Ed’s letter: Thank heavens for our national parks

Posted by Sonya Schoeman on 19 April 2017

Our national parks are a treasure and we should use them, writes Sonya Schoeman.

In 1912, an area just south-west of the Lebombo Mountains was declared the Mkhuze Game Reserve. It was recognised by the authorities at the time that the area’s game needed protection from the butchery that was taking place. As an indication of how extreme it was, an extract from the diary of ‘great white hunter’ William Baldwin states that he met up with another such man in the area who’d had a ‘splendid hunt’, he wrote, killing 150 hippos and 91 elephants.

It’s fortunate for us that someone stopped this free-for-all because those conservationists and the ones who came after have helped preserve a decent percentage of South Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems. As someone who values the natural world as much as you, our readers do, I’m personally grateful for the existence of national conservation organisations such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and SANParks. It’s vital that this preservation and investment in conservation happens at government level because these lands, this wildlife treasure, belong to all of us, and their longevity depends on our interest in and support of them.

Here’s an interesting fact: Addo Elephant National Park’s occupancy is over 90 per cent. Being an ardent fan of the Eastern Cape, I’m not at all surprised. However, our senior journalist and gear editor Melanie van Zyl was. She’d never been. ‘I was so pleasantly surprised by it. My parents had always driven past Addo, believing it wasn’t a patch on Kruger,’ she said. ‘Now I believe that Gautengers must go. It’s such a different kind of holiday, such a different environment and so varied.’ Best of all, she says, the elephants there, which Addo is known for, are so peaceful that the guides don’t even carry guns.

Using her recent field guide training, Mel tested four routes that will satisfy different interests: wildlife, 4x4ing, hiking and a marine focus (from page 66). But then, you might say, there’s that 90 per cent occupancy thing. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Our Final Cut (page 36) this issue focuses on the Sundays River Valley, close to the main gate. Pippa de Bruyn chose 14 fabulous (and affordable) properties close by.

We hope it inspires you.

4 things to look out for in this May issue

What’s for free?
Boy, don’t we need free fare now that our leaders have disrespected our rand? On page 78, you’ll find some things to do this winter in Jozi, Port Elizabeth, Durban and CT for nothing, gratis, mahala.

Wish-list travel
Turn to page 84 and look at those pictures of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Then read that first paragraph and tell me it doesn’t put travel-lust in your heart. Also read Sam Reinders’ story on Kathmandu, which she’s visited 15 times (page 94).

One damn fine chicken
Since we changed our food pages, Food Editor Nikki Werner’s voice has followed us into our kitchens at home and on the road. This lesson on chicken makes three meals of one humanely dispatched bird (page 44).

Look out for the Good-Value Star
Each issue of Getaway has several inexpensive accommodation options, places to stay for under R550 pp (some for less) and that we think offer good value.


This month’s contributors

Samantha Reinders– Kathmandu, page 94
Samantha is a photojournalist based in Cape Town. She likes that her job allows her to shoot presidents and pimps, penguins and potjiekos.Her love of all things different, and the yin and yang is the only way she can explain why she loves the Karoo as much as Kathmandu in Nepal. She’s flown on Air Force One and has a tattoo she’s never seen.

Ondela Mlandu– Road trip: Swaziland, page 49
Before joining the Getaway team in 2016, Ondela spent a year exploring Europe. This is where she learnt the secret to packing smartly and living out of a suitcase. Eventually, she decided to switch the Amsterdam canals for South Africa’s seasides and landscapes and came home. When a Swaziland story came up, it was only fitting for Ondela to pack enough clothes for a long weekend, which she did with ease.

David Rogers–South Luangwa, page 84
If there were one reserve in Africa David could go to for the rest of his life, it would be Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Since first visiting it for Getaway in 1995, he has returned every year– often three times or more – and has experienced it when it’s dry, wet and in between. Every time he goes he’s blown away by the friendly people, the spectacular landscapes, the wildlife and the mature forests of trees.

Nandi Majola–Free things to do, page 78
Nandi recently started a six-month internship at Getaway. She has lived in four South African cities but considers herself a proud Durbanite. As a journo student at Rhodes University, she learnt how to interview people, but UCT’s travel-writing course sparked her interest in ‘interviewing places’, a term coined by AA Gill. She’s getting ready to see the world but before that needs to save and make the most of things to do locally, especially if they’re free!


Read more from this story in the May 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our May issue features the ultimate guide to Addo, free things to do in your city, a photographic getaway to South Luangwa and how to get the best of Nepal.