The decision to purchase the South African wild card park pass was an easy one. We were coming to Africa and we were told that within South Africa we could do our own game drives and safaris and not pay for an expensive tour or guide. With a little more research we realized that this would save us loads of money as compared to paying for these services in South Africa or elsewhere in Africa. With the SANParks Wild Card pass we were able to save even more money.
Before you decide to purchase the card be sure to do a little research on the park fees you’re due to pay without the card. For us, over 5 days in Kruger National Park, we were going to come close to the cost of the Wild Card. We figured, correctly, that if we used it even one more time it would break even and anything beyond that was effectively free. Ultimately it paid for itself more than two times over 6 weeks.
The card was easy to purchase and we did so when we first arrived at the campsite within Kruger National Park. Because we were foreigners the price was about three times as much as the locals paid, but it still made sense to purchase. At that time, the cost in South African Rand was about $250 for our “couple” pass and, considering thats what the fees at the Ngorongoro Crater worked out to be I think we made the right decision. Upon arrival at each park, we showed our card, they scanned it, and we moved on.
The pass was good at every single park in the SANParks system. This wasn’t only game parks but also historical and heritage sites such as Cape Point near Cape Town. The pass was also good at a few parks in Swaziland.
Additionally, the pass does give you 5% back every time you pay for lodging at the park. This is a nice feature but as we only had 6 weeks inside the country we didn’t realize we’d need to register the card in order to use it. Our last day in South Africa we went to use the R50 we’d earned (about $7) but couldn’t because the card hadn’t been registered.