Home > Ecotourism > Proposed Ecotourism Improvements

 

1. Eco Trail and Centre (Future Proposed)

The disused pump house will be secured and then converted into an eco-education centre for schools and other groups. It will be equipped with visual displays and audio-visual equipment to educate visitors about the Northcliff Ridge ecosystem, geology and cultural heritage.
A series of talks will be developed in conjunction with various departments at the nearby universities, providing them with an opportunity for community service. Topics may range from tree, plant and flower identification and geological history to any other topic relevant to Northcliff Ridge. A walk along the eco trail will follow so that visitors can experience first-hand what they learned. This trail will be similar to the cliff trail, but will traverse the protea grassland slopes below the cliffs that are easy to traverse and not dangerous. It will be deliberately routed to pass by a variety of trees.

2. Viewing Platform

The proposed viewing platform will be built immediately to the north of the water tower extending out three metres on land that is already degraded. It will be built of stone to blend in with the natural rock, by a local black entrepreneur stone builder, and lend credence to the following two principles:

  • All people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.
  • Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices.

The railings will be made of metal to withstand fire. The viewing platform should attract many visitors who do not venture further into the park. It will also be accessible to wheelchairs. Interpretation boards will identify the main features in the view and provide information on the geology, history and vegetation of the Ridge. The fence will be placed a few metres down the cliff so as not to obstruct the view for visitors.

3. Rock Climbing

The cliffs provide more than sixty listed short rock climbing routes of varying grades of difficulty. This is the only activity that needs special consideration, as climbers who do not stick to the trails and overuse the gullies to reach the base of the climbs can cause erosion of the natural vegetation. Their movements could also cause other visitors to follow suit resulting in more erosion and increasing the risk of accidents. Rock climbing is a nature-based sport and climbers are accustomed to rough conditions. There is therefore no need to provide special facilities like levelled platforms and braai areas as the previous plan suggested, especially in view of the fire risk.

4. Cliff Trail

An extensive trail has been built in a single file path approximately 50 cm wide in the style of game paths and footpaths in the veld, hardened in places where erosion may occur. Where very steep, steps from natural rock were built. Access to this trail may have to be regulated in order to curb visitor numbers and ecological impact. Warning signs need to be posted at the start and end of this trail where it is more risky and strenuous. Further development of the trail still needs to be done once the pump house can be used as an information centre.

5. Grassland Trail

The existing path needs to be repaired. The path will be accessible to wheelchairs from the water tower to the trig beacon partially on the grassland. Interpretation units will be set at intervals along the path identifying the different shrubs and grasses. These will be engravings on polished stone or metal, set in small cairns built from stone matching the rocks on the Ridge so that they blend into the landscape. Using rock rather than wood or synthetic material is both durable and fire resistant. The same format will be used for signs along the trail. Activity points and rules will be indicated along the trail.

6. Permanent access control

To ensure the sustainability of all the above mentioned improvements permanent guards are needed to prevent vandals destroying signage and defacing the rocks by spray-painting, to prevent fires and continuous litter.

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