A new entrance gate in the Giyani area, a futuristic tourism centre at the entrance to the Park at Phalaborwa Gate, a new tented camp at Punda Maria, and numerous other developments form part of the Kruger park’s five-year multimillion-rand development plan which was compiled recently, reports Letaba Herald.
The department of environmental affairs and tourism allocated R396 million to SANParks, of which R195 million will be used for the Kruger National Park’s upgrades.
Several new picnic spots, a cultural village at Masorini, and new bird hides and ablution facilities at several hides are all on the agenda for the short term.
Although some developments at Bergendal, Lower Sabie and other parts in the Southern region of the Kruger Park are also planned, the focus is clearly on the northern part.
For years now, visitors, tourists and other role players all agreed that the southern part of Kruger was overdeveloped and commercialised while the northern part was underdeveloped and really offered more for discerning tourists.
Blake Schraader, head of the department of technical services said in a statement on the Kruger National Park’s website that the designs for upgrades of tourism facilities at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Letaba, Satara, Orpen, Roodewal, Lower-Sabie, Berg-en-Dal, and Pretoriuskop were almost finalised.
“Our aim is to address the age of structures and to achieve star-grading,” said Schraader.
Staff accommodation units in villages will also be upgraded to en-suite units, and additional units will be built.
Part of the upgrade will include increasing the height of the Crocodile Bridge, to mitigate flooding to less than 5% a year. A number of gravel roads will also be replaced and stabilised. Roads will be upgraded with stabilising products currently being tested by the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR), Schraader explained.
The shop at Mopani will be turned into a conference centre, and the current cafeteria will be turned into the shop.
With regards to entrance gates, Schraader said all commercial activities would be concentrated in one area. A swipe card system will be introduced at all gates to facilitate fast lanes for Wild Card holders. All southern gates, as well as Phalaborwa and Orpen, will also be upgraded, and Crocodile Bridge camp will receive a new bridge and road to ensure it becomes an end-destination. Roads will therefore no longer pass through the camp.
Water and sewage facilities will also be receiving an upgrade, including main bulk water supply lines between Balule and Satara Camp and between Malelane and Berg-en-Dal camp. Hybrid power supply systems at Sirheni, Shimuwini, and Bateleur will also be upgraded, in addition to lapas and swimming pools, which are set to be built at these camps, as well as at Biyamiti.
Additional reporting by Nica Schreuder