Does Addo Elephant Park Make the Grade?

I had a telephonic conversation with Sonia about her recent visit to the famous Elephant Park and she painted a less than rosy picture...

Table of Contents
Tips & Advice

Where did you stay and what was it like?

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Beautiful...the Addo accommodation is stunning there. We were in the main camp and also in the new Matyholweni camp and the Narina bush camp. The Narina bush camp is tented and Matyholweni is the new camp, that was I think it's one of the best and nicest camps that we've been in before.

But the Narina bush camp, I thought it was well over priced. We paid R600 a night and we're used to nice places where you don't pay one cent, we're keen walkers as well and we go on hiking trips and so on. For me, R600 a night - I was expecting much more.

We're used to roughing it, that wasn't my problem. My problem was that it was dilapidated. There were holes in the tent, the toilets were in a terrible state, it was dirty, the toilet basins and stuff were broken, just in a general bad state. For R600 a night, it was not nice. We ditched one night, even though we paid for it, because it wasn't what they said it was going to be.

How was the weather?

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We found it very cold, we come from the Lowveld… we had to go and buy jackets. It was about 23 °C (73.4°F), and to us, that's cold.

What wildlife did you see?

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We saw plenty of kudu, plenty of pigs and plenty plenty elephants. There were millions of elephants, we took beautiful photos of that. We didn't see one single predator. No rhinos. It's not like the Kruger Park, where we go at least once a month, nearly.

In Addo South Africa, the vegetation is extremely dense. Regarding birdlife, we saw cranes, that's it. We didn't go walking in Addo, just driving around. With the Narina bush camp, you go out of the park basically and then you go in again, and there we saw some eland. We walked around the camp as well, saw a couple of snakes there.

What was the highlight of your trip?

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I wanted to see eland, it was the first time in my life I saw that, so that was brilliant. My highlight I would rather say was Tsitsikamma (another national park in the Eastern Cape), not Addo. There's a lot more to do there.

Was there anything that didn't meet your expectations on the trip; any disappointments or regrets?

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If you're used to the park (Kruger) you expect to see more game. The thing is for instance, if you stay in Matyholweni, you have to drive 16km to get to the game viewing area - you don't see any game in those 16kms. And when you get there, it's very small, compared to the Kruger. And then as I say you see lots of elephants, you spend about 2 hours there just watching elephants (pictures).

For the rest you see kudus and pigs. I think our biggest problem is we stayed in Addo for too long. We should have stayed there shorter and stayed longer at some of the other parks.

They also don't have any picnic spots in Addo, you have to actually go to your camp and you can only book in at 1pm. So if you want to have a picnic it's a problem.

Can you offer any tips and advice to others planning a similar safari?

Go for a shorter time. About 2 or 3 days max. There are enough parks in the surrounding area that offer a lot of things. Another thing I found about Addo - maybe it was the time that we went - is that it was very crowded. When we got to the restaurant we couldn't even find parking, the cars were double parked, there were many buses…

In the Kruger you can still drive 10km without coming across someone else, but in Addo, there's no chance. You drive and it's like you're on a highway.

What was the most useful item in your luggage?

The fridge (that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car)! For keeping the beers ice cold! We were in the Karoo a lot of the time and buying lamb there is very cheap.

How would you rate your safari, on a scale of 1 to 10?

Back to the Addo Questions

I'd give it a 6.

Safari Location: Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
Safari Company Used: self drive
Duration: One Week in December
Traveller Details: Sonia Cino, South Africa
Rates & Availability: Plan your own safari. Make an enquiry

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