Into the South African wilderness with the Wild Card

As we’ve been going on so many hikes around Cape Town over the last few years, we thought that this year we would investigate the option of purchasing a loyalty card known as the Wild Card. This card gives you one year’s free (or discounted) access to more than 80 parks and reserves around Southern Africa (here is a listing of all the member parks).

These parks are sorted into various clusters, namely:

  • SANParks cluster – 21 national parks in South Africa – website
  • Cape Nature cluster – 24 reserves in the Western Cape website
  • Msinsi cluster – 6 resorts and reserves near Durban and Pietermaritzburg – website
  • EKZN Wildlife cluster – 24 parks in KwaZulu Natal – website
  • Swaziland’s Big Game cluster – 3 parks in Swaziland – website

You can either buy a card for a particular cluster, or you can buy a card that will grant you access to ALL the clusters. Have a look here for the latest prices for 20 Oct 2010 to 31 Oct 2011.

There are different options for individual cards, couple cards, and family cards (parents with a maximum of 4 children). With the couple cards, it is important to remember that only the two people whose names are registered on the card will be allowed access to the park with that card; in other words, you can’t take a friend instead, which I think is quite unfair. The same applies to the family cards.

If you live in the Western Cape, and would thus benefit from using the Cape Nature cluster (R505 for a couple card), it is worth noting that Table Mountain National Park does NOT fall into that cluster. Instead, it falls into the SANParks cluster (R535 for a couple card). So, if you and your partner would like to access parks and reserves in both of these clusters, it would cost you R1040. It makes much more sense to buy the All Clusters card (R560 for a couple).

Until last year, the loyalty programme was run by Infinity (Pty) Ltd, and you could buy the cards in a lot of different places. Since the end of last year, though, the procedures for buying and renewing the card have changed drastically, as explained here and here. As a result, you can no longer buy the card when you enter a park (which really would make sense), but it seems that you have to buy it online or at the SAN Parks Head Office in Pretoria – or we could buy ours at the Table Mountain National Parks office in Westlake Office Park, just off the M3 and near the start of Ou Kaapse Weg.

When I finally located their offices at Shop A1 in Westlake Square (the shopping centre right at the corner of Steenberg Drive and Westlake Drive, if you ever have to go there yourself), the process went quite smoothly. You just have to take along your ID, fill in a form with all the relevant contact details and ID numbers, and a proof of residence in the form of a recent account (rates and taxes from the city, or telephone account, etc.) – and payment in cash.

They weren’t able to issue us with the card then and there, but reassured us that our application would be forwarded to the Pretoria head office for processing. By all accounts, that could take quite a while – particularly as they have such a backlog, given the changeover to the new system. However, we received proof of payment and a letter confirming that we had applied, which we can now show (together with a form of identification) at the entrance to the various parks.

And now: The wilderness AWAITS! πŸ˜€

Onwards and upwards!

6 thoughts on “Into the South African wilderness with the Wild Card

  1. this was just another amazing piece of writing and I am off to the Hospital…duty calls this morning. I have signed on with the WordPress folks just so I can say LIKE with each post Regg. My Icon seems a bit off though although before coffee my teeth my be showing…WONDERFUL writing!

  2. Thank you for the info! You’ve reminded me that I need to get one for this year.

    We’ve mainly invested in a WildCard for our Kgalagadi trips. It’s definitely worthwhile doing so, if one adds up the daily conservation fees one would pay without it.

    • Yes, I just think it was quite sneaky that Table Mountain National Park is not part of the Cape Nature cluster! πŸ™‚ The card also doesn’t give one free or reduced access to the Cableway – or to Kirstenbosch, which would’ve been nice! Or am I being greedy? πŸ˜‰

      Now we just need to make proper use of it for a year. We look forward to going to some places we haven’t been before – I hadn’t realised just how MANY parks and reserves there are throughout South Africa. We’re really very blessed to be living here right now, with the opportunities to visit these places.

    • I like them too – and they definitely make walking easier. We haven’t walked here yet after the rain, but I think that wetland section could be quite squelchy. And I like that they clearly indicate the path, so you don’t have to wonder, “Now where is that darn path… hm… perhaps it is hidden among those bushes… Oh! Sorry, Mr Baboon! I was just leaving… honestly! … You just go right back to sleep, okay? Byeeee!!”

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