Leave the road, take the trails – visit the best of SA’s National Parks

National Parks
Photo credit: Rudolph de Girardier

South African National Parks (SANParks), together with Total South Africa and FNB will be hosting the 15th annual SA National Parks Week from 16 – 20 November 2020.

SANParks has postponed the free access week which is traditionally held in September, to November, due to the COVID-19 Alert Level 2 regulations which restrict the number of persons allowed within public spaces. Additionally, they have implemented extra visitor management procedures in the parks to manage visitor volumes in line with regulations to further mitigate the risk of the spread of coronavirus at this time.

The inaugural South African National Parks Week took place in 2006 and was aimed at linking the South African national parks system to the global national movement and to also showcase the best of South Africa’s national parks. SA National Parks Week has proved to be a successful campaign in terms of education and awareness of conservation issues and the various park offerings.

The week grants free access to most of the 21 national parks for day visitors, especially people from the local communities.

Free entry excludes Namaqua National Park and Boulders Penguin Colony and the Table Mountain Cableway in Table Mountain National Park.

It should be noted that free access to parks does not in include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.

“The week in partnership with Total South Africa and FNB is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage and a deeper appreciation of biodiversity.”

“It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks,” said Fundisile Mketeni SANParks Chief Executive Officer.

SANParks offers a wide range of activities, including: 4×4 trails, hiking, mountain biking, birding, river rafting, horseriding and many more.

Fundisile highlighted the growing need for national parks to be relevant, particularly to young people and communities living adjacent to parks.

“Through our Socio-Economic Transformation programmes and our Expanded Public Works Programme, we work closely with communities living adjacent to national parks in order to be more inclusive. We can tackle issues of wildlife crime with their help, afford them more access to parks for cultural use, inform young people about the different career options that parks have to offer and create job opportunities.

SANParks hopes to strengthen and enable those communities to reap the benefits of the national parks,” Fundisile concluded.

Western Cape Parks include: Agulhas National Park, Bontebok National Park, Garden Route National Park, Karoo National Park, Table Mountain National Park, and West Coast National Park.