020809 A fine proposal… Fancy a getaway to the Drakensberg? Read about our Tribune Travel Club offer – and you can win a prize “… because I love this |spot and I love you, but don’t forget I love you best of all and I want you beside me. Ruth, my darling, I plead as never before. Put your trust in me, marry me and be my mate in building up a home and a farm second to none in South Africa.” This is how Bill Carte proposed marriage to Ruth in June 1940. Anthony Carte, their youngest son, treasures the few memories of his father, who died in 1954 when Anthony was only six, but the letter of proposal greatly influenced the boy. Bill and Ruth built The Cavern Berg Resort – and true to Bill’s dream, it is one of the finest holiday spots in South Africa. Then Anthony and his family seized the opportunity in 1994 |to build a home to follow his father’s dream. The Drakensberg is a romantic, wild, secretive place and it is here that Anthony’s family changed a wattle-infested wasteland into an indigenous conservation area – home of Montusi Mountain Lodge … Ant’s dream … “a home and a farm second to none in South Africa”. Montusi has a beautiful setting in spacious open gardens with spectacular views of the Amphitheatre of the uKhahlamba Northern Drakensberg Mountains. It is an idyllic escape to space, comfort and peace. Unlike many of the bigger, more established Drakensberg holiday resorts, you will not find conferences, crowds, loud music and a bar offering shooters. The family welcomes local and international guests and thoroughly enjoys the pre-dinner banter in the bar where opinions are exchanged and the problems of the world are solved. To ensure that guests have privacy and peace, each of the 14 individual garden suites, which have their own patios and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, is positioned at a distance from the others. The thatched suites are decorated in the earthy colours of Africa. King-size double beds with warm winter sheets and hot water bottles are provided for those crisp winter nights, while percale fine sheets offer cool comfort on those balmy summer evenings. Each suite has a bath and separate walk-in shower, a lounge with a fireplace, TV, drinks fridge and tea and coffee facility. Many guests are inspired to climb to the top of the Amphitheatre from the car park To Page 3

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism has come under fire for a plan to send a delegation on a “jaunt” to four overseas countries to view their cable cars.

The planned trip has not been discussed by the department’s portfolio committee, as is the norm, according to opposition political parties. The department on Sunday confirmed it would undertake an international “study tour” on the proposed building of a cable car in the Drakensberg.

Details including the departure date were yet to be finalised. But the Daily News understands the department will visit Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Australia’s Cairns Skyrail, China’s Huanshan Cableway, Masada Cableway in Israel and Switzerland’s Blatten Cableway.

The trip is in support of the controversial Berg cable car project first mooted in 1994, opposed by some communities in the Drakensberg and environmental activists.

Department spokesman, Bheko Madlala, said the tour was intended to gain a first-hand account of how cableways operated, particularly those in eco-sensitive areas.

“This will give the province a good idea of how to proceed with the project locally and how to balance the economic potential of the project and the issues of environmental preservation.”

Asked for more details, such as the number of people going on the trip and the cost implications, Madlala said: “Logistical issues… are still being finalised.”

He said that after numerous consultations, feasibility studies, and public participations, which came to a close last February, the government had given the project the go-ahead.

A study, made public last July, found it was feasible to build the cable car in the Busingatha site at Mount Amery, in the Drakensberg.

The site had minimal need for road construction, a gondola could be used for access from the existing road, and the terrain was adequate, the study found. The site also had “outstanding” views and was outside any world heritage sites.

DA MPL Ann McDonnell, a member of the Economic Development and Tourism portfolio committee, said the delegation would include individuals from department entities such as Ithala, KZN Trade and Industry, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Tourism KZN, iSimangaliso Wetlands Park Authority, representatives from the feasibility study author, Graham Muller and Associates, and other officials.

“This jaunt is totally unnecessary and completely unjustifiable,” McDonnell said.

“We live in an age of technology – information regarding cableways and cable cars must be available on the internet. The trip is to be funded by the R1.1 million budget set aside for the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project.

“The cost is likely to exceed the budgeted amount.”

Madlala hit back, saying it was everyone’s duty to look at ways of stimulating the province’s tourism sector. “This project will add to the cornucopia of tourism offerings in the province,” he said.

“The MEC firmly believes that all of us, including the DA and those who are opposed to the project, are welcome (at) the table of ideas to discuss how and what we need to do – given the changing nature of the global tourism landscape – to claim a slice of the lucrative global tourism cake.

“That demands of us the maturity to resist the temptation to engage in a daily ritual of issuing uninformed but sensational statements…

“The need to build a globally competitive tourism industry in the province is bigger than the sum total of our narrow political ambitions.”

Blessed Gwala, the IFP’s member of the provincial legislature, also said that information about existing cable cars could be easily sourced from the internet.

Daily News