Although a specific date has yet to be set for the official opening of the Giriyondo Border Post between the Kruger National Park and the Limpopo National Park, the ceremony is due to take place towards the end of August or the beginning of September. Hailed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism as being “amongst the most important regional conservation developments in recent time”, the heads of state of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe will probably all participate in the ceremony. At this point, the official opening date will depend on their schedules.
A preliminary date of August 12 has not been confirmed, but seems unlikely. More game translocations from Kruger are expected at the time of the official opening, with the possibility of some game also being brought to Mozambique from Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. According to Piet Theron, SANParks TFCA programme manager, construction on the Mozambique side of Giriyondo is scheduled to be completed in mid-July.
He added that some of the tourism products being prepared in the Limpopo National Park are also likely to be ready for tourists at the time of the official opening. About 170km of road networks within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) have already been opened and graded. The border post will be manned by immigration officials from the Department of Home Affairs and by border police. It is not expected to become a commercial border post requiring South African Revenue Service customs officials.
Once the border post has been opened, members of the public will be able to travel between South Africa and Mozambique via the Kruger National Park. They will be able to exit into the rest of Mozambique after travelling through the Limpopo National Park. At the same time as preparations are underway for the opening of the border post, environmental ministers from southern Africa have agreed to increase the profile of transfrontier conservation areas in time for the 2010 soccer world cup.
Capital will be sourced for infrastructure improvements, including upgrading roads and tourist accommodation in seven transfrontier conservation areas. These include the Ai-Ai Richtersveld, Kgalagadi, Kavango Zambezi, Limpopo-Shashe, Great Limpopo, Lubombo and Maloti-Drakensberg. To improve the tourism product, the visa systems between all the SADC countries involved will be looked at.
The department of environmental affairs has said they wish “to enable travellers to experience a number of different African countries in a single destination.” Within the GLTP, one of this year’s more pressing issues on the agenda will look at developments in the Pafuri area of Kruger. This region is a likely spot to allow people to travel between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. However, the cost of a bridge over the Limpopo River is likely to be an important factor in the planning.