ALL WELCOME: The annual SA National Parks Week provides all South Africans with the opportunity to explore their local parks free of charge. Picture: Chanelle Manuel

Cape Town - Nowadays he travels the world promoting tourism, but the first time Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy went to a national park was in 2012.

Speaking at an event to mark the start of SA National Parks Week, which offers locals an opportunity to spend a day at a national park free of charge, Duminy said the first time he had gone to Cape Point was in 2011 and the first time he had gone up Table Mountain in the cableway was in 2010.

He said he came from Mitchells Plain, a community where there were often barriers to travel with many people saying they couldn’t afford it.

But he said now there was no excuse.

Duminy said he loved the concept of making things accessible, but another challenge facing many South Africans was one of affordability.

“So I think this initiative is an important one. It's about saying: 'This is your inheritance and it is open to you.' It is free - there is no barrier to entry.’”

SANParks spokeswoman Merle Collins said the idea of a national parks week was conceived in 2006 after realising that locals were not accessing the parks.

She said it was a national initiative so people could even visit Kruger. “There are a few exceptions like Namaqualand because of the flower season and Boulders Penguin Colony, which is quite a small area.

She said there would be guided tours and game drives and many of the parks were extending access until the weekend.

The theme is “Know your National Parks”.

“We need South Africans to buy into the fact that we are looking after the cultural and historical and natural assets that we have.

“So we are opening our gates wide this week - all the picnic sites on Table Mountain are open, all the other parks are open.”

Parks in the Western Cape that will be open for free until Saturday include Agulhas, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Tankwa-Karoo and the West Coast National Park.

People will need to take their identity documents with them.

Metrorail and Cape Town Tourism are partners in the initiative.

Metrorail spokeswoman Daphne Kayster said their role was to move people in an affordable manner from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, which was now open after the railway tracks had been cleared of sand.

She said people would be surprised to hear that a number of their visitors had never had the opportunity to visit SANparks.

“They haven’t been to Table Mountain, some haven’t even been to Simon’s Town.”

Metrorail is also offering return train trips from Cape Town to Simon’s Town where people will be taken to Cape Point via luxury coach for the duration of SANparks week. Tickets are R150 for adults and R80 for children.

l To book call 021 449 2366 or email [email protected]

Cape Argus

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