Eastern Cape National Parks. Discover the hidden treasures of the beautiful Addo to Karoo route visiting Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, Mountain Zebra National Park outside Cradock, Camdeboo National Park which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet and Karoo National Park just outside Beaufort West. Everyone loves a great adventure – and this is exactly what you’ll get on the route between Addo and Karoo – as well as the beauty and tranquility of
Eastern Cape National Parks information in no particular order below.
Camdeboo National Park
Camdeboo National Park was proclaimed as South Africa’s 22nd National Park under the management of South African National Parks on the 30th October 2005, following an extensive process of negotiation and discussion between government, conservation groups, and concerned stakeholders. Elevation to national park status was made possible by the World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa (WWF-SA), which donated the 14 500ha Karoo Nature Reserve to be the centerpiece of the project. The park now covers over 19 000ha.
Valley of Desolation Experience the viewpoints at the valley which provide a breathtaking view of piled dolerite columns against the backdrop of the Great Karoo plains and a timeless sense of wonder at a landscape said to be the product of the erosive and volcanic forces of nature over a period of 200 million years.
From the Toposcope enjoy the unique view of the historic town of Graaff-Reinet, set like a jewel within a horseshoe bend of the Sundays River.
Visitors can explore the area in their own vehicles on gravel tourist roadways.
Birding enthusiasts can delight in spotting at least 225 bird species in the Park. The Khwalimanzi Hide provides an ideal spot for bird watching and game viewing on the floodplains of the Nqweba Dam.
Koedoeskloof 4×4 trail – This 4×4 trail (grade 2 to 3) provides a seven km’s drive to the top of the mountain, providing unique and spectacular views of the landscape.
Driekoppe 4X4 trail – This is a scenic 4×4 trail (grade 2).
The diverse nature of the vegetation and topography of the Park creates a landscape that is well-suited to the interests of hikers.
Eerstefontein day walk – Hikers have a choice of three scenic route options of 5km, 11km and 14km’s, including good picnic sites at Eerstefontein and Agterstefontein.
Picnics in the Park
Three sites placed throughout the Park offer a place for visitors to relax in a natural setting.
The Nqweba Dam, which covers over 1 000 hectares, provides cool relief during hot summer days and a base for a variety of water activities. The level of the Nqweba Dam fluctuates widely as a result of unreliable rainfall; however the dam is used for a variety of water sports. Prior arrangement with the Park’s office is required and your own equipment is needed.
Water sports permitted:
Power-boating, skiing, yachting, canoeing, windsurfing and jet skiing – controlled at the slipway by the Graaff-Reinet Boat Club.
Fishing (with permits) is limited to an angling zone. Angling species which occur in the dam include common carp and African catfish.
Events in Camdeboo National Park
1. Fishing Competition
2. Birding Weekend
3. Snare Hunt
4. Valley by Moonlight
Lakeview tented camp and the Nqweba campsite offer a rustic overnight nature experience on the floodplains of the Nqweba Dam.
Lakeview tented camp
Four tented units sleep two people each. Bedding and towels are provided and each tent has camp chairs, a table, braai unit and fridge. The communal kitchen has stove plates, microwave, kettle, toaster and washbasin. Communal ablutions provide showers and toilets.
Fifteen sites can accommodate caravans or tents with up to six people per site. All sites have power points and braai units while the communal kitchen provides stove plates, microwave, deep freezer and wash basins. There are showers and toilets in communal ablutions with a universally-accessible unit.
The town of Graaff-Reinet offers a wide variety of bed and breakfast and guesthouse accommodation
as well as restaurants, shops and other amenities. Visit the Graaff-Reinet Tourism Office for more information
Camdeboo environmental education centre This centre provides an ideal learning environment for school, tertiary education and nature-based interest groups.
Out and about
Why not explore the quaint and charming Karoo towns nearby the Park? Sample the history and cultural heritage that is cherished in Graaff-Reinet in its museums, antique shops and on township tours. Aberdeen offers historical architecture, art works and restaurants. Nieu-Bethesda is famous for its Owl House, Helen Martins offbeat cement and glass fantasy world. Sample wholesome and creative Karoo cuisine in the restaurants of these towns and enjoy friendly hospitality.
HOW TO GET THERE
Camdeboo National Park surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet on the N9 national road. The Park has three main entrance gates: Lakeview Gate and the Park Reception Office is located on the N9 to Middelburg, 4 km’s out of Graaff-Reinet. The Valley of Desolation Gate and Impangele Gate are located on the R63 to Murraysburg.
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Tel: +27 (0)41 583 2030
Bookings can be made and paid online at www.sanparks.org
No booking is necessary for day visits to the Park.
Conservation fee for day entries is payable at any of the entry gates.
Graaff-Reinet Tourism Office
Tel: +27 49 892 4248
Camdeboo National Park
Tel: +27 49 892 3453 / 6128
Fax: +27 49 8923456
Gate opening times vary from 06h00 to 07h00 depending on the season.
Gate closing times vary from 18h00 to 20h00 depending on the season.
Please check our website or contact the Park office for current times.
The Park was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the last remaining Eastern Cape elephants. The Park was then only 2230 ha in size. Today it covers 180 000 ha and protects five diverse biomes.
Game viewing and birding The game viewing area at Addo Elephant National offers the best elephant viewing in South Africa and a chance to spot the Big 5. The Park has a rich variety of bird life with over 400 species across the expanded Park, while 170 species can be found in the game viewing area. Visitors may use their own vehicles to drive around the game viewing area and experience the thrill and pleasure of seeing many species of wild animals roaming freely in their natural habitat. The only fee payable is the Park entrance/conservation fees.
Hop-on guides provide a guiding service through the Park in the comfort of your own vehicle.
Guided game drives
Take a two-hour guided game drive in an open safari vehicle with a professional guide. Sunrise, morning, day, sunset and night drives are on offer.
Addo guided horse trails
Discover the Park on horseback on two-hour morning or afternoon trails. Zuurberg Mountain guided horse trails. Enjoy fynbos, forest and dramatic views on one- to five-hour horse trails or an overnight trail to Narina
Bedrogfontein 4×4 trail Travel this rugged, scenic 45km’s trail in your own 4×4 vehicle between the Kabouga and Darlington sections in the north-western section of the Park. Stay overnight in rustic overnight accommodation at Kabouga cottage (sleeps six) or at Mvubu campsite in the Kabouga section near the town of Kirkwood.
Alexandria hiking trail – This 32km two-day trail passes through the largest coastal dune field south of the equator, lush indigenous forest and unspoilt coastline.
Woody Cape Tree Dassie trail – The 7km day trail traverses a section of the Alexandria forest.
Zuurberg Mountains – Why not try the one-hour Cycad Trail and three- to four-hour Doringnek Trail?
Access to the coastal area of the Park is either at Sundays River Mouth off the N2 near Colchester where an entry fee is payable through a private caravan park, or a short drive away from the Woody Cape ranger’s offices off the R72 near Alexandria via a walking trail and boardwalk.
Events in or nearby Addo Elephant National Park
1. Addo Elephant trail run
2. Woody Cape mountain bike race
3. Sasol birding weekend
4. mpact MTB Addo race
5. Herald Cycle Tour
6. Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees
7. Annual Addo Rose Festival
ADDO MAIN CAMP is situated off the R335/R342 between the towns of Addo and Paterson and is the main
hub of the Park with a wide variety of accommodation, facilities and activities on offer.
Caravan and camping ground – 30 caravan and tent sites on gravel substrate equipped with an electric point, braai unit, table and bench. A communal kitchen with a freezer and stove tops and communal ablutions (including a universally accessible unit) is available.
Safari tents – sleeps two people, view of game area, with standing fan and communal kitchen and ablutions.
Rondawels – sleeps two people in one room with air-conditioning, with a direct view of a floodlit waterhole and communal kitchen.
Forest cabins – sleeps four people in one room, with air-conditioning and communal kitchen.
Cottages – sleeps two people, with ceiling fan and television.
Chalets with sleeper couch – sleeps two adults and two children in one room with air-conditioning and a view of the game area.
Semi-detached chalets – sleeps two people, with air-conditioning.
Hapoor and Domkrag Guesthouses – sleeps six people in two bedrooms with two bathrooms, a view of a waterhole, with air-conditioning and television.
Universally accessible units are available in chalets and cottages. Full descriptions of accommodation units with photographs and the latest tariffs are available at www.addoelephantpark.com
Facilities at Addo Main Camp
• Lapa for group functions
• Picnic areas
• PPC Discovery trail (Blind and wheelchair friendly)
• Ulwazi Interpretive Centre
• Underground viewing hide and bird hide
• Swimming pool for overnight visitors
• Shop with curios and basic commodities
• Fuel station
SPEKBOOM TENTED CAMP is located inside the wildlife area, 12 km’s from Addo Main Camp. Get up close and personal with nature and experience the sounds of Addo after dark. There is a view of a waterhole from the hide.
CAMP MATYHOLWENI offers cottages and family cottages on the southern side of the Park. It is accessible through the Matyholweni Gate, just three kilometres off the N2 highway near Colchester Village at Sundays River Mouth.
NARINA BUSHCAMP is situated at the foot of the Zuurberg Mountains, providing a secluded and rustic forest getaway on the banks of a mountain stream.
How to get there
Addo Elephant National Park has two main entrances: Southern gate (Matyholweni) is 40km from Port Elizabeth on the N2 and Main gate (Addo Rest Camp) is 72km from Port Elizabeth on the R335.
LUXURY PRIVATE LODGES
For those who prefer a luxury experience of the bush, privately-run five-star lodges within the Addo Elephant
National Park are on offer:
• Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo – Tel +27 (0)44 532 7818
• RiverBend Lodge, Addo – Tel +27 (0)42 233 8000
• Kuzuko Lodge, Northern Section
Tel +27 (0)79 521 7490/1 email@example.com
Online – Check availability, book and pay at
Central reservations – firstname.lastname@example.org
or Tel +27 (0)12 428 9111
Tourism office – email@example.com or
Tel +27 (0)41 583 2030 or +27 (0)41 581 0456
For Addo rest camp, Spekboom tented camp,
Camp Matyholweni and Narina bushcamp:
Note: Accommodation bookings require a deposit to be paid in advance.
For Kabouga cottage and Mvubu campsite:
Bookings – Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8600
Note: Accommodation is paid upon arrival at the Kabouga gate by cash only.
Activities can be booked and paid for on arrival at the Park but advance bookings are advised to avoid disappointment.
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8657
Addo Elephant National Park
Tel: +27 (0) 42 233 8600
Fax: +27 (0) 42 233 8643
Main gate (Addo Rest Camp): 07h00 to 19h00
Southern gate (Matyholweni): 07h00 to 17h00
Rangers offices and access gates: 07h00 to 16h00
Mountain Zebra National Park
The Mountain Zebra National Park, located near Cradock in the Eastern Cape, was proclaimed in 1937 for the purpose of protecting a remnant population of the Cape Mountain Zebra, Equus Zebra. The species was almost on the verge of extinction, with as few as 100 of these animals in existence in 1940. By 1981 the Cape Mountain Zebra population in the MZNP had grown to 200. Recent expansion to over 28 000 ha has allowed the zebra population to increase to over 370 animals. Cheetah were introduced in 2007, becoming the first large predators to roam the Park in over 100 years.
Self-drive game viewing
Enjoy viewing the multitude of wildlife species and beautiful scenery in the Park from the comfort of your own vehicle on tourist roads suitable for all vehicles.
Join knowledgeable guides for a morning or evening guided game drive on an open game viewing vehicle.
Drive out with your guide to search for the elusive Mountain Zebra National Park cheetah. When signal from a collared cheetah is found, you will have the opportunity to get closer on foot to observe these magnificent big cats (age restriction: 16 years).
Experience the Karoo bush on foot in some of the more
remote areas of the Park with a knowledgeable guide.
Visit a bushman rock art site dating back thousands of years with a guide after a drive and short climb over rocky terrain.
Explore four hiking trails ranging from 1km to 25km to get close to nature in the Park.
The guided three-day, 25 km’s overnight Impofu hiking trail takes in some of the highlights of the Park including Bakenkop, the Park’s highest peak.
4×4 loops – 4×4 loops are available free of charge to visitors with 4×4 vehicles and no booking is necessary. The Sonnenrust (14.2km) and Juriesdam (10km) trails are fairly easy drives while the Umgeni (8km) trail is more challenging.
Events in or nearby Mountain Zebra National Park
1. Fish River Canoe Marathon
2. Birding Weekend
Doornhoek guest house – relax in this secluded historical farmstead, situated on a mountainside with stunning views of the seasonal lake below.
Full descriptions of accommodations units with photographs and the latest tariffs are available at www.mountainzebrapark.com
– accommodates four people in two bedrooms, with one bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, air-conditioner and fireplace.
Mountain cottages – two secluded cottages, accessible only with high ground clearance vehicles, provides accommodation for four people in two bedrooms plus six people in a hiker’s bedroom where own bedding must be provided.
Camping and caravan sites
20 sites with power points on a grassy substrate, communal kitchen and ablutions are provided.
The Weltevrede and Fonteinkloof picnic terrains with braai sites and picnic tables are located within the wildlife area. One terrain has a swimming pool while the other has a splash pool.
• Fully licensed a la carte restaurant
• Shop where curios and basic commodities may be purchased
• Fuel station in the rest camp
• Swimming pool
• Conference room
How to get there
Mountain Zebra National Park is situated on the
R61, 12km from Cradock on the road towards Graaff-Reinet.
Game viewing and boom gate
1 April to 30 September: 07h00 -18h00
1 October to 31 March: 06h00 -19h00
Main Gate and Reception
1 April to 30 September: 07h00 -18h00
1 October to 31 March: 07h00 -19h00
Pretoria Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Port Elizabeth Tel: +27 (0)41 583 2030
Bookings can be made and paid online at
Mountain Zebra National Park
Tel: +27 (0)48 881 2427 /3434
Fax: +27 (0)48 881 0905
Wild Card holders have free entry to national parks and other participating reserves for a year.
Visit www.wildcard.co.za or call 0861 469453
Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life. This is one of the largest single unit, no take (including fishing) Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the world, conserving 11% of South Africa’s Temperate South Coast rocky shoreline and provides a ‘laboratory’ for fisheries baseline research on endangered line fish species. It was proclaimed in 1964 as the Marine National Park in Africa.
SPECIAL FEATURES/THINGS TO SEEK
- Cape Clawless Otter
- Dolphins and Porpoises
- Blue Duiker
- Knysna Lourie
- African Black Oystercatcher
- Killer Whale
- African Wild Cat
- Kelp Gulls
- African Black Oystercatchers
- Red-eyed Dove
PLANTS / TREES
- Outeniqua Yellow Wood
All accommodation is serviced daily and provided with bedding towels and soap.
All with communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities. A maximum of six persons, one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one auto villa or motorised caravan will be permitted per site
STORMS RIVER MOUTH REST-CAMP
Consists of Forest Huts, Forest Cabins, Chalets, Oceanettes, Cottages, Family Cottages and Honeymoon Cottages. Self-equipped with a minimum of 2 beds per unit. Camping sites all have communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities. Also provides a shop with souvenirs and basic commodities, an a la carte restaurant, laundromat and information desk. Fuel is available at Storms River Bridge (+/- 25 km’s from Storms River Rest Camp).
STORMS RIVER MOUTH – BACKPACKERS
• Sleep 35 people
• Booking should be made directly with the camp
• Fully self-catering
Most of the activities are safe enough to undertake unguided. For a small fee, small groups can book a guide to accompany them and discover more about the area
- The Otter Trail
- The Dolphin Trail
- Soft Nature Trails
- Tree Top Canopy Tours
- 4×4 Trails
- Boat Rides
- Scuba Diving
- Bungee Jumping – the world’ highest
- Sea Kayaking
- Swimming Pool for overnight visitors in
Storms River Mouth
For more information on this park visit www.sanparks.org/parks/garden_route/
Please be aware that the information on this page may be subject to change at any time. Please visit Sanparks.org