Pretoriuskop has been my favourite camp for the past few years, with better predator sightings than at Lower Sabie!
Just before Christmas I went to the trouble to drive into the barren-looking treeless strip of cleaned-up garbage dump that will now be the new Picnic Site for Day Visitors….
From the road it looks VERY uninviting! Who on earth would ever bother to have a picnic in the blazing sun on bare earth and weeds?
First surprise – the barren earth is for parking, but there is an electric fence on the left side, and some shady spots and trees for the actual picnic spots!
Second surprise – very neat ablutions (2 blocks) with a tuck shop on the left. Chairs and tables were already stacked in piles, ready for use!
Third surprise -- a herd of kudu were grazing peacefully behind the tar pole edge of the treeless `parking lot’!
This got me thinking! So I asked at reception to speak to the manager of Pretoriuskop. Margaret Jones surprised me by excusing herself from a meeting just to chat to me!
She was very gracious, and spoke freely of how happy they were to have turned a dump into a `picnic site’ without disturbing the ecology any further…
Phase one is about completed, and will be in use very soon!
Phase two – who knows? Perhaps a swimming pool, some trees planted in the barren parking lot, not too sure about the final outcome yet.
I asked Margaret: ``Would you mind if I asked Forumites to give some input – What would they like to see at Pretoriuskop, to make it an even bigger success?’’
Of course she was delighted – any ideas would be welcome!
So here are the dreams of Friedrich and Michelle von Hörsten for Pretoriuskop:
1. Could forumites/local Honorary Rangers not arrange a TREE PLANTING DAY to get those little trees planted SOON – it is going to take a LONG time till there is welcome shade for parking…
2. Of course a swimming pool would be welcome for Day Visitors in the hot summer months, but what about the animals? I wonder where on earth they drink water around Pretoriuskop (little vlei on each side of camp is usually dry all winter; only that small stream on the Fayi loop)? So why not CREATE A WETLAND/WATERHOLE in that ugly hollow where the kudus are grazing in the pic – all the water from taps/basins/pool overflow could be directed into such a hollow for the benefit of birds and animals. Imagine having a picnic, surrounded by birds and the occasional warthog/kudu/sable coming down for a drink? This has been done in Etosha (Okaukuejo waterhole)!
On a larger scale:
Quoting Margaret Jones, ``Pretoriuskop has nothing to seriously attract tourists, except the lovely swimming pool in the rocks, and the rare animals like sable and hartebeest, and the lovely trees and cool climate. No Sabi River or Lake Panic…’’
Which got me thinking…
1. What about creating a BIRD HIDE FOR PRETORIUSKOP– as good as Lake Panic! Surely there must be a corner of one of the big dams like Mtshawudam (just off the S3 – look at it from Shabeni hill) or Mestel dam (far right hand corner), where there is permanent water, plenty of birdlife, hippos, crocs… But PLEASE, the hide must be CLOSE to the animals, not like the ``useless’’ ones at Shingwedzi and Letaba where you are not in touch with wildlife. Lake Panic is so pupoluar because you are SURROUNDED by wildlife! Margaret, find us a Lake Panic at Pretoriuskop – surely it can be done with minimal change to the environment!
2. What about creating a ``MATHEKENYANE/GRANOKOP LOOKOUT AT PRETORIUSKOP – it has the most stunning rocky outcrops, and surely one would be suitable for tourists to ride onto and GET OUT OF THEIR VEHICLES to watch the sunset or have breakfast in the bush! There is already a little `road’ turning off Shabeni loop to a little `cement dam’ full of water for who knows what. Why not extend the road a bit further, so people can stop on the rocky outcrop for sunset.?
Before you shoot me down –
• there was NO Lake Panic before somebody was brave enough to just do it!
• There was NO Granokop lookout before somebody was brave enough to do it!
• There will be NOTHING SPECIAL for Pretoriuskop before we are brave enough to do it!
• Don’t say it will interfere too much with the ecology! Hotels are being built, facilities upgraded all the time – this is low-key stuff that can have high-key benefits, especially for Day Visitors!
Maybe you have better ideas for Pretoriuskop! Let us know about them. Let Margaret Jones, Manageress of Pretoriuskop know about them! Perhaps we can help Pretoriuskop to get that extra edge it needs,
without losing its peaceful, rural character or cheaper S2 huts that are affordable to all South Africans. Perhaps we can fill them up all year, and keep the prices down!
Friedrich and Michelle von Hörsten