GEORGE NEWS - SANParks has apologised to a group of hikers that had a disappointing experience at a hut on the Outeniqua hiking trail over the Heritage Day long weekend.
The leader of the group, Fred Read during his teaching career of over 40 years, he had introduced "scores of scholars to the natural beauties of South Africa in conducting hikes on the numerous SANPark (Safcol) trails throughout South Africa".
In a letter to George Herald and SANParks, he said, "Over the Heritage Weekend, I accompanied my daughter, her husband, their two sons with two school friends, on a section of the Outeniqua hiking trail.
"We set out early Thursday morning, from Beervlei hut, arriving 17km later at Windmeulnek hut. What a disappointment to discover that the shower facility was demolished and the axe needed for chopping wood could not be found.
"No fire for cooking food, heating and for making the customary stick bread! It appeared that the site has been abandoned: a section of the roof had blown off; downpipes disconnected for collecting rainwater; toilet system not maintained.
"The cost for the overnight stay was R800 (excluding conservation fee), which is supposedly used to maintain the facility in good repair." He included photographs which clearly showed the defects he mentioned.
Nandi Mgwadlamba, regional communications manager of the Garden Route National Park, thanked George Herald and Read for bringing the matter to their attention. She said the Windmeulnek hut had just been fixed recently when gale force winds blew the roof away for the second time in two months.
"We apologise to the reader and family for the disappointing experience during a visit to the park. The building is expected to be maintained soon. We hope the recent experience will not deter the reader from visiting other parts of the park with a similar history," she said.
"We encourage the reader to contact the park's hospitality manager, Dawid Momberg, for a further discussion."
Read said that the boys had been devastated about not being able to have a fire for making the customary stick bread and roasting marshmallows. He was pleased about SANParks' response and said he would contact them.
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