There has been much confusion about hiking, and what is and is not permitted on Level 3 restrictions. On Saturday, Minister of Tourism Kubayi-Ngubane announced that hiking will be permitted, as long as it is not in groups. Game farms and reserves are also open under Level 3, but only for game drives and not for leisure stays.
Hikers were left confused by this statement, as Table Mountain National Park, SANparks and CapeNature all remain closed under Level 3 restrictions.
Questions hikers asked include:
1. If nature trails are closed, where can I hike?
2. Can we travel within our province to hike?
3. How can I hike alone, when it is not safe?
4. How can we ensure the safety of lone hikers?
Parkscape – an organisation focused on community safety on local trails, mountains, etc has shed some light on the situation. They have asked hikers to wait for more clarity and keep out of national parks to avoid unnecessary trouble, until more information is available.
“In the light of the Minister of Tourism’s announcement yesterday about the reopening of private and public game farms, we have received a number of queries as to whether TMNP has reopened. As clarity is lacking on the matter we have, together with Table Mountain Watch, called upon Minister Creecy – the Minister of Environment – to clarify the situation of access to national parks, particularly Table Mountain National Park, in light of Minister Kubayi-Ngubane’s announcement.
By our reading, it is unclear as to whether the Minister of Tourism’s reference to game parks includes national parks, and since these fall under the Minister of Environment, we await clarity from Minister Creecy and SANParks.
As much as we all want to be on our mountain and in our forests again, we would advise that you stay out of the national park, including #TokaiForest and #NewlandsForest, until an official statement has been issued, so as to avoid any trouble with law enforcement,” they said in a statement on their Facebook Page.
They have approached Minister of Environment, Barbara Creecy, to address these issues and are waiting for a response. Given that the restriction on hiking was made after national parks announced they can’t open on Level 3, there may be a reconsideration, or there may not be.