After 74 long days, the Kruger National Park is set to re-open and welcome day visitors. In a much-anticipated statement on Saturday, SANParks announced that self-drive day visitors to the park would be allowed from Monday 8th June. These are its first steps towards a gradual re-opening since the closure caused by the national lockdown & the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although overnight visitors are not yet allowed and day visitors are strictly limited to those that reside within the South African provinces accessible to the park (Mpumalanga & Limpopo), it is a much-welcomed development and one that has brought a smile to many a Kruger-loving face.
SANParks has announced a number of guidelines for making your trip into the Kruger a safe a pleasurable one, here’s the 10 things you need to know when planning your trip:
1. Kruger National Park will be imposing strict quotas to minimise congestion within the park. Online and telephonic bookings are encouraged to secure your spot. Not only does this limit face-to-face contact between staff and guests, but given the reduced number of spaces available, your visit will be secured and you won’t risk being turned away at the gate.
2. Bookings will officially open from Monday 8th June and to book online, simply login to your account at www.sanparks.org as you normally would to book accommodation and then select ‘Pre-booked Day Visits’. From here, select Kruger National Park, your preferred entrance gate and the time you would like to arrive. Alternatively, book over the phone on +27 12 428 9111.
3. To pre book your day visit will be R46 and this excludes conservation fees. You do not have to book; however, given the reduced quotas at the gate, you are not guaranteed entry if you do not.
4. If you are the holder of a Wildcard & you choose to pre-book; you will still need to pay the day visitor rate. You will also need to make sure your Wildcard membership is up to date and valid before arriving at the gate.
5. Not all gates will be open however most are and these will include; Crocodile Bridge, Malelane, Phabeni, Paul Kruger, Phalaborwa & Punda Maria (Please note: Numbi gate will be closed). Gates will open at 6am and close at 5.30pm for the month of June.
6. If possible, print off and fill out your gate registration forms before arriving at the gate. These forms can be found on the SANParks website or click here. This will speed up the process and reduce wait times at the gate.
7. You will be temperature screened at the gate and asked if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. Your gate registration form will ask a number of questions relating to COVID-19 exposure & symptoms.
8. Visitors are reminded that each person in the vehicle will be required to wear a mask and have access to hand sanitiser. Additionally, COVID-19 travel restrictions should be adhered to with regards to the number of people per vehicle (70% vehicle capacity) and restrictions on inter-provincial travel. Guests must exit into the province from which they entered the park.
9. Limited take-aways and snacks will be available at the shops within the larger camps and fuel stations will be open from 9.30am to 5pm daily.
10. No braai facilities at picnic spots will be available for the first week and only bathroom facilities at the entrance gates, main camps, and large picnic spots (Nkuhlu and Tshokwane) will be open. Importantly, take a bag for your rubbish and bring it home with you.
So, while residents from the Mpumalanga & Limpopo provinces relish the news, the rest of the country & indeed, people from across the globe, wait patiently for further restrictions to be lifted. The emotional and psychological well-being that visiting the Kruger provides will be a welcome relief from the stress and strain of the past months and although currently only a small population will enjoy it’s benefits, the move is certainly a step in the right direction toward the re-opening of our natural areas for the benefit of one and all.
For more information on the opening of the Kruger National Park, contact SANParks or visit www.sanparks.org.