SANParks postpones annual free access week to November due to Covid-19 restrictions

02 September 2020 - 09:20 By Unathi Nkanjeni
For five days in November, entry to all national parks will be free, except at Namaqua National Park and Boulders section at Table Mountain National Park..
For five days in November, entry to all national parks will be free, except at Namaqua National Park and Boulders section at Table Mountain National Park..
Image: Vanessa Stephen

SA National Parks (SANParks) has postponed its annual free access week, usually held in September, to November due to Covid-19 and level 2 regulations. 

This is the first time since the programme was introduced 14 years ago that it will not take place in September.

The free access week was introduced in 2006, and more than 500,000 people have participated.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said the free access week, sponsored by Total SA and FNB, will now take place from November 16 to 20.

“SANParks has postponed the free access week due to the Covid-19 regulations which restrict the number of people allowed within public spaces,” said Mketeni.

“We have implemented extra visitor management procedures in the parks to manage visitor volumes in line with regulations to mitigate the risk of the spread of coronavirus at this time.”

For five days in November, entry to all parks will be free, except at Namaqua National Park and Boulders section at Table Mountain National Park.

Free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.

Mketeni said every year, SANParks aims to increase the number of travellers granted free access to national parks during that week.

“The week is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in SA's natural, cultural and historical heritage and a deeper appreciation of biodiversity. It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks,” he said.

He highlighted the growing need for national parks to be relevant, particularly to young people and communities living adjacent to parks.

Last month, SANParks urged the public to pre-book their overnight stays at its parks, saying it will not allow walk-ins under level 2 of the lockdown.