The beautiful weather is an invitation to spend more time in the great outdoors. Why not gather the troops for a picnic at one of these top South African National Parks spots? By Arnold Ras
Albert Falls Dam and Game Reserve
This Msinsi reserve just outside Pietermaritzburg is an ideal gathering place for big families. Children, grandparents, uncle and aunts – there’s space for everyone on the green lawn at the water’s edge. Enjoy a picnic next to the dam while braaiing, fishing or treating the young ones to some boating or water sports. Here you can sit back and take in the beautiful scenery while trying to spot some of the more than 280 bird species recorded in the reserve. With sun, serene water and ample flat areas to run and play, old and young are guaranteed a fun day out.
Jack’s Picnic Site, Addo
Why not visit Addo Elephant National Park for a proper bush picnic? En route to Jack’s Picnic Site you could get up close and personal to some of the 600 grey giants that call this park home. The picnic spot itself lies within a 500 hectare botanical reserve, specially created to monitor the impact of elephants and other large herbivores on the plant life. Choose between smaller or larger picnic areas, each with its own braai, table and benches, and a roof for shade. The most delicious braaibroodjie tastes even better in the great outdoors!
Preekstoel Picnic Area, West Coast
Thought West Coast National Park was just for viewing exquisite spring flowers? This national park is also home to one of South Africa’s best tucked-away beaches, Kraalbaai. The kids will love it! Huge dunes offer protection from the wind while the shallow water of Langebaan Lagoon is much more temperate than the ocean. Taking its name from a rock pillar that looks like a pulpit, Preekstoel Picnic Area has braai areas with built-in seating. In summer, make sure you get there early, because you don’t want to miss out on one of these prime spots. We are talking blue skies, white beaches and incredible views of the lagoon that forms part of the park’s protected marine area.
Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve
This popular picnic area in CapeNature’s Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve is just the place for a hot day. The reserve is situated next to the beautiful Eerste River in Stellenbosch’s Jonkershoek Valley, with large trees providing shade for picnic tables. With cool mountain water babbling away at one end of the picnic area, there’s no risk of overheating. Entry into the reserve is managed on a first-come first-served basis and allows for only 60 visitors per day. Get there early to grab a spot and then relax into the day. Fresh air, tasty food and a cold drink in hand… Bliss.
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve
An hour’s drive south of Durban you’ll find this charming nature reserve – and all the elements for a great day out. Open grassland with game, serene coastal forest, a variety of hiking trails and shady picnic sites with views to the Indian Ocean. The picnic area has braai facilities so a shade-lover can get the boerewors on the go while the rest of the clan explores. The trails are cleverly laid out to take in a variety of habitats on each walk; no matter how long or short your outing, you’ll have a varied experience. For the chance to ride alongside zebra, take a mountain bike and choose between 10km and 20km circuits. This great spot will be enjoyed by nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike.
Did you know? You can visit all these parks and reserves for free with a Wild Card!
Read: Ten reasons to get a Wild Card.
Wild Card members have access to great year-round offers as well as amazing giveaways and competitions. You’ll also receive a monthly e-newsletter and the quarterly Wild magazine, Southern Africa’s premier conservation publication, delivered to your door. Visit the SANParks website at www.wildcard.co.za and fill in the application form to get your Wild Card.