An Eastern Cape precinct – the Eastern Gateway Project – in Tsitsikamma is nearly complete, in time for the festive season.

Speaking on site, Project Manager for Infrastructure Projects in the Garden Route National Park, says: “We are excited and looking forward to completing the project before the festive rush. The café will be opened in December and the curio shop is also under way.”

The project is on the way to the Garden Route National Park’s biggest tree in Tsitsikamma, the ‘Big Tree,’ an Outeniqua yellowwood, estimated to be about 1000 years old. It is close to 40 metres high and about nine metres in diameter.

The precinct is just off the N2 national road and will provide an ideal stopover for most visitors travelling between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

The R14.4 million (€882 000) project, funded by the National Department of Tourism, consisted of two phases. The first included the provision of bulk services including water, electricity and sewers feeding the Storms River Village (staff houses) via a pipeline that runs under the N2. The second phase saw the creation of a precinct with a coffee and curio shop.

The Park’s restaurant, which was gutted by a fire in 2016, was moved to a temporary facility. Architectural designs for the restaurant were completed and finances sourced from the Infrastructure Grant according to SANParks’ Curt Jones, who manages infrastructure and special projects.

“The project has had to receive approval from National Treasury first. We are now gearing internal process to prepare for the advertisement of the tender for the restaurant in early 2020,” says Jones.