You have seen the highlights of our Kalahari Safari but now part four of our Kgalagadi trip report is the low-light due to rule-breakers.
Most use the following words as an answer...
• Soothing for the Soul
So, most people pay extra in order to have the privilege of being alone with nature, getting away from the hustle and bustle and being away from other people.
And that is why you have these no-entry signs at the entrance of every wilderness camp...
We stayed five nights at Urikaruus wilderness camp and every day we had other visitors disobeying the no-entry signs and driving into the wilderness camp to 'look around'...
These photos are of just 6 of approximately 40 cars that just drove in and then drove out of Urikaruus camp between 10 and 13 April 2011.
(Did you notice they are all Toyota vehicles?! We are not picking on Toyotas as we drive a Toyota - must just be a coincidence!)
You may be asking, 'what's the big deal'?
Well, guests are paying extra to stay at these camps to experience peace and quiet yet these cars come in with tires crunching on gravel, noisy diesel engines and some with radios going - all through the day!
Others rule-breakers stop and spoke to the camp manager saying 'we are lost' or 'we are looking for the picnic site' - tall stories if you ask me as the people were more interested in checking out the cabins and the view than finding out where the picnic site was!
Why are these people not fined for this rule transgression? We had between 5 and 13 cars per day coming into Urikaruus camp and Eric, the camp manager, told us that over Easter and Christmas this number increases dramatically.
At Kieliekrankie we had just a few rule breakers in the five days we stayed there and zero at Gharagab as it's in the far north of the park and off the beaten track.
This is disrespectful to SANParks, disrespectful to Kgalagadi management and disrespectful to the guests staying at the wilderness camps who pay for peace & quiet.
These people drive in arrogantly knowing that nothing will happen to them even though they are in contravention of the park rules.
A suggestion would be for each tourism assistant to be able to issue spot fines. The word will quickly spread that people should obey all the park rules. Alternatively erect a boom gate so the people will have to get out their cars and break another park rule - this may act as a deterrent.
In a SANParks news-release dated 15 December 2005, they listed fines applicable to transgressions of some of the rules and 'driving on a 'no entry' road carried a R500,00 fine, the same as getting out of the vehicle, so it seems to be a serious offence.
The tourism assistants are not happy with these people driving into their camps but they are apparantly told 'the client is always right'. Surely not if they are breaking park rules by ignoring no entry signs?!
There is also a large no entry sign in the Nossob road at Kij Kij, where they havebeen upgrading the road for the past two years, that states that people disobeying the no entry sign will be prosecuted in a court and will be banned from the park...
Surely ALL no entry signs should be obeyed and have the same punishment if transgressed - the park rules are not a menu where clients can choose which to obey and which to ignore?
The wilderness camp managers told me that there have been occurrences where the guests staying at Urikaruus and Grootkolk have challenged the people driving into the camps and there have been arguments and nearly fist fights between the two. Surely the guests should not have to challenge rule breakers?
Come on SANParks - you are well aware that hundreds of people are breaking your rules every year - please do something about it!
On our last night at Kieliekrankie (Friday 22 April 2011) our neighbours in units 2 and 3 had a small baby (about 5 months old) yet the park rules state 'No children under 12 allowed at Wilderness Camps'!
Thank God there was a storm that night so we did not have to endure a crying baby in the 'peaceful' wilderness camp!
Did they smuggle their child into the park? I doubt it - the staff obviously saw the child and did nothing about it.
Just remember SANParks - if you allow people to transgress 'small' rules they will most probably end up transgressing big life-threatening rules as it's a logical progression, like theft - if we can get away with shoplifting we will start progressing to bigger more expensive items and could end up fraudsters.
While we wait for SANParks to come up with a solution to this problem may I suggest that you photograph these people and post the pictures on the Gallery of Shame on the SANParks web site. Whether a person gets out their vehicle, litters or drives down a no-entry road, they are all shameful acts of rule-breakers that need to be exposed.
If you are one of these rule breakers why don't you visit the SANParks website where you can see lovely photos of each of the wilderness camps? And then you don't need to break the park rules, unless that is why you are driving down no-entry roads - for the thrill of breaking rules?!
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