Media Release: Security boost for tourists and hikers on Table Mountain
Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and the Western Cape provincial government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) have concluded an agreement that is aimed at improving the safety and security of tourists and hikers on Table Mountain.
Through the three year agreement, valued at R250 000 per annum, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism is making it possible for Table Mountain National Park’s mountain guides to be available to the public at an affordable rate.
MEC for finance, economic development and tourism, Mr Garth Strachan, says: ‘Strong partnerships will help us achieve equitable growth. Our partnership with Table Mountain National Park in creating sustainable jobs for tour guides is key to our success in reaching our full potential as a destination. Pro poor tourism is not simply about taking tourists on township tours, but ensuring long-term sustainability and the guides project demonstrates how to realise our vision.”
Tourists and members of the public will be able to hire accredited mountain guides at a rate of R150 per day, plus R35 per person, up to a limit of six people.
The 14 guides are employed by the TMNP on a retainer for guiding on the Hoerikwaggo Trail and through this partnership with the Department, are able to earn additional commission for guiding the public on additional routes.
Table Mountain has the unenviable record of incurring more mountain deaths than Mount Everest – largely because both Capetonians and visitors to Table Mountain underestimate the dangers of the mountain with its altitude and year round variability in mountain weather and conditions.
An integrated approach to mountain safety starts with ensuring that hikers are well informed and prepared for climbing the mountain. To this end, the TMNP has produced a safe hiking brochure with tips on mountain safety and which has a particular focus on the five most popular routes.
The main goal of this Department and TMNP intervention is to respond to the demand for the affordable, accredited mountain guides.
The five routes initially offered - with variations negotiable due to weather, fitness of party and time available - are:
- Lion’s Head spiral route
- Platteklip Gorge to Upper Cable Station
- Upper Cableway Station to Maclear’s Beacon Walk – the highest point on Table Mountain
- The Pipe Track along the base of the Apostles
- Skeleton Gorge to Maclear’s Beacon: The Smuts Track
Safety of visitors walking on the mountain is vital. The Park deploys 52 visitor safety officers and five dogs continuously. Since their deployment four years ago, and coupled with a broad campaign regarding safety on the mountains, has seen number of mountain crime-related incidents decline. The Department initiative will co-ordinate with the TMNP visitor safety programme.
“It is fantastic that the challenge of mountain safety can be turned into an opportunity for a commercially viable business partnership between the TMNP, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and supported by the CTRU,” says Brett Myrdal, park manager, Table Mountain National Park.
“The main beneficiaries are the public who can now afford to hire mountain guides for themselves and their visitors, and the Hoerikwaggo guides themselves who can earn commission over and above their guiding on the Hoerikwaggo Trail. Through this partnership, we are seeing the maturation of the business of the Hoerikwaggo guides – who are South Africa’s first black accredited mountain guides who operate commercially as mountain guides,” added Myrdal.
For bookings, visitors should call the Table Mountain National Park Hoerikwaggo Trail office on (021) 465 8519, between 07:30 and 16:00, week days.
Phumeza Mgxashe, Communications Manager, Table Mountain National Park, Tel: (021) 701 8692, Cell: 083 480 1522
MEC Garth Strachan, Cell: 083 454 6667