At the end of last year, I was fortunate to be taken paragliding over the Wilderness Lakes section of Garden Route National Park. It gave me a great opportunity to see how beautiful this area is.
But also, it gives a great perspective on the challenges that organisations like SANParks face. In among the rivers, forests, beaches and lakes which the rangers have to conserve and look after, there are literally thousands of people, homes, cars, roads and trucks. It’s an open access system mostly…the public are moving in and through the national park on a daily basis. Check out the photos below, and see how close the N2 national road (surely one of the busiest in the country!) is literally metres from the Touw River and the lakes system. These lakes and rivers are some of the most pristine in the country, where thousands of birds, fish, insects and small mammals thrive. Two of the lakes – Rondevlei and Langvlei – are RAMSAR sites, meaning they are internationally important birding areas. And amazingly, in the nearby forests are the last free-ranging, unfenced wild elephants in South Africa!
I think flying high over an area also gives one a chance to see how “small” the earth really is…and how damaging humans can be if we don’t treat our environment with respect. The beautiful Garden Route area in the Southern Cape is an applicable example…despite the numerous rivers, lakes and high rainfall, there are often water shortages…mainly because there are too many people living in what is a relatively small area! Yet, at the same time, we depend on the water that is available – if we pollute the rivers, then we’re in even bigger trouble! Besides, I think the earth and its creatures all have a right to exist independently of us, regardless of whether they provide us fresh water, clean air and nutrient-rich soils…
I hitched a ride with Mias de Klerk who took me up in his tandem paramotor (essentially a paraglider with a motor on the back!). Jan Minnaar and Khobi Bowden from Cloudbase Paragliding in Wilderness arranged everything for me. Thanks guys!
For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Thanks again to my sponsors for making it all possible. CapeNature, South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Eastern Cape Parks, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ford, Total, Evosat, Conqueror Trailers, Vodacom, Digicape, Lacie, Frontrunner, Safari Centre Cape Town, K-Way, EeziAwn, National Luna, Nokia , Goodyear, Global Fleet Sales, Hetzner, Clearstream Consulting and Escape Gear.