School holidays: Plan your outdoor family adventure in SA's parks

2017-11-21 15:01 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - South Africans are blessed with rich natural landscapes across the country that bring a myriad of activities.

From extreme outdoor adventures and unique hiking trails, to safari rides and the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, it's no wonder that SA's national parks are a popular destination during the holidays for local and international tourists.

SEE: SANParks makes access cheaper for locals

This summer, South African National Parks (SANparks) does not only offer experiences for adults, but also has dedicated school holiday programmes at selected parks, that's set to delight the little ones.

Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park - all located in the Eastern Cape - have a line-up of special activities to keep kids entertained.

Addo Elephant National Park

From 4 to 14 December, Addo Elephant National Park will run its December school holiday programme, starting at 9:00 daily.

Kids between the ages of 5 and 13 will be "treated to a special guided game drive to explore all the park has to offer", says SANParks.

SEE: #BlackFriday: Where to book your next cheap holiday

Drives can accommodate a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 22 children, and will cost R60 per children.  Parents must ensure their children's spot by signing them up early at the Game Drives Reception office.

Kids will get to see elephants close up and hear about the Big Five and smaller creatures of the park - like the infamous flightless dung beetle.

There are also free activities, open to all ages, from 13:30 and 15:00 daily at the Park’s Interpretive Centre.

Here's the line-up:

  • Monday, 4 December: Face painting
  • Tuesday, 5 December: The spotted hyena - story telling
  • Wednesday, 6 December: What is the Big Seven?
  • Thursday, 7 December: Explore nature on foot – a walk on the wild side
  • Friday, 8 December: Movie corner on a big screen
  • Monday, 11 December: Face painting
  • Tuesday, 12 December: Scavenger hunt
  • Wednesday, 13 December: What is your favourite animal?
  • Thursday, 14 December: Movie corner

Sanparks advises that activities may be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. "Conservation fees are payable upon entry for all visitors, including holiday programme participants," adds Sanparks.  For booking information contact the Park directly on 042 233 8600.

Camdeboo National Park

From 27 November to 1 December between 9:00 and 14:00, Camdeboo National Park has a programme lined-up for kids between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. The programme will take place at the Park’s Environmental Education Centre and costs R20 per child, per day.

Here's the line-up:

  • 27 November – Big 7 Monday
  • 28 November – Spiders Tuesday
  • 29 November – Butterfly Wednesday
  • 30 November – Our Earth Thursday
  • 1 December – Games Only Friday

Sanparks advises that bookings are essential as there is limited space.  For more information and to book, contact Rosemary Scheepers at rosemary.scheepers@sanparks.org or Zimkhitha Zungula at zimkhitha.zungula@sanparks.org or call 049 892 3453.

SEE: Get out your binoculars: Kruger's annual birding weekends flies off this week

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Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park’s school holiday programme takes place from 11 to 18 December.

"The free programme is open to all children between the ages of 6 and 16, as well as adults who may want to join in on the fun and games," says Sanparks, adding that the planned game drives, offered at a reduced rate, are only for the youngsters.

Here's the line-up:

  • Monday, 11 December (08:00 - 10:00): A guided game drive at a cost of R90 per child.  
  • Tuesday, 12 December (09:00 - 10:30): A guided 1km walk on the Imbila hiking trail (inside the fenced area).
  • Wednesday, 13 December (10:00 - 12:00): Watching nature DVD’s.
  • Thursday, 14 December (10:00 - 12:30): Signs of the wild – tracks and tracking.
  • Friday, 15 December (11:00 - 12:00): A guided game drive to a rock painting site inside the Park at a cost of R85 per child. 
  • Saturday, 16 December (12:00 - 13:00): Know your birds.
  • Sunday, 17 December (10:00 - 12:00): Watching nature DVD’s and playing ecological games. 
  • Monday, 18 December (09:00 - 11:30): A guided walk on the 2.5km Black Eagle hiking trail (inside the fenced area).

Activities may be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. Conservation fees are payable upon entry for all visitors, including holiday programme participants. For bookings call 048 801 5700/1.

SEE: SANParks: Annual tariff increases at some of SA's national parks

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