My decision to start a travel blog in 2010 has landed us a few perks. The most recent, was an invite
by SANParks to stay at the brand new chalets at Agulhas National Park which is the southern-most tip of Africa. The meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
I am unashamedly boastful of our beautiful country and have stayed in various Parks Board accommodations going back to my childhood. South Africa has such diverse countryside. Kwa-Zulu Natal has lush tropical terrain, the Karoo is beautifully bleak and
silent, the Cape has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and white soft sandy beaches and The Drakensberg (Dragons Mountains) has snow-capped mountain peaks. SANParks have affordable places to stay all over South Africa. I could go on and on but this post is about our weekend break at Agulhas.
|New chalets Agulhas National Park|
My laptop accompanies us whenever we travel and I try to write as quickly as possible at the end of a day so I can capture pertinent aspects of a place and key things like prices or distances while they are still fresh in my mind. I'm used to writing about a place as a visitor. This trip was very different as not only was I
privy to background info but I also got to meet an incredible group of people who work hard to create an awareness of what SANParks are trying to achieve. I was more than impressed.
|Agulhas now has 51 eco chalets|
Although I was given an itinerary, I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect. We were offered a lift to the park - about 2.5 hours from Cape Town which we happily accepted. My other half and I took the MyCiti bus from our home in Green Point to the Kloof Nek bus stop
near Table Mountain and walked a short distance to the SANParks Visitor Centre. We joined SANParks staff as well as other media folk and traveled to the Agulhas National Park.
|Mayor, park manager and SAN Parks GM cutting the ribbon|
Our group arrived for the launch of the new chalets. We listened to speeches from Reynold Thakhuli the SANParks Media, Events and Stakeholders Relations person, Bulelwa Msengi the park manager as well as the local mayor and Antoinette Van Wyk the GM of Infrastructure and Special Projects. After the talks we watched the mayor and park manager perform a ribbon cutting ceremony. It was interesting to learn that the park has grown from a meagre 4 ha to over 20 000 ha of now
unspoilt land. The project to develop this area is ongoing and SANParks have their own projects as well as co-operative ones such as the Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
Agulhas National Park is home to around 2000 plant species as well as now recovering Southern Right Whales, rare birds such as the Black Oyster Catcher, insects and a rich variety of indigenous marine and terrestrial life. SAN Parks focus is to improve tourism, create job opportunities and ensure there are protected areas of natural beauty for indigenous plants and wildlife. They buy land, return it to its
natural state and reintroduce local plants and wildlife. They skill up local residents when building camp sites and create long term employment via tourism. Agulhas received an allocation of R90 million of which they have already spent R45 million. It's wonderful to hear of a government department that works well in South Africa.
And the good news continued. We heard of plans to create more accommodation in the perpetually full Kruger National Park. A person has to book way in advance to get in - but it's worth the wait. Kruger is a magnificent place. I was able to chat about how they are tackling the rhino poaching problem. We only ever hear the huge numbers of rhino that have
been lost and the situation feels hopeless. But the war is on and SANParks are committed to getting on top of the the poaching no matter what it takes. SANParks now have recently trained sniffer dogs to accompany soldiers who spend up to 3 days at a time staking out the bush.
Read part 2 - by clicking here.
Read about our travels in various parts of the world by scrolling to the top of this page and finding - Holidays and Trips.
Labels: Agulhas National Park, Black Oyester Catcher, SANParks, Southern Right Whale