The public has a chance to visit a national park for free during SA National Parks Week, from Saturday September 16 to Sunday September 24.
Now in its 18th year, the week was established to cultivate a sense of pride in the country’s heritage protected by its national-parks system, says SA National Parks CEO Hapiloe Sello.
SANParks spokesperson Rey Thakhuli said they also wanted to give all South Africans an equal chance to enjoy the national parks and spend time in nature.
“Every year, SANParks aims to increase the number of citizens that are granted free access to national parks during this time. Since we started the programme in 2006, some 691 418 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter national parks, and we want to see these numbers grow.”
The week grants free access to most of the 21 national parks for day visitors, including Table Mountain National Park.
Free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.
Namaqua National Park, Boulders Penguin Colony and the Cableway in Table Mountain National Park, for instance, are not included in the free access.
Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the two weekends. Visit the SANParks website for individual park dates and participating parks.
“It’s important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks. They act as spaces to practice sustainable conservation, as spaces that preserve and celebrate our culture and heritage, and we now see national parks playing the critical role of empowering communities living adjacent to parks through job creation, and we continue to explore ways of creating business opportunities, particularly for small business owners,” said Mr Sello.
“This initiative aims to give the public an understanding of the role that SANParks plays as custodian of the country’s natural heritage. If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such.“