The Wild Card in South Africa
South Africa is home to over 80 major public parks, along with dozens more private ones. This invites a culture of people that learns to appreciate the outdoors and wildlife. We fit in well with that; Max prefers to be camping and Leeann prefers to be looking at animals.
We knew that when we moved here we wanted to take full advantage of the outdoors while living abroad. Though spending time in the outdoors should be free- it isn’t always free. It takes a lot of work and other resources to maintain parks to the standard that South Africa prides itself in. Additionally, South Africa houses some of the best game in the world and those animals need to be taken care of. Enter: Conservation Fees.
What are Conservation Fees?
Conservation fees are exactly what they sound like: money that goes to wildlife conservation! I love that South Africa charges conservation fees because this gets people involved with wildlife fundraising whether they realise it or not. Conservation fees vary from park to park so it is important to check the cost while budgeting for your travels. Overnight accommodations in a large game park will be more expensive than a day ticket to a tourist attraction. Conservation fees are on top of the cost of your accommodation within the park. For example, you will have to pay for a campsite AND the entry/conservation fee to get to your reserved campsite.
Wild Card Pricing 2016-2017
Below is a screenshot from the SANparks and Wild Card website. Use the matrix to find out what would work best for your situation!
How we save money at South Africa National Parks
When we arrived in South Africa in October, we had many trips planned to parks. Our first major trip was to Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park which had the highest conservation fees (same as Kruger National Park) of R304 per day. Because we are a pair, that equates to R606 per day. When traveling in a couple, these extra costs really start to add up!
We decided that we would go for the International Couple All Parks Cluster. We did not know exactly where this year would take us, but since we love the bush, it was a good investment. The R3455 up front was a little daunting, but now that we are 5 months into our year, we realise that it has paid for itself!
This is a list of the main parks we have been to or have a trip planned to already. These prices are PER person.
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park – 2 nights – R606
- Table Mountain National Park: Boulders Beach – 2 days – R140
- Addo Elephant National Park – 1 night – R248
- Mountain Zebra National Park – 2 nights – R352
- Kruger National Park – 4 nights – R1216
In total, that is R2562 per person, which would be R5124 total for the couple. With only 5 destinations under our belt, we will have already saved R1669 at the six month mark.
The pricing for the Wild Card is for an entire year. If we have already saved R1669, I wonder how much we will have saved by the end of the 12 month cycle.
Overall Thoughts on the Wild Card
We were not a stranger to conservation fees when we were visiting here in previous years. But since we have committed to going to these parks more often since the move, it only made sense for us to look into saving some money while still enjoying the parks. The Wild Card allows us to shape our travel around South Africa without having to worry about hidden fees.
Along with the Wild Card saving you conservation fees, you also are subscribed to the Wild Card Magazine. That might sound strange that we get excited about a magazine, but this is a one that is built for us. With plenty of articles detailing new and exciting places we have yet to be to in our new country. Similarly, I get excited when I see an article describing some place we have visited or a picture similar to ours!
Now having the Wild Card, it is an excuse to travel. We love it!
***If you are an international visitor that is staying for a long holiday, I would recommend doing the International All Parks Cluster. If you are visiting Kruger National Park for 7 days and you are a couple (2 adults), you will save over R800.***