Berg Alert 2011

03 Jan 2011 21:20 #2140 by intrepid
Berg Alert 2011 was created by intrepid
This is the place for all updates, incidents and observations relating to security issues in the Drakensberg for 2011.

The kind of thing which should be reported here:
* new incidents of theft, mugging or any kind of verbal or physical intimidation (whether it is experienced first-hand, seen in the media, or heard through the grape vine)
* new observations of the activities of shepherds, smugglers and other parties, especially as it concerns the safety of hikers and climbers.
* any other snippet of information or comment about the current state of affairs relating to security

The purpose of this thread is to maintain a true picture of what is happening in the Berg currently, to keep a concerned Berg community informed, and to create a healthy awareness of security issues which will help others avoid problems. It is not the intention to create a media hype or undue negative publicity for the Berg, nor to harm tourism in the area, and definitely not to create prejudice against the Basotho and other locals living there.

Historical threads:
Berg Alert 2010

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

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04 Jan 2011 15:26 #2143 by MK9
Replied by MK9 on topic Berg Alert 2011
Ive just returned from Garden Castle and heard this worrying piece of info:
On 10Dec a small party climbed the Rhino Peak, at the top they bumped into some locals who were very insistent/belligerent looking for money and/or food.
Not getting any they resorted to pelting the hikers with stones and set their dogs on them, the hikers were forced to run down the pass to get out of that situation. :angry:

The army apparently went up in a chopper later to either intimidate or calm tensions. I was told that everything is now "fine" and "normal". :blink:
Staff at parks-board recommended that one of them accompany groups going up there - "things are OK then" I was told.
Staff at Drak Gardens Hotel recommend that guests try other hikes...

I never did go up the Rhino on this visit and cant give any recent first hand info. A sad situation on the whole.
Thumbs-down for border security !!

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04 Jan 2011 17:02 #2144 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2011
This might be the same incident already mentioned at this point in Berg Alert 2010. According to the info in that report, it took place on December 9th.

According to a statement later released via email by one of the people in the group, some points were clarified in that they were not physically attacked but certainly felt threatened (this was part of a correspondence with an individual who later contacted them and asked them about the details). This however totally contradicts the initial report circulated by the management of the resort where they were staying (which was more along the lines of what is mentioned above). The resort feel that the initial report was accurate since they dealt with the hikers directly after the incident. Why there is this discrepancy in the reports is not entirely clear. I've been chatting to various folks in Underberg who are part of the Berg community who feel the warning should be taken seriously.

There has been some debate in the KZN MCSA discussion group that the details of the event were blown out of proportion and that this is sparked by prejudice against the Basotho. I believe this should not be made into a racial issue, but also welcome accurate facts about what happened. Fact is, regardless of what exactly happened up there, it was not a positive encounter, and not an isolated one either (in the context of several reports by other hikers on this forum).

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

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31 Jan 2011 11:56 - 31 Jan 2011 12:41 #2333 by zen101
Replied by zen101 on topic Berg Alert 2011
Hey guys, I did a trek up to Keith's Bush (January 28th-30th 2011) - Wow I've never seen it so WET, had to take the shoes off plenty times.

On more serious note :I found bags of Dagga hidden in the bushes about 2 km from Keith's bush
Along the hidden stash was clothes, gumboots, matches and food.

When I got back I reported the the find to the main office and they took the report , They are organizing 2 recon parties to go up this coming weekend. Don't know how effective this is but they seemed quite eager by the fresh intel.

/L
Last edit: 31 Jan 2011 12:41 by zen101.

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31 Jan 2011 12:40 #2335 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2011
Thanks for reporting that zen, I've forwarded this on too. Gray's Pass certainly seems to be a significant smuggling route these days. We should be clearing several bags of litter from the area when we do our VE trip there in March.

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

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31 Jan 2011 12:44 #2336 by zen101
Replied by zen101 on topic Berg Alert 2011
I brought out about 1kg of compressed litter myself, all foreign stuff
About that trip, is it a private one or open?
/L

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31 Jan 2011 12:50 #2337 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2011
Good on you for carrying the litter out. Its an open trip, welcome to join us, see this thread .

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

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02 Feb 2011 19:48 #2345 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Berg Alert 2011
@zen: The trip is open, but intrepid is looking for numbers quite urgently. The details can be found on the thread VE Trip if you are keen. I think the most effective way to let Intrepid know numbers is to PM him. Thanks also for the update. I will see if I can elicit a response out of the Officer in Charge there and see what turned up when they did the reccy.

Sounds like an awesome trip, this VE trip!

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site
The following user(s) said Thank You: zen101

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02 Feb 2011 21:21 - 03 Feb 2011 11:38 #2346 by zen101
Replied by zen101 on topic Berg Alert 2011
Hey, Thanks domsmooth, I have already added my name to that thread as a definite +1 - The recce is supposed to go out this weekend in 2 teams if I understood Frik (officer in charge) and Johan correctly. I still think there is supposed to be a semi permanent base camp up there manned by Military.
These guys are cruising trough at night, easy as pie for them.
Last edit: 03 Feb 2011 11:38 by zen101.

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03 Feb 2011 04:59 #2347 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Berg Alert 2011
It is really important that we separate fact from fantasy ito these incidents. If the wrong information gets out it could lead to increased tensions between the hikers and the herders which will just escalate the problem. Vigilantism is certainly not going to help sort it out.

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