The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only sixteen elephants remained in the area. Today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
Addo is the third largest National Park in South Africa and covers an area of about 180,000 hectares with additional land being added, including a 100km stretch of the coast itself with Eco Marine tours available to see the Southern Right whales and Great White Shark.
After being used to the fauna and flora of Kruger National Park, going to Addo Elephant National Park in order to do my educational program was a real treat. Being in the Nama Karoo region, the vegetation is mostly succulents and almost no tall trees are found. This area has very little rainfall and has the extreme temperatures of heat and cold in the summer and winter, but Addo itself, being closer to the coast, is very moderate and even being there in the winter, I found it to be very pleasant although cold at night.
Spekboom Tented Camp is located nearby and also fully equipped but has communal bathrooms and kitchen. There you may catch a glimpse of nocturnal animals drinking at the waterhole.
Camping facilities for tents and caravans is available with shared ablutions and kitchen. All have a Spekboom hedge around them for privacy.
Matyholweni Camp, which means “in the bush” in Xhosa is located at the entrance gate near the coastal town of Colchester at the Sundays River Mouth, 3km off the N2 highway, about 60km from Port Elizabeth and 40km from Main Camp. Amenities such as shops, restaurants and a fuel station are available in the nearby town. This is a concession camp and the self-catering chalets are luxurious and fully equipped.
As arid as the region is, it is a birders paradise with Scrub Robin, Cape Robin-Chat , Bokmakierie, Southern Tchagra, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Bunting being prominent, with Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Spectacled Weaver, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbird also easily found. A trip into the game viewing area will not produce a plethora of birds, but Bokmakierie will once more be prominent, and Martial Eagle, Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard, Black-headed Heron and Secretarybird may well be seen amongst a whole long list of other species.
Addo Elephant National Park contributes to the conservation of the endangered black rhino. There are over 400 Cape buffalo and 2000 Kudu to be seen. Six lions were introduced into the park in late 2003 and now there are 10. Antelope such as Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Bushbuck, Eland, Steenbok, Springbok and Mountain Reedbuck can be seen. Other species include Spotted and Brown Hyeana, Cape and Bat-eared Fox, Blackbacked Jackal, African Wildcat, the rare Aardvark and a variety of mongoose, bats, shrews, genets, zebra, warthog etc.
Activities besides self-drive game viewing include horse riding, guided walks and tours, 4x4 trails and the PPC trail which highlights some of the flora found in the Park.