Just a short drive from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Addo Elephant Park is the third largest game reserve in South Africa, and is among the most diverse, in terms of wildlife, of any of the country’s national parks.
Biodiversity at Addo Elephant Park
Addo is particularly known for its dense population of elephants, but these majestic beasts are not all the park has to offer visitors interested in seeing the wildlife of the Eastern Cape.
Following a recent expansion, the park now includes a nearby marine reserve and houses five of the seven major biomes in South Africa, making Addo a unique habitat for a plethora of land and marine species, unrivaled in diversity by any other park in the world.
Many of the plant species found in its borders aren’t found anywhere else on the planet, its biodiversity rivals even the succulent species biome of the Karoo and the unique fynbos biome of the Western Cape.
A biome refers to a large community of plants (or animals) that occur distinctly in a particular region and with Addo having five of South Africa’s seven biomes within its borders, any visitor to the park is sure to be impressed by the over 500 flora species on display.
Flora and Fauna at Addo Elephant Park
Regarding fauna, Addo is home to a healthy population of terrestrial species, of which elephants are one, as is suggested by the park’s name. The massive herds are free to roam the 1,640km of the park and are visible throughout.
In addition to the nearly 700 elephants who roam the park, Addo houses the other members of the Big Five, namely lion, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros.
Other animals that contribute to the park’s diversity are the hyena, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, and warthog, as well as scores of the various antelope species.
The expansion to include the marine reserve means Addo offers the opportunity to see both whales and great white sharks as well, making it the only place in the world where visitors are able to see the ‘Big Seven’ in their natural habitat.
Following that expansion, the park has also come to include two large islands, St Croix and Bird Island. The former is home to a colony of African penguins, while the latter is home to a considerable number of sea bird species, particularly gannets.
Where to Stay
Addo Elephant Park’s accommodation is also highly renowned. There are a number of guesthouses in and around the park that cater to locals and tourists alike. Find several options for accommodations and a guide to the Garden Route here.