While to the purist, Addo may be viewed as a tourist trap, this in fact works to the visitors benefit as the wildlife is so habituated to the presence of vehicles, that you are guaranteed close encounters with wildlife of the kind that won’t have the family car insurer chewing his knuckles.
While the leopard may still be my technical answer to the question: “what is your favourite animal?”, the animals I most enjoy watching are the world’s biggest land mammal – African Elephants (Loxodonta africana).
Tourists get excited by the presence of a wild elephant at the Domkrag Dam lookout point
A breeding herd of elephant raise clouds of dust on their approach to a drinking hole
Baby elephants are just too cute
The early morning riser is sure to catch glimpses of Black-backed Jackal heading home after a night out
Kudu seem to be the most common antelope in the park
Although I hate to end this article on a gripe – I do have to warn prospective overnighters to the Park that the campsite is one of the worst of any – SANParks or otherwise – I have visited. Ablution facilities are fine, but the 10 campsites are at the back end of the otherwise spacious caravan area in what can only be described as a cul-de-sac alleyway. Camp spots are tiny – no more than 4×4 meters, have no view, and subject to noise pollution from the nearby trainline, passing vehicles and other park residents – the tented camp on the one side hosting drunken Germans singing ‘Buffalo Soldier’ all night, and I was kept awake by snoring residents of the camp itself on the second night. To round it all off, on attempting to check out the conversation with the receptionist when something like this:
Receptionist “All I need is your key”
AL: “I was camping”
Receptionist “Ah the tented camp…”
AL “No, in my own tent”
Receptionist: Pause to register that they have a campsite. “O, you can just go.”
AL: Thinks “What did I do wrong?!”
There is a lot of secondary tourism that has grown up around the park, and there are accommodation options between Addo and Kirkwood to suit all tastes, as well as a variety of other entertainment and eating options. The only benefit of staying in the park is one is given a 30 minute head start on the opening times at the gate. When the target animals are elephants, this is meaningless, but it does enhance the feeling of being in the wild a bit more in the early morning compared to later on when one has to deal with increasing volumes of vehicle traffic.
After all that you may be tempted