All the drama of a school term has finally ended, and now it's time to relax and enjoy a winter break - for the kids at least.
With South Africa's abundant national parks and nature reserves, school holidays are the best time to get the family away from their mobile screens and out in nature.
If you're visiting Kruger National Park or CapeNature reserves during the school holidays, here's what you need to know to ensure the tears are little and the fun is big.
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Kruger National Park
The park is in the process of demolishing its dams and in the first week of school holidays access to Shingwedzi and Sirheni will be blocked off to the public including some other roads.
The dams that are being demolished are currently obsolete and with them gone river connectivity in the park will be improved.
SANParks will be implementing a daily quota on day visitors to Kruger National Park for the school holiday period, thus you will need to pre-book a time slot. While daily quotas are in effect throughout the year, school holidays reach this number much faster, which results in visitors being turned away.
You can choose from the following times, with pre-booking fees set at R43 per adult and R22 per child:
- 06:00 - 08:00
- 08:00 - 10:00
- 10:00 - gate closes
“We aim to optimally manage the volumes that we expect, as well as our visitors’ expectations. The three different time slots are aimed at improving the spread of vehicles and, as far as possible prevent unnecessary waiting periods at gates”, said William Mabasa, the park's communications and marketing manager.
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Pre-booked visitors will receive preference over non-booked visitors, but only if you arrive within your booked time slot.
Visitors are also reminded of the following:
- The pre-booking fee excludes the conservation fees unless you have a Wild Card. Make sure the number of adults and children correspond with the people arriving at the gate.
- The conservation fee for SA residents is R93 per adult and R47 per child (between ages 2 – 11) and for international guests it is R372 per adult and R186 per child.
- Day visitors may not bring alcohol into the park.
- No littering, speeding or alighting from vehicles where this is prohibited in the park.
- You can report any rule breaking or other problems at these emergency call centre numbers: 013 735 4064 / 013 735 0197 / 076 801 9679.
- Also exercise caution around construction happening around Skukuza Camp.
- Due to existing contractual arrangements with Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs), they have paid for the annual operating permit and are authorised to enter 15 minutes before gate opening time to ensure fair distribution and flow of traffic.
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Kids and the young at heart can save some of their hard-earned cash this holiday by visiting a CapeNature reserve in Western Cape on Youth Day.
On 16 June, anyone under the age of 35 can enter the reserves for free, while normal conservation entry fees still apply for the older folk.
If you feel like staying over and enjoying the splendour of nature for longer, they are currently running a 40% discount on all self-catering and camping accommodation across their reserves for the winter period.
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Here are a few tips to remember when visiting a CapeNature reserve:
- If you see a tortoise in the road, pick it up and place it safely in the direction it was moving. If it's on its back, flip it over and let it move away from you by itself.
- If you're going to the beach in a reserve, do not disturb the birds like the endangered African black oystercatcher.
- Never take animals out of their wild habitat, and don't feed them either, especially baboons.
- Always stay on marked trails, and cyclists need to give hikers the right of way.
- If you can brave the cold, swim in designated areas only.
- Please be aware of snakes.
- No fires are allowed except for demarcated areas with fireplaces.
- Note that most of Western Cape's drinking water comes from nature reserves, so be mindful that you don't pollute rivers and streams.
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