Upper Tokai update
13 March 2017
In the interest of public safety and for the protection of environmental integrity the Upper Tokai section of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) remained closed to the public for safety and rehabilitation reasons. SANParks however continued to engage with various stakeholders resulting in the successful reopening of Upper Tokai on 10 December 2016. Upper Tokai remains open on to the public on weekends only.
Since the re-opening of Upper Tokai over 4000 visitors have already used the trails. Users quickly accepted the terms under which Upper Tokai reopened and there has been a positive response to the revamped mountain bike trails. The early reopening is continually being assessed in terms of compliance, safety and environmental issues. These factors will dictate when the area is eventually ready to be opened during the week.
Local mountain biking stakeholder, TokaiMTB, has an access indemnity in place through Amarider that facilitates temporary weekend access. This indemnity requires that marshals are employed to ensure users don’t stray into the remaining hazardous areas and to monitor compliance. The cost of marshalling during the week at peak times before and after work hours, does not currently justify the addition of five extra days per week.
SANParks teams together with volunteers continue to rehabilitate upper Tokai including repairs to certain trails and tracks which were damaged as a result of fires and ongoing tree-felling operations. The process to remove the remaining dangerous burnt compartments will commence in March 2017 and once these are removed, access will return to the normal seven days per week.
The removal of alien invasive plants is also an ongoing exercise. The alien infestation in Tokai is a result of more than a century of commercial timber planting and harvesting and it may take as many years to fully rehabilitate the area. Currently six teams of over 120 contracted people valued at R1.5 million are clearing alien invasive plants in Tokai. They are assisted by volunteers under the guidance of the Friends of Tokai Park. Progress is good and evident by the cleared areas. A budget of R4.1 million to aid restoration is envisaged for the next financial year.
Regarding access to/from Silvermine, it is for now only possible via level 4. Level 5 is closed for safety reasons and signage has been installed at various junctions to guide users away from the hazardous slopes. Access to Upper Tokai on weekends only for user groups will be from various access points:
- Mountain bikers can access the trails from the Tokai Picnic site or Silvermine pay point.
- Hikers and joggers are to access from the Silvermine entrances only i.e. Ou Kaapse Weg, Constantia Nek and Blackburn Ravine.
- Activity permit checks and day fee payments will be managed at the Tokai and Silvermine pay points.
NB: Cyclists should be aware that there are a limited number of parking bays available at the Tokai Picnic site and for ease of access it is recommend that mountain bikers arrive on their bikes via the new Non-Motorised Transport routes being installed by the City, or on the greenbelt offering more single track routes.
Hiking and running is on weekends only and only on demarcated routes through Upper Tokai. For safety reasons access for hikers and runners is only from the Silvermine entrances i.e Ou Kaapse Weg, Constantia Nek and Blackburn Ravine. Hikers and runners may not exit via the Tokai Arboretum as burnt trees and branches continue to come down. Access for hikers from Tokai will be allowed once the Tokai Arboretum is reopened. A number of assessments have taken place by tree experts from Kirstenbosch and the Department of Forestry and quotations and funding to address the dangerous burnt trees in the Arboretum need to be finalised before work can commence. The opening of the Arboretum is dependent on ensuring that this area is safe.
Listers will open when the Arboretum is safe and once a tender process has been followed in terms of outsourcing the facility to a private operator, potentially as an interpretive centre.
Finally, TMNP management and staff would like to encourage user groups to be courteous in sharing the reopened tracks/paths and more so to take in the panoramic views now on offer. For security reasons SANParks recommends that you ride in groups of four or more. Please do not carry any valuables on you and ensure that you notify someone of your intended route and return time. Please load the SANParks emergency number into your phone 0861 110 6417.
Tokai gate times:
May - September 8am to 5pm
October - April 7am to 6pm
Silvermine gate times:
May - August 8am to 5pm
September - April 7am to 6pm
Day Permit Fee: R75.00
Annual Activity Permit: R500
South African National Parks (SANParks) Cape Region Communications
Public Relations Officer: Cape Region
South African National Parks (SANParks)