Addo Elephant National Park, situated in a malaria free area just one hour’s drive from the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, is a magnificently diverse national park and offers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultural experiences.

Addo Elephant National Park is a magnificently diverse national park and offers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultural experiences. The park includes Bird Island and St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay and is home to the Big 7 – Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Humpback Whale and Great White Shark.

You will be amazed at the variety of natural landscapes and wildlife species that can be experienced in one easily accessible destination. Whether you are looking for luxury, comfortable family accommodation, or rustic settings, you are sure to find what your heart desires in the main rest camp, in the rugged Zuurberg section of the park, or in one of the concession sites.

For bookings to Addo Elephant National Park you can contact Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism at 041 582 2575 or email

The natural and cultural heritage of the park has been studied by the Albany Museum, recording hundreds of sites of significance. This was done under what was known as the AENP cultural mapping pilot project conducted during 2002 by various researchers from the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. The Stone Age in the park begins in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) between 125 000 and 30 000 years ago. Scatters of MSA tools are reported along the Sundays River Valley and also inland at Addo Heights and Korhaansvlakte.

The later Stone Age peoples were ancestral to the San (Bushmen) and Khoekhoen (Hottentot) peoples who lived in Southern Africa between 30, 000 and 1, 000 years ago. In South Africa these small hunter-gatherer groups lived at the coast, where they exploited the marine resources such as shell fish, fish, seals, and sea birds. Many hundreds of shell middens are found along the coast in the park. Inland groups frequently lived in caves and rock shelters and there are many sites in the Zuurberg Mountain which testify to this. There are also rock paintings in some of these caves.

Excavations were carried out at Melkhoutboom and Vygeboom and these uncovered graves with rich grave goods indicating a complex belief system. These sites contain well preserved plant remains which indicate how they utilized their environment. The majority of hunter-gatherer groups had been pushed out of the Zuurberg Mountain range by the 1820’s and were forced to move further inland to escape European settlement on their lands. The Khoikhoi pastoralists by the 16th and 17th centuries, were spread all along the Coastal forelands from Namibia to the Eastern Cape. Many of the shell middens in the park contain pottery, confirming the presence of the Khoikhoi in the area.

There are numerous place names in the park which are derived from Khoikhoi, for example Kaba, Coerney (originally Koernoe), Nanaga, Boknes, Gorah, Kabouga, Kariega, Sapkamma, and others. The name ‘Addo’ is thought to be derived from the Khoikhoi word ‘!Ga-dao’ pronounced ‘gha (with a click)-dough’ meaning drift (dao) where the poisonous Noorsboom plant (!Ga) grows. This later became ‘Kadouw’ or Addo bush. These names confirm the presence of Khoikhoi tribal groupings such as the Inqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua. They were absorbed into the colonial lifestyle of the 18th century, becoming farm workers for the Dutch and British or clients of the Xhosa where they were engaged in elephant hunting. A few groups settled at missions such as Enon, Bethelsdorp, and Theopolis. They were largely wiped out in the 1700’s by the smallpox epidemic and human persecution. They left behind rock paintings on the walls of caves they inhabited as well as shell middens in the sand dunes in the area.

As the Portuguese advanced towards the East, they continued the practice of erecting inscribed limestone crosses to proclaim their presence. In 1938 Eric Axelson discovered the fragments of the Kwaaihoek cross. Today the stone copy of the padrao positioned by Bartholomew Dias in 1488 on Kwaaihoek falls within the footprint of the park. The Dutch farmers who had started farming in the Western Cape moved to the Eastern Cape in the 18th century.

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 which rises in the Zuurberg and flows into the Sundays River).

The area occupied by the Addo Elephant National Park was described by travellers during the 18th and 19th centuries as ‘an impenetrable thorny thicket’ and a ‘hunter’s hell’. Much of it is still like that today.

Addo Elephant National Park

Discover… Addo Elephant National Park provides the perfect destination for a day trip or an overnight stay. Self-drive game viewing is included in the entry fee while guided activities are also on offer.
Explore… Situated in the malaria-free Eastern Cape Province and conveniently located only 40 km’s outside Port Elizabeth, the Park is a key tourism destination linked to the famous Garden Route.
Experience… The Park is sanctuary to a multitude of wildlife species and abundant bird life, including over 600 elephant, lion, black rhino, Cape buffalo, leopard, spotted hyena, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique Addo Flightless Dung Beetle.

Distances – Total km’s from Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Town = 790km’s
Port Elizabeth = 75 km’s
Johannesburg = 1020 km’s
Addo = 0
Mountain Zebra National Park = 260 km,s
Camdeboo 250 km,s
Karoo = 435 km,s

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.


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 airconditioning 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

Facilities at Addo Main Camp

• Restaurant
• 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

Addo Elephant National Park
Tel: +27 (0) 42 233 8600
Fax: +27 (0) 42 233 8643


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

Addo Elephant National Park consists of 8 sections

Addo section: The main park area – about 13 000 hectares (1 hectare = 10 000 square metres). A series of low undulating hills varying in height from 71 to 354 metres above sea level. The area is classified as semi-arid to arid, receiving an average rainfall of less than 445mm per year. Rainfall is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, but there are two peaks, in February March and October-November. Frost occurs at times in winter.

Nyathi section: About 14 000 hectares formed by the purchase of 12 farms (or portions of farms) as well as linking two of the oldest forestry conserved lands. (The forests Fernibraë and Heatherbraë 1882)

Zuurberg section: Named after the Zuurberg mountain range which runs west to east. A large section of this area is set aside as a wilderness area with little human activity taking place. Height above sea level varies from 250 to 970m. Mean annual rainfall is generally in excess of 600mm. Rainfall peaks in spring and autumn. Unlike other fynbos areas, the winter months are the driest. Thunderstorms occur in summer months when lightning fires can be caused.

Kabouga section: This is located in The Kabouga and Pietersenskraal areas. Some of the land in this area has been rehabilitated via the poverty relief program. The Kabouga River is an important migration route for eels of the family Anguillidae. They use the river as a route from the ocean to their maturation grounds in the upper reaches of the river. The river’s importance as a migration route has been exacerbated by the transformation of the flow of the Sundays River due to human impact (dam, irrigation canals etc.).

Darlington section: This section (52,000 hectares) comprises the area surrounding the Darlington Dam (formerly known as Lake Mentz) which supplies irrigation water to the Sundays River Valley. The Fish Sundays River Canal Scheme comprises a canal and tunnel system which supplies Orange River water via the Great Fish River valley to the Sundays River valley to supplement existing water supply in the Eastern Cape. The area has been fenced off and game has been introduced. A contractual agreement with the private Kuzuko Game Reserve was concluded and the fences were dropped increasing the area to 66 000 hectares.

Colchester section: This section (13 000 hectares) comprises the area south of the Addo Heights Road. It was formed by the purchase of the Olifantsplaat and Vetmaakvlakte farms. The area has natural water pans dug out by the elephants over 1,000’s of years. An entrance road from the N2 at Colchester enters the Park at Matyholweni and provides access to the Main Camp area via a network of roads and loops.

Woody Cape section: This section comprises land between the mouth of the Sundays River and Woody Cape. The mean annual rainfall varies from 392mm at Sundays River Mouth to 700mm near Woody Cape and 900mm in the Alexandria Forest. Boknes to Bushman’s River Mouth is the transition zone from all year rainfall to summer rainfall. The dunefield occurs in a rain shadow which receives lower rainfall than both Port Elizabeth and Alexandria. Fog and mist are common, with frost being rare.

Marine Protected Area: The marine section of the park, situated in Algoa Bay, falls within the warm temperate biogeographic marine province, and consist of the Bird and St Croix island groups and surrounding waters. The Bird Island marine protected area (MPA) contributes towards the 9% of the South African coastline which is considered a no-take or completely protected area. The Algoa Bay marine environment is mostly influenced by prevailing easterly (summer) and westerly (winter) winds, driving the long shore ocean currents.

There is also an important link between the Alexandria dune field and the ocean. These dunes are characterised by shallow groundwater tables (aquifers) with water discharged to the surface in several places in a pulsing fashion from the aquifer into the surfzone, releasing nutrient-rich water. The wind and currents play an important role in sand movement and deposition in the Alexandria dune field system. The Bay consists mostly of soft bottom sediments and dispersed reefs.

Addo Elephant National Park Activities:

1. Darlington Area:
• 4×4 Trail (bookings done at Addo Main Camp reception)
• Fishing in Darlington Dam
• Accommodation: basic Camping facilities (bookings done at Addo Main Camp reception)
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!

2. Kabouga Area:
• 4×4 Trail – (bookings done at Addo Main Camp reception)
• Accommodation: Mvubu Campsite – a rustic campsite alongside the river.
• Kabouga Cottage – high clearance vehicle required to access the cottage (bookings done at Addo Main Camp reception).
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!

3. Zuurberg Area:
• Guided Horse Trails, including an overnight horse trail to Narina Bush Camp
• Hiking Trails
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!
• Accommodation: Narina Bush Camp.

4. Nyati Area:
• Self catering, fully equipped family cottages,
• Situated along a river, with breathtaking views of elephants and buffalo at the waterhole
• Elevated above the riverine thicket in Nguni styled architecture.
• Small private splash pool.
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!

5. Addo Main Camp Area:
• Guided Game Drives (enquiries & bookings done at Game Drives Office)
• Self Drives in theWildlife area
• Guided Horse Trails (enquiries & bookings done at Game Drives Office)
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, birds across all five biomes! Also, check out Sasol Bird Hide!
• PPC Discovery Trail (Wheelchair friendly)
• Underground viewing hide (at waterhole opposite the restaurant)
• Picnic & braai sites in the wildlife area and in front of the waterhole opposite the restaurant.
• Ulwazi Interpretive Centre.
• Shop that sells curios and basic commodities.
• Restaurant
• Fuel station
• Park’s Accommodation (self-catering): Camping & Caravan sites, Safari Tents, Rondavels (with a view of the waterhole), Forest Cabins, Chalets, Cottages, Hapoor & Domkrag Guest Houses and SpekboomTented Camp.

6. Colchester Area:
• Game viewing in your own vehicle
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!
• Accommodation: 12 Thatched Cottages,self-catering
• Shop,restaurants and fuel available at Colchester Village within 5 km of the camp.
• Fishing, boating, canoeing and ferry trips are offered in the Colchester area. Enquire at reception for more information.

7. Woody Cape Area:
• Langebos Forest Huts provide a base camp for the hike and are equipped with beds and mattresses, gas fridge & stove, hot water shower, toilet, braai area and cooking & eating utensils.
• Rare and special species.
• Birding: Rare and special species: a birding enthusiast’s paradise, experience birds across all five biomes!

8. Proposed Marine Protected Area: 
The Marine Section of Addo Elephant National Park currently consists of the Bird Island and St Croix Island groups. The 120 000 Cape Gannet colony on Bird Island is the largest in the world. The Bird Island group is a current MPA. A larger MPA is proposed for the protection of declining penguin and fish populations.

There are about 6 500 breeding pairs of critically endangered African penguins on St. Croix island. This is also the largest breeding colony in the world. The Southern Right Whale and Great White Shark in these waters complete Addo Elephant National Park’s “Big 7”. Pods of Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncates, are a common sight in the waves along the shores of this coastline.


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).

In and around the Addo rest camp Karoo and Cape Robin, Bokmakierie, Southern Tchagra and Cape Bunting are prominent. A trip into the game viewing area will not produce a plethora of birds, but Bokmakierie will once more be prominent, and Martial Eagle, 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, Yellowthroated Warbler and Cape Batis can also be searched for.

Activity bookings

Activities can be booked and paid for on arrival at the Addo Elephant National Park but advance bookings are advised to avoid disappointment.
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8657

Addo Elephant National Park hours

Main gate (Addo Rest Camp): 07h00 to 19h00
Southern gate (Matyholweni): 07h00 to 17h00
Rangers offices and access gates: 07h00 to 16h00

How to get there
Addo Elephant National Park has two main entrances:
Southern gate (Matyholweni) is 40 km’s from Port Elizabeth on the N2 and Main gate (Addo Rest Camp) is 75 km’s from Port Elizabeth on the R335.

Approximate Distances:

Port Elizabeth to Addo Main Camp 75 km
Main Camp to Paterson 25 km
Main Camp to Kabouga 45 km
Main Camp to Narina 30 km
Main Camp to Woody Cape office 105 km
Main Camp to Matyholweni 40 km
Main Camp to Zuurberg office 25 km

The Greater Addo Route is 100% malaria free.

All visitors to National Parks are subject to the National Environmental Management:
Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 as amended, together with any Regulations and
Internal Rules made in terms of this Act:
• WARNING: You may not climb out nor hang out of your vehicle in the game viewing area.
• Climbing out of vehicles is only allowed in designated areas indicated by signage. You do so at your own risk as there are dangerous animals in the Park.
• You may only drive on tourist roads.
• Do not enter a road that has a NO ENTRY sign or that is not indicated on the map.
• You may not injure, feed or disturb any form of wildlife.
• You may not uproot, pick, cut, damage, kill,remove or be in possession of any plant or animal and, or part of a plant or animal material, living or dead, from the Park.
• You may not place any name, letter, figure,symbol, mark or picture on any object.
• You may not be in possession of any poison, explosives or of an unsealed or loaded fire-arm.
• Do not discard any burning object, including cigarettes, anywhere in the Park – it may cause a fire.
• No loud music / noise allowed in the Park or at picnic sites and swimming pools.
• You may not bring any pets, domestic animal or any other animal, into the Park.
• DO NOT LITTER! This is your Park – PLASTIC KILLS!
• Do not drive or park in such a manner that it is a nuisance, disturbance or an inconvenience to any other person.
• You may not cause any noise that is likely to disturb other people after 21h30 and before 06h00.
• You may not stay overnight at the Park without the knowledge of the Manager.
• Only designated accommodation areas may be used.
• Check closing times of the Park and game viewing area – you may not travel in the Park outside of the stipulated times.
• You may not drive a vehicle in the Park without a valid Driver’s licence.
• No motorbikes in the Park.
• The use of drones inside (and over) national parks is strictly prohibited.

Addo Elephant National Park

PO Box 52, Addo, 6105
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8600 • Fax: +27 (0)42-233 8643
• E-mail:
SANParks – Addo Elephant National Park •
Did you purchase yourWild Card?
For easy booking, book online!
Conservation: 079 618 3556 • Tourism: 082 471 0267

Remember: The Addo Elephant National Park extends over a huge range of biomes, from marine to mountain thus offering a Big 7 experience and unsurpassed elephant viewing.

Visit the South African National Parks page for a list of our national parks HERE.