“Anyone operating within a national park must obtain an operating licence and/or submit an unsolicited bid and/or respond to a solicited bid as advertised,” GRNP general manager Jill Bunding-Venter said in a statement.
“These may include activities such as guided tours within the forest on clearly demarcated walking routes/ trails, via access through an official SANParks entrance gate.”
Bunding-Venter’s comments were in response to the tour operator who guided two Dutch tourists involved in a rescue at the Knysna National Parks forest, who did not have a permit for kloofing.
“They had the right permit for access to the Drupkelders hiking trail but we never issue permits for kloofing,” SA National Parks (SANParks) spokeswoman Nandi Mgwadlamba said.
“We don’t allow kloofing there at all. But local tour operators do this when rangers are not watching.”
Kloofing involves following a mountain river or stream and floating, jumping and swimming its course.
Bunding-Venter said that due to the park’s “fragmented nature and open access,” unlicensed tour operators entered the park and illegally offered services to visitors.
“Some operators abuse the system by illegally taking visitors off the approved entrances and trails, offering additional activities,” she said.
On Monday, a Dutch tourist was injured in the park when he jumped into a rock pool. The 31-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from Amsterdam had been on the hiking trail with his partner, a general surgeon, when the incident happened.
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Knysna station commander Jerome Simonis said the river guide had been taking the two through the Drupkelders hiking trail when the man jumped into the rock pool.
He sustained a suspected fracture to the lumbar spine.
The injured man was in such a remote area that the rescue became difficult.
“While Drupkelders is a relatively short hiking trail of only 3.6km, it involves vertical cliff traversing, making it a barely accessible and remote area,” said Simonis.
“They remained where they were, not wanting to move the injured man fearing complicating the injury.”
The guide hiked a cliff trail to a higher spot for a cellphone signal to call for help.
When paramedics, rescuers and the NSRI arrived, the guide met them and they hiked a steep cliff, about a kilometre, to the Goukamma River.
“From there six NSRI Knysna rescue swimmers, accompanied by the river guide, then swam upstream searching for the two hikers,” said Simonis.
The man was put onto a floating basket stretcher and was gently floated downstream.
The police and paramedics were waiting a kilometre downstream.
Paramedics treated the man on scene before a rope and pulley system was used to haul the stretcher up a steep cliff to reach the parking area.
“A Medlife ambulance transported the man to hospital in a serious but stable condition, accompanied by his partner,” said Simonis.