Hiking and game drives are legal on Monday – but only two national parks will be opening

Business Insider SA
Photo Jay Caboz
Table Mountain, Cape Town. Photo Jay Caboz
  • Hiking and game drives (in private vehicles) are allowed under Alert Level 3, SA's tourism minister said on the weekend. Game parks are explicitly allowed to open for such trips.
  • But it would accept visitors only at its two "open access" national parks, SANParks said on Sunday: Table Mountain in the Western Cape, and Golden Gate in the Free State.
  • Opening other parks to visitors will require health and safety protocols to be in place first, the organisation said. It is not clear when – or what – those will be.
  • Crossing any provincial boundary for purposes of leisure remains banned.
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Update: In a revised statement issued on Sunday night, SANParks said "parts of Garden Route (sic)" would also be open on Monday. It did not elaborate on which parts of the Garden Route National Park that will be.

You can go hiking between 06:00 and 18:00 from Monday, 1 June, and as long as you drive yourself in your own car, you can also go on game drives.

But only those in the Free State and Western Cape will have access to national parks immediately.

"Open access parks namely Golden Gate National Park [in the Free State] and Table Mountain National Park [in the Western Cape] with the exception of Boulders Beach and Cape Point will allow access to visitors from 1 June 2020," SANParks said in a draft statement late on Sunday afternoon.

Announcements on all other parks, which are classed as "access controlled", will come "in due course".

Crossing a provincial boundary under Alert Level 3 for leisure purposes is banned, so all hiking and game drives must be intra-provincial.

SANParks said it needs to ensure that "the opening of our national parks for self-drive excursions and hiking is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests."

See also: Game parks and hikes are legal again from Monday – but no overnight stays and only in-province

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced on Saturday that game parks will be open for day visitors.

Broader Level 3 rules allow for such an opening of game parks and other tourist destinations, as long as they are open only for "private self-drive excursion activities".

Without additional regulations for such destinations, as have been put in place for other sectors, SANParks' obligations are unclear. It will likely have to check the temperatures of all visitors prior to entry, as must other businesses. It will likely also have to take extra precautions in cleaning and sanitising public bathrooms and any other facilities that visitors use.

"Visitors are urged to follow government directives regarding number of passengers in vehicles, wearing of face masks as well as the prohibition of group exercise; visitors failing to adhere to these regulations will be subject to fines by SANParks law enforcement officials," the body said in its statement.

SANParks is highly dependent on the revenue it generates from visitors to fund its operations.

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