Open access National Parks globally experience similar challenges, according to the National Geographic Traveller. Such challenges also experienced by the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), include invasive alien species, the management of wildlife in vastly open unfenced areas, climate change, development, pollution of resources and others.
The carcass of a badly decomposed whale that was spotted floating in the Swartvlei, washed up at the Swartvlei beach next to the parking lot this morning.
The Garden Route National Park Fun Mountain Bike Ride was held on the 7th of November 2015 and served to initiate a new cycling route, "Graspad", which commences at the Kranshoek Gate in the Harkerville forest (Knysna). The organiser from Muddyfoot Adeventures, James Stewart confirmed the route for the fun day to be 25 kilometers which included 12km of the Graspad route. The event was created to give back to cyclists who purchase annual permit tags.
All day trails as well as Day 1 of the famous Otter Trail are closed in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP). This is due to the heavy and intermittent rain since yesterday, 1 November 2015 and this morning, 2 November 2015. The Park has closed the trails as a precautionary measure and fears of hikers slipping because of wet conditions.
Last year’s tariffs were restructured. This year clients will pay the same rate plus CPI (Consumer Price Index). This is to accommodate any estimated changes in prices for the period 2015/2016.
The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) and Muddy Foot Adventures are organising a cycling fun race with a difference for Saturday, 07 November 2015. Using the Route Book (Rally Style) and odometers to navigate, each team follows the prescribed route and visits strategically located checkpoints on the course.
The Provincial Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT: Eastern Cape) organised a colourful event in the Storms River Rest Camp, Tsitsikamma on the 29th September 2015.
A total of 4, 383 South Africans visited the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) during SA National Parks Week 2015, a campaign sponsored by FNB and Total SA. 1619 visited Knysna (approximately 350 were brought in by the Featherbed Company via a cruise in the Knysna estuary which is also in the GRNP), 1567 Wilderness and 1197 Tsitsikamma.
The SA National Parks Week campaign was launched in Harkerville (Knysna) on the 14th September 2015. Speaker of the Eden District Municipality, Doris Nayler gave a message of support in favour of such a week during Tourism Month. CEO of Knysna & Partners (former Knysna Tourism), Greg Vogt also mentioned a few initiatives in Knysna and said SANParks are a key partner in driving the tourism business.
South Africa National Parks Week is a campaign to afford all South African citizens free access to National Parks. It is sponsored by FNB and Total SA. More than 4000 people visited the Garden Route National Parks last year (including Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma). Dates for the campaign week start from the 14th – 19th September 2015.
Although rivers in the Tsitsikamma section of the GRNP are relatively full subsequent to recent rainfall, all day and multi-day hiking trails are now open including the world famous Otter trail hike. Water in the Natures Valley camp has also subsided. According to Area Manager of Knysna (GRNP), Johan de Klerk "roads in the forestry areas in Knysna (Kom-se-Pad) are drivable and trees, debris, water cleared."
Rangers are assessing the extent of the damage caused by the recent rainfall. Goudveld, Gouna and Jubilee Creek (all in the forestry areas) seem to be the hardest hit. In addition to the 100mm rainfall on the 1st of September morning, an additional 40mm was measured. "This has caused damage in Goudveld (an old mining town in the middle of the forest) and a nearby popular picnic spot (Jubilee Creek)" according to Senior Section Ranger, Dominique du Toit.
SANParks managers of the Garden Route National Park have requested citizens to not cross fast flowing rivers in the forestry areas of the Park. "The Piesang River in the Knysna Forest is flooded, so are most rivers" according to Johan de Klerk (Area Manager of the Knysna section).
The very first upgrades in Tsitsikamma as part of the +R 17 million project will start with the entrance gate and administration building. Good news is visitors will not be affected by this at all. "The plan is to vacate the existing office building before December" explains Area Manager for Tsitsikamma, Lesley-Ann Meyer. Roll out of the Project will be the new Office Block closest to reception, then once that’s completed, work on the entrance gate will begin.
The 2015 Garden Route National Park Awards were held at the Simola Hotel on the 20th of August 2015. SANParks introduced Regional Awards in an effort to not only motivate its staff, but to recognize and honour those who commit themselves to a matchless level of excellence in performing their duties. In attendance was the Deputy Mayor of Knysna, Esme Edge, Mrs South Africa contestant, Jackie Wilson Louwe (who was a co-Master of Ceremony with a Senior Marine Ranger for Knysna-Owen Govender), Managing Executive of Parks, Dr. Mvusy Songelwa, Honorary Rangers from Knysna (Chairperson, Bayden Hall) and other distinguished guests.
The AFB Southern Cross Trail Run starts on the 8th - 10th August 2015. The trail run is a 3-day challenge. Day 1 goes through the Outeniqua Mountains, beautiful trails through the indigenous Forest on Day 2 and finishing off on a rugged coastline run on Day 3.
Globally people are choosing to hike for various reasons according to the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA). These reasons include and are not limited to:
Events in the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) boost eco-tourism in Knysna. This contributes to the economy directly and indirectly. There are approximately 34 events held annually in the Knysna section of the GRNP, including cycling races, trail runs, hiking, swimming competitions in the estuary, boating and vessel sporting events.
Senior Section Ranger, Jonathan Britton has given an account of the recent fish kills in Swartvlei. According to Britton, ‘the numbers of dead fish collected have decreased significantly. Below is a summary of the numbers collected so far each day from the 22nd June until the 25th:
- Monday 22 June: 35
- Tuesday 23 June: 85
- Wednesday 24 June: 4
- Thursday 25 June: 9
Concerned citizens spotted dead fish in Sedgefield. The SANParks team of rangers went to collect them and realized only the Grunter species of fish had died. SANParks scientist, Kyle Smith has collected water samples to test the levels of salinity in the water where most dead fish were collected.
SANParks and the Tsitsikamma Tourism Board request citizens near the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park to allow the law to take its course. The community is shocked by the recent rape incident next to the National Park. SANParks is tightening partnerships with law enforcement agencies to patrol and monitor the vast, extensive areas of the Park. ‘We are also planning to meet with other neighbouring stakeholders to ensure all play an active role in watching over the area. The Park is a significant contributor to the economy of the town.
Garden Route National Park Environmental Planner, Maretha Alant identified an invasive alien species (salvinia molesta) very close to the Municipal weir in Karata. She then roped in the Biodiversity Social Programme (BSP) Manager, Walter Mzimba to organise urgent teams to remove the invader plant.
The team in Wilderness has thought of ways to better the Outeniqua hiking trail for its users. The trail is a 7 -day trail with 8 overnight huts. It is a 108 kilometer hike in total. Hikers would traditionally begin in Beervlei (Hut 1), then head over to Windmeulnek, then Platbos, Millwood, Rondebossie, Diepwalle, Fisantehoek to end up in Harkerville (Knysna).
The Afromontane forests of the Southern Cape, most of them part of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) are up for a listing on the World Heritage List (UNESCO- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
Two Hiking trails in the Knysna forest also part of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) recently received Green Flag status. Perdekop (9, 5 kilometer nature walk) and Olifants (in Diepwalle) hiking trails were accredited by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA) on the 14 May 2015.
SANParks has received the first report from the State Vet who was consulted to conduct extensive tests on birds subsequent to recent bird kills. ‘Clinical Tests have come back negative for avian influenza (bird flu) and Newcastle disease’.
The dual race event comprising of walks, running and open-water swims has the town of Wilderness and Sedgefield buzzing with excitement.
Due to the open-access nature of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), it is enjoyed by those who love the outdoors and adventure seekers. Outdoor activities for most in the Garden Route may include dog walking.
Subsequent to 113 mm of rain on Saturday (the 04th April), the De Vasselot Rest Camp in Natures Valley was closed and hikers and campers relocated to the main camp in Storms River, Tsitsikamma.
The Area Manager of the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park, Sandra Taljaard says "members of the public may have recently noticed bird mortalities in some of the lakes of the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. South African National Parks is aware of this situation and is closely monitoring and investigating the matter".