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Free entry to most of the 21 South African National Parks kicks off in just over two weeks’ time on Monday 10 September until Friday 14 September. As in previous years, the campaign will again be run under the established theme, ‘Know your national parks’.

Together with partners Total South Africa and FNB, SANParks makes this opportunity available to all South African citizens during Tourism month. The free access is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in local residents in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage. They can do this by experiencing and enjoying all that the parks have to offer. It should be noted that the free access does not include accommodation or paid-for activities.

There is lots to keep day visitors to Addo Elephant National Park busy – with its closest entrance gate at Colchester only 30 minutes outside Port Elizabeth. A self-drive game drive allows guests to explore the main game viewing area of the Park at their leisure – meandering through the Park along its many loops and stopping at waterholes to view game along the way. A pit stop at Jack’s picnic site is a must. This fenced-in area is the perfect spot for a picnic or braai, about halfway towards main camp. While elephant sightings are practically guaranteed, be sure to also keep a look out for the rest of the Big 5 as well as the more elusive animals like hyena and jackal.

At main camp, visitors can explore the underground and bird hides, walk the PPC Discovery Trail and visit the Ulwazi Interpretive Centre for interesting, interactive displays about the Park and its inhabitants.

The Zuurberg section of the Park is for those who enjoy experiencing nature on foot – with a number of trails to choose from – varying in length and difficulty. There are more walking trails in the Alexandria forest in the Woody Cape section near the town of Alexandria.

Other parks in the region who are also participating in the campaign include Garden Route National Park, Mountain Zebra (near Cradock) and Camdeboo National Parks (outside Graaff-Reinet). Addo Elephant will not be extending their free entry outside of 10 – 14 September, while Mountain Zebra will allow the first 100 day visitors through their gate free access on both Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September and free entry is extended in Camdeboo throughout the weekend after SANParks Week.