Spot the Big 7 at Addo Elephant National Park

With less than an hour away from Port Elizabeth, I’m leaving no stone unturned if I don’t at least get to visit one of the most popular National Parks in South Africa; Addo Elephant National Park. 

Having spent a few hours in the main town of Port Elizabeth; a first glimpse of a city I’ve never been in before, I knew that high of my wish list was to explore the wildlife sanctuary despite my fear of wild animals.

The long tarmac road seemed like a never ending ride; driving between hectares of bush land which carried on for miles on end. We hadn’t seen a soul until the halfway mark; reminding us that we definitely on the right path.

We had a few doubts.

However, along the way we found a dead springbok aside the road. Someone must of hit the poor animal and left it to die. I cried and moved my head away from the scene in respect. I couldn’t bear the sight any longer and asked Courtney to drive on; with silence remaining till the our destination.

We decided to visit the Park the following morning once we settled in at our accommodation in Kirkwood; 20 minutes away from the sanctuary.

We woke up bright and early, eager to get ourselves on our first ever safari. As a South African, I had never been on one so it was only right that I took the opportunity to partake in it. While the hot sun baking outside, we made the drive to the most anticipated adventure. Animals.

Did you know that the Park was founded since 1931? Originally, a section of the land was preserved to protect the 11 remaining elephants in the area. Since the Park become a successful inhabitant, it now houses over 600 giant creatures!

Not only does the Park house wildlife but it also protects marine and birdlife species in an area of 1,640 km². That’s a huge area to house so many species.

Getting to Reception to pay, we were told that all the safari viewings were fully booked and we can try again tomorrow. I knew I had to book in advance but I really took a chance. Besides the disappointing news, we thought we should do the self-drive option. I’m sure we will get to see a few of the animals.

After paying the R62.00pp fee and signing our rights away, we set off on the trail with a map in the one hand and my camera in the other.

Our road trip paid off. We got more than what we bargained for. It’s as though that came out to tell us that they are indeed, real. Luckily, we weren’t ambushed with tourists so only a few cars were on the viewing with us.

We really got front row seats to the best showing in the world! Saying that we blessed and privileged is an understatement when you this close in nature.

Some animals particularly the Kudu, Red Hartebeest and Duiker walked so near to the car, I could’ve literally stretched out my hand and touch them. Elephants, Zebra, Buffalo, Cape Grysbok and a few Dung Beetles crossing the road, all in inches away from us and we could hardly believe what we experiencing.

The Addo Elephant National Park is the only park in the world to lay claim to Africa’s Big Seven; elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark. Fortunately, we got to see two of the seven and, it still made me the happiest person on earth.

As one of the third largest National Parks in South Africa, how can you not be proud to be a South African and get to live with theses majestic and beautiful creatures.

Travel Tips

Getting there: You can either self drive like we did or, fly to Port Elizabeth International Airport. Addo Elephant National Park is about 32 minutes away.

When to go: You can visit all year-round but an influx of tourist come during school holidays or during November -January.

Must-see sights: Take a safari but remember, book in advance. A self drive is also a great option. For low passenger cars like ours, we preferred staying on the tarmac roads. There is a vast area with gravel that 4x4s can enjoy.

Websites to visit: SanParks Addo Elephant National Park website provides you with all the information you need including camps to stay at.

Until the next adventure.