The Addo Elephant National Park is a diverse wildlife conservation area situated close to Port Elizabeth and Kudu Ridge Game Lodge. The park contains five of South Africa’s seven biomes, including the Alexandria sand dunes, the largest area of sand dunes in the southern hemisphere running to the coastline, St Croix Island, Bird Islands and a very large marine protected area. This makes the park a Big 7 safari destination – the only place in the world where you can see lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, whales and great white sharks.

Visit the Addo Elephant National Park for superb land and marine safaris, including whale watching. Contact us if you are interested in finding out more about our unique Addo safaris.

Which Whales to Watch?

The Addo Elephant Park Marine Protected Area (MPA) covers an area of 1200 square kilometers and is home to a diverse array of marine wildlife, including three species of whales. This area provides excellent boat-based whale watching opportunities

Addo’s Southern Right Whale

  • Best Time to See: July to September.
  • Length: 15m.
  • Weight: 47 tonnes.
  • Diet: copepads and krill.
  • Appearance: Dark grey or black, sometimes with white patches on the underside.
  • Quite curious and playful when around humans.
  • Happily interacts with dolphins and humpback whales.
  • Females produce a single offspring every three to four years.

Addo’s Humpback Whale

  • Best Time to See: June to December.
  • Length: 18m (about the size of a school bus).
  • Weight: 40 tonnes.
  • Diet: small fish, krill (tiny crustaceans) and plankton.
  • Appearance: black on the upper (dorsal) side and mottled black and white on the under (ventral) side.
  • Known for their haunting songs.
  • Humpbacks often propel themselves out of the water and then splash back down. This is called breaching.
  • These whales migrate farther than any other mammal on earth.
  • Due to this roaming they can be found in different parts of the world at different times of year.
  • Females produce a single offspring every two to three years.

Addo’s Brydes Whale

  • Best Time to See: July to September.
  • Length: 12 to 15m.
  • Weight: 90,000 pounds,
  • Appearance: upper side of the body is dark grey, blue or black colored. Belly is creamy-colored. Throat and chin are often covered with white patches.
  • Named after Johan Bryde, a Norwegian who set up the first whaling station in South Africa at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Diet: crustaceans, krill, copepods, cephalopods and fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
  • Live a solitary life and occasionally gather in pairs (usually mothers and their calves) or loose groups composed of up to 20 members.
  • Can survive 50 years in the wild.
  • Females produce offspring once every two years.

Addo Whale Watching Safari Season

The Addo whale-watching season begins in June when humpback whales can be seen moving up the coast to breed (peak in July/August). Between August and December the humpacks migrate back to the southern ocean with their calves (peak in November/December).

Southern right whales can mostly be seen from July to September as they enter the safety of the Algoa Bay, within the Addo marine reserve, to give birth. Brydes whales are also seen during this period.

Recommended Whale Watching and Addo Safari Tours

If you are interested in experiencing a Big 7 Addo safari while staying at Kudu Ridge Game Lodge [link] we suggest that you book a guided Addo safari tour and a whale watching boat trip.

Our recommended Addo whale-watching operator is Raggy Charters. * The whale watching trip departs at 8am from the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (now called the Nelson Mandela Bay Yacht Club) in the Port Elizabeth Harbour and returns by 12.00pm. The trip is a 3.5 to 4 hour cruise. The tour starts with a harbour cruise and full safety briefing, after which you exit the port and set a course for the islands. Light refreshments and snacks are served during the cruise and you are more than welcome to bring your own snacks and refreshments.

During the trip you will see two islands, St Croix Island and Brenton Island. St. Croix Island is home to 22,000 breeding pairs of African penguins, the largest breeding colony found in Africa. During this cruise you could also spot bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, humpback dolphins, bryde’s whales, minke whales, humpback whales (June to December), Southern right whales (July to September), Cape fur seals, various species of sharks, Cape gannets and various species of pelagic birds including terns, petrels, skuas, shearwaters and albatrosses. This cruise is a very unique experience and the team will try to make it the most enjoyable trip.

To enquire about Addo whale watching tours, Addo safaris, other Addo activities and our Addo acommodation please contact us on We are here to help you make your Addo adventure and stay a memorable one.

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*Photos thanks to Raggy Charters.