Kruger readies for Free Access week - here's what to get up to

2016-08-29 08:50 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - The annual South African National Parks (SA National Parks) Week is fast approaching, and we can't be more excited. 

The free access week, taking place on 12 – 16 September 2016, grants all South African passport holders a chance to visit most of the national parks in the country. 

Taking place in SA's tourism month and heritage month, the initiative holds true to its promise to open #TourismForAll

The purpose of this initiative is to continue to familiarise and create awareness of the National Parks and an understanding of environmental conservation amongst South African citizens. 

The Kruger National Park, one of the most-visited destinations in South Africa, will surely be high on the must-see list during the free access week. 

If you're a first-time Kruger visitor and would like to make use of the free week, check out these awesome activities. 

The “Learn and Walk on the Wild side” project in Skukuza Camp running on 9 -13 September will automatically fall under this special week as it ends on 13 September and will be hosted in conjunction with both Mpumalanga and 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. 

If children cannot make it to the Kruger Park during the free access week, the management will take the wildlife lessons of the park to them. Management of the Kruger will visit children at Shongwe Hospital outside Malelane Gate on 16 September. 

"The approach is to ensure that we reach out to these groups of children because they cannot make use of the opportunity as offered due to their condition - whilst also getting lessons from them about life’s challenges," SANParks says.

Throughout the free access week, visitors can also attend an exhibition of services and products rendered by the various tourism private entities, government departments as well as community-based organisations from around the Park – the venue will be Skukuza Camp from 12 -15 September.

All the parks in SA will have activities planned for the free access week. 

The Northern Region has an exciting program this year with the following major activities to take place in two of its parks. The inaugural weekend of African Spirituality, as well as the cultural festival, will be held at Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State and Mapungubwe National Park and Work Heritage Site in Limpopo respectively.

SEE: Golden Gate to host African spirituality weekend

Along the West Coast, visitors will flock to see the iconic Namaqua flowers in bloom during the free access week. NOTE: Although the West Coast National Park will be partaking in the free access week, Namaqua National Park will be excluded. 

SANParks warns that normal daily quotas at the gates of all parks will apply during the free access week and preference will be given based on first come first served basis. 

SEE HOW TO PRE-BOOK HERE: SANParks adds new day visitor pre-booking to online

According to SANParks CEO Mr Fundisile Mketeni “The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa. Environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, not just a privileged few, that is why we set this week aside every year to afford all citizens from all walks of life to access the parks.

“If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such. We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future,” concluded Mketeni. 

NOTE: All of the parks managed by SANParks, excluding Namaqua National Park and Boulders Penguin Colony in Table Mountain National Park, will be participating in the free access week. 

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.

Only children below the age of 12 years gain entry without proof of identity.

Groups regarded as commercial ventures: 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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