National Parks Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is home to 4 of South Africa’s National Parks. These parks are extreemly important with the conservation and preservation of South Africas natural areas and fauna and flora. The most well known National Park in the Eastern Cape is the Addo National Park which is famouse for its conservation efforts of the Addo Elephant. Further north of the Addo National Park one will find the Mountain Zebra National Park just outside of Cradock. This park was established to protect the species it was named after, the very rare Mountain Zebra. As one travels West you will find the Camdeboo National Park that surrounds Graaff Reinet, the 5th oldest town in South Africa. Known for the Valley of Desolation and the incredible landscapes you find in the Karoo, it is certainly a place that visitors won’t regret stopping at. Along the coast line at the end of the Garden Route you will find the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, the incredible ruggedness of the coast line here and the natural indiginous forest is an attraction on its own. Also famous for the Otter Trail which runs within the National Parks boarders.

ADDO NATIONAL PARK

Addo Elephant National Park is situated 72km by road from Port Elizabeth. The park was established in 1931 to save last remaining 11 Elephants which were on the brink of extinction, and now home to more than 350 of them, Cape Buffalo, black Rhino, a range of Antelope species, as well as the rare flightless dung Beetle, Addo Elephant Elephant Park is a perfect destination for the adventurous outdoor and nature lover. on a budget or looking for a luxurious getaway.

The park, the third largest in South Africa, offers a wide range of game viewing and outdoor activities, which include horse-back and horse-riding, guided walking, hiking and 4×4 trails and a picnic area for day visitors. Nothing could be better if you are a bush lover. There are fantastic luxury lodges found in the park aswell as just outside the boarders. Within the park you can enjoy Riverbend Lodge, Gorah Elephant Camp and Kuzuko Lodge in the darlington Dam section and a veriety of value for money guest houses and country houses available just outside the park. Ofcoarse you can opt to stay in the Self Catering chalets of the National Park Camps which we will happily arrange for you.

These are our recommendations for great accommodation in and around the Addo.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK

The Mountain Zebra National Park’s rolling plains and deep valleys, and has become a succeful preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at over 350. Other mammals found in Mountain Zebra Park include eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok. Mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas, whilst caracal and cheetah occupy the niche of primary predators in the park.

The Mountain Zebra National Park is situated just 12 km from the picturesque town of Cradock which is significant in the history of South Africa. The access route to the park entrance, as well as all internal tourist routes are all gravel, whilst roads in the rest camp area are tarred.

The undisputed highlight of the park is obviously the 350 or so Cape mountain zebra after which the park is named. These zebra differ from the plains or Burchell’s zebra, by having narrower stripes, absence of shadow stripes and orange facial colouration.  Other noticeable species of the mountain plateau are the red hartebeest, eland and springbok.In the more wooded valleys visitors should search for kudu, and two of the park’s more recent reintroduction, the African buffalo and the black rhino.

When visiting the park, the accommodation consists of a National Park camp where there are chalets and a lovely guesthouse to stay in. For this who are looking for something differant we recommend that you stay in the well known accommodation in Cradock called, Die Tuishuise and Victoria Manor Hotel.

CAMDEBOO NATIONAL PARK

Geological formations formed hundreds of millions of years ago, the Karoo of South Africa is one of the great natural wonders of the world. The Camdeboo National Park provides visitors with insights into the unique landscape and ecosystem of the Karoo, not to mention incredible scenic beauty. A unique feature of the 14 500-hectare park is its location, practically surrounding the town of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape. The greater portion of the park is situated between 740 and 1480 metres above sea level on the foothills of the Sneeuberg range, while a small section of the low lying-plains is included. The Nqweba Dam lies within the park and covers about 1000 hectares when full with water. At some places, dolerites form jointed pillars and the best examples of which are found in the Valley of Desolation where erosion of the softer sedimentary beds has left dolerite pillars which rise to heights of 90 to 120 metres in verticle columbs. Camdeboo National Park’s major tourism draw card is the scenic Valley of Desolation, a national monument, while its Game Viewing Area is home to buffalo and antelope such as eland, gemsbok, red hartebeest, springbok and blesbok.

When visiting this area and overnighting it is great to spend it in the town of Graaff Reinet where you can stay in intimate guesthouses which are declared National Monuments. Alternatively to experience the true Karoo we do recommend staying out in a farm house at a small guest farm or a Private Lodge in the area. Our recommended stays in the Graaff Reinet area are as follows:

  • Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve
  • Samara Private Game Reserve
  • Cypress Cottages in Graaff Reinet
  • Ganora Guest Farm (Neui Bethesda)

TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK

The Tsitsikamma National Park is situated at the heart of the picturesque tourist region known as the Garden Route, found in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word meaning, “place of much water”. The Park incorporates 80 km of rocky coastline with spectacular sea and landscapes, a remote mountainous region with secluded valleys covered in mountain Fynbos and temperate high forests with deep river gorges leading down to the sea. The Tsitsikamma’s spectacular scenery includes the Indian Ocean breakers, pounding rocky shores beneath 180 m high cliffs, ever-green forests and fynbos (proteas and heath) rolling down to the sea in a lush carpet where ancient rivers have carved their path to the ocean through rocky ravines. All this conspires to attract large numbers of international and local tourist to the Park. The Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal zones and marine life. This is one of the largest single unit ‘no take’ (including fishing) Marine Protected Areas in the world, conserving 11% of South Africa’s Temperate South Coast rocky shoreline and provides a ‘laboratory’ for fisheries baseline research on endangered fish species. In 1964 when it was proclaimed, it became the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa.

The Tsitsikamma area has a long history of Marine and Forest utilisation and most of the local communities relied mostly, in one form or another, on these two ecosystems for their survival. Cormorants, Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers are prominent along the coastline. Pied and Giant Kingfishers can both be seen hunting fish at tidal pools or in the rivers that drain into the Indian Ocean. More inconspicuous, but also inhabiting these rivers are Half-collared Kingfisher and African Finfoot. The Tsitsikamma Forest is the haunt of the Knysna Loerie. Other forest species to watch or listen for include Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Knysna and Olive Woodpecker, Chorister Robin and Grey Cuckooshrike. Although Tsitsikamma boasts a magical world of inter-tidal life and reefs in its marine part, there is also the famous terrestrial part of the park with its lush forest, delicate fynbos and sheer cliffs. One of the most conspicuous trees is the Outeniqua yellow-wood, Podocarpus falcata.