitude, nothing worse than encountering sour fellow visitors (lol)
Geoff ApplewhiteDO NOT LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE – even if you think “at your own risk” suggests otherwise!!!!!
Brett E. EllisTry to traverse the western sections up to Darlington Lake at least once a year … not only is the drive spectacular but over a period of time one will begin to appreciate the changes that take place on properties that are managed for conservation purposes. I live in George and when I visit MZNP I occasionally try to travel through Addo up to Somerset East and then on the back roads to Cradock … a fantastic drive and I have enjoyed watching the fences come down and new infrastructure going up.
Nikki JonesRecommend to buy the wild card – we use it to death
Brian Koch I loved to enter the South Gate early. Go water hole to water hole in the south to see who is drinking early. Then Harvey’s to the tree and back. After that I slowly work my way up to Hapoor when it’s hot. Elephants playing in the water is the best. My best advice is to stop and ask politely what people see. Help others and be patient. I take water coffee and snacks.
Pauline MayLearn about the differences between buck species and how to tell the difference between a plains zebra and a mountain zebra for example. Look and learn. Sometimes we drive past so quickly that you miss things. Play the animal spotting game on the map. Always take a pen to cross off the sightings.
Cherie HowesMake sure you allow enough time to get to the gate before it’s closed, make sure you know the closing times of the different gates.
Laura BoltonWe always try get into the park early, as the gate opens. The bush is a whole different experience first thing in the morning! You get to take in the fresh cold morning air, see the first light catching the dew on the grass and leaves, and all the different animal tracks/activities on the road which tell the story of what happened the night before. You also have a good chance of seeing some of the more shy animals and predators while it is still cool. One of my favorite loops – Ngulube loop, just love the red wall especially when the sun catches it at sunrise/sunset, the different types of trees/vegetation as well as the birdlife! We pack a flask of coffee and rusks for breakfast and then just have “snackage” for the rest of the day (Biltong/nuts/crackers/cheese/fruit/cold meats/rolls) whatever we can eat in the car as well as cooldrinks/water.
Marie Delport When the gate keeper (Main Camp) tells you where to find a certain animal, drop everything and go!
Barry Hyman Bass Domkrag and Zuurkop are also good hop out places to get food and drinks out of the cooler
No toilet facilities there though…
Michael JeffreyI often use the parking lot at Spekboom when I need to get something out the back of the Hilux…Favourite spot is Carols Rest and we always have popcorn in the car…
Ian RobertsonI love to go in early at the Southern gate , do Harvey’s Loop , then breakfast “skottel ” at Jacks. End up with lunch in main camp and a leisurely drive out of the Southern gate again.
Elaine HagenOns slaap gewoonlik so 4 nagte ..in die safaritente…beskuit en koffie by Domkrag….dan kies ons n rigting…braai die vorige aand genoeg steak of hoender vir die volgende dag….het agter gekom die wraps werk lekker saam met oorskiet vleis…by C Rest …drink ons cup of soup….by Jacks eet ons rustig….en natuurlik gebruik ons die Toilette…maak dit ok net net…so ry ons ma rustig voort …ek maak so in die ry koffie ….Zuurkop en Hapoor ok al gesit en eet….Wat ons klaar maak is die dag besoekers …hulle oortree die spoedgrens by verre het gesien hoe jaag hulle van punt A tot B ens….die stomme beatles word pap gery …die Addo bly vir my die beste plek ….my as moet eendag by Hapoor gestrooi word….my man se hy spaar solank dit gaan n duur storie wees….hiehie….mooi loop almal…
Michael CaseRemember to pack your binoculars, cameras assorted lenses and check that you have charged the camera’s batteries…and have packed them 😉 as well as map and bird book. Always take sunblock with and use it. Sun can burn even when driving around in the car.
Peter Betts If a first timer read up on Addo ..its unique !
Grizel HartWe take a cold picnic lunch to eat at Jacks. A braai takes up too much viewing time. For some reason we always go through the main gate and out the other. If we have visitors we also go to the info section – its a must !
The birds are more active earlier. If we have a good sighting we can sit and watch ellies for ages. We have no favourite route and tend to go towards where there have been interesting sightings.
Jo-Ann Hoffmann OutramWe invested in the Kevin Murray “Scatalog” book-A quick Guide to Southern African animal droppings. It’s added a whole new dimension to our park trips. Trying to identify scat we come across has actually been such fun(in a strange kinda way)
It’s especially great for keeping the family busy when the animals are hiding away 😉
Terrance Waite Addo’s main camp has great gift shop including basic supplies. The Cattle Barron serves light and full meals from breakfast to dinner.
Eugene Tulleken Check on long term weather forecasts before your trip as temperatures can vary from minus 3 degrees C in winter to plus 45 degrees in summer
For further details on Addo – accommodation/rates & fees/ what to do /conservation etc, please click here : SANParks Addo Elephant National Park
For details on accommodation and activities outside of the park but in close proximity to the park, please click on this link for ADDO TOURISM