Logo Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park

Protected Area

Approaching map
  • Park Authority: South African National Parks
  • Headquarters: PO Box 787 - Pretoria 0001 - South Africa
    Street Address: 643 Leyds Street, Muckleneuk, Pretoria
      • Pretoria Central Reservations
        Tel.: +27 (0)12 428 9111
        Fax: +27 (0)12 426 5500
        E-mail: reservations@sanparks.org
      • Administration
        Tel. (switchboard):
        +27 (0)12 426 5000

  • Park Headquarters: PO Box 52 - Addo 6105 - South Africa
  • Area: 148,000 ha
  • Towns: Addo, Zuurberg
  • Established in: 1931
  • Further information:

Welcome to Addo Elephant National Park

Alexandria Cliffs
Make the image bigger

Make the image bigger

Dune field
Make the image bigger

Zuurberg Mountains
Make the image bigger

Albany Adder
Make the image bigger

Buffalo Bull
Make the image bigger

Addo Fightless Dungbeetle
Make the image bigger

Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. 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 eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 420 elephants, 450 Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
For the first time in over 100 years, lion and spotted hyena were reintroduced to the park last year. But the Addo story has only just begun. Plans to expand the 148,000 hectare Addo National Elephant Park into a 360,000 hectare "Greater Addo" park are moving forward at an exciting pace. This expansion is transforming Addo into the ultimate tourism destination.
Some of its unique features include:
  • unrivalled natural diversity, with five of South Africa's seven major vegetation zones (biomes)
  • the Big 7 (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, whales and great white sharks) in their natural habitat
  • the future proclamation of a 120,000 hectare (296,500 acre) marine protected area that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding colonies of Cape gannets and African penguins
  • rich heritage of archaeological and historical sites
  • accommodation and activity options for all tastes.

The Addo Elephant National Park is one of 20 national parks run by South Africa National Parks (SANParks).


In the early centuries, when great herds of wild animals roamed the Addo region, the Khoisan of the Iqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua clans lived in the area. They hunted and kept cattle but tragically were largely wiped out in the 1700s by the smallpox epidemic. Nomadic Xhosa tribes had kraals in the area, including Chief Cungwa of the Gqunukhwebe (near the Sundays River mouth and inland) and Chief Habana of the Dange (near the Wit River).

The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 Addo elephants. The great herds of elephants and other animal species had been all but decimated over the 1700s and 1800s by hunters. In the late 1800s, farmers began to colonise the area around the park, also taking their toll on the elephant population due to competition for water and crops. >>>


  • Addo section:
    The area is classified as semi-arid to arid, receiving an average rainfall of less than 445 mm per year. Rainfall is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, but there are two peaks, in February-March and October-November. Frost occurs at times in winter.
    • Temperatures:
      Daily max - Jan 32 °C July 18 °C
      Daily min - Jan 15 °C July 5 °C
      There is no natural water in this section of the park and all waterholes are fed by boreholes. There are a number of small pans in the area but these are dry except in years of exceptional rainfall.

  • Zuurberg section:
    Height above sea level varies from 250 to 970 m.
    Mean annual rainfall approximately 722 mm. Peaks in rainfall in spring and autumn. Unlike other fynbos areas, the winter months are the driest. Thunderstorms occur in summer months when lightning fires can be caused.

  • Darlington section:
    Climate: average rainfall 255 mm/yr. Max temp in summer reaches 48 °C and min temp just above 0 °C in winter. Rainfall is mostly in the form of thundershowers and an occasional cold front from the west.

  • Coastal section (Woody Cape):
    The mean annual rainfall varies from 392 mm at Sundays River Mouth to 700mm near Woody Cape. Boknes to Bushmans River Mouth is the transition zone from all year rainfall to summer rainfall. The dunefield occurs in a rain shadow which receives lower rainfall than both Port Elizabeth and Alexandria. Fog and mist are common, with frost being rare.


This park offers some of the most spectacular elephant viewing in the world. Addo's over 400 elephants will delight visitors with their antics.
The park contributes to the conservation of the endangered black rhino with over 40 of these animals occurring here.
The over 450 Cape buffalo are now being seen more often during the day due to the influence of lion reintroduction. This is one of the largest disease-free herds in South Africa.
Six lions were introduced into the park in late 2003 and have adapted well to their new environment. Lions are most often seen in the early morning or on sunset and night drives.
Spotted hyenas were also reintroduced last year, fulfilling the same role as lions in restoring the natural balance to the ecosystems in the park by controlling the numbers of herbivores.
Leopard are very seldom seen, being shy and secretive animals, but do occur in most areas of the expanded park. >>>

Animal Lists

Some images of the Wildlife living in the Park

Lions Zebra Burchells Red Bishop Twins


Addo's vegetation is remarkable because in a relatively small area, five of South Africa's habitat biomes are found. (Much larger parks such as Kruger National have only one biome).
The original Addo-Elephant area is in succulent valley thicket, characterized by impenetrable spekboom. It was this vegetation that protected the last remaining elephant and buffalo from being wiped out by hunters. The Zuurberg Mountains harbour deep wooded kloofs and streams. In the exposed higher altitude areas, grassland and fynbos are found. Moving inland over the mountains the area around Darlington Lake turns to succulent Karoo-type (arid semi-desert) vegetation known as noorsveld. On the seaward side of the original elephant section the Woody Cape section contains a remarkable display of coastal dune-fields and coastal grassy plains. Moving east the Alexandria Forest is an excellent example of pristine temperate forest.

Rock art

Cultural Heritage

As in many of South Africa's national parks, the AENP encompasses a rich natural and cultural heritage. One of the challenges of the future is to ensure effective management of these cultural resources including the access of all interested parties.
A preliminary study by the Albany Museum mapped archeological, paleontological, cultural and historical sites within the park. Future plans include a more detailed mapping process as well as the development of an access management plan.

Further information