9 Things to do in and around Addo National Park
For years the focus of Addo was to save the Eastern Cape elephant from extinction and thanks to good management and mothering the population grew from only eleven elephants in 1931 to more than 600 elephants now. Today, Addo National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa as it conserves more than 178 000 hectares of natural landscapes, including the big seven and five of South Africa’s seven biomes, and preserving the Eastern Cape elephant is only one of the park’s success stories as the growth also played a leading role in job creation, educational initiatives, tourism opportunities and poverty relief.
As the Park changed and expanded over the years the lodging for overnight visitors ventured far beyond the borders of Main Camp and now guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options from camping to staying safari tents or chalets, to visiting one of the more upmarket lodges offered by contractual partners like Gorah Elephant Camp, River Bend Lodge and Kuzuko Lodge.
The newest addition to the Addo accommodation family is the newly renovated Nyathi Rest Camp which is situated about 15 km from Addo Main Camp in the Nyathi section of the park on the banks of a floodplain with wildlife sightings, incredible bird life and views of the Zuurberg Mountain range. One of the biggest drawing cards of these new self-catering units – besides the quiet secluded location and beautiful African-inspired décor – must be private plunge pool one can find at every unit.
9 Things to do in and around Addo National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is about far more than just elephants and the Park’s location within Nelson Mandela Bay gives visitors the opportunity to not only explore what the park has to offer, but also to venture into the Greater Addo Region in search of adventure and tranquility.
Here are a few things that you can get up to when visiting the park.
#1 – Go on a Game Drive
When it comes to a game drive in Addo you are spoilt for choice and you can drive yourself, go on a guided game drive with a ranger, get one of the Bay’s qualified tour guides or hire a hop-on guide to drive with you.
#2 – Try your hand at sand boarding and sand sledding
The Bay, especially in the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park, is home to the longest stretch – 80 km - of untouched sand dunes in Southern Africa; not too far from this coastal stretch of dunes is Sundays River where dunes rise to the sky from the banks of the river. These dunes are a natural playground for sand boarding and sand sledding enthusiasts and thanks to Sundays River Adventures (sand boarding) and The Sundays River Ferry (sand sledding) no skills are required for a day of sandy fun!
#3 – Brave the Longest Double Zip Line
Brave the heights of the Sundays River valley and hop on to the highest, longest and fastest double zip line in South Africa at Adrenalin Addo. They also offer visitors the chance to go on a giant swing and a canoe ride. Your Nelson Mandela Bay Pass Card will give you access to a free zip lining experience.
#4 – Experience Addo on Horseback
Experience Addo and its animals in a completely different way; forget about the wheels and get on a horse! Horse trails start from Addo Main Camp and take you into the Nyathi area where you'll trot next to zebras, kudus and more. You can also find a more scenic trail at the Zuurberg section where spectacular views await and, for the experienced rider there is an overnight horse trail to Narina Bush Camp.
#5 – Visit Addo Wildlife
Addo Wildlife is one of the newest addition to the Addo region and you can enjoy a meal in their Tangelo Restaurant, learn about the rescued animals, feed farm animals and have a walk through their aviary.
#6 - Cruise on the Sundays River
The same tour companies offering you fun in the sun and fun on the sand also offer scenic boat cruises that allow visitors to experience and explore the Sundays River Estuary. Have a look at what they’re offering and don’t forget about the special offers of the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass Card.
#7 – Go Hiking
In Addo Elephant National Park you can walk one of the short PPC Discovery Trails where you can find detailed information about the Park on big boards along the way and there is also a 620m trail that is wheelchair-friendly. If you want to go for a longer hike then head towards Zuurberg and choose between the Doringnek trail (12 km) and the Zuurberg Walk (2.5 km). You can always plan your walk around a traditional Sunday Carvery at Zuurberg Moutain Village; it's a gourmet experience not to be missed.
#8 – Have a 4x4 Adventure
If an off-road adventure is the thrill you are looking for then take the 4x4 trail from north of Kirkwood in the Kabouga area through the Zuurberg Mountain range to Darlington Lake. The trail will take about 6 hours and you can encounter a variety of wildlife and four different biomes as you go over passes and through rivers.
#9 - See the Big Seven
Addo Elephant National Park is the only park in the world to encompass the Big Seven. Raggy Charters - a licensed boat-based whale and dolphin watching company - offer guests cruises during the whale watching season (June until December), as well as penguin island cruises. These catamaran cruises often come across dolphins, seals and seabirds in Algoa Bay as well as southern right whales and great white sharks which form part of the big seven.
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