After our road trip through the Garden Route, we spent one night in Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s friendliest and windiest city. On our way to our next destination, we took a bit of a detour to show the kids elephants in their natural habitat in the Addo Elephant National Park.
The location of the Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Elephant National Park is located about 40 minutes per car from Port Elizabeth. We set out early in the morning because the weather forecast predicted a hot, dry day. We knew that driving through the Park will be hot and exhausting despite the air conditioning in the car. Also, the animals sleep during the hottest part of the day and are then harder to spot.
Upon our arrival, we had to enter the reception area of the Addo Elephant National Park to purchase tickets to drive through the park. There are also accommodation available in the park for those who wish to spend a bit more time in the park.
Lucky for us the reception area sold icy cold water, and after purchasing our tickets and water, we were ready for a morning of animal spotting in the Addo Elephant National Park.
The Addo Elephant National Park’s reception staff had given us a photo list of all the animals and birds one could encounter in the park. This list had a box next to a picture of each animal that one could tick off once you spotted the particular animal. The list encouraged a bit of competition between everyone in the car about who would spot the first animal and who would spot the most animals during the day.
Animals we spotted in the Addo Elephant National Park
It did not take us long to spot our first animals, and afterwards, we spotted animals on a more regular basis.
We spotted a Zebra and several types of South African antelopes.
The animal we saw the most was the warthog. They were everywhere: walking on the roads; alone and in groups.
Some animals did not seem to care about the cars being around them. Several, like the warthog, came close to our car.
The highlight for us was when we spotted the elephants. Some were shy and hid among the bushes and trees. At the watering hole there was a family of elephants in clear view. Although they are large animals, they always seem to be a bit laid back.
Picnic spots and ablution facilities
Throughout the Addo Elephant National Park, there are picnic spots and ablution blocks, which have been enclosed to keep the wild animals out. We found the ablution facilities clean and refreshing.
Please note: if you ever go to the park with kids, remind them to use the toilet whenever you see one. The bumpy gravel road can make a full bladder very uncomfortable.
Other facilities at the Addo Elephant National Park
There are camps and restaurants in the park, but we did not visit them since we only spent a morning in the park.
The condition of the roads in the park
The roads in the Addo Elephant National Park is in quite a good shape. A four-wheel drive vehicle is not required. There were a few rough spots, but it was easy to drive around these as the speed limit is low inside the park.
The kids (and us) enjoyed the game of trying to spot the animals. We were pleasantly surprised with the number of animals we saw throughout the morning.We would have liked to see lions and rhino, but our time at the park was just too short to look for them. We recommend visiting the Addo Elephant National Park for at least half-a-day. It is a very affordable way to see animals in their natural habitat and to observe their behaviour for a little while. The map provided by the reception staff was helpful in guiding our route. Although it was quite a detour from the usual route to Graaff-Reinet, it was worth the time and effort.