We challenged you to see how many parks and reserves you can visit in one year. Meet the quarter 1 winner and get your entries in for the next round – you could win free Wild Card renewal.

In the Wild Parks Challenge we want to see just how many national parks and nature reserves you can tick off over the course of 365 days. With Wild Parks spread across the country, a road trip or circular route is an ideal way to combine multiple protected areas.

The challenge kicked off on 1 November 2018 and several members took advantage of the summer holidays to visit our wild places. We were impressed with Shamilah Abrahams and Renette van Eeden, who both managed to visit a total of seven parks during the competition period. But first quarter honours go to Dirk Wissing, who racked up an incredible tally of 23 parks and reserves. He wins complimentary Wild Card renewal for this feat.

The bonus prize of a khaki duffel bag goes to Shamila Abrahams. She is the lucky draw winner out of entrants who visited one of the parks in the spotlight: Agulhas, Golden Gate, Marakele, Mapungubwe and West Coast.

Shamila Abrahams at Agulhas National Park, one of seven Wild parks and reserves she visited with her family.

Take part in the Wild Parks Challenge

Want to have a shot at winning free membership renewal or your own duffel bag? Send us pictures of the parks you visit between February and April – the member with the highest tally wins free renewal. And for those who visit the parks in the spotlight, there’s the chance of winning a handy duffel in round 2.

Send your entries to [email protected] (subject line: Wild Parks Challenge). Entries for the second quarter close 1 May 2019. See the entry requirements.

Our first winner: Dirk Wissing

Quarter 1 winner Dirk Wissing is a keen birder and he combined his park visits with birding. Even though he’s already recorded 400 species, he still managed to add to his life list. A highlight was seeing Karoo eremomela in Tankwa Karoo National Park. “These birds are very elusive, moving quickly from shrub to shrub, all the while keeping teasingly just ahead of the camera lens,” he says.

Dirk visited Agulhas, Anysberg, Assegaaibosch, Bird Island, Bontebok, Boosmansbos, Cederberg, De Hoop, De Mond, Grootvadersbosch, Groot Winterhoek, Hottentots Holland, Jonkershoek, Karoo, Kogelberg, Limietberg, Marloth, Rocherpan, Tankwa, Table Mountain, Vrolijkheid, Walker Bay and West Coast. Phew!

It was his first time in several of these parks and reserves, but the one calling him back is De Hoop Nature Reserve. “It was a lovely surprise package: the diversity of fynbos, vlei and coastline, plus the variety of mammals. But the number of bird species is a real draw. With this visit I saw an African snipe at one of the waterholes near the restaurant, a real bonus. The professionalism and helpfulness of staff was impressive.

An African snipe spotted at De Hoop Nature Reserve. Dirk was thoroughly charmed by this reserve, which combines diverse habitats and offers a variety of experiences.

“I’d love to return to walk the birding trails, search the vlei and visit the colony of endangered Cape vultures. A night drive could be quite rewarding – aside from the nocturnal animals, De Hoop has at least six owl and three nightjar species.” Asked how he’d spend his downtime, Dirk opts for relaxing on the beach, with an hour of body boarding, by day; and stargazing at night. “To complete the experience: good food, good wine, good music and, if my wife is there, good company!”

A trail winds through Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, one of the 23 Wild parks and reserves Dirk visited.

He’s not done travelling yet. Dirk would love to spend more time in the north of Kruger, around Pafuri, an area famous for its birdlife. His bucket list for birding includes Etosha, Chobe and the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, as well as local favourite, Umlalazi Nature Reserve, where more than 470 bird species have been recorded.