Illegal path closure welcomed all round

The decision by SANParks to close the “illegal path” to Wally’s Cave has been largely welcomed by the hiking community.

This decision comes after a recent fatality near Wally Cave’s on Lion’s Head.

Merle Collins, spokesperson for SANParks, said it had been a clear indication that hikers were not adhering to the access restrictions in this particular area.

“The current access path was illegally created by hiking enthusiasts who did not take into consideration accessibility, safety, environmental conditions and sustainability. The condition of this illegal path is therefore dangerous and eroded and has subsequently been closed off to the public. Official signage is in place indicating that veld rehabilitation is under way,” said Ms Collins.

She added that the view from Wally’s Cave was not exclusive.

“The same view can be seen via the Lion’s Head footpath as well as the Lion’s Head summit. Lion’s Head remains a highly impacted area for its unique panoramic views of the mountain chain and the TMNP (Table Mountain National Park) management would like to encourage hikers to adhere to the rules of the park, thus preventing potential injury and in some cases even death.”

Ms Collins said patrols to the area would also be increased to prevent injuries in this space. She also said patrols to keep hikers safe on other popular routes would be put in place, along with police as well as volunteer watch groups.

Louise Farreel, chairperson of the Friends of Lion’s Head hiking club, said the decision to close the path was long overdue. She described the path as “slippery with a steep cliff face” that attracted heavy foot traffic.

She said that the route to the cave had become popular due to social media. She added that visitors needed to treat the mountain with respect and be safe and that the increased patrols in the area were a good initiative.

Her advice to hikers in the area was to “always prepare for hot weather and to not go up alone”.

She also said it was important to let people know where you were going.

Another regular hiker, Wendy Paisley, agreed that it was a good decision to close the path. The Tamboerskloof resident added that the path had become heavily eroded and needed to be maintained.

Another hiker, Nik van Rooyen, however, had a different view. He said that the path didn’t need to be closed down. The hiker, who lives in Crawford, said that they always went up in groups of at least five and had never had an issue with safety.

Marc Truss, chairperson of the Cape Town Community Police Forum, said he welcomed any decision which made the mountain safer for hikers.

He also welcomed the decision to have more patrols along with SANParks and SAPS in the area, saying it was “important to pull together resources”.

Captain Ezra October, spokesperson for the Cape Town Central police station, said: “The safety of all visitors to SANParks destinations is of utmost importance to SAPS, TMNP Rangers and the TMNP Task Team.

“Some of our concerns is that visitors to the TMNP wander off into isolated areas, carry with them expensive equipment, for example cameras, and leave behind in the boot of their vehicles, valuable items.”

Captain October stressed that in the interest of personal safety and having assistance in case of physical or medical emergency, it is advisable to explore the trails in groups.

“It is crucial to Cape Town Central police that we have partnerships with all stakeholders and security role players for example, Tourism and Safety Support Services, Cape Town Tourism, TMNP Rangers, Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism, Ambulances or Emergency Medical and Fire Services and TMNP Task Team.”

Ms Collins advised hikers to save the emergency numbers 086 110 6417 or 107 on their phones.