September 7th, 2011
From Monday, 12 September until Friday, 16 September South African National Parks (SANParks) will allow locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.
The week-long campaign giving free access to the national parks will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park.
According to SANParks General Manager: Media Relations, Reynold Thakhuli, the objective of the week is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country's natural, cultural and historical heritage, under the established theme "Know Your National Parks".
The idea of a national parks focus week was conceived in 2006, after a realisation that a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks. "SANParks then embarked upon this campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what SANParks envisions to be "the pride and joy of all South Africans and the world".
The feature element of this campaign is the free access granted to all South African day visitors carrying their official Identity Documents. Young persons under the age of 16 will be allowed free access without the requirement of proof of identity. It must be noted that the free access to the parks will not include any commercial activities in the park such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks, etc.
"Environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, not just a privileged few. 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," said Thakhuli.
"We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future," added Thakhuli.
The annual SA National Parks Week has been made possible with support from First National Bank since inception. They have sponsored R 1.2 million rand for the week's activities this year and each of the 19 national parks have developed unique plans for celebrating the week, including career guidance exhibitions; hiking trails; photography competitions; exhibitions on various activities around the parks; game drives; evening boma braais; story telling sessions; sports activities, give-aways, pensioners day, and wild walks for school children.
SANParks encourages all South Africans and especially educators and school groups to diarise these dates and plan a visit to a national park nearby.
For information on a park near you, visit the SANParks website!