'A good feeling' - Tour guides excited as they return to work under safe Covid-19 protocols

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River rafting at Real Adventures Base Camp.
River rafting at Real Adventures Base Camp.
Sesona Ngqakamba
  • Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane is inspecting tourism sites as they reopen under lockdown Level 2.
  • Real Adventures in Parys, Free State, has already hit the ground running, and is preparing to welcome tourists. 
  • The site says it has put in place the necessary protocols required to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

After four months of being at home, worried about their jobs and what the future holds for them amid the Covid-19 pandemic, tour guides are excited to be back on the job - however in a much safer one.

Among the tourist attractions that are preparing and putting measures to reduce the transmission of the virus is Real Adventures Base Camp in Parys, Free State. 

But it is not business as usual, as the pandemic has now forced some change. Everything needs to be sanitised before use by different tourists - from quad bikes, life jackets for sailing, and pinball target shooting guns, everything is sanitised. 

Upon arrival, tourists are screened and processed, before taking part in activities. Like all other public areas, a no-mask-no-entrance rule applies. 

Situated on the banks of the Vaal River, the camp usually could accommodate up to 200 people, but would now be forced to cut the number to 50 to adhere to Level 2 regulations aimed at minimising the spread of the virus. 

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane visited the site on Friday afternoon as she kicked off her domestic travel campaign to encourage South Africans, not only to support the sector and preserve the business and jobs, but to also enjoy their beautiful country - just under different conditions - after months of being in their homes.

Activities offered at Real Adventures include abseiling, dome and wildlife tours, rafting and other fun activities. 

Places opened under Level 2 include theme and amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centres, zoos, aquariums, science centres, nature and game reserves, national parks and other entertainment and cultural attractions.

All attraction sites are expected to ensure guides have their masks on, and that they sanitise on a regular basis. 

READ | Tourism could rebound thanks to fresh hope of foreign investment, says minister

Chief guide at Real Adventures Lucky Zhuwaki said, while he understood why the country had to shut in March due to the virus, it had left him and his colleagues in a difficult position.


Like many other industries, Zhuwaki said they were also hard hit by the loss of income and relied on the Unemployment Insurance Fund. 

Zwhuhaki said they looked forward to the future, although he believed business would not boom quickly because people were still scared of the virus. 

quad bikes
Quad bikes being sanitised at Real Adventures Base Camp.

"Some of us had debts we pay - rentals, food and medication - but with the money we were getting, it was really not enough, but we appreciated it," he said. 

Mpho Malfani, who has been working as a guide at Real Adventures for two years, added that the shutdown eventually affected their families, but that they were now looking at the positive side of things as the sector reopens. 

Speaking about his reaction when he heard President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that other areas in the sector could also now reopen under Level 2, Malfani said: "It was really a good feeling because it meant for us that we were now going to be able to provide for our families and the business would start shining again." 

Office manager Tiaan Cronje said the future was now looking good and that he was hopeful that people would start making reservations again. 

Abseiling activity at Real Adventures Base Camp.
News24 Sesona Ngqakamba

Speaking before taking part in the various activities offered, Kubayi-Ngubane said her inspection was aimed at identifying what safety measures were in place at the sites before welcoming tourists. 

"We are excited, that's why we saying to South Africans, as I promised when I did the media briefing, that I will lead from the ground to show that the months of being in the house, at some point we needed to get out. 

"We are looking at how people are ready. We are here in Parys, a town that is literally a tourism town dominated by a number of activities," she said.

Kubayi-Ngubane said she hoped people would be taking notes and would gain confidence to return to outdoor activities.

The minister will continue her inspections in the Vaal on Saturday. 

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