Cape Nature Expensive Pricing

Hi All

I just wanted to know what others think about Cape Nature’s pricing for overnight wilderness hiking. I think it has really got quite outrageous over the last few years. I booked a hike now in the Northern Cederberg and they are charging R140 a night per a person. That is excluding a R60 conservation fee. I completely get the serviced campsites like Algeria, Kliphuis etc. being expensive as there are fixed running costs, however wilderness camping is not something that should be exclusionary based on price. Especially after already paying R60 entrance fee into the reserve.

Just for interest sake, I still have a log from a hike I did in 2008. Back then it was R28 a person per a night. This is increase of over 13% year on year.

Anyone else share a similar sentiment?

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Yoh that is getting really steep! You pitch a tent at Sanddrif for cheaper per person if you’re a group of 3 or 4. I do get that the Cederberg is vast and that Cape Nature probably tries to earn fees any way they can to be able to cover their operational costs, but it’s getting a bit out of hand.
For interest sake, Table Mountain National Park generates R300m per year (2019) for SAN Parks but gets allocated only R115m for their budget; the “profit” cross-subsidises less profitable parks (which is just fine by me; big win for conservation). I don’t think Cape Nature has such a big money spinner in their portfolio though.
That said, we should definitely start complaining - R200 pp per night for wild camping is just not ayoba…

I guess one has to know what one is paying for to establish whether it’s a fair price…are firebreaks being cut? how about alien plant removal? how many employees? do they break tools often or look after them? is this just a reflection of a price plotted somewhere between catering for rich Europeans and locals? is it just another teat to milk us from? where does the bob come from, if not us?
And to know all this you’d have to dig in places you won’t be welcomed, perhaps even allowed, to dig.

To me, this is not ‘that expensive’, but neither is it cheap. My cousin, “Muishond”, who lives in CT complains about the CN pricing too, but he complains about many things. So I don’t know. We’ve just booked 4nights/5days-2pax in Wolkberg and that’s cost us R900. I do get the feeling that we’re being put into a corner, not to mention general inflation becoming something awful, and it’s going to get worse.

What I hate is being treated like a tourist in my own country, that kind of thing. And the irreversible non-negotiable nature of these price hikes. No one likes being treated like fruit tree. Or have we just had it too good for so many years? Seems to require more thought than reaction. That said - perhaps it’s time for a petition, some good old social action? Perhaps locals should be able to purchase a SANPARKS Wild Card type deal, something at a sweeter price? Something to push CN towards.

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Hi All

@LittleGrant, I was just about to start this exact conversation. I find their fees to be disproportional. The large increase over the past years feels like it’s related to tourists paying with Dollars and Euros, essentially excluding locals from our own backyard.

I was shocked when I booked 3 nights for 2 people and received an invoice for R1000. Like you said, R140 per night for “Activities” is absurd when your completely self-subsistent and sleeping in the bush. You can book a camp site with braai, kitchen and bathroom facilities for R120 per night.

I would like to escalate this conversation, as I feel we’re all getting ripped off.
I’ve taken it up with Cape Nature, asking for the reasoning behind their fee structure, but have received no reply from them. Wishful thinking.

@Carl I think you’re spot on. We do need to speak up. This will possibly choke their income stream, as I for one am certainly thinking twice about only doing 1-2 multi-day hikes instead of 4-5 per year. Besides that, it just gets to me that this could be pure greed, excluding us from our own beautiful nature.

How can we make a stink about this, or at least get some clarity?


Hi Chris

I think the only way is to write a letter to the MEC for Environmental Affairs and follow that route. If you want to involve me any of this I would be happy to be involved.

However, I don’t think there is much that can be done. Government agencies extorting money from citizens is par for the course in South Africa, unfortunately. This would lead us into a wider discussion outside of the scope of the forum (bloated public sector wages etc.)

Cape Nature is a money driven organization (I remember from years ago even reading something about this in their goals). Why else would they suddenly start charging fees on things like kayaking down the Palmiet. You used to just pay the entrance fee and then put in, then they slapped a R50 fee on top. Same with suicide gorge. I remember in 2004 when I first did it it was just R12 to get into the reserve, now you have to pay an extra R350 on top of a the conservation fee, which is just insane.

I think from now on I will pay the daily fee for the reserve and then just camp out without paying the overnight fee. So just buy 3 day permits if I am going on 2 night hike.

Now as someone who lives upcountry and has not visited Cape Nature for a bit I feel compelled to ask again whether you feel you’re getting your money’s worth re a ‘wilderness experience’?

Here’s why…we’ve just returned from “The Wolkberg Wilderness Conservation Area” and found it to be anything but. There are some spectacular pockets and stretches of wilderness but a more apt title would be “The Wolkberg Forestry, Local Herdsman and Wilderness Area”. Now you’d have to trek some way to find the wilderness, perhaps that’s the point, but you literally go through three gates defining the wilderness, as if one is pocketed inside the other. The Mohlapitse River and the bottom end of the Wonderwoud Stream’s water is undrinkable due to cow faeces floating in the shallows and the Mohlapitse Valley in the areas of access as forced by the controlling body Ledet (Limpopo economic development wharra) is a weed infested wasteland. The actual facilities at the ‘campsite’ are disgusting with poo-choked toilets and trash everywhere…etc etc etc.

Point is, if Cape Nature charges a high tariff but the wilderness you’re getting is in good shape and the odd facilities (not why one goes to a wilderness, but the principle stands) are not demeaning then perhaps it’s worth the bob?

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