Cape Town - South African National Parks (SANParks) will be throwing open its gates to proudly South African visitors for no charge during the 11th annual SA National Parks Week, held from 12 to 16 September this year.
The official opening will be kicked off at Addo Elephant National Park, but the free access will be valid in most of the 21 national parks. Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the weekend, up until 18 September.
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 initiative "to give the public an understanding of the role that SANParks plays as custodian of SA's natural heritage," SANParks says.
The excluded Parks will apply normal entry tariffs, as they have been declared non-participants in the free access scheme, due to the seasonality of their product offering.
The week grants free access for day visitors holding a valid South African ID, and if focused especially on attracting people from the local communities surrounding the Parks.
SA National Parks Week has proved to be a successful campaign in terms of education and awareness of conservation issues. “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,” SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni says.
Since its inception in 2006, National Parks Week, under the theme "Know Your National Parks", has seen an influx of over 225 104 day visitors in all participating parks. The week was established in a bid to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, protected by the national parks system.
“If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans," Mketeni says, "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."
Day Visitors in all parks are urged to book in advance in order to secure their entry in the park since daily quotas will be strictly enforced throughout the festive season period.
Visitors in the Kruger National Park, especially, are advised to either arrive at the gate very early in the morning because the service is on “first come first served” basis or pre-book their entrance with central reservations office on telephone number 012 428 9111.
Day visitors can also reserve their places online. In December last year, SANParks introduced an advanced day visitor bookings, enabling online users to pre-book their day visitor park permits in a variety of time slots and for several days at a time.SEE: SANParks adds new day visitor pre-booking to online
Gate quotas will be strictly enforced. Although in operational all throughout the year, these quotas are mostly reached during long weekends and public holidays, SANParks says.
NOTE: The free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.
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