In just under two weeks’ time, the annual SA National Parks Week (SANPW) campaign will kick off in most of the country’s national parks. In the 12th annual event of its kind, free day access will be granted to all South African citizens between 18 and 22 September. In the Frontier Region of SANParks this includes Addo Elephant, Garden Route, Camdeboo (Graaff-Reinet), Mountain Zebra (Cradock) and Karoo (Beaufort West) National Parks.
The inaugural SANPW took place in 2006 and was aimed at linking the South African national parks system to a similar global movement and showcasing the best of South Africa’s national parks. Now, partnering with Total SA and FNB, it is in line with SANParks’ vision statement of “A sustainable National Park System Connecting Society”.
The theme for this focus week is the same as it has been in previous years, “Know Your National Parks”, aimed at cultivating a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, protected by the national parks system.
Throughout the week the public, especially those from local communities adjacent to the Parks, will have free access to visit. It should be noted that this does not include accommodation or any commercial activities such as guided game drives, horse trails, etc.
Each Park’s People and Conservation Department will host various groups from around their Parks to informative sessions about the Park, its history, conservation ethics and initiatives and much more. Some groups will be treated to a guided game drive, which for some of the visitors will be their first time, even though they’ve lived within close proximity all their lives.
In Addo Elephant National Park, with its closest gate only 30 minutes outside Port Elizabeth, there is an array of activities available to participate in: self-drive game viewing, bird watching, walks and hikes, picnics and visiting various places of interest at the Park’s Main Camp like the Ulwazi Interpretive Centre, underground hide, bird hide and the PPC Discovery Trail.
SANParks encourages all South Africans to diarise these dates and plan a visit to their nearest park. The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa.