On Friday, 25 February 2005, Berg en Dal Camp celebrated 21 years of existence. The celebrations were festive and there was a vibrant energy amongst the guests.
Ezrom Mathumbu, hospitality manager of Pretoriuskop, was the programme director on the evening and made sure that the programme ran smoothly and according to plan. The camp's hospitality services manager, Craig Cowie, welcomed everybody to his domain, which was officially opened in 1984 by the then minister of environment affairs and fisheries, SAS Hayward.
According to KNP records, the construction of the camp at the site on the Matjulu Spruit in the Malelane Mountain Range was conceived during a 1980-1985 plan to increase tourism facilities in the Kruger National Park.
At the time, the government granted R1 million per year for five years to implement the plan which would add another 1 000 beds to the KNP's existing 3 000 bed tourist infrastructure.
This ambitious plan stipulated that, with proper planning, the new camps would include the tranquility of the smaller camps but would provide as much accom- modation as the bigger camps. Apart from Berg en Dal, Mopani was also built during this period, as were various other tourist facilities - bush camps and picnic sites - around the KNP. Nasiwe Nelani, southern regional manager, gave an inspirational speech and she emphasised that the staff should enjoy their work and complete their tasks enthusiastically and keep up their excellent service.
Recognition was given to all the people who have been part of the camp in the past and she thanked them for their valuable contribution. Dr Bandile Mkhize, executive director of KNP, addressed the guests and congratulated the camp on their 'coming of age' and welcomed them to 'adulthood'. He complimented the camp on their invaluable contribution to the Park and encouraged them to keep up the excellent service. Dr Mkhize also set a challenge to the camp manager and his staff to aim for the 'best camp of the year' award this year.
The festivities' highlight was the cutting of the beautifully baked cake and a toast was made. Mr Jackson Mdhluli, an honorary ranger who now resides in the Justicia area, beautifully presented a poem written by Ms Manzi Spruit. The Berg en Dal camp choir entertained the guests with their unique camp song and other harmonious melodies. Ms Petronica Khanyile, the duty manager of Berg en Dal concluded the formalities with a vote of thanks to the relevant parties. Special thanks were given to Barberton Printers and the catering company, Nature's Group.
The guests were then entertained, in the boma area, with tribal dancing presented by Peer Mkhonto and the Ronaldsey Youth Cultural Traditional Dancers from Bushbuckridge. The next morning, the guests were offered an outstanding breakfast buffet, which is a trademark of the camp. Thereafter the media delegates were treated to a walk on the wild side by the very capable field guide Manzi and her assistant Raymond. The group had a close encounter with a rhino and also saw impala and kudu. Manzi and Raymond shared some of their outstanding field knowledge and taught the group a lot about the ways of nature.
In this place with mountains high
Where the peaks reach for the sky
Deep green valleys dense with trees
Ever present gentle breeze
In this place of plentiful
Awe inspiring, beautiful
Many different animals
Have their homes among the trees
In this place where leopard calls
Echoes off the mountain walls
Nowhere are the stars as bright
As in the Berg en Dal night
In this place where rhino walks
Tread softly and do not talk
They can hear but cannot see
Human ruled but they are not free
The San people came and went
Made their rock art till the end
Others followed, stayed and left
Left behind some sort of gift
This is where it all began
Many years after the San
So today, we celebrate
On this very special date
What a joyous day it is
To participate in this
With our Rhino and our San
Berg-en-Dal was was officially opened in 1984 by the then minister of environment affairs and fisheries, SA S Hayward. At the time, the government granted R1-million per year for five years to implement the plan which would add another 1000 beds to the KNP's existing 3000 bed tourist infrastructure. The camp offers Rhino Trail camp walk with Braille facilities for the visually impaired visitors, bush braais and bush breakfasts as well as morning and afternoon walks.
By Zani Kunz
In Berg en Dal