Cape Town - Train and railway history buffs will be very excited about South African National Parks (SANParks) latest plans for the defunct Selati Railway Bridge in Kruger National Park.
The conservation authority announced its plans to develop an upmarket tourism facility on the old bridge, complete in the style of a train to reflect the heritage value of the long-gone Selati Railway Line.
It will be able to accommodate 48 guests and made up of 12 railway carriages, plus a lounge carriage, and will be an extension of the current Selati restaurant near Skukuza Rest Camp.
Other new facilities will include edutainment and interpretive areas for the general public as well as a reception area for guests of the new facility.
"To the north of the bridge it is proposed that a stationary box carriage be positioned on the existing railway tracks to serve as storage and backdrop for bush diner functions and the departure/return of game drives," says SANParks.
History of the Selati Line
The Selati Railway Line was first built in 1912, connecting Komatipoort with Tzaneen during the gold rush heydays. It cut through South Africa's first private nature reserve, Sabie Game Reserve, which in time became part of the Kruger National Park.
In 1923 South African Railways took over and started a nine-day tour through the Lowveld, with a stopover at Sabie Bridge, today called Skukuza, where passengers had to sleep on the train. It became very popular for its game viewing, and Kruger was established as a national park in 1926.
Trains still ran through the park up until 1973 after which most of the tracks have been removed, leaving the bridge as is and part of the Skukuza scenery.
A few years later a steam engine was donated to the now defunct station for display, and today three of its coaches serve as the Selati Station Grill House. It boasts pictures and posters from the station's heydays, highlighting the unique game viewing experiences people had back then.
Request for public participation
SANParks, through Kruger Selati (Pty) Ltd, is in the process of applying for environmental authorisation from the Department of Environmental Affairs, and they are inviting Interested and Affected Parties to register with the assigned Environmental Assessment Practitioner from Emross Consulting, before 26 February. Once this is approved they can move on to start developing the project.
A Heritage Impact Assessment is also being made by Archaetnos CC, and interested parties can also submit their comments with them.
See here for more information on how to submit and register.
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