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Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.
The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only 11 elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 420 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. But the Addo story has only just begun.
Plans to expand the 145 000 ha Addo National Elephant Park into a 360 000 ha mega-park are moving forward at an exciting pace. This expansion is transforming Addo into the ultimate tourism destination. Some of its unique features already include:
- Unrivalled natural diversity, with five of South Africa's even major vegetation zones (biomes).
- The Big 7 (Elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, whales and great white sharks) in their natural habitat.
- Addo incorporates the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere.
In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.
How to get there
The park is situated 72 km from Port Elizabeth in the Sundays River Valley and Zuurberg Mountain range.
The access road from the main road (4 km) is tarred as far as the main restcamp.
Roads within the restcamp are tarred – all other internal roads are gravel.
Camp Matyholweni is located near the town of Colchester on the N2 highway.
- Entrance gate 07:00 – 19:00 throughout the year, staffed by a security guard between 19:00 - 07:00.
- Should visitors need to enter or leave before 07:00 or after 19:00, contact reception to inform staff (+27 (0)42 233 0556/7).
- Wildlife viewing area 06:00 - 18:00 in summer; 07:00 - 17:30 in winter.
- Narina Bushcamp (Zuurberg) 18:00.
Addo Rest Camp
- Check In - 13:00 and Check Out - 10:00 for accommodation and 12:00 for campsites.
- All accommodation is serviced daily and provided with bedding, towels, soap, crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils. Braai area outside.
- (Hapoor and Domkrag) six-bed guest houses, each with two bedrooms, bathrooms en suite, fully equipped kitchen, livingroom, airconditioner.
- Two-bed cottage, bathroom (shower), open plan partially equipped kitchen, fan. One unit adapted for disabled persons.
- Chalets each with two single beds, a double sleeper couch, bathroom (bath and shower), kitchen, airconditioner. Two chalets are adapted to accommodate paraplegics.
- Two-bed chalet (no. 15) with bathroom (shower), basically equipped kitchen, airconditioner.
- Two-bed rondavels, each with bathroom (shower), refrigerator, communal kitchen facilities with basic kitchen equipment, airconditioner. Overlooking floodlit waterhole.
- Four-bed forest cabins, with bathroom facilities, equipped with cooking utensils, fridge; communal kitchen facilities.
- Semi-detached Chalets with two single beds, bathroom with shower, toilet, hand basin, kitchenette and airconditioner.
- Family Chalet (no. 16) with one bedroom with a double bed and a bedsitter area, containing two single beds and a sleeper couch, equipped kitchen and airconditioning.
- Safari Tents with two single beds, bedding, towels, fan, fridge, braai and separate communal ablution facilities. (shower, toilet and basin). They can also use the big ablution block in the camping area (bath).
Caravan and campsites, communal ablution and kitchen facilities. Caravan sites equipped with 220V power points.
A maximum of six persons, one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one auto villa or one motorised caravan will be permitted per site.
This camp is situated in the Zuurberg Mountains approx. 25 km gravel road (40 minutes drive) from the main restcamp. This is a tented camp with 4 tents (book as one unit), each have 2 single beds with bedding and towels, open lapa/braai area, kitchen, paraffin lamps, cutlery, crockery and cooking utensils, one shower and one flush toilet.
Very important: Because of no electricity the guests have to arrive at least 2 hours before sunset, (no later than 18:00) since they still have to carry their food and clothing to the camp, crossing a river and walking 400m - 500m through the forest.
Please bring your own torch. No shops or restaurants, this is solely for own cooking and for nature lovers.
You can also go down the mountain on horseback. Departure time is no later than 11:00, from the top of the Zuurberg Mountain approx. 16 km gravel road from the main restcamp (25 min drive).
A second rest camp, Camp Matyholweni, is situated in the new southern block of the park. The camp is located near the town of Colchester on the N2 highway.
- Two-bed cottages, open plan kitchen, bathroom (shower), fan. Two units are suitable for wheelchair users.
- Family cottages - 2 single beds, single sleeper couch, open plan kitchen, bathroom (shower), fan.
One self-catering cottage - Kabouga Guesthouse - sleeping six people and the Mvubu camping site on the banks of the Sundays River, with braai sites, toilet and shower. Accessible with high clearance vehicles only and located near the town of Kirkwood, approx. 45 minutes drive from the main camp.
- Game viewing from own vehicle.
- Game viewing at night – illuminated waterhole.
- Spekboom Day Trail (3 – 4 hours) in the safety of a botanical reserve within the park.
- Lookout points at various waterholes within game area.
- Two nature trails at Zuurberg – 1 hour and 4 hours.
- Guides can be hired at affordable rates to get on your vehicle and guide you through the game area. These are local community members who have been trained as guides and now run their own small business.
- Guided Game Drives: Sunrise, day, sunset and night drives of approximately 2 hours in duration are on offer. Drives are conducted by knowledgeable, qualified guides on open-top land rovers or trucks. Bookings are essential (+27 (0)42 233 1151).
- Horse Trails (Addo and Zuurberg) Enquiries and bookings for horse trails can be done through the game drive office (+27 (0)42 233 1151).
- Tree Dassie Trail starts at the Woody Cape offices of the park, near the town of Alexandria.
- No bookings are necessary and the trail is free of charge (apart from park entrance fees).
- Bird watching: The SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide is located opposite the waterhole in the main rest camp, offering watchers a view of red bishops, weavers, herons, coots and terrapins. The main game area boasts a list of 170 bird species, while the expanded park may contain as many as 450 species in a diversity of habitats.
- PPC Discovery Trail: The PPC Discovery Trail is a short walk through the valley thicket where you can learn more about the plants and animals of this region. The first loop is suitable for visually-impared and wheelchair-bound visitors.
- Bedrogfontein 4x4 trail between Kabouga and Darlington, 45 km. 4x4ers should carry their own water and no fires may be lit along the rout. Maximum number of vehicles on the route is six, while it is recommended that at least two vehicles travel together for safety. Accommodation is available at Kabouga House or Mvubu campsite, or at the luxury Darlington Lake Lodge.
- Picnic area for day visitors.
- Swimming pool for resident visitors only.
- Restaurant, serving a la carte meals and light refreshments.
- A fuel station selling petrol and diesel is open between 07:00 and 17:00.
- Shop where curios and basic commodities can be purchased.
- A First National Bank with ATM is situated in the town of Addo, 15 km from the park.
- The SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide.
- The PPC Discovery Trail is accessible to all, including the visually and mobility-impared.
- There is a public telephone and a post box near the reception.
Temperate to mild to warm, with annual rainfall of 450 mm occurring throughout the year.