The entrance gate to the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) is expected to be completed in spring this year, announced South African National Parks (SANParks) on August 6.

According to SANParks, the project initially incurred a few issues along the way, after the company that was hired for the gate could not complete it due to unforeseen circumstances. 

The main aim of the new gate is to introduce a streamlined structure and system for visitors entering the main gate. Once it is complete, visitors will enter and exit the park more efficiently, say SANParks. There will be four lanes to enter the park and two to exit.

 Noise levels around the site have remained normal and parking space has not been affected by the construction work which started in 2016. No heavy machinery is being used and all work is on the existing footprint. Roofing and paving are under way and glass doors and windows were added last month.

Speaking confidently about the progress of the project, Bulelwa Msengi, Area Manager of the Tsitsikamma section of the GRNP, says: “We can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel, the construction is progressing well and not affecting visitors entering or exiting the park.  We are confident the project will be completed by spring.”

Measures in place to ensure easy access during peak season in December include temporary entrance lanes, as well as two to three roving SANParks officials to assist with paperwork from the entrance gate.

The Tsitsikamma section of the park is the most popular coastal national park in South Africa, according to SANParks, with a reported increase of 12% in visitor numbers for the financial year 2017/2018.

“Visitors are drawn to the park’s many activities. For starters, it has 12 Green Flag status trails in close proximity, making it the only park to have this in South Africa. The suspension bridge, water activities and the beauty of the national park are some of the reasons for the yearly increase,” adds Msengi.

The project began in 2016 as part of a R19 million-plus (€1.2 million) project to upgrade infrastructure in the Storms River Rest Camp, and includes the development around the Big Tree. The funding for the project was granted by the Expanded Public Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) and National Department of Tourism.