Cape Town - iSimangaliso’s Sodwana Bay section is scheduled for a face-lift in the next 24 months, the park has announced.
The upgrades, which will cost approximately R720-million, includes a new visitor reception and gate complex, new parking, new craft markets, and new recreational areas for day visitors. In line with iSimangaliso’s policy, all facilities will be disabled-friendly.
'Highly dynamic inter-tidal and coastal dune cordon'
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The Sodwana Bay section of the Park is an integral and highly valued part of iSimangaliso, the park said, with a key ecological study on the area done on how best to modernise the facilities to improve the visitor experience
Sodwana Bay Beach node in particular is some of the rarest forest types and species in the country and is a vibrant and exciting tourism destination for beach lovers, divers and fishermen.
iSimangaliso’s World Heritage jewels'
Jesser Point, renowned not only for world class coral reefs, over 1200 species of marine fish (including coelacanths) and outstanding scuba diving, will also be focal point of the redevelopment and rehabilitation
The two-year-long analysis took into consideration vegetation, ecological functionality and rehabilitation, coastal dune dynamics, estuarine functionality and cultural heritage assessments. It drew on the expertise of multi-disciplinary teams that include specialists in the fields of dune dynamics and estuarine management as well as civil engineers, landscape architects, architects and professionals who have successfully managed and implemented rehabilitation programmes along the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal.
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The Master plan for Sodwana Bay includes:
- R11 million for a new entrance gate complex
- R50 million for visitor facilities and ecological rehabilitation
- 10 million for road upgrades
Removal of inappropriate structures and alien vegetation
The facelift will also require the removal of inappropriate structures that compromise the ecology and 'sense of place' of South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, declared by UNESCO in 1999.
The systematic removal of alien plants to restore dune functioning coupled with rehabilitation of indigenous vegetation on the primary dune - which has been under increased pressure due to the park's popularity over the few decades – is also being prioritised.
“Successful change happens with good planning and public input. Ultimately the success of Sodwana as a destination is dependent on the conservation of iSimangaliso’s world heritage values namely ecosystems, biodiversity and superlative natural value of astounding beauty,” says Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis.