The Addo Elephant National Park is one of the Eastern Cape’s, and indeed South Africa’s most popular attractions, and is home to an impressive array of wildlife. Included in this is the Big 7.
Find out what animals are part of this sought-after group and what unique attractions Addo Elephant Park has to offer, as Amelia chats to Fayroush Ludick, the Marketing Manager of this popular park.
An Interview with Fayroush Ludick of Addo Elephant Park:
Q. When was Addo established? What was the vision?
A. The emphasis at Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was for years to save the Eastern Cape elephants from extinction. This has been unbelievably successful – the population has grown from a mere eleven elephants when the Park was established in 1931 to over 600 at present.
Has this initial vision changed at all? If so, how?
The emphasis has now shifted to the conservation of biodiversity. With Addo’s new philosophy and massive expansion, the complete wildlife experience is possible across a series of landscapes and biomes, unrivalled in beauty, all within a single protected area.
What sets Addo apart from other game reserves?
The AENP is the third largest national park in South Africa – at 180 000 hectares. It is home not only to the Big 5, but to the Big 7 – with the presence of the Great White Shark and seasonal Southern Right Whale in the Park’s marine area. Addo is the only Park to boast with the title of being the only Park in the world to encompass the Big 7. It is also sanctuary to the unique Addo Flightless Dung Beetle.
Please tell us a bit more about the various accommodation options at Addo:
- Safari tents – sleeps two people on two single beds with a communal kitchen and ablutions.
- Rondawels – sleeps two people in one room with air conditioning and a communal kitchen.
- Forest cabins – sleeps four people in one room with air conditioning and a communal kitchen.
- Cottages – sleeps two people with a ceiling fan and television.
- Chalets with sleeper couch – sleeps four people in one room with air-conditioning.
- Semi-detached chalets – sleeps two people with air conditioning.
- Hapoor and Domkrag Guest Houses – sleeps six people in two bedrooms with two bathrooms, air conditioning and a television.
Do you have family rooms?
The chalets and guest houses are best suited to families as they sleep more than two.
What facilities and amenities does the Park offer?
- Lapa for group functions
- Picnic areas
- Ulwazi Interpretive Centre
- Underground viewing hide and bird hide
- Swimming pool for overnight visitors
- Shop with curios and basic commodities
- Fuel station
- Self-drive game viewing
- Guided game drives
- Guided horse trails
- 4×4 trail
- Hiking trails
What makes Addo great for families with children?
The Ulwazi Interpretive Centre exhibits information not just for adults, but for children too, in order to inspire a sense of appreciation and respect for nature. The Ulwazi Interpretive Centre uses different ways of communication to enhance the understanding of information on all levels.
To stimulate the discovery process of the information, it is user-friendly and interactive. A fossil dig, geology puzzle (drifting continents), whisper dishes (movement of sound), sandbox and animal tracks, posters and multimedia programmes (sound booth) are used. It’s a fun centre, but also a learning centre.
Unlike traditional museums, we do not aim to collect, conserve and study objects – the centre is a specialised institution for communicating the importance of heritage. It works to educate and to raise awareness. The interpretive centre may sometimes have a temporary exhibition that is related to a specific topic.
The Park’s People and Conservation Department offers dedicated, fun children’s programmes for kids of all ages during all school holiday periods, so there’s always something to keep them busy.
What can visitors expect at the restaurant?
The restaurant offers a good mix of South African food, specialising in red meat dishes. However, there is something for everyone on the menu – including chicken, seafood and vegetarian meals. The special kiddies menu is also quite substantial.
Do you have conference venues available? If so, please tell us more about them:
There is a small conference venue available in the main camp section of the Park. It could seat up to 50 pax – cinema style. The lapa is also available for small group functions.
How are you involved in community and / or green initiatives? How can your guests contribute to these?
The Park has shifted from being focused on a single species to a more holistic outlook to meet conservation objectives and socio-economic development. Over R179 million has been spent in Addo alone since 2001 on poverty relief and Working for Water programmes, providing for about 8 400 contractual jobs sourced mostly from the Park’s neighbouring communities.
Current projects include the removal of alien vegetation, cleaning the coastline, fencing, new roads, building tourism infrastructure, restoring thicket vegetation by planting, rehabilitation of degraded areas and harvesting of alien fish species. Over 1 053 hectares of land have been cleared of alien invasive plants.
The objective has also been to empower communities through tourism development in national parks, looking specifically at employment creation, especially developing SMMEs. Jobs and training have been targeted at women, single-headed households and the young and disable.
Training, including environmental issues, plant identification, chainsaw operating, firefighting, first aid, HIV and Aids awareness and business skills, aims to equip local communities with the skills necessary to secure their own employment when they exit the programmes.
What animals can visitors look forward to spotting on the game drives on offer?
The main game viewing area at Addo’s main camp, where the game drives operate, offers some of the best elephant viewing in South African and a chance to spot the Big 5. Guests should also look out for Spotted Hyena and a variety of antelope species. The Park has a rich variety of bird life with over 400 species across the expanded Park, while 170 species can be found in the main game viewing area.
Why do you love the Eastern Cape?
The Eastern Cape is unique in that it is home to such a rich cultural heritage. Every day we interact with people who come from completely different cultural backgrounds to ourselves – it’s just so enriching. All it takes is taking a minute or two to interact with them and almost immediately you feel enriched.
The province also has the best to offer in teams of its richness in fauna and flora – where else can you travel only 30 minutes from a major city centre like Port Elizabeth and discover the diversity a Park like Addo Elephant National Park has to offer?
Where would you like to see Addo in 5 to 10 years’ time?
Plans are currently afoot to increase the size of Addo’s Marine Protected Area off Algoa Bay by about 120 000ha. We hope that this will be passed by government in the not-too-distant future.
What is the most satisfying part of being involved with a reserve like Addo?
Seeing the delight in our guests’ faces as they enjoy what the Park has to offer – that’s the most rewarding part of the job.
Where to Stay:
Contact Details & Additional Info:
SANParks Reception telephone: (during office hours – 07:00 – 19:00): +27 (0) 42 233 8600