Visit Addo and SANParks for free from 10-14 September – photos
Wildlife lovers can visit Addo Elephant National Park and most of South Africa’s game parks for free next week during the South African National Parks (SANParks) Week.
Addo is 40km from Port Elizabeth and an hour’s drive from Uitenhage and Grahamstown. Visitors can make use of the well-developed network of tourist roads, suitable for all types of vehicles in the game area as well as picnic sites in the game area and at Addo main camp.
Addo main camp offers a bird hide, underground hide and short walking trail while there are also day walking trails in the Zuurberg and Woody Cape areas of the Park. There’s a chance to spot the Big Five as well as zebra, antelope species and over 400 bird species which occur in the Park.
But there is free access to all SA parks for day visits by any SA resident from 10-14 September. The only exceptions are Boulders Beach Penguin Colony in Table Mountain National Park and the Namaqua National Park.
Besides Addo, Eastern Cape residents have three other national parks in close range. The Mountain Zebra National Park, Camdeboo National Park and Garden Route National Park are all free during SA National Parks Week. Schools that would like to participate in environmental education programmes in the Park are welcome to contact the Park’s people & conservation department to book.
Camdeboo National Park, which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, offers visitors an outing to the world-renowned Valley of Desolation, the Game Viewing Area surrounding the Nqweba Dam as well as picnic sites, 4×4 trails and various hiking trails. Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock, offers visitors picnic sites with swimming pools, a recently upgraded network of roads for wildlife viewing and the chance to spot magnificent cheetah as well as the Cape mountain zebra for which the Park has named.
According to SANParks Acting Head of Communications, Paul Daphne, the objective of SANParks Week is to cultivate a sense of understanding and pride in South Africans of their natural, cultural and historical heritage. This is part of the established theme ‘Know Your National Parks’.
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 should be able to access the parks Daphne said. “We especially want young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future.”
As part of SA National Parks Week, Addo Elephant National Park’s people & conservation department will host various community and school groups in the Park to show what Addo has to offer. More than 300 youth and adults who live in the communities bordering the Park will participate in the educational programmes throughout the week, including environmental education lessons and game drives.
Since it is also National Clean-up Week, 50 learners from Colchester will participate in a clean-up of the Park’s coastline.
The annual SANParks Week has been made possible with support from First National Bank (FNB). SANParks Week is in its seventh year and has proven to be a successful campaign in terms of education and awareness of conservation issues.
Note: Free access to the Park does not include guided activities, such as horse trails, guided game drives, guided tours or overnight hiking trails and is not available to visitors on open safari vehicles or organised pre-paid tour buses.
Visitors need to produce their valid SA ID documents to secure free access. Young persons under the age of 16 will be allowed free access.
(Edited by St Francis Chronicle)
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