15 October 2008
Tourism ministers from Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa have agreed to drop fences between the uPongolo Nature Reserve in SA and the Royal Jozini Big 6 in Swaziland, in November this year to form the Lake Jozini Transfrontier Park.This will allow free movement of game between the parks and ultimately, says Roelie Kloppers, Project Coordinator for the LubomboTransfrontier Conservation Area, free movement for tourists too.
"Tourists will be able to move across the border without having to go through official border posts but exactly how this will be implemented is still being discussed," says Kloppers. Once the park opens in November 2008, it will be open to visitors, but access from the Swaziland side will be through the Royal Jozini Big 6 project and people won't be able to cross the border in their own vehicle. Game-drive vehicles will be made available by the park.
The first phase of construction includes various gatehouses and entrances, 55km of game fencing, accommodation units for personnel and reception offices. In addition, accommodation lodges for private use will be built along with a lOOm boating jetty (the start of a marina), luxury clubhouse and earthworks on an 18-hole golf course.This is expected to be complete by March 2009, when the second phase will begin. Plans for this stage include a luxury tented camp, hotel, 200-seater conference centre and casino.
The park has already been stocked with impala, zebra, waterbuck and giraffe. In November, when the fences are dropped, the area will be stocked with all the other species currently on the South African side, including white and black rhino. By 2010, the park is expected to be a Big 5 reserve.
But game viewing won't be the only draw card for international tourists, says Kloppers. "The main attraction is the tiger fishing opportunities, but there will also be a range of outdoor recreational activities available, along with golf once the course is completed." He adds that the park is ideally positioned to benefit from the flow of tourists from Kruger National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area.
Plans are also underway to form a second transfrontier park between South Africa and Mozambique, expected to open by 2010.
SA Tourism Update - 1 October 2008Sue Lewitton
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