WATCH: How to get the most out of SANParks' freebies in November
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This week is South African National Parks Week! In a recent media release, South African National Parks (SANParks) announced that the 16th annual National Parks Week will be hosted from 22 to 28 November 2021 with free access to major SANParks parks valid until November 26, 2021.
This year's Parks Week is hosted in partnership with Total Energies South Africa, First National Bank and the Department of Environment Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries.
SANParks Acting Chief Executive Officer, Luthando Dziba said that "SA National Parks Week is an annual campaign that gives all South African citizens the opportunity to enter most of the parks managed by SANParks for free, with the exclusion of Boulders section at Table Mountain National Park as well as accommodation facilities and tourist activities."
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Dziba said, "The week is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa's natural, cultural and historical heritage and a deeper appreciation of biodiversity. It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks."
SANParks said that “there is a growing need for national parks to be relevant, particularly to young people and communities living adjacent to parks.”
“Through our Socio-Economic Transformation programmes and our Expanded Public Works Programme, we work closely with communities living adjacent to national parks in a quest to be more inclusive in our management of protected areas. This inclusivity encompasses providing access to parks for cultural use as well as exposing young people to the different career options in conservation and tourism," Dziba added.
Since the inception of National Parks Week in 2006, a little over 590 000 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter our prestigious national parks free of charge.
SANParks aims to increase this number every year but will have to limit the number of guests this year due to coronavirus regulations. Access to the parks will be subject to gate quotas and extra visitor management procedures will be in place to manage visitor volumes.
These are the parks you are allowed to visit for free this National Parks Week according to SANParks.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is situated in the dense bush of the Eastern in a malaria-free area. The most direct route is approximately 68 km from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) to the park. The park gets its name from the sheer number of elephants in the area, 600 according to SANParks.
According to Kudu Ridge Game Lodge, “Addo Elephant National Park is said to be the most diverse game park on Earth boasting five biomes, the Karoo, grassland, fynbos, thicket and forest. Visitors may be lucky enough to see not just the Big Five but the Big Seven.
These are the elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino with great white sharks and southern right whales. The park was established in 1931 with only 11 elephants and now is home to over 600 of these majestic animals.
It is also home to the largest breeding colony of African Penguins in the World. The colony is situated on St Croix Island. Many species that historically lived in the have been successfully reintroduced to the park including lion, hyena, cheetah and mountain zebra.
“The park is also unique in that it protects an immense array of vegetation, which stretches from the semi-arid Karoo to rugged mountains, through river valleys and all the way down to a wild coastline with the longest dunes in the southern hemisphere.”
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the “Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies within South Africa and Botswana and occupies an area of 37 991 square km, about three-quarters of which is in Botswana. The park was established to protect migratory animal populations that cross the border of the two countries.
It consists largely of reddish dunes, with species of acacia growing in the riverbeds. Quick grass, gemsbok cucumber, and such shrubs as driedoring and raisinbush provide forage for large herds of gemsbok (subspecies of oryx), wildebeest, springbok, and some red hartebeest. Among other wildlife are lions, the smaller cats such as caracals and servals, wild dogs, black-backed jackals, and ostriches and numerous other birds.”
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