FREE entry: Without further ado, let’s go to Addo National Park!
Every year SANParks grants South African citizens free entry to the majority of its parks (and access to special events and or programmes) during the South African National Parks Week.
This year, from the 18th until the 22nd of September, the theme is “Know your National Parks”, and while it has the same focus as previous years it is aimed at cultivating a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage that is protected by the national parks system.
Nelson Mandela Bayers really have it all; we have the city, the beaches, the indigenous forests and South Africa’s third largest National Park right on our door step.
What is not to love about our situation? Especially with the cherry on top of free entrance this week!
Just ask Nadine Rose Larter, blogger from Passing the Open Windows, “Right here in the Bay we have the absolute perfect combination of exquisite pleasure for your eyes.”
Ranique from Big Mouth Entertainment said, “I think we need to do what we can to encourage the little ones to share stories about “our home, our Africa”. I really want my boy to be able to share stories and tell people about his travels even if it means he just went to Addo to say “hello” to the elephants, or visit the Penguins at SANCOBB/SAMREC.”
Go visit Addo Elephant National Park
The park can be accessed from two entrances; take the N2 towards Grahamstown and enter at Mathyolweni Gate (42 km from Port Elizabeth City Centre) or travel via the R335 for 70 km to enter at the gate of the main rest camp.
Addo Elephant National Park stretches over more than 170 000 hectares and besides the main game viewing area it also includes areas like Woody Cape where you can see the longest stretch of untouched dune fields in the Southern Hemisphere, the Zuurberg Mountains that offer panoramic views, rock art and stone implements and there’s also Darlington Dam and the area of Kuzuko Lodge where Sylvester the lion now roams happily.
At the main rest camp visitors and day visitors can make use of the picnic and braai facilities (in the camp and in the game viewing area), shop at the Park’s Shop, dine at the restaurant, experience the Ulwazi interpretive centre, do a bit of game watching from the underground hide, saddle up and do it from a horse or go birdwatching at the hide.
When it comes to game drives you have three options:
- Self-guided game drive (upon entrance you will receive a map that will help you to choose a route on one of the clearly marked paths). There is a fuel station in the park if you need to fill up.
- Guided game drive in an open game drive vehicle with a guide (starting from R370 per person).
- Hire a hop-on guide that will be a passenger and guide you in your own vehicle (starting from R210 per car).
If you want to spend the night you can camp (starting from R305 per night for the first two people) or glamp in a self-catering tent with a communal kitchen, or stay in a chalet or even head over to the Nyathi section of the camp where you can enjoy staying in a rondavel with your own private plunge pool.
There is more to Addo Elephant National Park than just elephants; you can also have an off-road adventure on the Bedrogfontein 4×4 trail (40 km from Addo’s main camp) that will take you in the direction of Darlington Dam. The road is best for high clearance vehicles (R550 per vehicle per day) with 4x4 capabilities; it’s graded 2-3 and can be completed within six hours.
If you want to spend more time in nature, there are a few hiking trails to choose from, from the two day circular Alexandria Hiking Trail, to the trails at Zuurberg and the shorter PPC trails at the main rest camp; the one trail of 620 meters is wheelchair-friendly.
Conservation Fee (cost of entrance)
From 18-22 September 2017 SA citizens can enter the park for free (just have your ID with you); but if you want to visit any other time the conservation fee is R62 per adult per day and R31 per child per day. If you have a Nelson Mandela Bay Pass you can also have one free entry.
Facts about Addo Elephant National Park
- The park grew from 22 elephants to close to 700 elephants from 1954 to 2017.
- It is the third largest National Park in South Africa.
- It is home to the rare and protected flightless dung beetles.
- It is the only park boasting the Big Seven.
- It is diverse and includes five of our seven biomes: Karoo, grassland, thicket, fynbos and forest.
- The largest breeding ground of African penguins is under the protection of Addo National Park
Please keep in mind
The animals in Addo Elephant National Park are in their natural habitat and there are a few important rules to keep in mind (visitors can be fined if not sticking to the rules):
- Never get out of your vehicle unless at a view point where it clearly states that you can alight at your own risk.
- You and all of your body parts should stay in the vehicle (don't stick your upper body out of the window for that perfect shot, or get onto the bonnet or roof).
- Don't litter.
- Be careful not to drive over the flightless dung beetles.
- Adhere to the speed limits.
- The animals always have right of way.
- Do not feed the animals.
- Do not try to touch any animal (big or small).
- Do not disturb the vegetation (no flower picking).
- Do not obstruct or block a sighting.
- Do not make any unnecessary noise.
Looking for things to do outside of Addo Elephant National Park? Click here.
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