Short hiking trails in the Mountain Zebra National Park have re-opened to visitors following their closure in mid July after a fatal incident between a hiker and a buffalo bull.
The one-kilometre Imbila Hiking Trail and 2.5-kilometre Black Eagle (previously 3km), which start and end at the rest camp area, have re-opened after fencing of the entire rest camp area and short hiking trail area.
A 4.2-kilometre electrified fence was constructed over a period of two weeks, at a cost of over R250 000. The fence encloses the cottages, reception area, swimming pool, camping ground and short hiking trails. The electrified fence was constructed at a low level in front of the cottages so that it will not interfere with the scenic view from the accommodation units.
“We are very pleased to be able to once again offer visitors the chance to experience the Park on foot,” said Park Manager, Lesley-Ann Meyer.
Meyer added that the short hiking trails, which are available to visitors at no extra cost, have always been a popular way to experience the bush and the scenic Karoo landscapes in the Park.
Armed guide to accompany longer hikes
Although the fence excludes large wildlife, visitors will still be able to look out for spoor and signs of animals such as kudu, common duiker and steenbok on the short hiking trails. Small mammals like rock dassie, scrub hare, cape hare, porcupine, ground squirrel, meerkat, grey and yellow mongoose are also found in the area as well as vervet monkey and baboon.
The two longer hiking trails: the 10-kilometre Idwala Trail and three-day, 25-kilometre Impofu Trail remain closed at present and will re-open later in the year as guided hiking trails. Visitors will be accompanied by an armed guide on these trails.
Although the three-day hiking trail is closed, the two mountain huts which provide overnight stops on the hike are still available for accommodation bookings and can be accessed with a high clearance vehicle.
The two mountain huts each accommodate ten people in two bedrooms and a “hikers bedroom” with six bunk beds where own bedding must be provided. The huts are equipped with solar-powered fridges, gas stoves, kitchen equipment, a braai area and ablutions.
Mountain Zebra National Park is located near the town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape and conserves over 28 000 hectares.