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Addo Elephant National Park

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Introduction

Please note:
  • Addo Elephant National Park’s webcam is faulty and has been sent in for repairs until further notice.

Discover…Experience…Explore a world of diversity in one Park…

Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide diversity of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora. Stretching from the semi-arid karoo area in the north around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River valley and south to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s river mouth, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups.

The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only sixteen elephants remained in the area. Today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants, lions, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species, as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. And their Addo has only just begun, with plans to expand the Park into a 264 000 hectare (652 300 acre) mega-park.

In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.

Vision

Addo Elephant National Park seeks to be fully integrated into the regional landscape, conserves and enhances the characteristic terrestrial and marine biodiversity, ecological processes and cultural, historical and scenic resources representative of the Eastern Cape region for the appreciation, and benefit of present and future generations.



 

 

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Accommodation

General Information

  • For bookings at Addo Elephant National Park contact Central Reservations. For bookings at Kabouga, contact Park Reception (Tel: 042 2338600).
  • Have a look at the park map, as well as information on each camp to locate and check in at the correct place.
  • All accommodation is serviced and equipped with crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, bedding, towels and soap. Each accommodation unit has a braai- area outside.
  • Check in time for accommodation is 13:00 on the day of arrival. Check out time on the day of departure is 10:00 for accommodation and 12:00 for the campsites.
  • Please note that no meals are included in the accommodation rates.
  • All our accommodation units do have plug points available with a 220V electricity supply. Visitors will need to provide their own international adaptors or two-point plug adaptors. The caravan and tent sites also each have a 220v electricity supply point.
  • Accommodation will be serviced daily between 09:00 and 12:00.
  • Sheets will be changed every 2-3 days, and towels will be changed every day. Please do not hesitate to ask our staff for extra soap, towels, blankets, etc.

Accommodation Types

Addo Elephant National Park offers a range of accomodation types. The list below offers a brief description of what the park offers. For more comprehensive information on accommodation types, including photographs of the our facilities and more detail on how units are equipped, please click on the accommodation unit link.

Camps

Addo Rest Camp

The popular main rest camp of the park offers a wide variety of accommodation units to suit all tastes and plenty of activities to keep visitors busy. A unique feature is the waterhole lookout point, floodlit at night, within the camp as well as the underground hide, allowing close encounters with wildlife at the waterhole...

Spekboom Tented Camp

Spend a night in the middle of the bush, listening to the sounds of the wild around you. You may catch a glimpse of nocturnal animals drinking at the waterhole, gaze at the starry skies and enjoy being away from it all. The Spekboom Tents are located in the fenced area of Spekboom Hide in the Park’s Main Game Area.

Matyholweni

Matyholweni, which means “in the bush” in Xhosa is located near the coastal town of Colchester at the Sundays River Mouth, 3km off the N2 highway, Matyholweni is easily accessible and provides a second gateway into the Park. Amenities such as shops, restaurants and a fuel station are available in the nearby town...

Narina

For a secluded experience in magical forest, spend some time at Narina Bush Camp at the foot of the Zuurberg Mountains and on the banks of the Wit River.

The road to Narina is a gravel road of approximately 25 kilometres and even though it is not necessary to have a 4x4, a high clearance vehicle is needed to travel this road.

Kabouga

This section of the park is surrounded by rugged moutains and densely fragrant vegetation...

Woody Cape

Listen for the haunting calls of the rare tree dassie by night and awake to a chorus of birds in flitting through the forest canopy. The Langebos huts are available to hikers on the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail, as well as those simply wanting an overnight stay in the forest...

Luxury Lodges

Who said anything about "roughing it" in the bush when visiting one of our National Parks? "Indulgence" and "comfort" come to mind when viewing the concession lodges and suites that are to be found in a number of SANParks camps and parks. These lodges form part of a suite of products known as SANParks "Golden Kudus", where luxury is the order of the day.

Alternate options

Should you be unable to get a booking in the park due to high occupancy levels, a variety of accommodation options are available in the area surrounding the Park, Please have a look at the following websites for information: Greater Addo Route and www.addotourism.co.za

To view the accommodation prices, refer to Tariffs


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Activities

Guided Game Drives

There are a number of game drive options available:


Type of drive Time of drive Maximum persons Minimum persons Price per person
Sunrise 06:00 a.m. (summer)
07:00 a.m. (winter)
74 2 R280
Morning 09:00 a.m. 74 2 R280
Midday 12:00 p.m. 74 2 R280
Afternoon 15:00 p.m. 74 2 R280
Sundowner 18:00 p.m. (summer)
16:00 a.m. (winter)
30 2 R380 including drinks & snacks
Night 19:00 p.m. (summer)
18:00 p.m. (winter)
44 2 R310

  • Please note that sunrise, sunset and night drive departure times vary according to season. It is important to check the current departure times with the game drive office when making a booking.
  • Each game drive lasts approximately 2 hours. No refunds are given.
  • Children under the age of 6 years not allowed on these drives. Children under 12 years pay half price.
  • Check in at game drive office 15 minutes prior to departure of drive.
  • Game drives depart from main camp only. Guests staying in Spekboom Tented Camp cannot participate in sunset or night drives as gates are closed.
  • Self-drive game viewing in guests own vehicle is also available.

Hop-on Guides

The Hop-on Guides are a group of guides, sourced from the communities adjacent to the park, who operate their own business within the park, providing guiding services for visitors in the comfort of their own vehicles.

Per 2 hour guided drive in your own vehicle
For a car R180
For an eight (8) seater vehicle R230
For a minibus R290
For a bus (18 - 30 seater) R360
For a bus (coach) R510
School group R180
Note: Fees are payable directly to the guide

Self-Drive Game Viewing

Visitors may enjoy wildlife viewing in their own vehicles during the opening hours of the park's game gate. Opening times change according to season.

In this case, the visitor pays only the conservation fee – per day, or per night for overnight visitors.

Horse Trails

Addo Horse Trails

Departs from Addo main camp.

Type of ride Time of ride Maximum persons Minimum persons Price per person
Morning 08:30 a.m. (2 hour duration) 7 1 R265
Afternoon 14:00 (2 hour duration) 7 1 R265

  • Please note morning and afternoon rides are two hours long and take place in the Nyathi area, home to the Big Five. The behaviour of certain Big Five species are monitored in this area and if necessary, trails will be moved to a botanical reserve in the Park. In this case, the horse trails will be discounted to R170 per person.
  • Riders need to have a moderate level of experience to ensure they can control horses within a big game area.
  • Please note the number of horses available may change without notice due to vaccinations or injuries.
  • No children under 16 years on the Addo horse trail.
  • No bookings will be taken less than 1 hour before departure time.
  • No person exceeding 90 kg in weight will be allowed to ride.
  • Only one rider allowed per horse.

*Please note that departure times for trails may change according to season and without notice. Please confirm with the Game Drive Office.

Zuurberg Horse Trails

In the Zuurberg Mountain section of the park - no encounters with large game, beautiful scenic views of the mountains.

Type of ride Time of ride Maximum persons Minimum persons Price per person
One Hour Trail 09:00 a.m. / 11:00 a.m. / 14:00 p.m. 6 1 R180
Three Hour Trail 09:00 a.m. / 11:00 a.m. 6 1 R255
Five Hour Trail 09:00 a.m. 6 1 R275
Overnight Trail to Narina Bush Camp 09:00 a.m. / 11:00 a.m. 6 2 R450 per horse, per day

Please note:
  • No bookings will be taken less than 1 hour before departure time.
  • No person exceeding 90kg in weight will be allowed to ride.
  • Please note the number of horses available may change without notice due to vaccinations or injuries.
  • A moderate level of experience is required for the longer rides due to the terrain.
  • Only one rider allowed per horse.
  • No children under 10 yrs on the Zuurberg horse trails

4x4 Trail

The Bedrogfontein 4x4 trail between Kabouga and Darlington areas of the park provides breathtaking views and is rich in history. This route was the scene of fierce battles between the British and Afrikaner troops during the Anglo-Boer war. Rock art paintings are found scattered throughout the area. The route travels through a variety of vegetation types, from riverine thicket, to afromontane forest, to fynbos on the peaks and into the arid nama-karoo of the Darlington area.

The route is only suitable for vehicles with 4x4 and low range facilities, both because of terrain and to cause minimum impact on the environment. The route is graded 2-3 but a grade 5 river crossing is an option (river conditions should be checked with the ranger). This 45 km route can be easily traveled within six hours.

The route is self-driven and can be followed either from Darlington to Kabouga or from Kabouga to Darlington. Kabouga is situated about 40 km (one hour's drive) from the main park entrance, near the town of Kirkwood. Darlington is situated about 150 km (two hour's drive) from the main park entrance.

Accommodation is available at Kabouga House or Mvubu campsite (camping only) on the Kabouga side.

Cost: R420 per vehicle per day plus conservation fees per person.

  • Kabouga
    Mvubu Camping (max of 4 people per site)
    R110.00 for the first 2 persons
    R30.00 per additional person
    To book the whole camp: R580.00 for up to 12
    persons, plus R30.00 per person more than 12.


    Kabouga Cottage (sleeps six people)
    R445.00 for the first 2 persons
    R160.00 per additional adult
    R88.00 per additional child under 12

NB: Bookings for the 4x4 Trail, Kabouga and Mvubu to be done via Addo reception on Tel: +27 (0)42 2338619 or addoenquiries@sanparks.org
Payment: at gate with cash or cheque (no card facilities available). Visitors must provide own firewood. Fishing allowed at Mvubu campsite and Darlington Dam.

Alexandria Hiking Trail

The Alexandria Hiking Trail is a 32 km, two-day circular trail. The first day is 18.5 km and the second day, 13.5 km. The Langebos huts are situated at the trail base, providing accommodation for the beginning and/or end of the hike. The Woody Cape hut is situated at the end of the first day's walk. Hikers must carry their own provisions and equipment and the hike is not guided. The trail is well signposted.

A minimum of three hikers and a maximum of 12 hikers are allowed on the trail, per day. The trail will not be booked exclusively for one group, unless they are 12 in number.

The trail costs (South African Rand) R135 per person per night. Hikers also need to pay the daily conservation (entry) fee.

  • Bookings for the trail are administered through:
    Camp Matyholweni
    Tel: +27 (0)41 4680916/8
    Fax: +27 (0)41 4680949
    Email: matyholweni@sanparks.org

  • Trail base office:
    Woody Cape office of the Addo Elephant National Park
    Tel: +27 (0)46 6530601

Other activities at no extra cost (except for entrance fee)

  • Self-drive wildlife viewing in the main game area and Colchester area on 120 km of tourist roads suitable fro normal sedan cars.
  • Zuurberg hiking trails: 1-hour and 3-hour trails available in the Zuurberg Mountains.
  • PPC Discovery Trail: a short walk in the main camp, one loop suitable for wheelchairusers and visually-impaired visitors.
  • SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide: in the main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Floodlit waterhole: at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Underground viewing hide at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Picnic and braai site: at main camp and in the botanical reserve Jack's Picnic site off the southern access road.
  • Swimming pool: at main camp, only for overnight guests.
  • Restaurant and curio shop: at main camp. Restaurant Tel: 042 2338674.
  • Holiday programmes for children: during July and December holidays

Marine Eco Tours

As Addo Elephant National Park is home to the Big 7, guests might want to partake in a Marine Eco Tour in order to catch a glimpse of a Great White Shark and/or Southern Right Whale.
Tours can be booked via www.raggycharters.co.za


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Facilities

The following facilities are available at the main rest camp:

  • A lookout platform and an underground hide provide views over a waterhole which is floodlit at night.
  • A swimming pool is available for overnight visitors, situated near the chalets.
  • A picnic and braai area is available for day visitors overlooking the waterhole in the rest camp.
  • A picnic site situated within the botanical reserve in the Main Game Area provides picnic, braai and ablution facilities.
  • The SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide, overlooking a small wetland area.
  • The PPC Discovery Trail for short walks where you can learn about the plants and ecology of thicket vegetation. The first loop is accessible to all, including the visually and mobility-impaired.
  • A shop selling curios, snacks and basic supplies is open between 08:00 and 18:00 (winter) or 08:00 to 19:00 (summer).
  • An al-la-carte restaurant is available in the main camp and is open for all meals from 07:30 to 22:00. Bookings are advisable, especially for dinner. Telephone: +27 (0) 42 233 8674 or email: addo@tourrest.co.za
  • A fuel station selling petrol and diesel is available between 07:30 and 16:30.
  • There is a public telephone and a post box near the reception. Post is collected for delivery every week day morning before 07:00. A post office is situated in the town of Addo, approximately 15km from the park.
  • Credit cards are accepted for payment of accommodation & activities (except for the Alexandria Hiking trail, Zuurberg horse trails, Kabouga accommodation and 4x4 trail), shop purchases and restaurant meals.
  • First National Bank with ATM is situated in the town of Addo, 15km from the park. Other banking facilities are located in the town of Kirkwood, 35km from the park and Port Elizabeth, 75km from the park.

Please note:

Camp Matyholweni does not have restaurant, shop or swimming pool facilities situated at the rest camp. Shop and fuel station facilities are available in the nearby town of Colchester.


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Natural & Cultural History

In the early centuries, when great herds of wild animals roamed the Addo region, the Khoesan of the Iqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua clans lived in the area.

They hunted and kept cattle but tragically were largely wiped out in the 1700s by the smallpox epidemic. Nomadic Xhosa tribes had kraals in the area, including Chief Cungwa of the Gqunukhwebe (near the Sundays River mouth and inland) and Chief Habana of the Dange (near the Wit River).

The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 Addo elephants. The great herds of elephants and other animal species had been all but decimated over the 1700s and 1800s by hunters. In the late 1800s, farmers began to colonise the area around the park, also taking their toll on the elephant population due to competition for water and crops.

This conflict reached a head in 1919 when farmers called on the government to exterminate the elephants. The government even appointed a Major Pretorius to shoot the remaining elephants. He shot 114 elephants between 1919 and 1920.

Public opinion then changed, leading to the proclamation of the park in 1931. The original size of the park was just over 2 000 hectares. Conflicts between elephants and farmers continued after proclamation as no adequate fence enclosed the park. Finally in 1954, Graham Armstrong (the park manager at the time) developed an elephant-proof fence constructed using tram rails and lift cables and an area of 2270 hectares was fenced in. There were 22 elephants at the time. This Armstrong fence, named after its developer, is still used around the park today. Although the park was originally proclaimed to protect a single species, priorities have now changed to conserve the rich biological diversity found in the area.

Domkrag

The Domkrag Dam in the game viewing section of the park is name after a giant mountain tortoise that once roamed the park. Domkrag is the Afrikaans word for jack, and this tortoise had a peculiar habit of walking in behind cars and lifting them up with enormous strength. Domkrag came to a sad end when he fell into an aardvark hole and couldn't get himself out. His shell is still on display in the reception foyer.

Hapoor

The magnificent Elephant head which is mounted in the restaurant is that of Hapoor, the legendary dominant bull in the park for 24 years. The waterhole in the southwestern section of the game area is named after him. Hap means 'nick' in Afrikaans, while 'oor' means ear and it is believed the distinctive nick in his ear was caused by a hunter's bullet. Hapoor retained a deep hatred of humans throughout his life. On more than one occasion park-staff were forced to flee to safety when Hapoor made his appearance. His dominance stretched from 1944 to 1968. During the second part of the 1960's a few younger bulls reached maturity and challenged Hapoor. These upstarts were unsuccessful until one bull name Lanky finally deposed Hapoor in 1968. Hapoor was driven from the heard and became a loner. Later that year he succeeded in climbing the park's 'Armstrong Fence', which for nearly 20 years had been elephant proof. His freedom was to be short lived as because of his aggressive nature, it was determined he would have to be shot.

The Alexandria dunefield is home to many archeological sites – the middens of the nomadic Strandloper (“beach walker”) people. These middens contain shells and bones of animals eaten by the people as well as fragments of pottery and stone implements. Interestingly, the white mussel shells found in these middens are also found in the caves of the Zuurberg Mountains, proving that these people journeyed over vast distances and stored their food.

The caves in the Zuurberg Mountains also contain rock art and stone implements.

The natural and cultural heritage of the park has been studied by the Albany Museum, recording hundreds of sites of significance. Part of the current Greater Addo World Bank project will be to formulate a policy on conservation of these sites and access to them by interested parties, especially local communities.


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How to get there

Opening & closing times for gates

The following gates have approximate opening and closing times.

Main Entrance Gate & Addo Reception (off R335 / R342 near Addo)

07:00 - 19:00

Matyholweni Gate & Matyholweni Reception (off N2 near Colchester)

07:00 - 17:00


Please note:

  • Gates to the Game Area open and close according to season. Please enquire about the current times when checking in at Addo or Matyholweni Reception. Entrance to the Main Entrance Gate and Matyholweni Gate does not provide access to the Game Area, but only to the Park camps.
  • Entrance gates are staffed by security guards after closing time. Visitors with accommodation bookings can still enter and exit the gate after closing times but before 22:00 provided they inform reception of this. After 22:00, there is no access into the Park as gates are closed.
  • There is no entry to the Park through the gates on the Addo Heights Road (between Addo town and the N10). These gates may be used for exit or thoroughfare only.

How to get there

Many visitors to Addo are self-drive visitors as this allows them the freedom to explore the Park at their own leisure. If travelling from further afield, it may be advisable to fly to the Port Elizabeth Airport and then hire a vehicle.

GPS Coordinates

GPS coordinates ranging from camp sites, entrance gates to turn-off points.

Air

  • The nearest domestic airport is in Port Elizabeth, 75km from the park. A number of hire car agencies have depots at the airport.
  • International airports are situated at Johannesburg and Cape Town, with connecting flights to Port Elizabeth available.

Car Hire & Coaches

Cars can be hired from various agencies at the airport in Port Elizabeth or from all major towns in South Africa. Please see contact details on the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism Website.

A number of coach operators have organized tours to the park. Please see contact details on the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism Website.

There are privately-operated tours and shuttles that run from PE to Addo Elephant National Park.

You can also try one of the following:

Company Name Tour Operator Contact Details
Ezethu Tours Geoff Foster Cell: 083 493 8741 or Tel: 086 182 2328
Email: info@ezethutours.co.za
Web: www.ezethutours.co.za
Ellie Tours & Transfers Sorita Spiesr Cell: 076 756 2542 or Tel: 042 234 0336
Email: andrew.spies@gmail.com
Callaghan Tours Mike Callaghan Cell: 082 327 1999
Email: mikecall@501.co.za
Daly Tours and Safaris Arlene Daly Cell:082 781 6889
Email:daly@netcon.co.za
Alan Tours Alan Fogarty Cell: 072 358 4634
Email: info@alantours.co.za
Umzantsi Afrika Lyn Haller Cell: 082 302 2690
Email: tours@umzantsi.co.za
Africa4Real Tours Mark Heck Cell: 082 331 2896
Email: tours@africa4real.net
Dr Livingstone Tours Greg Hughes Cell: 073 314 6145
Email: info@drlivingstonestours.co.za
Guided Tours Peter Joseph Cell: 073 314 6145
Email: info@drlivingstonestours.co.za
Highwinds Adventures and Safaris Robert Lourens Tel: 041 586 3721
Email: adventures@highwinds.co.za
Jama Tours Luvo Ndima Cell: 073 140 0603
Email:luvo@jamatours.co.za
Aloe-Drift Safaris Deon Spies Cell: 072 449 6243
Email: deon@aloe-drift.com
Imvelaphi Safaris Jeanette Vockerodt Cell: 083 941 6196
Email:jeanette@imvelaphisafaris.com
Mosaic Tourism Craig Duffield Cell: 083 656 8329
Email: info@mosaictourism.co.za

(Remember to add international dialing code prefixes if you are phoning from overseas).

Internal Road Network

The entrance road and some of the tourist loops in the Park are tarred. Other tourist roads within the Park are of a good gravel standard. All tourist roads are accessible to normal sedan cars. A 4x4 vehicle is only necessary if visitors would like to take the 4x4 route within the Park (see Activities).

Vehicle Restrictions

  • Buses may access most of the tourist roads within the Park except for the southern access road from Matyholweni to where it joins the road network near Hapoor waterhole and the second part of the Gorah Loop. Turnaround points for buses are provided at these places.
  • The speed limit on the roads is 40 km/h but a speed of 20-30 km/h is advised for maximum game viewing enjoyment.
  • There is a height restriction for vehicles on the entrance road to Addo Main Camp of 4.42 metres.

Directions and Distances

Directions from Port Elizabeth (PE) to Addo Main Camp

There are 3 alternatives:


1) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown. Take the turnoff to the left signposted “Motherwell” and “Addo Elephant National Park”. Turn left at the top of the off-ramp and proceed through Motherwell. Follow this road until you see the entrance to the park on the right. Distance: about 72 km or one hour travelling time.

2) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown and carry straight on until the N2 splits off to the left from the N10. Carry straight on, following the N10 towards Cradock/Cookhouse. Take the R342 to the left when you get to the intersection with Paterson on your right. This will be sign posted “Addo Elephant National Park”. Follow this road, looking out for the entrance to the park on your left. Distance: about 120 km or one hour, 15 minutes travelling time.

3) Take the N2 highway towards Grahamstown, pass Coega harbour on your right. Cross the Sundays River bridge. Turn off to your left at the sign that says “Camp Matyholweni”. Follow this road for about 3 km until you enter Matyholweni Gate at Camp Matyholweni. Follow the southern access road inside the Park until you get to Addo Main Camp. You will cross over a gravel public road. Distance: about 40 km from PE to Matyholweni and then 36 km through the Park (which takes about one and a half hours at the 40km/h speed limit). NB: this route is not accessible to caravans and buses.

Directions from East London

  • Take the N2 towards Port Elizabeth. Follow the road until you see the N10 turn off. Please turn right here. You will continue towards Paterson.
  • At Paterson you would turn left onto the R342. You will continue on this road for the next 24km. You will drive and see the entrance to the Addo Elephant National Park.

Directions from Grahamstown

  • Take the N2 towards Port Elizabeth. Follow this road until you see the turnoff to the N10 towards Cradock/Cookhouse. Take this turnoff and carry straight on, following the N10 towards Cradock/Cookhouse.
  • Take the R342 to the left when you get to the intersection with Paterson on your right. This will be sign posted “Addo Elephant National Park”. Follow this road, looking out for the entrance to the park on your left.
  • The journey covers about 90 km and will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Directions from Cape Town

Take the N2 towards Port Elizabeth and then follow the directions given above. Note: travelling time from Cape Town to the Park by vehicle is approximately 9 hours.

Directions from Johannesburg

  • Take the N1 towards Colesburg. At Colesburg, take the N10 towards Cradock and Paterson. Take the R342 to the left when you get to the intersection with Paterson on your right. This will be sign posted “Addo Elephant National Park”.
  • Follow this road, looking out for the entrance to the park on your left.
  • Note: travelling time from Johannesburg to the Park by vehicle is approximately 12-14 hours.

Directions within the Park

Directions to Camp Matyholweni

  • From Port Elizabeth, take the N2 towards Grahamstown. Just before the town of Colchester and after crossing the bridge over Sundays River, take the sign posted road left to Camp Matyholweni. Follow the signs for about 3km to enter Matyholweni Gate and Camp Matyholweni.

Directions from Addo Main Camp to Zuurberg (for horse and hiking trails)

  • Exit the Main Camp and turn left. About 1 km down the road, turn off towards Zuurberg Mountain Inn.
  • Follow this gravel road (the Zuurberg Pass) for about 15km. Please take care when driving on the Zuurberg Pass as the road is fairly narrow and winding. You will see the Zuurberg Inn/Hotel on your right and the turnoff to the Park offices on your left.
  • Follow this narrow gravel road until you reach the Park offices where you park your vehicle.
  • The trip will take about 30 minutes.

Directions from Addo Main Camp to Narina Bush Camp

  • Exit the Main Camp and turn left. About 1 km down the road, turn off towards Zuurberg Mountain Inn.
  • Take the first turn to your left, signposted Enon/Slagboom. Follow this road and then take the turn to your right, signposted Slagboom. Follow the road and pass the turnoff to Slagboom police training camp.
  • Carry on along the gravel road, passing through a number of open gates, until you see the turnoff into Narina Bush Camp on your right. Leave your vehicle at this parking lot and walk about 500 metres to the camp across a river bridge and through the forest.
  • This trip is about 27 km and will take about 45 minutes.

Directions from Addo Main Camp to Kabouga

  • Exit the Main Camp and turn left. Follow the R335 towards the town of Addo.
  • Turn off onto the R336 towards Kirkwood. Follow this road until you reach the town of Kirkwood at a four-way intersection. Carry on straight through the intersection (you would turn left for the Main Street of Kirkwood) and travel over a small bridge.
  • Turn right after the bridge and follow the road, which becomes gravel past a township until you see the turnoff into Kabouga (Park signage) on your left. Follow this road until you get to a boom gate at the ranger’s station where you enter the Park’s property.
  • The trip will take about one hour.

Directions from Addo Main Camp to Woody Cape

  • Exit the Main Camp and turn right. Follow the R342 to the Paterson intersection with the N10.
  • Turn right onto the N10 and follow this road until the R72 turnoff on your left. Follow the signs towards Port Alfred and Alexandria. You will see the turnoff to Woody Cape just before you enter the town of Alexandria.
  • Just before the town of Alexandria, take a gravel road to the right and follow signposts for Woody Cape Section. You will see the entrance to the Park offices on your right.
  • The trip will take about one hour, 15 minutes and covers about 105 km.

Distances

Note: all distances are approximate.

  • Port Elizabeth to Addo Main Camp 72km
  • Main Camp to Paterson 22km
  • Main Camp to Kabouga 45km
  • Main Camp to Narina 27km
  • Main Camp to Woody Cape office 105km
  • Main Camp to Matyholweni 39km
  • Main Camp to Zuurberg office 17km

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Park Maps

Main Camp

Click on images to view enlarged maps

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Matyholweni

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Brochure Map

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Full Addo Map

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4x4 Trail Map

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Addo Main Game Area & Colchester Road Map

Click on images to view enlarged maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tariffs

Daily Conservation Fees for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID): R50 per person, per day
R25 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport): R100 per person, per day
R50 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): R200 per adult, per day
R100 per child, per day
Wild Card: Year Permits available for all our guests

Kabouga
Enquiries should be directed to the park This accommodation is associated with the Addo 4x4 Trail

 

Kabouga Mvubu Camping

 

R110

1-2

max 4 persons per site

R30

R30

Kabouga Cottage

 

R445

1-2

sleeps 6 people

R160

R88

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Hapoor Restaurant

Outside area of the restaurant

Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park which is where you’ll find the Hapoor Restaurant.

Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.

Come join us for a delectable breakfast at the Hapoor Restaurant and start your day off right. It really doesn’t matter what time of the day you visit us, as we have a wide variety of meals to suit any occasion from light meals and salads for the nibblers to larger fish, poultry meat & venison options for those with a bigger appetite. Expect anything from Lamb Curry & Surf & Turf to a Venison Hot Pot.

The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.

In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.

Reasons to visit not only Addo Elephant National Park but also the Hapoor Restaurant:

  • Mouthwatering venison dishes at the Hapoor Restaurant.
  • Addo is home to one of the densest African elephant populations on earth!
  • The park boasts the Big Seven, (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark).

Trading Hours:

Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – late (Kitchen closes at 20:30)

Contact Details:


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Scientific Services

Although the park was originally proclaimed to protect the one species - the elephant - conservation priorities changes over the years.

In the 1980s, the conservation of five elements took priority: the elephant, the black rhino, the buffalo, the flightless dung beetle and the thicket vegetation. These days a more wholistic approach of conserving biodiversity is the aim. "The mission of the Addo Elephant National Park is to conserve the faunal and floral assemblages and ecological processes that characterise the unique Eastern Cape region, and to actively present this for the appreciation by visitors.

The Conservation Services Office in Port Elizabeth has two divisions:

  1. The Park Planning Division, is staffed with a Head of Park Planning responsible for land consolidation and development of parks nationally, a Coordinator for Park Planning and Development of the Greater Addo project and Garden Route Initiative, a Marine Coordinator for the Greaetr Addo MPA, an Administration & Finance officer Finances and the Project Management Unit responsible for implementation of Greater Addo World Bank project.
  2. Scientific Services is part of the Arid Ecosystems Research Unit (AERU) and is staffed by an Animal Ecologist responsible for the large mammal monitoring and research, a Rehabilitation Ecologist who is assessing habitat threats and rehabilitation requirements and a Landscape Ecologist who interested in spatial processes linking biological and physical aspects across landscapes. AERU as a unit is reponsible for providing the scientific input into park managment through research, monitoring and planning processes. The unit focuses their attention on the following parks; Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra, Karoo, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, Augrabies Falls, Kgalagadi, Vaalbos, Golden Gate and shares responsibility with the Scientific Services teams of Rondevlei and Skukuza for the inputs into Tankwa Karoo, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Agulhas, Marakele and Mapungubwe. AERU has assigned principle scientists to each park responsible for coordinating the ongoing research and monitoring activities both from within SANParks as well as from outside institutions.

Please see here to find out how Scientific Services is staffed.


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Research & Monitoring

Published Literature

The Addo elephants are probably the world's most comprehensively recorded elephant population. Elephant research began in earnest in 1976 when Dr. Anthony Hall-Martin researched the Addo elephant population. In this study he built up a complete photographic identification file for the population (a total of 96 elephants in May 1978), documented the sex, estimated age, and developmental status of all individuals, and kept records of births and deaths within the population. Additionally, notes were kept on observed association patterns and social behaviour.

Further intensive research began in 1996 when Anna Whitehouse identified, named and compiled photographic identification files of all elephants. When Anna completed her work in 2001 she had identified 325 individuals. This identification work continues as a component of other projects currently being undertaken on the elephant by the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit (TERU) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Association patterns were observed to determine which elephants belonged to which family group and which calves belonged to which cows. Maternal family trees dating back to the creation of the park in 1931 were reconstructed using photographs and written records. Other factors investigated included ranging behaviour, impact on vegetation and population genetics and paternity. Students from the TERU are currently continuing with elephant research in the park in the Nyati concession area and main camp looking at size sex, and population specific foraging behaviour as well as social organisation within the family groups.

Research funded by the National Science Foundation in the USA determines how elephant use chemical signals to communicate. A number of projects have already been completed at Masters level. Research includes topics such as determining if adult male African elephants discern between receptive and non-receptive urine from cycling female African elephants, which would suggest the presence of a pheromone that signals sexual readiness.

Researchers from the University of Oldenburg in Germany have studied the breeding colony of the Southern Red Bishop bird since 1993 in terms the environmental factors that influence the breeding success of the population, as well as factors influencing reproductive success of individuals. Reproductive behaviour and sexual selection of breeding males are key focal areas in this research. Territories, pair bonds, number of eggs per nest and number of fledglings are recorded. This research has mostly been conducted at the wetland area near reception.

Black rhino research has included research funded by the San Diego Zoological Society to determine how black rhino use chemical signals to communicate, specifically by means of olfactory reception will hopefully shed light on how this species adapts to new environments after translocation into areas with or without resident rhino. Another TERU project focuses on the different browse strata used by black rhino; the effect that elephants have on rhino habitats and the competition between elephant and black rhino in terms of feeding. The implications of such interspecific interactions are likely to affect how the species are managed in future.

SANParks own rehabilitation ecologist, Ayanda Sigwela was recently awarded his Ph.D. in Zoology and conducted research in Addo that investigated the ecosystem services associated with transformed and untransformed thicket using forage value and seed dynamics as indicators of such services. Ayanda currently works within the Arid Ecosystems Research Unit based in Port Elizabeth.

Following the inclusion of the Alexandria dune field and Bird and St. Croix island groups into the park there are also a number of projects that monitor the populations of seabirds and marine fish and mammals in Algoa Bay.

Most recently, new research projects have begun on the newly introduced large predators (lion and spotted hyena) in the park. A post-doctoral researcher affiliated to the TERU is looking at their behaviour, diet, social interactions and habitat use while AERU researchers are investigating the prey response in terms of behaviour and habitat use to the release of the predators.

Monitoring of the ecological parameters within national parks is an integral part of park management. Monitoring effort is usually focused on the vegetation communities and large mammal components as it is felt that these will act as surrogates for many species, habitats and processes that cannot be monitored as easily.

Annual total count aerial helicopter surveys of all large mammal species has been carried out in the AENP since 1978. Additional surveys are also undertaken to monitor the performance of threatened species such as the black rhino. These surveys were largely restricted to the original elephant camp that has grown slowly over the years but recently these surveys have been expanded to include the Greater Addo sections such as Darlington Dam, Zuurberg and Nyati.

Additional monitoring activities include assessing the population status of African black oystercatchers along the stretch of sandy beach between the Sundays River mouth and Wood Cape, as well as vegetation monitoring programmes that have been initiated to look at the long terms structural chances using aerial photography.

Research:

  • Lombard, A.T., Johnson, C.F., Cowling, R.M. & Pressey, R.L. 2001. Protecting plants from elephants: botanical reserve scenarios within the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 102: 191-203.
  • Knight, M.H., Kshatriya, M., Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Nicholls, A.O. & Hall-Martin, A.J. 2001. Evaluating herbivore extinction probabilities in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology 36(1): 13-22.
  • Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G., McLachlan, A. & Winter, P.E.D. 1998. Recomendations for the conservation and management of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the Algoa Bay region, South Africa. Koedoe 41(2): 121-129.
  • Landman, M. & Kerley, G.I.H. 2001. Dietary shifts: do grazers become browsers in the Thicket Biome? Koedoe 44(1): 31-36.
  • Woodd, A.M. 1999. A demographic model to predict future growth of the Addo elephant population. Koedoe 42(1): 79-100.
  • Paley, R.G.T. & Kerley, G.I.H. 1998. The winter diet of elephant in Eastern Cape Subtropical Thicket, Addo Elephant National Park. Koedoe 41(1): 37-46.
  • Castley, J.G., Bruton, J-S., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. The importance of seed dispersal in the Alexandria Coastal Dunefield, South Africa. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 57-70.
  • Castley, J.G., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. Biotic processes in a coastal dunefield: an assessment of seed removal, with non-native seed removal experiments. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 49-56.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.C. 2001. Post-bottleneck genetic diversity of elephant populations in South Africa, revealed using microsatellite analysis. Molecular Ecology 10: 2139-2149.
  • Whitehouse, A.M., Hall-Martin, A.J. & Knight, M.H. 2001. A comparison of methods used to count the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park. African Journal of Ecology 39: 140-145.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Hall-Martin, A.J. (2000) Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa: reconstruction of the population's history. Oryx 34: 46-55.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. (2002) Tusklessness in the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology 257: 249-254.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Irwin, P.R. (2002) A field guide to the Addo elephants. International Fund for Animal Welfare / Rhodes University Environmental Education Unit, Port Elizabeth
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Kerley, G.I.H. (in press) Retrospective assessment of long-term conservation management of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Oryx.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.H. (in press) Paternity in the Addo elephant population, south Africa. Is a single male monopolising matings? African Zoology
  • Whitehouse, A.M. & Schoeman, D.S. (in press) Ranging behaviour of elephants within a small, fenced area in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology.
  • Whitehouse, A.M. (2001) The Addo elephants: conservation biology of a small, closed population. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth.

Contact Details / Enquiries:

Dr. Matt Hayward is studying the newly introduced lions. The Southern Red Bishop has been the subject of more than 10 years of research in the park.

RECENT PUBLISHED LITERATURE back to top

Lombard, A.T., Johnson, C.F., Cowling, R.M. & Pressey, R.L. 2001. Protecting plants from elephants: botanical reserve scenarios within the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 102: 191-203.

Knight, M.H., Kshatriya, M., Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Nicholls, A.O. & Hall-Martin, A.J. 2001. Evaluating herbivore extinction probabilities in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology 36(1): 13-22.

Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G., McLachlan, A. & Winter, P.E.D. 1998. Recomendations for the conservation and management of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the Algoa Bay region, South Africa. Koedoe 41(2): 121-129.

Landman, M. & Kerley, G.I.H. 2001. Dietary shifts: do grazers become browsers in the Thicket Biome? Koedoe 44(1): 31-36.

Woodd, A.M. 1999. A demographic model to predict future growth of the Addo elephant population. Koedoe 42(1): 79-100.

Paley, R.G.T. & Kerley, G.I.H. 1998. The winter diet of elephant in Eastern Cape Subtropical Thicket, Addo Elephant National Park. Koedoe 41(1): 37-46.

Castley, J.G., Bruton, J-S., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. The importance of seed dispersal in the Alexandria Coastal Dunefield, South Africa. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 57-70.

Castley, J.G., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. Biotic processes in a coastal dunefield: an assessment of seed removal, with non-native seed removal experiments. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 49-56.

Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.C. 2001. Post-bottleneck genetic diversity of elephant populations in South Africa, revealed using microsatellite analysis. Molecular Ecology 10: 2139-2149.

Whitehouse, A.M., Hall-Martin, A.J. & Knight, M.H. 2001. A comparison of methods used to count the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park. African Journal of Ecology 39: 140-145.

Whitehouse, A.M. & Hall-Martin, A.J. (2000) Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa: reconstruction of the population's history. Oryx 34: 46-55.

Whitehouse, A.M. (2002) Tusklessness in the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology 257: 249-254.

Whitehouse, A.M. & Irwin, P.R. (2002) A field guide to the Addo elephants. International Fund for Animal Welfare / Rhodes University Environmental Education Unit, Port Elizabeth

Whitehouse, A.M. & Kerley, G.I.H. (in press) Retrospective assessment of long-term conservation management of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Oryx.

Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.H. (in press) Paternity in the Addo elephant population, south Africa. Is a single male monopolising matings? African Zoology

Whitehouse, A.M. & Schoeman, D.S. (in press) Ranging behaviour of elephants within a small, fenced area in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology.

Whitehouse, A.M. (2001) The Addo elephants: conservation biology of a small, closed population. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth.

Contact details / Enquiries:
Dr Ayanda Sigwela
Tel: +27(0)41 508 5411
E-mail: asigwela@upe.ac.za

Dr. Matt Hayward is studying the newly introduced lions

The Southern Red Bishop has been the subject of more than 10 years of research in the park


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Greater AENP Project

SANParks as the country's premier conservation organisation has been mandated by the national government to expand South Africa's protected areas from the present 6% to 8% of the country's surface area and up to 20% from 2% of the coastline by 2010.

This has entailed a shift in conservation philosophy from one of preservationism to an ecosystem-focused approach incorporating the interwoven ecological patterns and processes concepts. National parks as megabiodiversity repositories primarily serve conservation purposes, but also have an enormous potential for economic development, so much so that when fully developed they should be viewed as an asset and not a liability to South African society. In meeting both conservation and socio-economic obligations SANParks is attempting to address the issue of conserving a healthy environment, thus combining the objectives of restitution with conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. One such project is the greater Addo Elephant National Park project (GAENP).

GAENP planning process

SANParks initiated a planning process in 2000 to investigate the expansion of the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This region is biologically diverse and presents an excellent opportunity for expanding the South African protected area network.

The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) focused on ecological and socio-economic analyses required to drive the implementation process. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was commissioned to consolidate existing data to facilitate the development of a strategic conservation plan for the expansion project.

This section summarises these activities over the past three years and presents milestones that have already been achieved in terms of implementation and the road ahead.

Objectives:

  • To guarantee the long-term conservation of the regions unique biodiversity, patterns and processes through expansion.
  • To reduce critical threats facing the park.
  • Efficient & effective management.
  • To promote a sustainable & inclusive "eco-tourism" industry.
  • To promote capacity building in neighbouring communities and institution.

Potential:

  • To expand to 270 000 ha, exclusive of a 120 000 ha Marine Protected Area.
  • To conserve elements of 5 of South Africa's 7 biomes.
  • The first National Park to boast of the Big 7 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, Southern right whale & great white shark).
  • A disease (malaria) free ecotourism destination.
  • Economic development in impoverished Eastern Cape region.
  • The gateway to the Garden Route.

Socio-economics: It was soon clear that the implementation of the conservation plan for the region needed to be overlaid within the socio-economic environment. As part of the SEA, a number of specialist studies sought to consolidate the information from the socio-economic environment in order to identify areas where SANParks could improve or initiate action. The impact of the gAENP, especially in terms of land purchase, resettlement, cultural heritage and the creation of job opportunities on the region was assessed.

Findings and subsequent actions include:

  • Ecotourism could create 4 times as many jobs as currently in agriculture.
  • The gAENP could generate as many as 1500 additional jobs, contractual jobs through Poverty Relief and Working for Water.
  • Expanded opportunities for especially the farm workers through capacity building. A detailed capacity building programme will be initiated in 2005.
  • A Resettlement Action Plan and Policy Framework, a first for SANParks and regarded by the World Bank as Best Practice, was developed to plan for the future of the farm workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the gAENP.
  • The park plays a major role in the region's economic development, especially through ecotourism. Already various numbers of B&Bs and associated activities had sprouted in the Sunday's River Valley. The University of Potchefstroom is currently conducting a desk-top study to ascertain precisely what AENP's impact is on the region's economy.
  • The park plays a major role in development projects in accordance with the affected municipalities' Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).
  • Continued communication through the Addo Planning Forum with relevant stakeholders, including government departments, local municipalities, business, tourism, local communities, farmers and farm workers goes a long way in dispelling fears about the project.

Since 2000, the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) has been undergoing a process of expansion. New land purchase has been made possible by funds from the government and overseas donors. This process as well as the rehabilitation and fencing of the new land, is still underway.

The process of expansion began in 1997, when the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit at the University of Port Elizabeth published a report: "A proposal for a Greater Addo National Park" (Kerley & Boshoff, 1997) calling for the amalgamation of the AENP and the Woody Cape Nature Reserve and further expansion into the surrounding areas to stimulate sustainable development and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.

In 2000, a proposal was made to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for funding for planning and implementation of the Greater Addo Project. In 2001, the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) approved the expansion principle.

With funding from GEF, a detailed research process took place in order to determine which land should ideally be included in the AENP. A Conservation Planning Framework identified the land classes in the proposed area and then took into account factors such as ecological processes, potential threats and vulnerability of each land class, as well as conservation targets for populations of fauna.

Money for the purchase of land comes from the Park Development Fund. This is an internal cost centre where funds are generated through the sale of wildlife assets, DEAT and donors. It is also the first time in many years that central government has allocated funds for land purchase to expand national parks.

Land purchase always occurs on a willing buyer - willing seller principle. In some cases, a landowner's land inside the AENP area is exchanged for land outside the AENP area (i.e. SANParks purchases the land outside the area in order to exchange it). SANParks can invoke the right to compel a landowner to sell land but this has never occurred within the history of purchase of land for the AENP and SANParks avoids this situation at all costs.

SANParks is compelled by law to look after the interests of any workers who are affected by the land purchase. Consultants were engaged to track down and create a database of all workers who were affected by SANParks' purchase of land since 1997. SANParks must ensure that all these workers have the same or better housing, salary and benefits (e.g. rations, right to keep livestock on land etc.). Either the worker moves to a new farm with the original landowner or SANParks must give the worker employment - permanent or, if this is not available, contractual.

Once land has been purchased, the process of rehabilitating the land must begin. Since 2000, SANParks has received R55 million from the government (DEAT) for this purpose. This money was given through a Poverty Relief programme, which employs previously unemployed people from local communities in a two-year project. During this time, workers undergo training to equip them with skills to help them to secure work after they exit the programme.

Expansions

Recently, the Park has also been expanded by means of public-private contractual partnerships such as River Bend (about 1 000ha) and the Kuzuko Contractual Area (just under 15 000ha). Here, private landowners have signed a long-term contractual agreement with SANParks, bringing private land under the management of the national park. Indigenous wildlife is introduced into the contractual area and it is managed in terms of SANParks conservation policies while the contractual partner operates a tourism business in the area.

The park is currently about 170 000 hectares (one hectare = 100 metres x 100 metres) in size, making Addo Elephant National Park the third largest national park in South Africa, after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It stretches from Woody Cape (between Bushman's River mouth in the east and Sundays River mouth in the west) in the south, moving northwards across the Colchester area (originally known as Olifantsplaat and Vetmaakvlakte), across the original elephant enclosure or Main Game Area, across to the Nyathi Concession area, encompassing a large part of the Zuurberg mountain range, moving westwards, and then northwards across the Zuurberg to the Darlington Dam area and Kuzuko Contractual Area up to the R400 (between Jansenville and Paterson).

The Bird and St. Croix island groups and a small Marine Protected Area around Bird Island, which protects a large variety of marine life, were proclaimed part of the Park in 2005. Bird Island is home the world's largest breeding colony of Cape gannets St Croix Island is home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins.

The expanded park is rich in biodiversity, conserving five of South Africa's nine biomes (Mucina & Rutherford 2006) - namely Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Forest, Nama Karoo and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt. It is also the world's first Big Seven conservation area, home to the traditional Big Five plus the Southern Right whale and Great White shark.

Once the process of expansion is completed, it is envisaged that the park will cover some 240 000 hectares on land with a proposed further 120 000 hectares of marine protected area. Although the Park is divided in places by roads, fences and railways, the long-term goal is to consolidate and expand the Park and link up the sections with corridors to ensure that the Park can be managed in as natural a state as possible.


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Birding in Addo Elephant National Park

Greater Addo's birding opportunity covers excellent habitat contrast between dense thickets of Spekboom interspersed with open grassy areas and wooded kloofs (particularly in the Zuurberg region).

And now that the park has expanded to include areas of Nama-Karoo, coastal dune-fields, coastal islands and the Alexandria Forest , a variety of other habitats swell the birding potential of the park.

In and around the Addo rest camp Karoo and Cape Robin , Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Southern Tchagra and Cape Bunting are prominent, with Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbird also easily found. A trip into the game viewing area will not produce a plethora of birds, but Bokmakierie will once more be prominent, and Martial Eagle, Southern Black Korhaan and Secretarybird may well be seen.

In the wooded kloofs of the Zuurberg, Crowned Eagles breed. Forest species typical of the Eastern Cape , such as Olive Bush Shrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Cape Batis can also be searched for. 

Alexandria Forest has many forest species, such as Knysna Turaco, Black Cuckoo (summer only), Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Chorister Robin and the special of the location, Cape Parrot .

The coastal grasslands south of Alexandria Forest are home to exciting species such as Denham’s Bustard (with impressive displaying during summer) and Black-winged Plover.

The coastal islands have impressive breeding colonies of Cape Gannet and African Penguin.

The Karoo vegetation around Darlington Lake is home to many Karoo endemics such as Pririt Batis, Rufous-eared Warbler and Karoo Chat.

(For more birding information and park bird checklist, go to Information for Birders)

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Mammals

This park offers some of the most spectacular elephant viewing in the world. Addo’s over 450 elephants will delight visitors with their antics.

The park contributes to the conservation of the endangered black rhino with over 48 of these animals occurring here.

The over 400 Cape buffalo are now being seen more often during the day due to the influence of lion reintroduction. This is one of the largest disease-free herds in South Africa.

Six lions were introduced into the park in late 2003 and have adapted well to their new environment. Lions are most often seen in the early morning or on sunset and night drives.

Spotted hyenas were also reintroduced in 2003, fulfilling the same role as lions in restoring the natural balance to the ecosystems in the park by controlling the numbers of herbivores.

Leopard are very seldom seen, being shy and secretive animals, but do occur in most areas of the expanded park.

Antelope species abundant in the main game area of the park include red hartebeest, eland, kudu and bushbuck.

The Burchell’s zebra, many with the pale rumps reminiscent of the extinct qwagga, occur in the park.

Warthogs are abundant.

The rare flightless dung beetle is king of the road in Addo, with signs warning visitor that this recycling machine has right of way. The beetles are only seen when conditions are not too hot and not too cold and play an important role in recycling nutrients and helping the growth of thicket vegetation.

The outlying areas of the park have very different animals on offer:

  • Zuurberg mountain range is home to the Cape mountain zebra, mountain reedbuck, baboons, blue duiker, aardwolf and red rock rabbit.
  • Hippos are found in the Sundays River which flows at the base of these mountains. Endemics such as the red fin minnow and yellowfish are found in the tributaries of the river.

Gemsbok, black wildebeest, springbok, buffalo and black rhino are found in the arid nama-karoo around the Darlington Dam area. Once this area has been consolidated, cheetah and wild dog will be introduced.

The coastal forest is home to bushbuck, bushpig, brown hyena and the rare tree dassie.


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Vegetation

The park encompasses five of South Africa’s nine biomes:

Albany Thicket in the original Addo section (also in the Kabouga, Colchester, Nyathi section), Fynbos in the Zuurberg section, Forest in the Woody Cape area and Zuurberg section, Nama Karoo in the Darlington section and Kuzuko Contractual Area of the Park and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt on the seaward side containing remarkable display of coastal dunes and coastal grassy plains.

Albany Thicket Biome

Fynbos Biome

Forest Biome

Nama-Karoo Biome

Indian Ocean Coastal Belt

References

  • Low, A.B. & Rebelo, A.G. (eds.) 1996. Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Pretoria.
  • Mucina, L. & Rutherford, M.C. (eds.) 2006. The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Vlok, J.H.J & Euston-Brown, D.I.W. 2002. Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Planning Project (STEP). Biological Survey Report (plants and birds). Report, Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit, Univ. of Port Elizabeth.
  • Von Maltitz, G., Mucina, L., Geldenhuys, C.J., Lawes, M., Eeley, H., Adie, H., Vink, D., Fleming, G. & Bailey, C. 2003. Classification system for South African indigenous forests: An objective classification for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Report ENV-P-C 2003-017, Environmentek, CSIR, Pretoria.

Information above compiled by: ME Daemane & H Bezuidenhout, CSD, Kimberley, May 2009

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Reptiles

Species List

Common Name
Scientific Name Status
Snakes
   
Cape cobra
Naja nivea  
Puffadder
Bitis arietans  
Albany adder
Bitis albanica very rare
Night adder
Causes rhombeatus  
Bergadder
Bitis atropos  
Horned adder
Bitis cornuta  
Boomslang
Dispholidus typus  
Rinkhals
Hemachatus hemachatus  
Herald/Red-lipped snake
Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia  
Olive house snake
Lamprophis inornatus  
Night snake
Lamprophis aurora  
Brown house snake
Lamprophis fuliginosus fuliginosus  
Speckled house snake
Homoroselaps lacteus  
Wolf snake
Lycophidion capense  
Spotted harlequin snake
Philothamnus semivariegatus  
Speckled bush snake
Bitis atropos  
Green water snake
Philothamnus hoplogaster  
Natal green watersnake
Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis  
Shovel-nosed snake
Prosymna sundevalli  
Mole snake
Pseudapsis cana  
Slugeater
Duberria lutrix lutrix  
Common eggeater
Dasypeltis scabra scabra  
Dappled sandsnake
Psammophis notosticus  
Crossmarked sandsnake
Psammophis crucifer  
Black-bellied watersnake
Lycodonomorphus laevissimus  
Common/Red-bellied watersnake
Lycodonomorphus rufulus  
Tortoises/terrapins    
Angulate tortoise
Chersina angulata  
Leopard tortoise
Geochelone pardalis  
Green parrot-beaked tortoise
Homopus areolatus  
Marsh/Helmeted terrapin
Pelomedusa subrufa  
Tent tortoise
Psammobates tentorius  
Lizards/geckoes/skinks    
Rock Monitor Lizard/Leguaan
Varanus niloticus niloticus  
Water Monitor Lizard/Leguaan
Varanus exanthematicus albigularis  
Tasman's Girdled Lizard
Cordylus tasmani  
Cape Girdled Lizard
Cordylus cordylus  
Southern Rock Agama
Agama atra  
Burrowing Skink
Scelotes anguina  
Golden Legless Skink
Acontias meleagris orientalis  
Tasman's Burrowing Skink
Acontias percivali tasmani  
Slendertailed Legless Skink
Acontias gracilicauda gracilicauda  
Smith's Striped Skink
Mabuya homalocephala smithii  
Cape Skink
Mabuya capensis  
Common Skink
Mabuya varia  
Striped Skink
Mabuya striata  
Cape Grass Lizard
Chamaesaura anguina  
Marico Gecko
Pachydactylus mariquensis mariquensis  
Spotted Gecko
Pachydactylus maculatus maculatus  
Essex's Leaf-toed Gecko
Goggia essexi  
Peringuey's Gecko
Phyllodactylus peringueyi  
Puffadder Gecko
Phyllodactylus maculatus  
Common Cape Gecko
Phyllodactylus capensis  
Smith's Dwarf Chameleon
Microsaura taenibroncha  
Gray's Dwarf Chameleon
Microsaura ventralis  
Dwarf Chameleon
Bradypodion ventralis  

Please note: this list is not comprehensive and may not include all species of reptiles found in the park. The list includes reptiles found in the main game area.

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Amphibians

Species List

Common Name

Scientific Name

Common platanna

Xenopus laevis

Karoo toad

Bufo gariepensis

Raucous toad

Bufo rangeri

Leopard/Giant toad

Bufo pardalis

African bullfrog

Pyxicephalus adspersus

Common river frog

Rana angolensis

Cape/Giant riverfrog

Rana fuscigula

Striped rana

Rana fasciata

Clicking stream frog

Rana grayi

Bubbling kassina/Running frog

Kassina senegalensis

Southern/rattling kassina

Kassina wealii

Common caco/Dainty frog

Cacosternum boettgeri

Coastal/Bronze caco

Cacosternum nanum nanum

Striped pyxie

Tomopterna delalandii

Puddle frog

Phrynobatrachus natalensis

Painted reed frog

Hyperolius marmoratus

Yellow-striped reed frog

Hyperolius semidiscus

Armoured reed frog

Hyperolius viridiflavus

Bushveld rain frog

Breviceps adspersus pentheri


Please note: this list is not comprehensive and may not include all species of amphibians found in the park. The list includes amphibians found in the main game area.


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Geology

The Addo Elephant National Park encompasses a unique and complex bit of earth history covering about the last 500 million years. This includes the more recent events during the evolution of planet Earth, which is estimated to be about 4,5 billion years old.

Before we start, one must remember that we live on a dynamic planet, which is permanently changing and evolving. The earth has a radius of about 6300 km and is covered by a 40 km thick crust. The surface crust is continuously being driven by convection currents in the underlying mantle. This causes the crustal plates (continents and oceans) to move relative to each other, a process called “continental drift”. Crustal plates can drift (float) from the warmer tropics to the colder pole regions, all the time changing the way in which a landscape evolves. The combination of earth processes and climatic conditions has a significant impact on the final landscape appearance.

The Oldest Rocks – Peninsula Formation Quartzitic Sandstone

The easiest way to describe the geological evolution of the Park is to start with the oldest rocks and work our way towards the present. Our story begins when Africa was joined to a number of other continents to form a super continent called “Pangea”. We (South Africa) were stuck in the middle of this land mass and our landscape was, therefore, very different to what one sees today.

The oldest rocks encountered in the Park occur as small islands in Algoa Bay. The Bird Island complex comprises Black Rock, Stag, Seal and Bird Islands and occurs about 10 km south of the Woody Cape cliffs. These rocky islands are made up of quartzitic sandstone of the Peninsula Formation, which forms part of the Table Mountain Group, which in turn forms part of the Cape Supergroup. This is the same formation that occurs along the Port Elizabeth beachfront (Summerstrand) and on Table Mountain in Cape Town.

The Peninsula Formation rocks were formed about 500 million years ago (during the Ordovician Period) in a shallow marine beach environment. A large trough (basin) developed within the Gondwana landmass due to tectonic (crustal plate movement) activity. This basin filled with silica-rich sands, which have re-cemented to form relatively pure (clean) quartzitic sandstone. Quartzitic sandstone is very hard and forms the very prominent landscapes in the Eastern Cape Province. The Cockscomb Peak in the Groot Winterhoekberge is an excellent example of how weathering-resistant quartzitic sandstone is relative to the surrounding, softer bedrock material.

Witteberg Group Rocks

A gap in the geological record of about 100 million years occurs to the next geological unit (this gap is referred to as an “unconformity”). The Witteberg Group rocks of the Cape Supergroup comprise quartzitic sandstone, sandstone and shale and were deposited about 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period. These rock types make up the Zuurberg mountain range to the north of the existing Addo Elephant National Park. Witteberg Group rocks have been grouped into two smaller subgroups, the lowermost one referred to as the Lake Mentz Subgroup and the upper unit called the Kommadagga Subgroup. Both of these stratigraphic units were named after places from the Eastern Cape Province. The Lake Mentz area is now called Darlington Dam.

The Devonian Period coincides with the evolution of the first land plants and marine fish. These would have both been fairly primitive specimens, with the zoological record dominated by marine invertebrates. The Witteberg Group was deposited in a tidal flat environment. The quartzitic sandstone and sandstone rock types would have been deposited in the intertidal zone, where clean sands were being reworked by marine action. The darker (and softer) shale was formed within the mudflat environment.

Glacial Dwyka Group Tillite

A very significant marker horizon occurs on top of the Witteberg Group rocks. During the Carboniferous Period (about 300 million years ago), Africa (as part of Pangea) was located at much higher latitudes and experienced colder climatic conditions. Southern Africa, as we know it today, was an ice sheet dominated by glaciers during these times. These ice sheets migrated towards the south and south-west from what is today Zimbabwe and Botswana. En route these ice sheets ripped up pieces of rock from the floor of the glacier and carried a multitude of rock types over thousands of kilometres.

Inevitably, the continents moved to warmer latitudes, resulting in climatic warming. The ice sheets began to melt and released all of the rock material that had been consumed by the glacial fronts. In modern glaciers, the dumping of material from retreating glaciers is called “terminal moraine”. This terminal moraine during the Carboniferous Period became cemented to form a rock type called “tillite”. Tillite is a grey-brown, fine-grained rock mass with numerous small foreign clasts of various rock types and colours. Many of the clasts are polished (have a smooth surface) due to the friction when they were picked up by the moving ice sheets.

The tillite deposits in our end of the world are referred to as the Dwyka Group rocks of the Karoo Supergroup. The Dwyka Group occurs as a horizontal band along the northern edges of the Zuurberg mountain range and along the southern shores of Darlington Lake. This lithological horizon is an indicator horizon, which separates the Cape Supergroup rocks to the south and the Karoo Supergroup rocks to the north. Dwyka Group rocks are fairly easy to spot in the veld, as they weather to form an irregular landscape that looks like tombstones – so called “tombstone weathering”.

Ecca and Beaufort Sediments of the Karoo Supergroup

The Dwyka Group is overlain by the Ecca and Beaufort Group rocks, of the Karoo Supergroup. These rock types occur in the Darlington Dam area, in the northern part of the Greater Addo Elephant National Park and cover a period of between about 250 and 300 million years (Permian Period). The Karoo landscape represents a significant climatic warming after the Dwyka glaciation. Karoo Supergroup sediments were deposited into a large inland sea (with an inlet where present day East London is), with northwards flowing rivers depositing sediment into a massive basin that extends into Zimbabwe and Botswana. The huge mountain ranges to the south of the Karoo Basin were probably larger than the present day Himalayas and were undoubtedly the source of all the sediments that form the present day Karoo landscape.

The Ecca Group sediments were deposited in a marine origin within the inland Karoo Sea. This stratigraphic unit comprises sandstone, shale and mudstone. Interestingly, the Ecca coincides with the evolution of large forests (conifers) and the first reptiles. The large forests gave rise to the significant coal reserves that occur in the eastern part of South Africa at present. Some of the smaller formations within the Ecca Group were named after places within the Eastern Cape Province. These include the Ripon Formation (named after a railway siding south of Cookhouse) and the Waterford Formation (named after a village south-east of Jansenville.

The Beaufort Group depositionary history represents a change from marine to fluvial (riverine) environments. The Beaufort landscape was characterised by large meandering river channels in a fairly flat land surface. The climate would have been fairly hot, with terrestrial vegetation restricted to a narrow green belt along the riparian habitats flanking the drainage channels. The remainder of the Karoo landscape would probably have been fairly dry and arid. Only the Koonap Formation of the Beaufort Group occurs within the boundaries of the Park, around the northern fringes of Darlington Dam.

Beaufort Group rocks are very important from an anthropological point of view. Beaufort times are characterised by the emergence of the mammal-like-reptiles, which are the precursors to the dinosaurs. These animals comprised both carnivores and herbivores and dominated the Beaufort landscape during the Permian Period.

Mesozoic Algoa Basin

The Mesozoic Algoa Basin represents a very significant geological event along the south-eastern coast of southern Africa. The Algoa Basin extends along the Algoa Bay coastline from Bethelsdorp in the south-west to the Sundays River mouth in the north-east. It probably extends even further beneath the surface cover material to the Woody Cape cliffs area. It extends inland along what is called a “panhandle” to the Erekroonspoort area, about 25 km east of Jansenville.

Towards the end of the Triassic (about 230 million years ago) the Pangea mega-continent began to break apart. Two new super continents began to form, namely the northern Laurasia and the southern Gondwana. The compressional stresses associated with splitting of the land masses caused the folding of the Cape Supergroup rocks along the southern margin of southern Africa, to form what is today known as the Cape Fold Belt. The further break up of Gondwana into Africa, South America and a host of other land masses also resulted in the formation of half-graben faults along the south-eastern margin of the present-day coastline. These half-graben faults formed deep basins, which subsequently began to fill with sediments.

The breaking up of the continental land mass initially resulted in what we call Suurberg volcanics. These are extrusive (igneous rocks that flow across the surface) rocks derived from great depth and associated with volcanic activity due to crustal tectonics. The resulted Suurberg Group rocks comprise basalt, tuff, and breccia. The Suurberg Group is made of the Coerney and Slagboom Formations (named after a river about 25 km east of Kirkwood) and a farmstead about 17 km north-east of Kirkwood, respectively. The Suurberg Group is named after the Zuurberg mountain range. An excellent basaltic outcrop occurs in a small quarry to the north-east of Tembani, within the Nyathi Concession area.

During the Jurassic Period (about 140 to 190 million years ago) torrential streams eroded the quartzitic sandstone highlands and deposited extensive boulder beds and gravels. The resultant red-coloured conglomeritic Enon Formation (named after the small village of Enon to the north of Port Elizabeth) is a very prominent horizon along the southern foothills of the Zuurberg Mountain range. The Mimosa quarry to the north-west of the Mimosa farmstead is an excellent outcrop of the Enon Formation conglomerate. The quarry was apparently used to source the quartzitic sandstone material used to construct many of the gravel roads within the present Addo Elephant National Park.

The Kirkwood Formation sedimentation began towards the end of the Jurassic Period (about 140 to 150 million years ago). The Kirkwood Formation represents an accumulation of fine-grained sediments under fluvial conditions. The resultant mudstone and subordinate sandstone also contains foliage and wood fossils. The fluvial deposition began to filled the Algoa Basin and was followed by marine ingression to form the Sundays River Formation. The Sundays River Formation contains numerous marine fossils, such as ammonites, belemnites, bivalves and gastropods (shells). From oldest to youngest, the Enon, Kirkwood and Sundays River Formation are collectively referred to as the Uitenhage Group.

Extensive oil exploration was undertaken throughout the Uitenhage Group rocks during the 1960’s by Soekor (South African Oil Exploration Corporation). It was during this exploration exercise that the highly visible cut-lines were cleared throughout the Addo region and today represent highly disturbed transects within the Valley Thicket. It is interesting to note that some of the exploratory boreholes in the Colchester area proved Algoa Group sediments in excess of 2 km. These oil exploration drives apparently revealed minor, but insignificant, reserves of oil and gas.

Interestingly, local press releases during the first quarter of 2003 stated that oil exploration had recommenced within the Mesozoic Algoa Basin. This may prove successful if one considers that the economically viable reserves encountered in the Mossel Bay area (Mossgas) is derived from very similar geological environments.

The northern part of the present Park (including the rest camp) is underlain by sediments of the Sundays River Formation. Further to the south, the Park is underlain by sediments of the Kirkwood Formation. These formations appear very similar in surface outcrop and generally comprise reddish and greenish-grey coloured mudstone, which weathers to reveal a very slippery, clayey material when wet. This material is also very problematic from a construction point of view, as it swells when it gets wet. Much structural damage has been caused to dwellings in the region, where inadequate precautionary measures have been taken when building. The Addo brickfields used to use the clays of the Kirkwood Formation to make clay bricks.

Tertiary Alexandria Formation

By the end of the Cretaceous Period (about 80 million years ago), the present configuration of the Southern African coastline was established. The evolution of the landscape from this time onwards was dictated to to a large extent by fluctuating sea-levels. You will understand that climatic cooling results in more seawater freezing in the polar regions, which will correspond with a dropping of global sea level. By the same token, sea level rise will be associated with global warming.

One such sea level rise from about 20 to 2 million years ago, resulted in the flooding of the Eastern Cape coastline to form the marine Alexandria Formation. This formation has deposited 10’s of kilometres inland of the present coastline and has resulted in a fairly level wave-cut platform. These levels occur in about three different heights (each representing a different sea level), each formed during a still-stand followed by further lowering of sea level. The maximum landward extent of the raised sea level resulted in the development of the Grassridge Platform, which occurs at heights of 245 - 320 metres above mean sea level. The shoreline of this sea level curved inland from the vicinity of Port Elizabeth to Paterson and Port Alfred. Under the water of the fluctuating sea levels, were deposited the sediments of the Alexandria Formation.
The lower Coega Platform occurs further seawards, at an average height of about 200 metres above mean sea level. This Platform ends inland against a former cliff line that is exposed near the N2 highway in the vicinity of the Coega salt pans, between Colchester and Port Elizabeth.

The Alexandria Formation near Colchester would form part of the Coega Platform, whilst the same formation within the Addo Elephant Park near Addo Heights, would form part of the older Grassridge Platform.

The Tertiary Alexandria Formation generally attains a maximum thickness of about 13 metres near Colchester and comprises calcareous sandstone, coquinite (cemented shell-rock) and quartzitic sandstone gravel. The Tertiary Period (65 to 2 million years ago) also coincides with the rise of the mammals. Dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period (about 65 million years ago) and small quadrupeds and flowering plants dominated the landscape.

The Alexandria Formation is easily discernable within the current Addo Elephant National Park and stands out as a white-coloured band near the upper portions of the hills. The best outcrop within the Park would be at the Zuurkop Lookout, where this material was previously mined to produce the white coloured material used to surface the gravel road in this part of the Park. In 3-D it should be remembered that this formation represents a fairly flat sea-level deposit, so it extrapolates as a thin disk into the landscape beneath the overlying cover material such as at Addo Heights. This cover material is known as the Nanaga Formation in the Park.

Aeolian Nanaga Formation

During each still-stand of sea level, a coastal dunefield was deposited. This process still occurs today along the existing coastline of Algoa Bay. The resultant ancient dunefield cordons formed during the Tertiary Period have been preserved as rolling hills of the Grassridge and Nanaga areas and called the Nanaga Formation. This aeolian (wind deposited) deposit attains thicknesses of up to 250 metres and extends from Paterson in the north, down to Woody Cape in the south.

This formation obviously gets progressively younger towards the coast, as the sea level receded. The formation generally comprises semi- to well-consolidated calcareous dune rock (sandstone). A good outcrop would be the road cutting along the N2 highway about 5 km north of the Nanaga intersection. The Nanaga Formation is very prominent as fine-grained red sands, which form the high-lying topography in the Park, such as at Addo Heights.

Recent (Quaternary) Deposits

Recent (the Quaternary Period covers a time scale from about 2 million years ago to present) geological evolution and geomorphologic evolution of our region is highly complex and driven by climatic variation and associated sea level fluctuations. Of interest would be a coastal marine formation called the Salnova Formation. This formation generally occurs at a height of about 20 metres below sea level and comprises calcrete with quartzitic sandstone boulders and shell material. Salnova Formation outcrop occurs near Cannon Rocks, in the extreme eastern part of the proposed Greater Addo Elephant National Park. It also occurs near the Coega River mouth, to the south of the Park.

Another aeolian formation along the coastal zone includes the well-consolidated Nahoon Formation. This calcareous sandstone formation attains thicknesses of up to about 50 metres and has had a significant effect on the weathering rates of the Eastern Cape Province coastline. These aeolianites (dune rock) typically protrude has coastal headlands into the sea, producing Kwaaihoek near Boknes (Diaz Cross), Bushman’s River Mouth, Bats Cave (Great Fish River), Nahoon Point (East London) and Flat Rocks (Port Elizabeth). In the Park, this formation is responsible for the very scenic Woody Cape Cliffs.

The most recent of all geological formations is the aeolian Schelm Hoek Formation. This comprises wind- blown sand adjacent to the present day coastline and is still being deposited at present. The Schelm Hoek Formation is included as the Alexandria dune sea in the south-eastern part of the Park. This formation includes an older generation vegetated dune and a younger generation, non-vegetated sand dune. The migration of non-vegetated Schelm Hoek Formation has been retarded to a certain extent by the infestation of Australian wattle species. This is especially noticeable along the eastern side of the Sundays River mouth.

Geomorphology

The land that rose above the level of the sea that cut the marine platform (Alexandria Formation in the Park) was drained by various rivers. Along these rivers, cycles of erosion worked their way into much of the interior of southern Africa, giving rise to the African Erosion Surface (African Land Surface). This surface exists at different altitudes and developed over the last 100 million years (since the Mid-Cretaceous Period). They are capped by hard silcretes and, in the Park, characterised by Grassy Fynbos vegetation. These African Land Surfaces are clearly visible along the upper reaches of the Zuurberg mountain range in the Park.

The geomorphological evolution of the area included in the Park still continues today. Inland remnants have been preserved for many millions of years, but bear testimony to prolonged but still continuing fluvial (river) processes. The marine processes are still shaping the coastline, be it the deposition of sand in the Alexandria dune sea, or the erosion of the Nahoon Formation along the Woody Cape cliffs.

It should be remembered that all river systems attempt to erode the surrounding landscape down to sea level. Geological processes such as sea level change and tectonic activity prevent this strategy from ever being realised. It is, nevertheless, important to remember that erosion still continues (as does deposition) and the morphology of both the inland and the coastal region continues to evolve.

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Marine & Coastal

The coastal area of Addo Elephant National Park stretches between Sundays River Mouth and Bushman’s River Mouth.

It incorporates the Alexandria Dunefield – the largest (covering approximately 15 800 hectares) and least degraded coastal dunefield in the southern hemisphere. SANParks assumed management of this coastal area in 2002, with its transfer from the provincial conservation department.

Bird Island and St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay were proclaimed as part of Addo Elephant National Park in 2005. Bird Island is part of a group of four islands and is an important breeding place for marine bird species. Bird Island supports the largest breeding colony of Cape gannets in the world (over 160 000 birds) as well as other birds such as African penguins and rare roseate terns. Seal Island (near Bird Island) supports a breeding colony of Cape fur seals. St. Croix Island, nearer to the town of Port Elizabeth, is home to a large breeding colony of African penguins.

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) was proclaimed around Bird Island to protect important marine resources such as abalone (perlemoen). Currently SANParks does not manage this MPA as it falls under the management of Marine & Coastal Management, a department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism.

A larger MPA of an envisaged 120 000 hectares is proposed for Algoa Bay. However, an extensive public participation process will take place to gather issues and concerns of interested and affected parties before an application is made for proclamation of this MPA.

South Africa has five major coastal types that need protection, namely rocky shores, sandy shores, offshore, soft sediments and estuaries. All of these are represented in the AENP marine protected area.

The South African coastline covers a distance of over 3 000 km, more than 80% of which consists of sandy beaches and sand dunes. Other ecosystems include rocky shores, coral reefs, kelp beds and the open sea. Two hundred and seventy of the world's 325 fish families occur in South African waters. The east coast waters are characterised by the warm waters of the southward flowing Agulhas Current, while those of the west coast are characterised by the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela Current.

Along the southwest and south coast, there is an extensive mixing of water masses. The currents influence the composition of the animal and plant communities along this coastline. Sandy beaches consist of an unstable sandy bottom layer that is continually modified by waves and currents, resulting in an absence of plants between the tide marks. Yet, a few animal species have adapted to live in this harsh environment. For example, the plough snail (Bullia sp.) and white mussel (Donax sp.) have adapted by burrowing in the sand. These animals emerge to feed when conditions are relatively mild, or they sit tight in the sand and filter food particles from the seawater with siphons or strainers.

The rocky shores that are scattered along the coastline provide a firm foundation for the attachment of plants and animals, but are exposed twice a day by the tides and are often lashed by a strong wave action. These shores support a great diversity of marine organisms, some of which are commercially significant, for example, mussels, oysters and seaweed.

The intertidal and the subtidal zones provide feeding grounds for many species of fish, some of which are important angling species. In the open sea, there is no firm base, and organisms must either drift or be able to swim. Examples include the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), phytoplankton and zooplankton. The main focus of commercial fisheries is centered in the more productive waters of the southwest and south coasts as these waters have fewer species in greater numbers compared to the east coast waters which are characterised by a greater biotic diversity.


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People with disabilities

Wheelchair Access

Accommodation

Addo Rest Camp:

Cottage (CO2Z)

Accessible to the mobility challenged. This unit features two single beds and a bathroom with a shower. The kitchen is open-plan with a hotplate, microwave, bar fridge and utensils. DSTV (limited channels) is available. The unit has a fan.

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Chalet (CH2/4Z)

Accessible to the mobility challenged. This unit features two single beds, one double sleeper couch (not suitable for two adults) and a bathroom with a shower and a bath. The kitchen is open-plan with a stove, fridge and utensils. The unit has an aircon.

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Matyholweni Rest Camp:

Cottage (CO2Z)

Accessible to the mobility challenged. This open-plan unit features two single beds and a bathroom with a shower. The kitchen is equipped with a microwave, fridge and utensils. DSTV (limited channels) is available. The unit has a fan. Barbeque facilities are also available.

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Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

Accessible Activities & Facilities

  • Discovery trail
    A short walk in the main camp, one loop suitable for wheelchairusers and visually-impaired visitors.
  • SASOL Red Bishop bird hide
    In the main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Waterhole viewpoint
    Floodlit waterhole at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Underground hide
    Underground viewing hide at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
  • Game area picnic site

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Download the birding checklist for Addo Elephant National Park.

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