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First time to SANParks?

Welcome to the official website of South African National Parks (SANParks). If you are familiar with the national parks of South Africa and want to locate specific information, we trust you find it easy to navigate the site.

If you are a complete stranger to the parks, we hope the following couple of paragraphs will give you a better idea of what to look for:

What are national parks and how many are there?

A national park is more than just a game or nature reserve. Its purpose is to conserve a representative portion of the natural and cultural biodiversity of the country. There are currently 21 parks in the national park stable plus a head office in Pretoria . These are located in 8 of the 9 provinces, with only Kwa-Zulu Natal having no SANParks' run national parks. South Africa is blessed with a range of natural heritage of very different habitat types and experience. Thus one can chose between a whole selection of experiences in visiting the various national parks including savanna parks, arid semi-desert parks, coastal parks, Cape floral kingdom parks, parks with forests and grasslands. Many of the parks contain more than one habitat, and also a wide range of natural, cultural and tourism exposures can be found within any one park. While large African game is a feature of many of the parks, others are more focused on aquatic eco-systems, vegetation, cultural or scenic landscape.

What information can one find on this site?

Tourism: Information about the various parks – their accommodation, tariffs, booking procedure, activities and information for niche group travelers such as birders, people with disabilities, hikers, adrenalin junkies etc.

Conservation: The wildlife and ecosystems that are conserved by the parks, including information on Transfrontier Parks

People and Conservation: The culture, archaeology and history associated with the parks – how the parks interact with the communities who live adjacent the parks, and with the youth through environmental education and interpretation.

Bulletin boards/forums: Ability to discuss things with other people on various parks or topics

Public Volunteer Information: How to become an Honorary Ranger, a friend of the park or to work as a student volunteer.

Information for Commercial Photographers: How to apply for permission to take commercial film or photographs, and get special privileges associated therewith.

Media information and upcoming events in the parks: Recent press releases, or events in the parks that are either by invitation or open to everyone.

Dos and don'ts: A guide to some of the rules in traveling to national parks and the reasons for there existence. Also includes a hall of shame of people caught offending park rules.

What type of accommodation is in the parks?

Most of the accommodation that is operated by SANParks (+- 5000 beds in about 50 rest camps and about 30 camping sites) is run on a self catering basis. However there are shops and restaurants at most camps. The accommodation ranges in standard from basic, with communal ablutions and kitchen facilities, to semi-luxury units in exclusive locations. Some camps offer only one type of accommodation, while others offer an entire spectrum of quality and size. There are also a number of privately run concession sites within some of the parks, which are usually more up-market and luxurious.

How does one get to national parks and how does one get around once there?

Most of the parks can be reached via South Africa 's well developed system of public tarred roads. Thus one can drive to the parks or catch a tour bus as part of an organised itinerary. Most parks also have airports in nearby urban centres and several car-hire companies to choose from.

In the parks themselves, all have a network of either tar roads and/or graded gravel roads. Some of the parks may also offer 4x4 routes. Check the details under the respective park information. While all parks cater for self driving, some of the parks offer park-run guided drives on open vehicles. In the parks with large, dangerous animals, and driving is prohibited after dark, this is the only way to view nocturnal species. When self-driving in a park, always remember that there are speed limits, for the safety of the animals and visitors who have stopped to look at them. Thus travelling in parks takes longer than on public roads outside of parks. Also note that parks like Kruger and Kgalagadi are huge and cannot be driven in a day. Remember the slower one drives, the more one sees.

What is a conservation fee and what is a Wild Card?

When spending time inside a national park and making use of the facilities provided inside, there is a daily utilization fee that goes towards meeting the extensive conservation budget that goes with the conservation and maintenance of a park. The Wild Card is a loyalty card system that replaces the daily conservation fee. It is available in different forms based on regional locations, number of persons linked to the card, and different utility rates for South Africans who are already contributing to the conservation budget through taxes and for foreigners.

Is SANParks the same as the National Parks Board?

The name National Parks Board ceased to exist in 1997. It was replaced by South African National Parks (SANParks). As a large Para-statal organisation SANParks does have a Board. However this is a government appointed Board of Trustees of 12 members, and not the organisation responsible for the conservation, tourism and community relations of the parks.

What do you want to see or do?

National Parks are not just about observing wildlife, although this is an important motivation for many visitors. The underlying table lists all the parks, the habitats found in that park and some of the attractions found there.

Park Savannah Coastal Semi-Desert Mountains Cape Floral Grassland Forests Scenic Landmarks Cultural History Adventure Activities
Addo   X X X X X X X X X
Agulhas   X     X     X X  
Augrabies     X         X X X
Bontebok       X X       X  
Golden Gate       X   X   X X X
Karoo     X X       X X X
Kgalagadi X   X         X X X
Knysna   X     X   X X X X
Kruger X             X X X
Mapungubwe X     X       X X X
Marakele X     X       X X  
Mountain Zebra       X   X   X X X
Namaqua   X X   X     X X  
Richtersveld     X         X X  
Table Mountain   X   X X     X X X
Tankwa Karoo     X              
Tsitsikamma   X     X   X X X X
Vaalbos X               X  
West Coast   X     X     X X X
Wilderness   X   X X   X X X X

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