Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape
There’s something magical about spending time watching elephant families interact and, with over 600 elephants within this wilderness reserve, at Addo Elephant National Park you’re guaranteed to find them. Just beyond Port Elizabeth, Addo fits in neatly as an extension of a Garden Route road trip and the fact that it’s a malaria free safari destination adds to its appeal. The National Park has extended its borders over the years and now runs all the way down to the coast where it protects some of the islands in Algoa Bay, making it unique among National Parks for offering the Big 7, adding the great white shark and the Southern Right whale to the traditional big game icons of lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino.
A stay within the park revolves around the rhythm of the wildlife, watching game visiting the waterhole at your tented camp in between morning and evening game drives exploring the diverse landscapes from thorny thickets to woodland and open hillsides. Knowledgeable guides open your eyes to the whole range of wildlife, so as well as spending time with elephants, or spotting the Kalahari lions that were brought to the park as closest relatives of the original Cape lions, you might learn about the intriguing flightless dung beetles, the rich bird-life and a host of fascinating details unique to this habitat.
Outside the park there are plenty more activities once you’ve filled your memory bank with animal encounters. Explore the Sunday’s River by canoe, where citrus farms give way towards the river mouth to a new landscape of stunning sand dunes (the tallest south of the Namib Desert) and the ocean is home to bottlenose dolphins and endangered African penguins. Take in hiking and horse-riding trails in the Zuurberg mountains to the north, visit the Raptor and Reptile Park near the town of Addo, or head to the beach at Kenton on Sea.