Interested schools must contact local park managers to make arrangements.

Durban - The best things in life are often free. Something Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife has taken to heart, announcing its “Mahala Fridays” initiative.

The free-entry-to-parks initiative is to encourage people living near game reserves to visit them.

Ezemvelo’s communication manager, Musa Mntambo, said the first 100 South Africans to enter all Ezemvelo game reserves would have free access every Friday in September.

Mahala Fridays is part of celebrations to mark Tourism and Heritage Month, with World Tourism Day on September 27.

Ezemvelo chief executive, David Mabunda, said the initiative would encourage local communities to visit and explore the landscape while learning about it.

Between September 17-24, schools will also be encouraged to visit reserves and learn about wildlife.

Interested schools must contact local park managers to make arrangements.

The free offer exclude game reserves within iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

South African National Parks (SANParks) announced they would also be offering free entrance to visitors.

The offer, limited to South Africans, is part of the commemoration of the annual SANParks week.

SANParks acting head of communications, William Mabasa, said the aim was to cultivate pride in South Africa’s relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.

The campaign runs from September 12-16 under the theme “Know Your National Parks”.

To gain free entry to the parks during the week, visitors must produce valid identity documents. Children under the age of 16 would be allowed free access without proof of identity.

The free access does not include accommodation or any commercial activities in the parks, such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks.

First National Bank (FNB) is sponsoring SANParks week.

“Once again, we hope that through allowing free access to our national parks, we will succeed in encouraging all South Africans to visit the beautiful parks our country,” said Kgosi Ledimo, chief executive officer of FNB Public Sector Banking.

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