Addo is a year-round destination just an hour drive from the Port Elizabeth (PE) airport. Many visitors fly to PE from Cape Town and drive back along the Garden Route or vice versa. The best game viewing months are June to September. Due to the massive expansion of Addo and the park is still growing; you should bring plenty of time for the different sections to explore the rich biodiversity. Continue reading our full seasonal guide and what you may see along with the different loops in Addo.
The best time for the main Addo National Park is the driest time of the year from May to September when elephants gather in numbers around the waterholes. During these months, day temps are pleasant nights cold. This is the low season and the park is quieter. During the summer holidays in Europe in July and August, there are slightly more visitors.
From October to March, migratory birds arrive from the north, particularly in the Zuurberg section like the European stork. Overall there are more than 400 different species of birds in the Greater Addo National Park. More information about birds in Addo.
Weather | Seasons | Crowds
The seasons in Africa are not comparable to the seasons in the northern hemisphere. Summer and winter last longer, while spring and autumn are very short. The climate here is different. During winter day temps are usually pleasant more like spring temps. Overall it's drier; South Africa was suffering a drought in 2018.
September is one of my favourite months. Although the morning and evening are still cold day temps are pleasant. It is not too hot, and the game is easier to spot. It is the end of the drier season, and wildlife depends on the waterholes. The first babies get born easy prey for the predators, which increases the chance to spot them. September is the shoulder season. It’s not too crowded, and accommodation prices are lower.
Summer (October-March) – Wetter Season
The morning and evening are lovely, but during the day, it’s unpleasant hot. The wildlife is resting and difficult to spot at midday. During summer, more precipitation occurs, but it seldom rains for days. There are two precipitation peaks; February/March and October/November. It is more often overcast and thunderstorms built up in the afternoon. Day temps can reach 40°C while nights are cooling down below 20°C. During October, many animals give birth to their young ones. This causes an increase in predator activity and your chance to spot lions and hyenas. Due to the increasing rain, wildlife is not depending on the humanmade waterholes. You spot fewer game active and drinking. Rain can always occur. If it is raining in summer game is not any longer hiding at midday. Addo is Malaria free; however, because of the high temps and rainfall, take precautions for mosquitos at dusk.
Decreasing precipitation in April. Day temps are getting more pleasant still around 25°C and nights are cool. It’s getting quieter in Addo; discounts and special rates are offered.
Winter – Drier Season (May-August)
Days are pleasant, usually with a clear sky. Day temps can reach almost 20°C from June to August, but night temps can be near freezing. Occasionally, cold fronts occur in the winter. The morning and evening are chilly, but it works well with a softshell jacket during your self-guided game drive, but it’s a little cold in open safari jeeps. Although the winter is excellent for game watching, it is the low season. Special rates and discounts are offered for many accommodations.
Gate Times for the Addo Game Area
In summer the gate is opened before sunrise but very view people get up that early. Unfortunately, gate closure already one hour before sunset. It is not allowed to drive through the park in darkness.
- Oct-March 5.30 -18.30
- April-May 6.00 - 18.00
- June-July 6.30 - 18.00
- Aug-Sep 6.00 - 18.00
Accommodation Tips Addo
There are two large male lions in the Nyathi section of Addo. Therefore, our top accommodation tip is River Bend Lodge. It’s a bit pricey but it guarantees an excellent stay and private game drives. The game drives are not included in the price but utterly worth to book. The lodge has it's own private areal and waterhole. I highly recommend ranger Christiaan not only for the big five also for birding. It's all included at Riverbend Lodge with lots of privacy. Just eight rooms are available.
Our budget tip is the Addo Main Rest Camp with different types of accommodation. Most of them are for two people, some chalets for three or four people. These are basic self-catering cottages, nothing spectacular but beautiful located. A caravan and camping area is also existing. Addo Main Camp types of accommodation
Overall, plenty of accommodations are offered outside and inside of the park; camping in the wild, basic self-catering cottages to five-star luxury lodges. To get the most out of your visit stay inside the park: early booking is advisable, and you might hear roaring lions or laughing hyenas in the night. Lodges inside and around Addo
Helpful Link: Maps of Addo Elephant National Park
The dry season is also the high season and a bit crowded and pricy. A good place to start your wildlife viewing career.
In the dry season from June to September: Great for wildlife watching and photography but more crowds then.
The crater is unique and offers a jaw-dropping setting. It is a completely separate ecosystem. It is the largest, unfilled and inactive volcanic caldera in the world.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful places on earth for wildlife viewing. You can spot wildlife throughout the year. Because of its unique ecosystem, the animals don't leave the crater. If you want to combine Ngorongoro with other major National Parks in Tanzania and the Serengeti, June through September/October may be the best choice. However, every season is slightly different:
June - October: Dry season. The best months for game viewing / to spot wildlife. Animals gather around water holes. Fewer mosquitoes. Downside: Most crowds, highest rates, very busy. Jeeps and spots need to be shared with many others.
November - May: Wet season. Lush and green scenery. Not as good as the dry season for wildlife but still great. Special months within the wet season are January and February: You might see baby zebra, baby wildebeest and other newborn. Bird watching is also fantastic in January and February. In general, rain is limited and usually not that bad during the wet season. Except for March and April, where heavier rainfall can occur.
Go in March or April. Highest possibility of rain but least visitors and lower rates. Sometimes it can get difficult to use the roads during or after heavy rain. In other seasons you should definitely start your safari tour early in the morning and leave around 6:00 AM. Use the earliest safari possible. You'll avoid heavy crowds by being the first on the floor.