Solutions for the Amphitheatre

05 May 2016 12:40 - 05 May 2016 18:48 #68220 by tiska

Moderator note: this is a fork from Berg Alert 2016 following the Amphitheatre Aril 2016 incident in which three hikers were brutally attacked in the Khubedu Valley.



I am commenting here on the prospects of guards/guides accompanying hikers in the Berg.
In short, I hate the idea and would rather stay away than have a guide. I do appreciate that the suggestion is being made to sort out the robbery issues. But we have been invited to comment.

Why do I not like the idea of guides/guards?
The crack with hiking in the high Berg is autonomy and adventure. You set your own itinerary and amend as needs be. You find your own way, make your own decisions, hike with choice company and are your own agent in a way that is very difficult to achieve in ordinary life.

Having a guide/guard along changes the dynamic considerably. Perhaps completely.

I have had experience of compulsory guides in the deep desert of the central Sahara in Algeria. For a few precious years travel was open and free in the deep desert. Then a spate of kidnappings took place, starting in 2003. The institutional response was to introduce compulsory guides/guards. These didn't stop the kidnappings and were, in essence, simply a money spinner for the local economy. There were many downsides to the guides. These included:
1. The inability of the visitor to keep the itinerary secret. Keeping the route secret is a major form of security in itself.
2. loss of autonomy over the route itself or decisions about the route.
3. Having to put up with the guides doing things we would never have done (e.g. hunting gazelle, driving after dark etc).

I doubt these particular issues would be relevant to the Berg, but they changed the dynamics of desert travel completely for me.

If you did have a guide with you in the Berg how would you be sure he/she was not in contact with others about your whereabouts? One bad apple amongst the guides would actually make the business of night time robberies much easier to stage. Routines and whereabouts and tactics to be safe would soon be in the hands of those doing the robberies.

Looking back at the past episodes of night time robberies, where the tactics have been the same for >35 years (find tents, wait for dark, collect stones, throw stones at tent(s), wait for hikers to crawl out on hands and knees, throw more stones, let dogs in, take the spoils), the only thing that has called a stop to incidents is the arrest of those involved. It is, after all, attempted murder.
Somewhere not far from Fangs pass there are two or three guys walking round in unusually good hiking gear with warm sleeping bags to hand. The community they live in will be aware of their gains. If they aren't punished, the next lot will be inspired so they can also sport their newly acquired kit.
Last edit: 05 May 2016 18:48 by intrepid. Reason: Thread fork.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 12:53 - 05 May 2016 18:52 #68221 by Biomech
I think that tiska has presented a very sober and considered view on this matter; and one with which I totally agree.

The only lasting solution here is to create negative consequences (arrest and prosecution) for those involved. We have to place pressure on the authorities to take the appropriate action against criminals.
Last edit: 05 May 2016 18:52 by intrepid. Reason: Thread fork.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, Captain, kbresler, AdrianT, Redshift3, Papa Dragon, Quentin, RudiVE, Ranger

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 14:44 #68224 by ghaznavid
That's true - on Kilimanjaro I wanted to climb Lava Tower (a very easy 4600m slightly technical peak), I was told that they will take away our permits if I do that. One of our ladies was caught using a bush on the mountain and they threatened to take our permits away for that too. Also - how are you going to find a guide to join you on a fast and light trip with a 50+km day?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 15:41 #68231 by kbresler
Very good discussion and as with most things, the implementation of a guiding element will have pros and cons. In most parts of the developing world where this is implemented, the emphasis is on supporting the local economy. I don't see how that is a bad thing.
But we have been "spoilt" in many respects by having our own way in the Berg. If that makes sense.
If you add those two points together it may give a clue as to why some elements in the local population feels it's okay to take.
For me personally I would like nothing better than to climb free and wild everywhere I go in the world. But if I have to adhere to certain rules to gain access then so be it. At least I then still have access. This is a tough one.

@ghaznavid - sorry to hear about your issue on Kilimanjaro. As with most guided trips around the world the outcome is often determined by the quality of the service. Having sat with many clients on Lava Tower I can tell you it is allowed and your situation sounds like a lazy guide who is bored of only climbing Kili day in and day out, over and over.

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk

Kobus Bresler
The following user(s) said Thank You: Ckfrost

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 15:53 #68234 by ghaznavid

kbresler wrote: @ghaznavid - sorry to hear about your issue on Kilimanjaro. As with most guided trips around the world the outcome is often determined by the quality of the service. Having sat with many clients on Lava Tower I can tell you it is allowed and your situation sounds like a lazy guide who is bored of only climbing Kili day in and day out, over and over.

Our guide was great (Dikson from Zara), but apparently someone had died climbing Lava Tower recently, so it was out of bounds.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 16:06 #68236 by tiska

kbresler wrote: Very good discussion and as with most things, the implementation of a guiding element will have pros and cons. In most parts of the developing world where this is implemented, the emphasis is on supporting the local economy. I don't see how that is a bad thing.
But we have been "spoilt" in many respects by having our own way in the Berg. If that makes sense.
If you add those two points together it may give a clue as to why some elements in the local population feels it's okay to take.
For me personally I would like nothing better than to climb free and wild everywhere I go in the world. But if I have to adhere to certain rules to gain access then so be it. At least I then still have access. This is a tough one.

@ghaznavid - sorry to hear about your issue on Kilimanjaro. As with most guided trips around the world the outcome is often determined by the quality of the service. Having sat with many clients on Lava Tower I can tell you it is allowed and your situation sounds like a lazy guide who is bored of only climbing Kili day in and day out, over and over.

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk


On the 'lazy-guide' Kili issue - that is exactly the problem. You are in someone else's hands and can't do anything about it. They have the power. I go to the mountains to escape exactly that kind of thing. I want the mountains to be in control and to make decent enough decisions to come home again safe to return as soon as I can. Therein lies the reward.

I think there is a way to both support the local community and be able to hike without someone looking over your shoulder. Just pay an entry fee, equivalent to the costs of a guide, part of which goes to the local community. In fact I would be happy to pay the fees for a guide and then a bit more for him to stay behind.

At the moment the response to the Amphitheatre issues is to close the area. This is an implementable institutional response and you can easily see why the call is being made. However, if you ask the question how exactly does the measure square up to and solve the problem of hiker safety, then the answer is only indirectly so and with the hope that the problems don't resume when the area is opened again. Closing the area just means hikers can't be exposed to crime for the duration of the closure. It doesn't remove the criminals from the area once the area reopens. To be precise, it temporarily removes the wrong people (the hikers) in the hope that the criminals remove themselves. That's what I mean by an indirect solution.

Interestly, if there were fees to be paid that were sufficient to benefit the local communities AND the area closure happened, then the local community would be hurt. The local community would have an incentive not to cause trouble to the hikers. At the moment there is probably not enough of a balance of fees which benefit the local community Vs the hurt of closing the area.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, Captain, kbresler, AdrianT, supertramp, Biomech, Ckfrost, Ranger

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 19:32 #68244 by alexnail
Although I have only done two 9-day hikes in the Berg and on both occasions with a guide (largely to watch over us and speak the language), I can entirely sympathise with those who wish to hike alone. Certainly the guide did prevent the kind of freedoms that I am used to in my hikes in Europe.

Personally I would love to see the fees increased very significantly and would be happy to pay for myself and clients if this helped step up security on the Berg. However without the "crime=punishment" aspect of law enforcement it is hard to have an optimistic view.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Ranger

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 22:27 #68246 by kbresler
In the case of the amphitheatre it seems from a recent explanation by @Ranger that all fees there goes to the community fund, on the SA side. Or at least that was my understanding.

By closing the area you the remove a substancial income to the area which I assume will be felt. I guess part of the plan is to make community leaders take note and get involved, as well as law enforcement.

All tough decisions and one can only hope that a clear solution will be found. I totally agree that the problem elements need to be removed or prevented from causing more harm.
It will also be interesting to see how this affects decision making along the rest of the escarpment and especially in other areas where problems have also occurred.

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk

Kobus Bresler

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
05 May 2016 22:37 - 05 May 2016 22:38 #68247 by intrepid
Yes, as I understand it, the fees collected at Sentinel Car Park currently all go to the Batlokoa tribal authority/community. Rescue costs thus far have been absorbed by EKZNW. I am not sure if there is a budget towards trail maintenance. All of this needs to be looked at.

Totally agree that the perpetrators of this incident must be apprehended and stand trial. The possibility of this is not unrealistic considering that some of those involved in the Giants Castle Easter 2005 incident where caught with some of the stolen gear and stood trial in Lesotho. I stand under correction, but one of the victims even testified at the trial. It seems to have sent out a strong message and that part of the Berg has quietened down as far as attacks of this nature go (there have been other kinds of incidents). For this reason I think we must persist with reporting incidents and following them up, even in the face of apathetic responses. If anyone does have contacts with the Lesotho police, or is in a position of influence, I appeal to them to see if there is anything they can do about this.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 05 May 2016 22:38 by intrepid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Sabine, Richard Hunt, saros, Biomech, Ckfrost, Ranger

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
06 May 2016 08:35 #68251 by Richard Hunt
I think and yes might be totally wrong and also wish not to step on toes, but the Amphitheatre issue is more than just about security. The closure will hopefully deal with the other issues that need to be addressed...and this in a big way reflects on security.....2 land owners, one taking the revenue and the other bearing the burden. The burden is the prize and the revenue just leading to it. Thats why I have always said that those doing the GT must pay there fees to KZN Wildlife (even if its done before hand) The future of the Drakensberg is in the hands of KZN Wildlife partnering with the public and no body else!! KZN Wildlife should be in a strong, leading and authoritative position to deal with and rectify situations together with other tribal authorities whether in SA or Lesotho.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian, Captain, kbresler, AndrewP, saros, Biomech, Ckfrost, David, Ranger

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Powered by Kunena Forum