Thursday, January 31, 2008

CapeNature working around the clock to reopen Swartberg trails

- Linda Jaquet -

CapeNature is hoping that by the middle of February it will have a clearer picture of when it can reopen the hiking and the 4X4 trails in the Swartberg Nature Reserve to the general public.

The trails, popular among locals and visitors to Prince Albert, have been closed for long-overdue maintenance work since October last year, which according to a CapeNature spokesperson, Erica Swanepoel, was delayed by flooding during November.

CapeNature told the Friend that the poor state of the routes had been worsened by fires on the Swartberg in April 2007. While acknowledging that the trails were a draw card for tourists to the area, Ms Swanepoel said that CapeNature could not allow people to risk hiking or driving the routes in their current condition.

She underlined that even when the routes are well-maintained, hikers should preferably walk in groups of three or more.

According to Ms Swanepoel, the maintenance contractors have been working almost 24 hours a day since 7 January to improve the trails and overnight huts.

Once the trails reopen, hiking permits will again be available at the Prince Albert Tourism Office, which can be contacted for further information on (023) 541-1366.

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