It is thanks to the members of the SANParks Forum and the 4x4 Community Forum for their generous donations which enabled these learners to visit Augrabies.
To everyone who donated to the fund managed by the SANParks VHRs, a heartfelt thank you - the future of our parks is in the hands of the youth and you have invested in this future and also made a difference in the lives of the children.
A report back from Christine du Plessis, People & Conservation Officer, Augrabies Falls National Park:
The Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) is a very unique park, as it has the mighty Orange River flowing through it, coupled with a 56m high waterfall, extremely interesting geology and a rich biodiversity. These features are very unique, especially in the arid Northern Cape. It should therefore form part of every local learner’s childhood experiences to at least be able to visit the Park to learn and experience these features.
During the last quarter of 2012, AFNP P&C division had the opportunity to motivate for funds from the Honorary Rangers : Virtual Region, to bring learner’s from the previously disadvantaged sector into the park. With the approval of R30 000 for overnight visits for four school groups, a dream came true for 77 learner’s, 8 Educators and 1 P&C officer!
One school from each of the following ‘Far’ communities, Kenhardt, Onseepkans, Pella and Pofadder were selected, as they are so isolated and as such are deprived of valuable learning opportunities which other local schools may have access to. Learner’s from Pella and Onseepkans, basically grow up next to the Orange River, but do not have the means to literally, go upstream, to experience the Park and all its uniqueness.
The visits were scheduled in March and April 2013, with the groups arriving in the park late in the afternoon. As they had all travelled long distances (with many road-work stop & go’s included en-route) they were first provided with a snack pack. Their tents were then assigned to them and orientation done, followed by a guided walk to the Falls. It was during this walk that the Kenhardt High school group decided to unpack the rain that they had brought along and everyone was drenched to the bone! Nevertheless, the rain was most welcome and long overdue and did nothing to dampen the spirits of the kids. Before supper, discussions were held regarding a wide range of topics and after supper on the way back to the tents, they were taken to view the illuminated Falls. Sleeping in tents (a first for the majority) in total darkness proved to be a challenge for most! Early the next morning they were taken on an interpretive walk to a spectacular viewpoint, learning along the way about the wonderful adaptations of plants and animals to be able to survive in this arid environment. Breakfast followed, together with a worksheet activity and power-point presentation which concluded the educational side of the visit. A snack pack under the shady trees and a dip in the swimming pool in the Day visitor area provided great relaxation and enjoyment before getting their lunch packs and embarking on the long road back to their communities.
Although these schools are all within a 200km radius of the AFNP, about 98% of the learner’s had never before had the opportunity to visit the park and see the waterfall. It was certainly a privilege to experience their excitement, eagerness and enjoyment and to introduce them to their natural and cultural heritage. A R30 000 very well and meaningfully spent with many thanks and gratitude going to the Honorary Rangers of the Virtual Region.
Christine sent the following pics:En route to Arrow point viewpoint
, on FlickrEnjoying the spectacular view
, on FlickrEnjoying the Twin Falls
, on FlickrGetting to grips with nature
, on FlickrGetting to know the Witgat tree 115
, on FlickrPella learners at the Quiver tree fridge
, on FlickrThe tented accommodation was also a first for most
, on FlickrTime to chill
, on Flickr
It would be wonderful to make it an annual opportunity for children from 'far schools' in the Augrabies FNP area to be able to visit the park. Should you wish to make a donation, please contact JenB
for banking details.