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Balule Low water bridge

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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MATTHYS
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Re: Balule Satellite Camp

Unread postby MATTHYS » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:07 am

Photos (taken 12/09/2012) from Foxy :

Image

Image

At balule bridge and the detour after olifants river
aquila non capit muscas

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Martin 112
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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Martin 112 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:19 pm

here is a picture from last sunday. I dont think that it will be open soon.

Image

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Martin 112
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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Martin 112 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:48 pm

i don't think that they allow it. actually only the game drives are allowed to pass is, but they are driving very carefully. On the picture you can't see it but there is a high difference between the road and the gravel bridge.

EDIT: just had a look through my pictures and found 2 other
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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Joep Stevens » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:39 pm

Dear All,

Just to confirm that unfortunately Balule bridge will not be accessible for guests until it is completed by about March 2013. Keep in mind, check-in for Balule can also be done at Satara or Olifants camps.

Thank you.

JOEP (joep.stevens@sanparks.org)
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Son godin
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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Son godin » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:42 pm

I've just returned from my visit to Balule. Water was flowing over the temporary sand structure, that was built for construction vehicle to travel over the the bridge on 28 Dec. On the 31 Dec the area had a good rainfall during the night which might have soften the sand even more.

I am not sure if the temporary sand bridge will last much longer and recommend people not to use the bridge at all. Some people are still removing the baracading and crossed it while we were there.

Another point is that guest visiting Balule needs to be aware of the closing of the bridge by the reservation office prior to their visit.

Some guests arrived at ~ 8 pm on the 31 Dec at the camp. They were escort by SANParks to the camp due to the late arrival. At 6pm we notice a vehicle at the Olifants side of the bridge but had to drive on and could not cross. Coming from Olifants there are no warnings that the bridge is closed and guest might feel that they have enough time to book in after 5 pm at Olifants and can still arrive at camp on time. With the detour 21 km it will not be possible. Therefore book-in times need to change to no later than 5 pm and a route need to be provided.

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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Son godin » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:07 pm

The weather was really bad and we were also restricted to the tent.
Our stand was the second one from the corner on the hutted side.
Only met Mrs Wild dog during our stay at Balule

Some pics of the low water bridge taken on 29 Dec 2012.

Image

Image

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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby Son godin » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:16 pm

It will be great if they can return the pontoon again that was used in the 30's when the camp was build. Then the park do not need to build a bridge again and again and the owner of the pontoon can make a bit of money. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

I dug out some history on roads in Kruger from the link below:



http://www.accommodation-in-kruger-park ... pment.html
...and the development

Tourism and Technical Services.
The proclamation of the Kruger National Park and simultaneous safe passage through Parliament of the National Parks Act, allowed Stevenson-Hamilton and his men effectively to plan for the future.
No longer were the uncertainty and threats of exploitation by land associations or private individuals a brake on efforts to progress.

Their budget was still severely restricted, but in 1927 the staff began road-building and providing accommodation for tourists and by the end of the year visitors could travel to Pretoriuskop and view animals along a circular road near the camp.
The camp itself was merely a log enclosure within which visitors had to make do as best they could.
Often the rangers would give up their own homes so that tourists could have a few more comforts.

But the first roads were built more to link the various section- rangers with headquarters at Skukuza than to provide good game drives for visitors.
Camps were established near the homes of these rangers so that the staff could provide some control and protection.
Building methods for both roads and camps were of necessity crude and primitive.
Huts were made of local stone, logs, thatch and mud; large gangs would chop down trees and vegetation to clear a rough track.
There were eight rangers, each with a small number of black assistants to do the work: build roads, build huts, keep a vigilant eye on the never-ending bands of poachers and patrol a wilderness area larger than the state of Israel.
Isolation and poor communication added to their load.

Despite the difficulties and lack of funds, the men persevered: by 1928, 122 miles of road had been completed, in 1930, 450 miles and by

1936, 900 miles of road were available.
During summer these roads would be transformed into muddy quagmires in which cars would get hopelessly stuck; after a good storm, dry stream-beds would become raging torrents, washing away roads and blocking all traffic until the water subsided.
And yet the people came; they loved it.

For crossings of the main rivers, Stevenson-Hamilton used discarded mining equipment — donated by a Mr Selby of the Wildlife Preservation Society — to construct pontoons which ferried each car over the Sabie and Crocodile rivers.
For the shallow Sand river, just north of the Sabie, poles were cut, wired together and laid across the river. ‘It was an alarming method, until one got used to it, for the bridge swayed and sank to the shallow bottom of the stream, with passage of every car,’ Stevenson-Hamilton recorded.

By the end of 1929 a pontoon was ready to ferry visitors across the Olifants River, and another milestone had been reached.
While a concrete bridge over the Letaba was being built, the rangers at Punda Maria and Shingwedzi worked feverishly to clear a road to the south.
And so, before the middle of 1933, visitors could travel from Malelane in the extreme south, right up to the baobab-dotted hills of Pafuri in the distant north of the Park.
It was a momentous day.

The stream of visitors kept increasing, forcing the already hard- pressed staff to increase their efforts.
By 1930 six camps with about 100 concrete huts provided accommodation, but the demand for more never diminished.
So fast had the popularity of the Park spread that from the meagre beginnings of three cars entering in 1927, yielding a total income of £3 for that year, the figure blossomed to 6 000 cars carrying 26 000 people in 1935.
Stevenson-Hamilton’s vision had be come reality; his long years of efforts were being rewarded.
The Park filled an unexpected need in the public, they crowded to get in.

As in any new venture of considerable size and scope, teething problems were inevitable.
The Park remained open to visitors throughout the year and though in the winter months all went well, when the summer rains fell the roads became muddy traps, cars were stranded, and malaria gripped people in its feverish hand.

In March 1929, two truckloads of American visitors entered at Crocodile Bridge on a drive to Lower Sabie. They drove into a thunder storm which reduced the road to a slippery mass of treacherous mud.
Turning around to return to Crocodile Bridge, they found their path now blocked by a stream, but decided to try getting through.
The first truck went in and promptly overturned.
Its drenched occupants took to the trees as lions started roaring in the vicinity.
It was thus that a ranger found them a few hours later.

The now thoroughly disillusioned Americans, several of them suffering from malaria, returned home where their story appeared in the newspapers and labelled South Africa as a ‘death trap’.
Understand ably, the decision was taken that from 1930 the Park should remain open to visitors only during the dry winter months, though the Pretoriuskop area remained open because its relatively high position rendered it free of malaria.
Not for many years — until better roads and bridges guaranteed safe passage and malaria control became more effective — did this ruling change.

Stevenson-Hamilton finally retired in April 1946 — after nearly 44 years of unmatched service to the nature reserve he dearly loved.
His headquarters had already been given his Shangaan name — ‘Skukuza’, meaning ‘the man who sweeps clean’.
Later a magnificent memorial library bearing his name was to be built in the same camp.
He died on December 10th, 1957, aged 90.
When his wife Hilda died in 1979 their ashes were scattered on a hill covered with massive granite boulders a few kilometres south-west of Skukuza. Stevenson- Hamilton had chosen this site himself among the timeless rocks thrust high above the surrounding country that had become his special home.

Colonel J.A.B. Sandenbergh became the second warden, and the volume of tourists continued to grow.
In 1948 there were nearly 59 000; in 1955 the number of visitors exceeded 100 000; in 1964 it rose to above 200 000; then to more than 300 000 in 1968; and in 1982 it reached 463 000.

This increasing flood of visitors made it necessary to again revise some of the management policies.
To ensure a standard and more appropriate service to tourists, in 1955 the National Parks Board took control of all trading and restaurant facilities from the private concerns which had previously operated in the various camps.
Since then profits from these activities have been channeled back into the Park and used to benefit its wildlife.

Roads suffered from the heavy and increasing tourist traffic. Simple paths cleared of trees and stones were no longer acceptable, for under such heavy wear they became deeply rutted and eroded, choked in thick layers of powdery dust.
However, an internal roads department, established in 1950, soon matured to provide better roads with longer lasting surfaces.
No longer were the roads washed away after every heavy downpour; vehicles were not as likely to get bogged down; and bridges were being built to span rivers and streams which had previously blocked traffic.
At the same time, the old combat against malaria-carrying mosquitoes was gaining momentum, using new pesticides discovered during World War II and new drugs highly effective in preventing malaria also became readily available.
All this combined to make the Park less of a threat to human life in summer.
The Lowveld was being tamed.

It was now safe to again open the Park to visitors throughout the year — a process carried out in gradual stages:
Skukuza remained open as of 1962; in 1963 visitors could travel at any time of the year up to the Tshokwane picnic-site; in 1964 this was extended to include the whole area south of the Letaba river; and, finally, in the 1970’s the en tire Park was opened to visitors all year round.

But again new problems arose.
Better roads and less malaria attracted more visitors, again increasing the traffic load.
After much heated debate and argument, in the early 1960’s it was decided to tar all arterial roads linking the larger camps.
In 1965 the first, from Skukuza to Numbi entrance gate near Pretoriuskop, was completed.
Other roads slowly appeared, radiating in all directions until finally even Pafuri far in the north boasted a tarred link snaking across the silent mopane-covered hills.
By 1982, 742 kilometres of tarred road and 1 200 kilometers of gravel road were open for game-viewing.

On February 1st, 1969, yet another milestone was reached when Commercial Airways (Comair) flew in the first batch of tourists to land at the Skukuza Airport.
In years to come this would prove a highly popular service catering to the needs of many.

The old Selati railway line, so filled with poignant history, finally fell to the needs of practical considerations. When Stevenson-Hamilton arrived in 1902, the line extended only as far as the present Skukuza, abruptly ending on the southern bank of the Sabie River.
But when the line was completed in 1912 it reached Zoekmekaar, and in the ensuing decades the raucous whistles of thundering steam engines shattered the bushveld quiet; often animals were killed as the metal monsters roared their relentless way through the surrounding bush.
Finally, in 1973, the trains came to a permanent halt and the lines were pulled up.
The magnificently photogenic bridge across the Sabie River, in plain view from much of Skukuza camp, remains a silent memorial to those rowdy and opportunistic days of the early 20th century.

The uncertain years < ..and the development > The Kruger today

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Re: BALULE BRIDGE

Unread postby Elsa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:48 pm

Elephantears, there is absolutely no problem in driving from Satara to Olifants! :thumbs_up:
You can either stay on the tar road and drive straight up the H1-4 and H1-5 until you reach the turn off onto the H8 which takes you directly to Olifants camp.
If you want to do a little different route you take the H1-4 up until you reach the S91 and then S92 which comes out just a few kms before Olifants.
Its just the causeway that crosses the Olifants river leading to Balule camp, which was badly damaged in the previous 2 floods, that is still closed.
The road Imvubu was referring to is the dirt road, the S90.
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Re: BALULE BRIDGE

Unread postby Elephantears » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:10 pm

Thank you Elsa, No need to panic then! I might even take up your suggestion and head up on the S91,92 to reach Olifants!

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Re: Balule Satellite Camp

Unread postby Riverrat » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:26 am

Update on the Balule causeway / low level bridge: I took a look at the causeway this last weekend 20 April 2014 and the route is definitely totally impassable, and will probably be for another year.

Up until December there was active repair work in which the construction folks were building gabions and then laying cement over these at the northern end, and the same had been started at the southern end. However, the February floods washed all of the part-repair work away and even widened the gap between the existing old concrete bridge and the river bank to some 20 metres. Through this gap flows a very strong river current.

Clearly it would be unwise to attempt the same type of repair again, as a solid raised and re-enforced, and properly anchored concrete link would need to be constructed across this gap. At this point there seems to be no work on site and we can only wait for the necessary insurance claims and tenders to be processed.

in the mean time we will all still have to travel the 40 odd kilometres via the Ngotso weir and Olifants bridge to Olifants camp for supplies.

In respect of the Balule Camp: I really MUST compliment the camp caretaker Titus (and his behind-the-scenes support crew) for a really well cared for facility. Ablutions and cooking area / lapa were really clean, no rust on the door-frames, no grime or mildew in the showers, shower curtains that were complete, no broken bathroom hooks etc.

This camp is one of the few remaining facilities in the KNP that reflect the great quality, hygiene and atmosphere of the 'old school" strict park management.

Well done Titus
Dr. Kevin Azzie

RESERVES were declared to keep natural areas in their wildest form.
KEEP IT THAT WAY!!



15 Mar: Satara
21-23 March: Shingwedzi
18-21 April Balule
9 May: Sand River Bush Camp

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Re: Balule Satellite Camp

Unread postby Son godin » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:30 pm

Hi Riverrat,

I thought the northern section was fixed before Dec 2012 and that it was just the southern section to complete. Did the original work done by contractor No 1 washed away in Jan 2013. I am sure I saw pics that it was still fine after the summer rains.

If work was done until Dec 2013 then contractor No 2 disappeared and did not complete the work. Now they looking for contractor No 3. I hope SANParks is 3rd time lucky with the new contractor that will fix the bridge. If there is any one that can tender for this job please apply before 29 April so that we can get a bridge soon. :pray: :pray: :pray: :pray:

KNP-001-13 - Invitation for a suitable service provider for the extension and repair of the Balule low water bridge in the Kruger National Park. Re-advertisement

South African National Parks (SANParks) invites prospective service providers to submit a bid for the extension and repair of the Balule low water bridge in the Kruger National Park. (CIDB Grading: 6 CE PE)

SANParks is a corporate body established in terms of National Environmental Management; Protected Areas Act No 57 of 2003 as amended.

Documents
Invitation to Bid

The bid is issued in accordance with the Preferential Procurement Regulations 2011. SANParks is not obliged to accept the lowest or any bid.

Enquiries
Email & queries to:
Mr Lucky Mahlalela
Email: lucky.mahlalela@sanparks.org
Telephone no: (013) 735 4311

Please note
Compulsory Briefing Session: Balule low level bridge, on the S90 road, Kruger National Park on 17 April 2014 at 11:00 a.m.
The bid documents will only be available at the Supply Chain Management (Procurement) office, Administration Block, Skukuza, as from 7 April 2014. A non-refundable deposit of R500, payable in cash or by bank-guaranteed cheque made out in favour of SANParks, is required on collection of the bid document.
The bid closing date is the 29 April 2014 at 11:00 .
Bid submission address: Supply Chain Management (Procurement) Office, Administrative Block, Skukuza, 1350

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Re: Balule Low Level Bridge

Unread postby Elsa » Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:34 pm

Some news Here
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Re: Low level bridge at Balule

Unread postby Patto » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:56 am

Friedrich von Hörsten wrote:
On Thursday, our last day there, the contractor filled the "coffer dam" to stop water flowing across the southern end of the bridge. Vehicles started using this road, even the Sanparks bus. So the campers started driving across to Olifants -- 12 km instead of 35 km! What a treat. More options to drive. So we did it and spend the afternoon in Olifants camp, but were back at the bridge by 4:45, within sight of Balule.
Bad news. A Sanparks vehicle was parked diagonally across the road to bar any further crossings! So we suddenly had another 20 km to get back home before dark... which turned into good luck for us, as a caracal lynx (my first ever in Kruger!) crossed the road ahead of us, but there was no time for photos!
After the high level bridge crossing, we got onto our dirt road back to camp, to find an aggressive elephant bull in musth walking towards us and hogging the road... spent about 10 minutes waiting while other cars backed up behind us. Eventually we squeezed past and he charged us, but we got back to camp at exactly 5:30!

Hope you have better luck and that the bridge will now be permanently open to all traffic, even while they are still working on the actual structure on the southern end!


According to Friedrich von Hörsten's above post (relevant extract) on the Balule camp thread, it seems that the contractor has already started??? Doesn't tie up to what Lesego has indicated. Lesego, you sure of the information you have received? Those on the ground, so to speak, tell a completely different story to yours. Still quite a bit of confusion...

Kind regards,

Pat
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Re: Low level bridge at Balule

Unread postby Friedrich von Hörsten » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:22 pm

I don't think Sanparks want people to use this temporary dirt crossing -- it is meant to cut off the running water. I suppose they will have to do another similar wall lower, then pump out the water before they can start laying concrete in that gap. But the following pics will prove that it was being done on Thursday, 3 July 2014.

What a difference when you can cross the river without going 35 km to Olifants! Also spectacular for viewing elephants at sunset from the bridge! Will have to go back to experience that properly!

Image

Image

I don't know if this man is the "contractor". I do know that there were huge heaps of gravel etc. on the opposite bank, about 500m from the opposite bank T-junction. The trucks were making a hang of a noise, reversing back and forth across the bridge. Even the big white Sanparks bus used the crossing.

I think they would be making a HUGE mistake (same as with Croc Bridge) if they plan to finish this job in 8 months -- it will just get washed away again! The rainy season starts in November, so they need to finish it within the next four months!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay

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Re: Balule Low water bridge

Unread postby leervis » Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:19 pm

I'm afraid that the causeway at Balule is still closed.
I was there from 30 Sept. to 2nd October and it looks as if it will be closed for a while.
On the positive side however, I must say that the camp itself is a delight.
This was my first Balule camp, and will not be my last.
On the first night I woke at about 2am for a bathroom visit and walking through the camp was magical. Everything at Balule is kept in 100% shape.
The cooking / washing up area is spotless as are the ablutions.
The camp sites are generous in size and all the people who were there during my stay were considerate campers.
We had a serious Hyena serenade on the last night the.....magic.
26 - 29 August Balule
30 August - 1 September Sirheni
2 - 5 September Tsendze

9 - 12 November Punda Camping
13 November Letaba Safari Tent
14 - 17 Balule Camping


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