21 August 2013
South African National Parks (SANParks) has opened a kilometre-long boardwalk linking the Cape Agulhas lighthouse with the southernmost tip of Africa – the point in the Western Cape where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
The R2.25-million pathway is the first phase of a project to create a Cape Agulhas lighthouse precinct comprising a lighthouse museum, heritage centre, restaurant, vendor stalls and information services. Cape Agulhas is a about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Cape Town.
Funded by the Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism Department, the project has so far created 36 jobs.
“The construction method of the boardwalk provided an opportunity to employ unskilled people from in and around the Agulhas area,” SANParks said in a statement on Monday.
The boardwalk will protect the sensitive area around the southern tip from walking damage while making the Agulhas National Park more accessible to visitors.
“This is just the beginning. We all know that tourism plays a vital role in the economy of South Africa because of the number of jobs it can create in the absence of other large industry in the area,” said SANParks conservation and tourism committee chairperson, Gerald Swan.
‘Unlocking the precinct’s full potential’
“In order to unlock the precinct’s full tourism potential, as well as focusing attention on the sensitive natural environment, we have to improve the area to international standards.”
Funding of almost R22-million has been secured from the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism Department, and planning and design of the precinct has started.
Building is expected to begin in late 2014.
The Department of Tourism has also confirmed funding of R12-million for the construction of a southern tip iconic structure.
“We will be unlocking and celebrating the superb views with appropriate viewing decks with minimal blockage, and we will be paying attention to the significant space between the lighthouse and the point,” Swan said.
A hiking trail will take in the Agulhas village, ancient tidal fish traps, the lighthouse precinct, the peninsula’s southernmost point, and a shipwreck along the coastline.
“A further R17-million will be invested in the park for the restoration of the historic Ratelrivier Homestead that acknowledges the deep history embedded in the area,” SANParks said.
“It will become the tourism hub at the Western entrance, and the aim is to build the longest boardwalk in Africa from the lighthouse along the Agulhas coast.
“Underpinning all of these developments will be to conserve the indigenous fauna and flora that makes Agulhas National Park so unique.”