We’ve been regular visitors to WCNP throughout 2006. Our previous experiences have always been wonderful (except for the occasional “normal” speeding incidents which we’ve now become accustomed to), as our previous trip report hopefully showed.
However, it shames me today to call myself part of the human race. What we have experienced in WCNP this weekend was, to say the least, shocking. What is about to follow, is unfortunately not a trip report on another memorable experience out in a Sanpark park, coupled with some wildlife photos. If that’s what you are looking for, please do not read any further. What is indeed about to follow, is our trip report straight from hell.
On entering the gate (from CT’s side), we should have realised we’re going to experience a rough time in the park. Because of the number of cars waiting at the gate, it took us about 45 minutes just to get through the gate (for those of you not familiar with WCNP – it is not like KNP at all. Normally it would take you less than a minute to gain entry). We accepted the fact that it was a bright and sunny day and that people were obviously going to stream to the Postberg section of the WCNP to watch the wild flowers. However, we were in for a level of “road rudeness” never experienced before in any park by either Asterix or myself.
We just entered the park, when we were hit by a wave of speeding motorists (in great numbers at breakneck speeds through the park - believe me, I’m not exaggerating). Instead of taking photos of the bird life and the park’s wonderful condition, we decided after a few kilometres to rather take a few photos of the speeding maniacs, for reporting purposes. Unfortunately, we gave this up quite quickly as we realised that literally every other car in the park was travelling at speeds of anything between 60 – 120 kilometres per hour (my guess only). If there was any other forum members in the park (who did not speed), believe me we did not come across you. I’ll rather not bore you further with the details, the following two examples should sum up our day:
We were about 5 kilometres into the park when we noticed a large low-flying raptor just ahead of us. I slowed down and Asterix got out the binoculars and the bird books. To our absolute amazement, we identified what we believe was a Black Harrier (for us novices, just one awesome bird). However, our enjoyment was short lived. When I started slowing down, the cars started piling up behind us. The Black Harrier continued to fly quite low above the ground just to the right of the road, but the other vehicles were interested in only one thing – to speed to the wild flowers. One by one they raced past us (the roads in WCNP are generally narrower than in KNP). A few of them even revved their engines to the maximum when they whistled by. And I’m not talking about one or two cars only. During this incident alone, I would guess at least 10 cars raced by. The Black Harrier did not climb away from all this noise, but instead veered to the left quite sharply and crossed the road in front of us, only to be narrowly missed by a speeding minibus. (The Harrier was crossing the road at about the height of the minibus). We were totally shocked. We started discussing the possibility of just turning back, but eventually decided to still make the best of our visit (we had to travel about 90km’s to get to WCNP in the first instance). We decided to still head for the wild flowers and have a quick peek and then head back and rather spent the rest of the day at the Geelbek bird hide (hopefully away from this mess).
We struggled through the heavy, speeding traffic until we eventually got to the wild flowers, but here it was just cars all over the place (as one can expect). We immediately turned around again and headed back for the Geelbek bird hide. On our way back, I noticed an interesting looking bird just to the left of the road and slowly pulled over to get a closer look. Once again, the cars behind me rapidly increased in numbers and, as before, started racing by. Then one complete &%$#& sped right up to us from behind, let rip with his car’s hooter and then aggressively signalled to us, whilst he narrowly missed us and raced by, only to quickly disappear in the distance.
Obviously the unidentified bird was gone. This incident signalled the end of the day for us. We unfortunately had enough of the park (or rather its visitors) for one day. We decided not to stop for any more animals or birds, made our way out of the park at about 50km’s per hour and head back home, bitterly disappointed.
In the end, we are not going to allow this one very unfortunate day to spoil our memories of WCNP. It is a wonderful park where we’ve had many wonderful experiences. We’ll definitely be back (but only once the wild flower season has gone by).
Could this have been prevented? Well, one could maybe point some fingers at Sanparks. Maybe this was the one day the laser guns that WestCoaster has been talking about should have been on the roads. Or maybe they should have limited the number of vehicles allowed into the park, although I appreciate the fact that this is the one time of year that they can make some much needed money in this particular park. I’ve always been critical of Sanparks where I believed criticism was due. However, in the end I believe Sanparks is not to blame in this instance. I rather blame the 99% of all human kind that is so narrow-minded and engrossed in their every day lives of racing from one point to another that they do not give a hoot about their fellow human beings or about nature, because they are only after that one photo of them and their wives and their oh so precious children lying down in a haze of wild flowers.