Haven’t seen the big five or any wild animals in a long time? Now is a good time to visit any of the national parks for free this week.
South African National Parks spokesperson Rey Thakhuli says even though their rates for domestic travelers are still not the same as international rates, it is important to have open week so that even those who don't usually visit parks can do so.
“We have a three-tier fee structure for South Africans, members of the SADC region and international travelers. We want members of the public to experience our parks. That is why this week is important,” he says.
Rey says while most of the parks will be open for free from today until Sunday, the bigger ones will be charging on Saturday and Sunday.
“Our parks make most of their income on weekends, so we will have paying customers then,” he adds. These are the Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Table Mountain National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Eastern Cape mother Nosisi Magijana says she thinks it’s a great initiative and a good way for government to give back to members of the public.
“I think this is great because some kids in township and rural schools do not have an opportunity to see these majestic animals they learn about at school. They only see them in pictures and those that are lucky, on TV. Also, not all schools do tours, so if a child misses the opportunity of a school tour then that child will never see these animals,” she says.
“The truth is that our people want to experience these things and go to parks, but the reality is that for the majority of South Africans this is simply a luxury they cannot afford. Taking your kids to see the big five at a national park is not even a thought when you do not even have money to put bread on the table. This also means that kids miss opportunities to be exposed to career options. I think this is a great initiative, I just wish it was better advertised so that people knew about it in advance so they can plan for it and do it at the end of the month when people can travel to the parks,” she says.