Addo Elephant National Park: see elephants in their natural habitat

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.

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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.

Buffalo lying in the mud in the Addo Elephant Park
Buffalo lying in the mud in the Addo Elephant Park

We spotted a Zebra and several types of South African antelopes.

Grazing Zebra in the Addo Elephant Park
Grazing Zebra in the Addo Elephant Park

The animal we saw the most was the warthog. They were everywhere: walking on the roads; alone and in groups.

Warthog in the Addo Elephant Park

Some animals did not seem to care about the cars being around them. Several, like the warthog, came close to our car.

Mom and baby Nyala in the Addo Elephant Park
Mom and baby Nyala in the Addo Elephant Park

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.

Elephants at a watering hole in the Addo Elephant Park


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.

Picnic site in the Addo Elephant Park
Picnic site in the Addo Elephant Park

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 verdict

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.

Mentioned in this post
  1. Port Elizabeth
    City in South Africa

    Port Elizabeth South Africa
  2. Graaff-Reinet
    City in South Africa

    Graaff-Reinet South Africa

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18 thoughts on “Addo Elephant National Park: see elephants in their natural habitat”

  1. Wow. I adore elephants and am on a bit of a mission against unethical elephant attractions, especially in Asia. I would so love to see them where they belong, in nature.

    Reply
  2. What an incredible place! We would love to visit Addo Elephant National Park someday – great that you got to see so many other animals too. Awesome photos!

    Reply
  3. It is nice to see Elephants that close but at the same time remaining in their natural habitat, what a good tourism practice the park is implementing 🙂

    Reply
    • South Africa has many nature reserves where wild animals are kept in a natural setting. It is one of the reasons many tourists come to South Africa.

      Reply
  4. Safari and South Africa are on top of my bucket list! Thats sounds like you had fantastic experience! I would love to see elephants so close! I missed them when I was in Thailand but hopefully I can make my way to Africa soon! Your photos are lovely !

    Reply
  5. This is just wonderful, I am sure the whole family would enjoy this 😀 I am so relieved to read about your journey, as nothing more than viewing them! I was so worried that I would see something touristy like people feeding the animals, or even worse, riding them. Bravo to you for taking your kids on the natural route!

    Reply
  6. What a wonderful adventure this must have been. It’s always fantastic to see these types of spectacular animals in their natural habitat. The zebras looked particularly striking with very striking blacks and whites.

    Reply
    • I think part of the fun is looking for the animals, but once you find them being rewarded with their spectacular natures is just amazing!

      Reply
  7. This looks like a great park to visit. So many animals to see. I would love to see Zebras in the wild. I would love to come and visit Africa soon, so much to see and do.

    Reply
    • I think wildlife preservation is a big thing in South Africa. The protection of rhinos is currently a hot topic. Can enough ever be done?

      Reply

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