From 12 to 17 September, South African day visitors get FREE access to 19 national parks. Celebrating its eleventh year, SANParks Week was created to exhibit the beauty of our parks, and bring South African National Parks closer to the global national park movement. By Olivia Wickstrom

To gain free entry, simply show your South African ID at the time of entry. Though accommodation and tourist activities are not free, the parks still have plenty to offer! Here are our top 10 ways to spend your SANParks Week.

1. Go mountain biking in West Coast National Park

West coast #trailride and everything you'd expect. Sand, wind, fynbos. Still fun out there. #outsideisfree

A photo posted by Stephan Steyn (@stephansteyn) on

If you’re an adventure seeker, hit the trails of West Coast National Park. The park has a variety of mountain bike trails suitable for any fitness level. And West Coast isn’t only great for cycling… Year-round one can find hundreds of bird species, while during the spring months wild flowers dot the landscape. So pack a camera, keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the view.

+27 (0)22 772 2144/5, [email protected]

2. Take a self-drive game drive in Addo Elephant National Park

Get up close and personal with elephants, hyenas and buffaloes this SANParks Week. Addo Elephant National Park offers multiple self-drive game drive routes, offering the best and closest views of the park’s game. And with all the species that call Addo their home, you’re guaranteed exciting sightings. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

+27 (0)42 233 8600, [email protected]

3. Go dog walking at Table Mountain National Park

Dogs can enjoy SANParks Week too! Table Mountain is one of the national parks that permits dog walking, so bring along your furry friend to enjoy the outdoors. Dog walking is limited to selected trails, and a dog walking permit is required. Permits can be purchased at a variety of tourism offices such as the Kirstenbosch Gardens and the City Sightseeing South Africa on Long Street.

+27 (0)21 712 7471, [email protected]

4. Take a dip at Garden Route National Park

Floating around in rock pools 👍🏽💦 #alwaysagoodidea

A photo posted by Kasia Lalewicz (@call_me_kasia) on

Stretched along the coastline, Garden Route National Park offers plenty of options for spending a day by the water. The Wilderness Section of the park is home to the Touw Estuary where ocean and river meet. The Tsitsikamma Section includes Storms River mouth beach, a great place for swimming and spending some time in the sand. Bring along a picnic and savour the view of waves crashing on the shore, or lie in the sun with a book. Whatever location you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the park’s magical setting.

Send an email to [email protected] for more information.

5. See the Valley of Desolation in Camdeboo National Park

Some exhibition 😊👍🏼 #outdoors #graaffreinet #southafrica #suidafrika #südafrika #hiking #mountains

A photo posted by Marcus (@mrtbonemendez) on

Visit one of Camdeboo National Park’s defining features this SANParks Week. The Valley of Desolation is a magnificent sight, a plunging canyon set against the backdrop of the Karoo. It is said that the valley formed from erosive and volcanic forces over the span of 200 million years, and today it’s visited annually by 100,000 tourists. Bring your binoculars and try to spot game in the canyon, or pack a picnic to eat at one of the Valley’s viewpoints. With this scenery in sight, it’s bound to be a spectacular day.

+27 (0)49 892 3453, [email protected]

6. Go birding at Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park is home to a number of winged species, making it a birders paradise. Spot ostrich and blue crane on the mountain plateau, or the rarer pink-billed lark and African rock pipit. There are multiple walking loops ideal for birders, known to host various species. The park even has a birding checklist, featuring every bird found in the park, and their level of rarity.

+27 (0) 48 881 2427, [email protected]

7. Visit the waterfalls at Augrabies Falls National Park

For a day of breathtaking views, visit this 56 meter high waterfall. Stop at one of Augrabies Falls National Park’s many viewpoints and watch the Orange River as it cascades down the rocks and continues into an 18 kilometre gorge. Or take a stroll along a nature trail and walk along the gorge itself. The park is home to plenty of birds and game, so expect to see mountain zebra roaming the nearby fields or black eagles skimming the water of the river.

+27 (0)54 452 9200, [email protected]

8. Watch a sunset at Kruger National Park

Is there a better way to end the day than by watching the sun set at Kruger National Park? The park has a number of viewpoints and braai sites, providing a peaceful setting for your evening escape. Pack a jacket, a picnic and watch the sun lower over the baobabs. If you’re lucky, you may hear a lion roar or see an elephant’s silhouette set against the orange sky.

For more information, visit the Kruger’s website.

9. Go hiking at Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate Highlands National Park offers a multitude of trails, from the family-friendly stroll to the adrenaline pumping climb. Take the kids on one of the park’s beginner hikes such as Mushroom Rock or Eco-Ravine. For the more adventurous, tackle the Ribbok Trail where zebra, springbok and black wildebeest are often spotted. Whichever trail you choose, you’re guaranteed a brilliant view.

+27 (0)58 255 1000, [email protected]

10. Enjoy the wild flowers at Tankwa Karoo National Park

It’s wild flower season, which means beautiful sights in our national parks. Tankwa Karoo National Park is the perfect place to enjoy this phenomena, showcasing some of South Africa’s most spectacular wild flowers. Spend the day among the daisies and bulbs while surrounded by Tankwa’s magnificent landscape, and be sure to visit on a warm day so you can see the flowers open. Don’t forget your camera for endless photo opportunities!

+27 (0)27 341 1927, [email protected]

Searching for more options? Why not book your spot for a unique African Spirituality Weekend from 16-18 September at Golden Gate Highlands National Park? You do not want to miss this one!

And remember to follow Wild on Instagram!

*Featured picture by Umar Daya