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EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by: Louzel Lombard for Traveller24

The annual South African National Parks (SANParks) Week will take place from 14th to 18th September 2015, affording all South African day visitors free access into all national parks in the country.

sanparks

Some parks (see full list below) will also extend the free access to include one of two days of the weekend of 19th and 20th September. The free SANParks week, however, does not include the Namaqua National Park and the Boulders Penguin Colony in the Table Mountain National Park, due to the seasonality of these parks’ attractions. Only children below the age of 12 years gain entry without proof of identity.

The purpose of the SANParks week initiative is to continue to familiarise and create awareness about the understanding of environmental conservation amongst South African citizens.

William Mabasa, general manager of communications and marketing in the Kruger National Park said, “September is both tourism and national heritage month. We, therefore, encourage South Africans – young people in particular – to visit the park as the intention is to make them understand the value of the environment and the importance of conservation.”

A lion cub stretching in the Kruger National Park © Stuart Bassil
A lion cub stretching in the Kruger National Park © Stuart Bassil

Masses of South Africans will flock to SANParks’ gates from 14–18 September and the most popular parks are expected to inflict strict quotas for visitors to ensure the well-being of the parks and their inhabitants.

“The normal daily quota at the gates will still apply during that week and preference will be given based on a first come, first served basis. Know your parks and act in their best interest by conserving nature,” Mabasa said.

Which is why you should be clued up for this amazing opportunity to engage with South Africa’s most prestigious natural tourist attractions.

Here are the best tips, tricks and specials to know going into SANParks week:

1. Go early

As quotas will be implemented during SANParks week, be smart and head out early if you’re going to the most popular parks like the Kruger, Wild Coast and Garden Route National Park.

2. Go to the lesser-known parks

Take a look at all the SANParks participating:

NOTE: Most of the parks have extended their free offering to include Saturday, 19th September and Sunday, 20th September.

sanparks

Wow! Who knew South Africa had more than four cool national parks?! Yeah, why not head out to spend some time in the Agulhas, or Bontebok or Mokala National Park.

3. Book accommodation

Although no changes are made to the prices of the accommodation over SANParks week, booking your spot inside the park would save you from having to get up early to queue at the park’s gate to secure a spot inside.

4. Go on a hike

Following the destructive Cape Fires in March and months of vegetation rehabilitation, seven trails in the Silvermine area of the Table Mountain National Park will be re-opened again in time for SANParks’ National Parks week.

Looking down on The Sentinel (left) and Hout Bay from the Silvermine Mountain Bike Trail in Table Mountain National Park © warrenski
Looking down on The Sentinel (left) and Hout Bay from the Silvermine Mountain Bike Trail in Table Mountain National Park © warrenski

From Monday, 14th September, hikers and trail runners will be able to return to these favourite Silvermine routes:

– Pecks Valley
– Bailey’s Kloof
– Spes Bona
– Echo Valley
– Trappies Kop
– Ou Kraal
– Steenberg Plateau

Apart from Table Mountain National Park, nearly all of SA park’s have great hiking trails. Tsitsikamma, for example, is world-renowned for its shoreline trails, while Kruger National Park has some incredible, below-the-radar backpacking trails.

5. Make use of the other specials in the parks

Various initiatives will be occurring in conjunction with SANParks week:

– “Learn and Walk on the Wild side” will run every day at Mopani Camp in Kruger and will be hosted in conjunction with Limpopo’s Department of Education. The project targets high school pupils specifically Grade 10 and 11 from neighbouring communities, exposing them to conservation and tourism related careers.

Impala in Kruger National Park © Chris Eason
Impala in Kruger National Park © Chris Eason

– Kids can have their faces painted free of charge on Saturday, 19th September in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park.

– Visitors can purchase a funicular family pass at Cape Point on presentation of their South African ID books that will allow two adults and two scholars (aged 6-16) a return trip on the electric-powered ‘Flying Dutchman’ funicular for R100.

Individual adult return tickets are also reduced to R30 on the Flying Dutchman during SANParks week.

– “Double Up” specials for the duration of SANParks Week. Say “double up!” when placing a sushi order at the Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point and you will get a second plate of the same sushi order at half the price. The same deal applies to any pizza on the menu at the food shop. Shout “double up!” and the half price discount will apply.

Two Oceans Restaurant © Ingrid Sinclair
Two Oceans Restaurant © Ingrid Sinclair

Further specials in this part of Table Mountain National Park include a free laminated Cape Point placemat set when a purchase of more than R300 is made at any of the curio shops.

View of Cape Point from a helicopter © Bas Leenders
View of Cape Point from a helicopter © Bas Leenders

NOTE: Conditions applicable to the free entry are that access will only be granted to day visitors upon presentation of a green bar-coded identity document.

Groups regarded as commercial ventures should note that private open safari vehicles operators, tourists who come to the park on tour buses, and overnight visitors are not included in this free access arrangement.

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