Explore SA National Parks for free

Posted by Nidha Narrandes on 28 August 2018

It’s almost Heritage Month, and this means locals get to explore and enjoy free access to 21 national parks across South Africa from 10-15 September. SANParks annually hosts the ‘Know your national parks’ campaign to encourage South Africans to meander through the parks at their leisure and discover the amazing flora and fauna our country has to offer.

“The free access is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in local residents in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage. They can do this by experiencing and enjoying all that the parks have to offer. It should be noted that the free access does not include accommodation or paid-for activities,” SANParks said in a statement.

 

Garden Route National Park is also open for the locals to explore.   Picture: Pixabay

 

Popular Addo Elephant National Park and Garden Route National Park are two of the favourites open to the public.

“There is lots to keep day visitors to Addo Elephant National Park busy – with its closest entrance gate at Colchester only 30 minutes outside Port Elizabeth. A self-drive game drive allows guests to explore the main game viewing area of the Park at their leisure – meandering through the Park along its many loops and stopping at waterholes to view game along the way. A pit stop at Jack’s picnic site is a must. This fenced-in area is the perfect spot for a picnic or braai, about halfway towards main camp. While elephant sightings are practically guaranteed, be sure to also keep a look out for the rest of the Big 5 as well as the more elusive animals like hyena and jackal,” said SANParks.

Visitors can also explore the PPC Discovery Trail and visit the Ulwazi Interpretive Centre which has interesting, interactive displays about the Park and its inhabitants.

If you live along the Garden Route, the National Parks will welcome locals through all gates, including the Big tree and all gates in Wilderness (Ebb & Flow Rest Camp, Goudveld, Farleigh, Woodville), Knysna (includes the forest areas such as Diepwalle and Harkerville), Tsitsikamma (includes Natures Valley, Storms River Rest Camp and the Big tree).

“The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) is a mosaic of landscapes and seascapes, a haven for birds and animals including seabirds, rare and endangered species. It is approximately 155, 000 hectares of land including indigenous forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands and the sea. Scientists have recorded over 465 plant species in the forests, over 22 species of amphibians, 24 reptile species, 84 species of water birds, 305 species of birds and about 43% of South Africa’s 290 mammal species in the GRNP,” says SanParks.

 

The endangered Knysna seahorses are only found in South Africa and are unusual because they can only be found in estuaries.          Picture: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

 

Communities who cannot afford transport will be bused in, but because the need is great, SANParks will use a selective process.

Regional Ecologist at GRNP Jessica Hayes told visitors to look out for the following:

– Knysna seahorse

– Blue duiker

– Knysna Turaco or Loerie

– Honey badger

– Cape Clawless Otter

– Knysna dwarf chameleon

– Slender Redfin Minnow

– Velvet Worm

– African Penguin

– African Crowned Eagle

 

Don’t forget to carry your South African ID, no identification means no access. You can also visit the www.sanparks.org for planned events for the SA National Parks Week campaign hosted in partnership with Total SA and First National Bank (FNB).

 

 

Pictures: Pixabay and Gallo Images