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Visitor Tips

  1. Book a hop-on-guide at the Game Drives Reception office and enjoy the luxury of a trained guide showing and telling you all about the park in the comfort of your own vehicle.
  2. Hot days at waterholes are best for elephant viewing.
  3. Lions and spotted hyenas are most often seen in the early morning or evening to night time.
  4. A road map of tourist routes within the park will be given to each vehicle upon entering the Park. Additional maps are for sale at the shop. Various information sheets are available at reception.

Where To Stay

Things To See

  1. Lion (found mostly in the southern section of the park)
  2. Herds of elephant at Hapoor dam
  3. The Interpretive Centre at Main Camp
  4. The picturesque Zuurberg Mountain
  5. The rolling sand dunes of the Woody Cape section

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General Information

Accommodation Types

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


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 situated inside the camp and which is floodlit at night, as well as the underground hide, allowing close encounters with wildlife at the waterhole.

View availability at Addo Rest Camp


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

More information on Kabouga

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.

More information on the Luxury Lodges

Matyholweni Rest Camp

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

View availability at Matyholweni

Narina Bush Camp

For a secluded experience in a 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 to access it, a high ground clearance vehicle is needed to travel this road.

View availability at Narina.

Nyathi Rest Camp

Nestled at the foot of the majestic Zuurberg Mountain range and surrounded by hills, Nyathi Rest Camp is the new, exclusive, self-catering addition to the accommodation offering at Addo Elephant National Park. The name of the camp means buffalo, which is something you are sure to see. Each unit has been built on stilts and provides a spectacular view from the bedrooms, lounges and even some bathrooms thanks to wide open glass panels. The seasonal river flowing just beneath the camp brings relief to many animals that are found in this section, be on the lookout for baboons, kudu, warthog and the main star, elephants.

The rest camp consists of eleven units: eight two-sleeping units, one four-sleeper unit and two family units which sleep six each. Each unit is inspired by the African culture with the architecture reflecting the dome styled and thatch homes of old. The décor inside the units takes its cue from the round leaves of the spekboom – which is abundant throughout the park. The copper pipes and taps also give the units a more authentic feel and make you feel right at home.

View availability at Nyathi Rest Camp

Spekboom Tented Rest 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 nearby waterhole, gaze at the starry skies and enjoy simply being away from it all. The tents are located in the fenced area of the Spekboom Hide inside the park's game viewing area.

View availability at Spekboom Tented Camp

Woody Cape

Situated within the magnificent Alexandria Forest, the two Langebos Huts are popular with birders, those who enjoy escaping to a private destination under a canopy of trees and others who just wish to "get away from it all". Prospective visitors with a special interest in botany, trees, ferns and mushrooms will also delight in using this accommodation as their base from where to explore the forest and the coast. They are booked "simultaneously", meaning visitors have the entire camp to themselves - even if they don't book the second hut.

The Umsintsi Cottage - This one of a kind, double story cottage accommodates two people and overlooks the Alexandria Forest in the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park – about one-and-a-half hours from Addo Main Camp. It consists of a fully equipped kitchen with dining facilities downstairs, while the upper level houses the bedroom with a double bed and en suite. A wooden deck provides the perfect vantage point from which to overlook the coral trees below, from which the accommodation gets its name - “Umsintsi” is the isiXhosa name for coral tree. A braai stand is available below the wooden deck on the ground level. Towels and bedding is provided. No additional guests are allowed. Check-in is at the Woody Cape Section office.

The Woody Cape Guesthouse is available to hikers on the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail.

More information on Woody Cape

To view the accommodation prices, refer to Tariffs

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Activities available include:

Activities available at no extra cost (except for entrance fee)

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The following facilities are available at the respective camps:

Addo Rest Camp

Spekboom Tented Camp

Matyholweni Rest Camp

Camp Matyholweni does not have restaurant, shop or swimming pool facilities. Shops, banks, restaurants and fuel station facilities are available in the nearby seaside village of Colchester.

Narina Bush Camp


Kabouga Cottage:

Mvubu Campsite:

Woody Cape

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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 elephant. The great herds of elephant and other animal species had been all but decimated by hunters over the 1700s and 1800s. 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 - who killed 114 elephant 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 2 270 hectares was fenced in. There were 22 elephant in the park 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.

The Alexandria dunefield is home to many archeological sites - the middens of the nomadic 'Strandloper' or '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 and stored their food over vast distances.

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.


The Domkrag Dam in the game viewing area of the park is named after a giant mountain tortoise which once roamed the park. 'Domkrag' is the Afrikaans word for a 'jack', and this tortoise had a peculiar habit of walking underneath 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 Interpretive Centre.


The magnificent elephant head which is mounted in the Interpretive Centre is that of Hapoor, the legendary dominant bull in the park for 24 years. The waterhole in the south western section of the game viewing 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 latter part of the 1960's a few younger bulls reached maturity and challenged Hapoor. These upstarts were unsuccessful until one bull named 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 due to his aggressive nature, it was determined he would have to be shot.

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How to get there

Opening and closing times for gates

The following gates have approximate opening and closing times:

Addo opening and closing times for gates

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 (Reception)
07:00 - 18:30 (Gate)

Please note:

  • Gates to the game areas 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 areas, 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 gates 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.

GPS coordinates


Directions to Addo Elephant National Park:

Directions within the park:


Note: all distances are approximate.

Travel by air

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 cars. A 4x4 vehicle is only necessary if visitors would like to do the Bedrogfontein 4x4 route within the park, while high ground clearance vehicles are needed should guests overnight at Narina Bush Camp.

Vehicle restrictions

Gate Registration & Indemnity Form

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Find us on Google Maps

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Park Maps

Full Addo Map

Click on images to view enlarged maps

Click on images to view enlarged maps

Main Camp

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Camp Matyholweni

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Brochure Map

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4x4 Trail Map

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Addo Main Game Area & Colchester Road Map

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Daily Conservation & Entry Fees

Accommodation & Camping Tariffs

Enquiries should be directed to the Park. This accommodation is associated with the Addo 4x4 Trail


Kabouga Mvubu Camping




max 4 persons per site



Kabouga Cottage




sleeps 6 people



Activity Tariffs

Guided Game Drives:

Type of drive Time of drive Maximum pax Minimum pax Price Per pax
Sunrise 06h00 (summer) 07h00 (winter) 74 2 R365
Morning 09h00 74 2 R365
Midday 12h00 74 2 R365
Afternoon 15h00 74 2 R365
Sundowner 18h00 (summer) 16h00 (winter) 30 2 R500 including snacks & drinks
Night Drive 20h00 (summer) 18h00 (winter) 44 2 390

Hop-on Guides:
Per 2 hour guided on your own vehicle

A normal (sedan) car (4 seater) R210
A minibus (kombi) R310
A bus (18-30 seater) R390
A bus (coach) R550
School group R180

Addo Horse Trails:

Type of ride Time of ride Maximum pax Minimum pax Price per pax
Morning 08h30 (2 hour duration) 7 1 R500
Afternoon 14h00 (2 hour duration) 7 1 R540

Zuurberg Horse Trails:

Type of ride Time of ride Maximum pax Minimum pax Price per pax
One-hour trail 09h00 or 11h00 or 14h00 4 1 R235
Three-hour trail 09h00 or 11h00 4 1 R320
Five-hour trail 09h00 only 4 1 R350
Overnight trail to Narina Bush Camp 09h00 or 11h00 4 2 R620 per horse, per day

4x4 Horse Trail:

R550 per vehicle per day

Alexandria Hiking Trail:

R170 per person per night

General Tariffs Information

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Cattle Baron Grill & Bistro

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 taste-bud tantalising franchised Cattle Baron Restaurant.

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 and venison options for those with a bigger appetite. Renowned for their mouth-watering steaks, the secret of their success lies in the preparation of their meat.

The inside dining area is more formal - with a welcoming bar and warm, dark wood furniture. The large covered deck outside is fitted with picnic-style tables and benches, and creates a more relaxed atmosphere.

Click to view enlarged Click to view enlarged Click to view enlarged Click to view enlarged


Trading Hours:

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.


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.


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

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.



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:

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.


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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This Park offers some of the most spectacular elephant viewing in the world. Addo’s over 600 elephants will delight visitors with their antics.

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:

Species List

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

Albany Thicket in the original Addo section (also in the Kabouga, Colchester and Nyathi sections), 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 displays of coastal dunes and coastal grassy plains.

Albany Thicket Biome

Fynbos Biome

Forest Biome

Nama-Karoo Biome

Indian Ocean Coastal Belt


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

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Species List

Reptiles Species List
Common Name
Scientific Name Status
Cape cobra
Naja nivea  
Bitis arietans  
Albany adder
Bitis albanica very rare
Night adder
Causes rhombeatus  
Bitis atropos  
Horned adder
Bitis cornuta  
Dispholidus typus  
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  
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  
Angulate tortoise
Chersina angulata  
Leopard tortoise
Geochelone pardalis  
Green parrot-beaked tortoise
Homopus areolatus  
Marsh/Helmeted terrapin
Pelomedusa subrufa  
Tent tortoise
Psammobates tentorius  
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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Species List

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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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.

Read more about the geological landscape of Addo Elephant National Park.

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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).

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


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

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Download the birding checklist for Addo Elephant National Park.

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