Four organisations in Durban, have been collaborating to support and develop the exquisite Lower Molweni Valley for local and international tourism, in an effort to stimulate and drive the community’s economy in a setting that has high tourism potential.
Lower Molweni is a short drive into the Valley of 1000 Hills from Hillcrest and is a hikers, birders and nature-lovers paradise. Now Durban’s Green Corridors, with its vision to see communities thrive in balance with the habitats around them, is working together with the local organisations: Kloof Conservancy, Philangethemba Impact, and 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation, to develop eco-tourism initiatives that create local employment and business opportunities and at the same time protect the environment.
These organisations, which have varying mandates, have pooled resources and ideas with Green Corridors: The Kloof Conservancy, aims to promote environmental awareness and conserve the area’s natural habitats; Philangethemba Impact, is a collaborative empowerment programme between the social outreach ministry of St Agnes Anglican Church in Kloof, and the neighbouring Molweni Valley community, and 1000 Hills CTO, is the local community tourism organisation promoting tourism in this area.
Currently, in this area there is a network of community-developed nature trails that lead hikers through the spectacular rugged cliffs and forests of the area, just on the outskirts of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. This reserve is a biodiversity treasure trove including 50 mammals, 253 bird, 35 reptiles, 150 butterflies, 273 tree and over 1500 plant species.
Much work is being done by partners on the ground including the community of Lower Molweni Trust around various new and exciting tourism opportunities, including a 1.4km zipline, which is planned to be the longest in South Africa, experiential and cultural tours around the local community, and Pop up Camping - Green Corridors’ unique portable camping experience which can move from site to site.
For local community members, microbusinesses have started up, as a result, providing employment opportunities and are expected to grow as interest in the area increases. Businesses include trail clearers who cut paths and remove alien plants from the trails; litter and waste controllers, a catering business K&X Café and Ibongezi Crafters based at the Philangethemba Impact site – the start point of the nature trails. Local trail guides are being trained and mentored by experienced Green Corridors nature guides.
“We aim to develop local tourism opportunities and help stimulate community-based economies, through our vision to connect people to the planet,” says Duncan Pritchard, of Green Corridors. “The support of tourism in this area plays a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term conservation of this incredibly beautiful part of Durban. This is all achievable by integrating socio-economic needs with conservation needs, and by working hand in hand with local organisations and the communities in and around the area.”
“Our overall goal is to create hope and tangible outcomes for the people in this area,” says Siphiwe Gumede of Philangethemba Impact. “Adding an adventure aspect to the offering like the zipline, will help to draw people to the area, and stimulate the various small businesses that rely on tourism.”
“Central to what we do is to promote the area to support businesses operating in this exquisite environment here in the Valley of 1000 Hills,” says Jennifer Gregory, of the 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation. “Key to this is ensuring the environment lives up to the promise, so part of that is to have local buy-in and interest in what is being planned, to maintain its natural beauty.”
Paolo Candotti, Chairman of the Kloof Conservancy says, “This is a really exciting collaboration for us all, as we work together to find the solution to the social and environmental needs of the people in this area. As we collaborate to find workable and sustainable ways to develop the tourism offerings, we are always open to sharing knowledge and welcoming other organisations and partners who are interested.”
Photos by Val Adamson: A welcome break during a hike atop the granite waterfall, with muffins and juice catered for by K&X Café with rugs and cushions created by the Ibongezi Crafters.