The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) has doubled figures of visitors to the National Park during the SA National Parks Week campaign. The week long campaign started on the 16th – 23rd September 2017 attracted a total of 7, 449 visitors to the Park. Most visitors were recorded in the Tsitsikamma section of the Park (3,714), Knysna (1,734) and Wilderness (1,506).
The Park had prepared activities to showcase the diverse nature-experiences in the GRNP. Park Manager Paddy Gordon says ‘Knysna has South Africa’s single largest complex of indigenous forests, fynbos areas. We also manage seascapes and estuaries. SANParks invests millions annually to protect and maintain the area for conservation to the benefit of current and future generations.’
The Park planned activities for each section focussing on educational initiatives (there were seahorse talks, forest walks, estuarine exploration) by People & Conservation Officers.
Gordon expressed gratitude to visitors who make it worthwhile to protect and conserve natural assets forming part of the GRNP and surrounds (buffer areas).
According to Rey Thakhuli, General Manager, Communications at SANParks, the Garden Route had the highest stable increase in the country, realising a 56, 8% growth. In the Frontier cluster made up of a route from Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra and Garden Route. ‘The GRNP performed extremely well with Garden Route recording the highest in the stable realising 56.8% growth, 2015 they registered 3519 visitors, 2016 :4750 and 2017 an exciting 7449, while Addo claimed second with 26.4% increase from 6236 in 2016 and 7884 in 2017.’
The Garden Route remains exciting for both local and international visitors for its diverse ways of venturing into nature- hiking, cycling, ziplining, segways, scootours, water activities (snorkelling, diving, boat cruises, canoeing) and others.
Its wildlife includes diverse mammals such as the blue duiker, honey badger which is listed in the Red Data List as a critically endangered species, the leopard, the caracal, bushpig. bushbuck, African Clawless Otter, the marsh mangoose, the South African large spotted genet, the chacma baboon, Cape grysbok, Cape grey mangoose, Cape porcupine, the velvet monkey, the elusive Knysna elephant and others. Sea wildlife includes whales and dolphins in Knysna and Tsitsikamma.
Pic: View of the Ebb & Flow Rest Camp from the Kingfisher Hiking trail