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Sanparks Wildcard - the rip-off

Olonzac, France
Level Contributor
1 post
23 reviews
Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

We love to visit South Africa’s national parks. So, we wanted to buy a Wildcard, giving us access to all parks for a year. For a couple, this costs 770 Rand in early 2016 – if you’re South African, that is. As a foreigner, it will set you back 3'005 Rand, i.e. about 4 times as much. But let’s accept this bold commercial decision by Sanparks.

The easiest way to buy the Wildcard is online. If you’re South African, that is. As a foreigner, it is unfortunately perfectly impossible to buy the card online - the Sanparks website will insist on a South African ID number. This does not seem to be a deliberate decision, but rather a programming bug.

Thus, we wanted to buy our card from one the points of sale. After some research, the internet provided valuable information on where it is not possible to buy the card. Unfortunately, it remains highly confidential where a Wildcard can actually be bought in or around Cape Town.

It’s only after buying tickets for the Boulders Beach section of Table Mountain National Park, that a helpful person informed us about the possibility to buy the card at the Buffelsfontein visitors center. To get there, one obviously has to buy tickets for the Cape Point section of the park.

And then… success! Nadia, a friendly and knowledgeable Sanparks employee at the visitors center finally managed to take our money and sell us the Wildcard. By then, we had already forked out 380 Rand for entry tickets – and of course, Sanparks refuses to make any refunds.

Whilst the Sanparks website suffers from poor programming, this obviously works in Sanparks favor. It’s thus difficult to know if the frustrating experience is due to bad intentions or sheer incompetence…

123 replies to this topic
Johannesburg, South...
Destination Expert
for Johannesburg
Level Contributor
5,688 posts
1. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

" For a couple, this costs 770 Rand in early 2016 – if you’re South African, that is. As a foreigner, it will set you back 3'005 Rand, i.e. about 4 times as much."

Less than 170 Euro!!

And that is as it should be.

South Africans pay for the establishment, staff, anti poaching, and maintenance of these National Parks, with their taxes, and therefore deserve a "break", otherwise many locals would not be able to afford to visit our amazing National Parks, the way foreigners can, taking advantage of the very favourable exchange rate.

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
7,024 posts
276 reviews
2. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

Sounds like a disgruntled rant to me.

Regarding incompetence...not sure why it is so impossible to purchase a wildcard online. Thousands do it, including myself.

So, now maybe the good news is: you now will be able to return without your previously listed hassles..that is if you choose to bless SA with your presence again.

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
1,846 posts
157 reviews
3. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

I have never had a problem buying a wildcard . I get a nice magazine sent to the uk, interesting online content and access to great parks at a rate I regard as a complete bargain.

Edited: 12 February 2016, 02:23
Cape Town Central...
Level Contributor
2,896 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

SnootyAgouti from Olonzac, France, Post number 1 . . . . . . .

There is so much that I wanted to say, but in the end all I going to say is: Welcome to the TripAdvisor Forum!

Leipzig, Germany
Level Contributor
128 posts
5. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off


I bought my first Wild Card three years ago - online. Since then I renewed it annually - also online without any issues.

And as John said I get the interesting Wild Card magazine regularly and as Gavin said the pricing is fair and similar to many countries.

Btw. concerning "rip-off" : please imagine a South African would like to visit "Le Tour Eiffel", les Musées de Louvre or le Chateau de Versailles ... ?!

Table View, South...
Level Contributor
1,136 posts
96 reviews
6. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

I visited Humayun's tomb in Delhi. The locals paid 10 rupees and foreigners 250 rupees.

Level Contributor
2,861 posts
17 reviews
7. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

Oh please! I have also bought a Wildcard online. More than once. You are not using the site correctly. As for two tiered pricing I am perfectly fine with it. i don't pay tax in RSA to maintain the wonderful system of parks. I am more than happy to pay a premium as a visitor. The Wild card is excellent and has saved us many hundreds of dollars over the years. I also love getting my Wild magazine!

Level Contributor
563 posts
10 reviews
8. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

I love receiving Wild magazine...all the way over in the USA. No problems for me either.

Yes, it is true that the Wild card could be better implemented, and in some cases, having the card alone may not get you into a park (we needed paper confirmation of purchase in one instance to get in). But, we worked around potential issues and enjoyed the use of our card all over RSA. Hopefully the OP has better luck next time.

Moose Jaw, Canada
Level Contributor
283 posts
38 reviews
9. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

We have had no problem buying the Wildcard online, and are very happy with the perks that go along with it.

We love visiting the South Africa National Parks. We love South Africa.

I still wrestle with whether "foreigners" should pay more, because in part we do not pay South African taxes. South Africa is more than happy to take tourist's dollars (as they should be), but I cannot think of any Canadian venues that a tourist would pay more than a Canadian. (Please correct me if I am wrong). Does none of our tourist dollars go towards the upkeep of the parks? If the exchange rate was note quite so favourable, does that change the equation? Two years ago we received approximately R9 to our Canadian dollar, and this year approximately R10, as we have seen our dollar plummet in relation to the US dollar. Should our US visitors to Canada pay more right now to visit us because their dollar is worth $1.35 to ours? I don't think so.

Please note this is not a complaint, but there are two ways to look at every scenario. It costs X to visit anywhere, and you either pay it and go, or stay home. To say South Africans could not afford to visit their own parks without a price break, I think that is a totally different issue.

Again, we love South Africa and it's National Parks, and would not be planning our next trip otherwise.

Cape Town Central...
Level Contributor
2,896 posts
7 reviews
10. Re: Sanparks Wildcard – the rip-off

Even the poorest South African families should be able to afford a park visit. With millions practically on the breadline, they should get a price break. Situation in Canada is quite different.

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