It’s a good time for mountain biking in Cape Town, not only do riders get access to additional trails in the Table Mountain National Park through the completion of the revised Environmental Management Plan but in the same week, the legal indemnity offering early access to the closed areas of Tokai, as drawn up by Amarider and SANParks, has been approved.
It was in the interest of public safety as well as protection of environmental integrity that Silvermine and Tokai were closed to the public for safety and rehabilitation purposes after the March 2015 fires. TokaiMTB and SANParks however continued to engage with recreational user groups during this time to jointly discuss the way forward, including the early reopening of Upper Tokai on a weekends-only trial basis. The early reopening will be continually assessed in terms of compliance, safety and environmental issues that will dictate whether the area is eventually opened during the week as well.
Local mountain bike representatives, TokaiMTB, roped in the assistance of Amarider, the African mountain bike advocacy group, to provide the cover needed for access. According to Amarider’s Meurant Botha, “Legally, the early access is made possible through Amarider who signed the temporary access agreement with SANParks. There is an insurance and indemnity requirement that Amarider uses in a similar process to insure trail groups and access around the country.”
The Pedal Power Association’s (PPA) CEO Robert Vogel said, “we are very pleased to finally see the gates to Tokai reopening and asked riders to respect the hours and rules during the trial period”. The PPA assisted in providing the bulk of the funding needed for the reconstruction of the trails which also allowed for two contractors to apply the finishing touches to various iconic trails over several weeks.
Team RSAWEB rider, Renay Goustra was on hand to provide an insight to the restoration and lead up to the reopening of Tokai.
Teams of contractors, SANParks staff and TokaiMTB volunteers embarked on an extensive rehabilitation process including repairs to routes and tracks damaged during the fires and felling operations to clear the burnt and dangerous trees. The tracks are now almost complete with about 80% rideable and work on the remaining tracks is set to continue into the new year.
Other operations which are ongoing in Tokai include; the continued rehabilitation of the areas including the removal of alien invasive plants and remaining burnt trees, the installation of chains, fencing, gates and signage to prevent users from accessing any hazardous areas.
Information signage (maps, indemnity and conditions of entry) have been installed at the pay point and trail heads, while marshals will be stationed at strategic points to assist riders and monitor compliance. A sponsored TokaiMTB security initiative will provide early detection in a joint initiative with SANParks and a local prominent business. SANParks does however still recommend that you ride in groups of four or more and discourages users from carring valuables while in the Park. Please also ensure that you notify someone of your intended route and expected return time and save the following SANParks emergency number on your phone: 0861 110 6417.
Zoom into the map (PDF) to view the recently restored trails available for riding and take note of the areas to avoid that still pose risk to users. Note: Not all trails will be open by launch date.
TMNP Area Manager South, Gavin Bell said, “We would like to thank TokaiMTB for their constant engagement and assistance, without which this opening would not have been possible. Thanks also go to Meurant Botha of AmaRider for his leadership and to PPA for their invaluable funding.
SANParks would also like to thank the great work done by the various other stakeholders namely; the TokaiMTB volunteers as well as the Tokai District Riders Association who have also shown their commitment to assist in a successful reopening.”
As a suggestion since Tokai will be opening on a trial basis over weekends only, before committing to buying an annual activity permit, consider opting for a daily permit on the opening weekend to “test” the tracks and get accustomed to the changes in the area.
An ongoing program to clear the alien seedbank stored over the many years of commercial timber operations in Tokai has commenced. Teams are active in every corner of Tokai to tackle the challenge ahead.
The slopes without the pine trees and the alien infestation from more than a century of commercial timber harvesting, means the area looks very different from what it was and may come as a surprise to some. The summer days will be hot and windy until the naturally occurring fynbos has been restored through ongoing alien clearing efforts. This will eventually accommodate pockets of Afro-montain forests to usher in new life and shade for a range of new experiences in Tokai overlooking its newly restored spectacular views!
TokaiMTB would like to take this opportunity to thank SANParks for allowing this prime conservation area to provide a vital resource for healthy living whilst supporting the continuation and enhancement of recreational activities for the enjoyment of the public. We also thank the volunteers, Amarider, the Pedal Power Association and all the individual and corporate donors who have supported the reconstruction and reopening of these cherished mountain bike trails. See you on the mountain!
Purchasing of activity permits can be done on weekdays at the Tokai Wildcard Sales Offices, while Cape Town Tourism Offices located at Kirstenbosch, Simonstown, the Airport and the centre of town offer other alternatives to purchase the Activity Permit (these sites are open on weekends too).
Access for mountain bikers will be from the Tokai Picnic site while access for hikers, joggers and walkers will be from the Silvermine entrances only. Cyclists who intend to access Tokai from Silvermine via Ou Kaapse Weg, Constantia Nek and Blackburn Ravine, be aware that there are a limited number of parking bays available in the mountain bike car park. For ease of access we recommend you arrive on your bike as the Greenbelt offers direct access to the area.
Cyclists to please also note that many of the jeeptracks are shared with horse riders, hikers and trail runners, please respect that they have right of way. This does of course not apply to the MTB only designated singletrack which have undergone some recent changes in direction. We urge you to get accustomed to the revisions before heading out and to take note of changes as indicated in the signage on the trail.
Remain on designated trails only, remember access is going to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
The Arboretum is still closed to all public access.
SANParks emergency number: 0861 110 6417.
Tokai gate times:
May – September, 8am – 5pm
October – April, 7am – 6pm
Silvermine gate times:
May – August, 8am – 5pm
September – April, 7am – 6pm
TMNP Day Permit Fee – R75.00
TMNP Annual Activity Card – R500.00