Grand Traverse Permits

11 Apr 2012 09:47 #53504 by plouw
Replied by plouw on topic Grand Traverse Permits
Geordie's post made me wonder…if something happens to you inside the Lesotho border, would our mountain rescue be allowed to fly a chopper into their airspace to fetch you?

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11 Apr 2012 10:10 #53505 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Grand Traverse Permits

Geordie's post made me wonder…if something happens to you inside the Lesotho border, would our mountain rescue be allowed to fly a chopper into their airspace to fetch you?


One can fly into another country and this happens all the time of course, though usually either flying over or landing at an airport. Either way, a flight plan would need to be filed for flying well into Lesotho and landing there. I would expect Lesotho would cooperate.

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13 Apr 2012 14:23 - 13 Apr 2012 14:38 #53549 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Grand Traverse Permits
OK, as usual, several topics and issues within the thread :cheer:

Let me add some of my thoughts on the permit and rescue issue, since these are strongly related, and I think the main topic here. I've being mulling on this since the thread was started and I've also now had a chat to KZN Wildlife about it.

Rescues cost a lot of money (up to R50 000 if helicopters are involved), and the hiking fees go towards that. The money collected by the Botloaka tribal authority (QwaQwa boom gate, Witsieshoek and Sentinel Car Park) currently does not go towards conservation of the UDP-WHS nor towards any rescue costs, even though the areas like Tugela Falls which are accessed from there, belong to the UDP. So if people are airlifted around the Chain Ladders, or if patrols are sent to the Tugela Falls (like they were on the Easter weekend), it is KZN Wildlife paying for that, even though they didn't get the hiking fees. This issue is being negotiated and addressed but I dont expect any changes soon.

I am accustomed to the guards at Sentinel Car Park charging a flat fee of R80 pp if you traversing - doesn't matter if its to Cathedral Peak or Bushman's Neck. Negotiate this if you can (because technically you should just be paying an entrance fee, and normally you don't even sleep in their area, so max 1 night hiking fees). But there isn't much to be done if they insist on R80, or more.

Sign their rescue register even though they don't do much with it. They should be sending it to Garden Castle (because you end at Bushman's Neck which falls under Garden Castle), but they don't. And it's been my experience that even if you don't "sign off" telephonically, they won't follow up with you. So, in addition, you should email an electronic copy of your register to KZN Wildlife too, before the time. This should be sent to the manager of RNNP, Stephen Richert, since that is where you start. He in turn will communicate with Garden Castle, and you should phone and sign off with them via telephone afterwards. His email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and Eduard Goosen, Senior Conservation Manager of the Northern Drakensberg, can also be addressed, if need be: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I will have an electronic version of the rescue form available on the site soon.

Now, KZN Widlife should also be getting some of the fees. This should include an entrance fee, and at least one nights worth of hiking fees, depending on how many nights exactly you spend in the UDP. The best would be to pay this to Garden Castle or Bushman's Neck afterwards. Now I know this will get some sighs, and some might say "Why bother?". But think about it...if you get injured, would you want that attitude? In the Alps you need mountain insurance for this, and in Nepal you have to have your credit card number handy when you make the call. As it is, even if you haven't paid your fees on a GT, you will be rescued and airlifted if need be. If you are technically in Lesotho but close to the border I think the air force helicopters can still do it. If you are further in, like on Thabana Ntlenyana I'm sure they will make a plan somehow...if its not just getting the clearance to fly into Lesotho, then you can even ride on a donkey closer to the border. And our Drakensberg rescue service is good, let me say that. In Canada for example there isn't a rescue form - you have to make sure friends and family have all your details and that they check up on you. Obviously they do search and rescues there but they have no way of knowing about you to start off with.

We are not talking about a lot of money here, so let us please all make an effort to pay something towards KZN Wildlife too for Grand Traverses. If there is a rescue then they can link the costs of it to a permit for auditing purposes. This will be favourable for a sustainable solution for rescues on a GT.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 13 Apr 2012 14:38 by intrepid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: mountain bear

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13 Apr 2012 17:06 #53552 by Geordie
Replied by Geordie on topic Grand Traverse Permits
OK 3 things to add from this side.

1 The choice really is yours, make up your own minds. The chance of serious injury on the GT is not high. ( It's flat up there, everyone knows that)

2 The time when Jax and myself had an unscheduled evacuation curticy of Mountain Rescue and SANDF, the chopper dropped us off on the Cathedral peak soccer field and the ranger at the time escorted us back to Didema to check that we had done all the sign in formalities.

3 I have a mountain register form in PDF format. PM me if you would like a copy. Most camps now have a book to sign in instead of the old file where you could just clip your form into. The new books are crappy with bad binding and all the pages fall out, but there you go. Progress.
The following user(s) said Thank You: mountain bear

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17 Apr 2012 07:40 #53582 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Grand Traverse Permits

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian

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19 Apr 2012 09:17 #53613 by mountain bear
dear geordie
i will def take you up on the offer of gps tracks - sorry to cause such a row over the gt - esp the permit situation - i will take any advice on this into account - i know the gt should be under the radar as it was put - so sorry if i have stepped on any toes ! my view on it is that any information on the gt is of use to me and i have done many summits in the berg over the last 25 years so all i have to do is join the dots - but as we all know - the berg is a big place and i am not looking at it from a rescue me point of view but rather from a the best track to follow - thanx for the comments guys

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19 Apr 2012 09:26 #53614 by mountain bear
i think intreped has a point here - its about keeping things honest and paying your way to use the wondeful mountains we have which is why i asked about the fees and to who i should pay

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19 Apr 2012 15:15 #53616 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Grand Traverse Permits
I dont see any row in this thread? The permit question was good and relevant.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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28 Aug 2012 08:57 #55081 by BartvanDijk
Replied by BartvanDijk on topic Grand Traverse Permits
I agree, it is up to the hiker himself to keep things honest. I remember our group keeping track of where we spend our nights. Before leaving the Drakensberg area we paid the fees, even though the ladies behind the counter seemed a bit confused and found it wasn't necessary.
At the Sentinel Car Park we just paid the fee for one day, because we slept at Rathole Cave, that is way out of their area...

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13 Mar 2014 10:02 #59855 by Herman
Replied by Herman on topic Grand Traverse Permits
Intrepid is right, the rescue register at Sentinel car park is just there to make you feel better, but no-one ever checks it for overnight hikers. I've had the same experience with trying to phone them - doesn't work. The safest is actually to give it to the ranger station at the end of the traverse - if you plan to go past such an office on your route. And to keep in contact with folks at home.

It's just a matter of time before the rescue register system for the car park fails during an emergency. @intrepid, don't you think there should be a more reliable official system that we could recommend or put help put in place? Eg. faxing the register (downloadable from this site) through to a specific number further South?

The best way to give money to MSAR if you would like to, is to donate it directly to them through KZN or JHB MCSA. They do good work and spend the money wisely.

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