Addo Elephant National Park
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 350 elephants, 280 Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. But the Addo story has only just begun. Plans to expand the 125 000 ha (309 000 acre) Addo National Elephant Park into a 492 000 ha (1,2 million acre) "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 will 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. Only lions still have to be reintroduced to the "Greater Addo" area and could be as soon as 2003.
- A 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.
- Rich heritage of archaeological and historical sites.
- A wide variety of accommodation and activity options.
Addo has its own independent website giving a fuller exploration of its wonderful bounty. Go to www.addoelephantpark.com and discover more about this incredible conservation initiative.
Mountain Zebra National Park
The craggy heights of the Mountain Zebra National Park's Bankberg embrace rolling plains and deep valleys, and have become an entrancing preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at 300. Other mammals found here include Cape buffalo, black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok, while mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas. Caracal occupies the niche of primary predator.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Where the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound rocky shores, where temperate high forest and fynbos roll down to the sea in an unspoilt verdant carpet, where ancient rivers carve their paths to the ocean down rocky ravines. This, "the place of much water", is the Tsitsikamma National Park. The heartland of the park stretches some 5 km to sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish.
Dolphins frolic in the breakers, surfing and playing for the sheer joy of life, and the gentle giant of the ocean, the southern right whale visits here, coming inshore to breed.