Drakensberg Cableway Proposal

the Facts, the History, the Truth

See also Documents relating to the Busingatha proposal

Background Documents


Biodiversity Assessment Report by Kevan & Karen Zunckel
Biodiversity Assessment Resport to inform the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme in the Upper uThukela (amaNgwane and amaZizi) Wilderness Areas, Okhahlamba Local Municipality, KZN. This document shows the high degree of biodiversity of Busingatha area, and demonstrates that the area is worthy of being preserved as a wilderness.

"Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are the custodians of the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (KZN BSP) and are driving an aggressive campaign to secure Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements with land owners and communities on land indicated as priority in the Provincial Terrestrial Systematic Conservation Plan. One such area is the Upper uThukela Wilderness Areas which represents a gap between Cathedral Peak and the Royal Natal National Park sections of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (UDP WHS). It has long been the vision of many, including local people in the valley, to see this area proclaimed as a Community Conservation Area and included in the World Heritage Site. Numerous interest groups have worked with willing community representatives and groupings to undertake a variety of resource management projects in the valley, some of which have been in existence for more than 10 years. Currently this situation persists with a significant amount of funding being attached to these projects."
30 November 2010


Investing in Natural Capital and Economic Development of South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains
Documentation illustrating the importance of water produced by the Drakensberg - which would be impacted by the building of the cableway, as well as introducing the concept that communities can benefit financially by conserving their land.

"We describe a proposed large-scale restoration and land use management project planned for a portion of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. Some 250,000 ha of high-lying land in the Drakensberg range are a protected conservation area and also a World Heritage Site. Bordering this conservation enclave is another 250,000 ha of increasingly degraded land subject to a variety of competing land uses. Conflicting land use objectives could, in theory, be mitigated and reconciled by identifying and developing a market for the delivery of ecosystem services such as water use and quality, carbon sequestration, erosion and siltation reduction, combating desertification, and the promotion of biodiversity conservation.

The project we describe here can serve as an example of how long-term investment in the restoration of natural capital (RNC) will benefit both developed and developing countries, with payment for ecosystem services as a key way to finance the restoration work. International investments in the Drakensberg project are being sought in emerging markets for carbon, water, and biodiversity credits—the so-called 'umbrella ecosystem services.' Food, water, energy, and income security for local people however remain top priorities. We argue that this kind of RNC project is a way to simultaneously pursue the objectives of the global conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification arising from the United Nations' Rio Summit of 1992, and to help meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals for alleviating poverty."
June 2008


Payment for Ecosystem Services
Documentation illustrating the importance of water produced by the Drakensberg - which would be impacted by the building of the cableway, as well as introducing the concept that communities can benefit financially by conserving their land.

"Within South Africa, the Maloti Drakensberg mountains are the most strategic water source in the region, supplying much of the sub-continent through rivers, and national and international inter-basin transfers. The Maloti Drakensberg mountains fall within the country's most important water supply area. River catchments within the bioregion form the source or contribute to a number of major rivers, including the Umzimvubu, Umzimkulu, Umkomazi and Thukela on the South African side, and the Vaal and Orange / Senqu Rivers on the Lesotho side. The rivers rising on the South African side contribute over 8000 million m3 in mean annual runoff (MAR) to systems within the region (Diederichs and Mander 2004). This initiative has developed a model for investment in water security by using the trade in ecosystem services as sustainable foundation."
May 2008


Documents & Statements relating to older proposals


Feasibility Study for the Proposed Sentinel Cableway Development, by Graham Muller Associates
Sentinel cableway proposal prepared for the Development Bank of SA. Currently not available.


Peer Review of the Pre-Feasibility Study undertaken for the Proposed Cableway "Development in the Mnweni Valley (October 2000) by Ingérop Africa
Ingérop Africa has been commissioned by Tourism KwaZulu Natal to conduct a Peer Review on a Pre-Feasibility Report prepared by individuals, commissioned by The Federation of Drakensberg User Groups in October 2000.
The document to be reviewed is: The Proposed Mnweni Cableway Pre-Feasibility Study – October 2000.
The main focus points of the review will include, but not be limited to: 1) The validity of the revenue assumptions. 2) Cost assumption(s) on the engineering of the project. 3) Community Issues. 4) Environmental Issues. 5) Legal Issues."
November 2003


The Proposed Mnweni Cableway: Pre-Feasibility Study by the Federation of Drakensberg User Groups
"The possibility of constructing and operating a cableway in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg has been suggested formally as early as 1994 and subsequently in various reports and studies. There has been much speculation as to the feasibility of such a project, and while some studies have addressed tourism figures in more detail, very little work has been done on conceptualizing the design of a cableway, assessing the practicality and establishing the financial viability. The Federation of Drakensberg User Groups commissioned individuals from its member organizations, who collectively held appropriate qualifications in all necessary fields, to undertake a pre-feasibility study of a Drakensberg Cableway. The site, while known not to be the most attractive from a cost perspective, was chosen as it related directly to previous reports and investors are being sought at the time of publication, to finance this as the lead development project of the uThukela Regional Council."
October 2000


Taking Tourism Investment to New Heights by Grant Thornton Kessel Feinstein
Technical Document On The Mnweni Cableway Compiled For The Uthukela District Municipality.
"The Uthukela District Municipality is facilitating the development of a new and unique tourist attraction for KwaZulu-Natal’s well-established Drakensberg tourist route – the Mnweni Valley and Cable Way. The cableway’s base is to be located in the Mnweni Valley, the last undeveloped valley in the northern Drakensberg, and its summit will be between the Drakensberg landmarks of the Amphitheatre and Cathedral Peak. The summit will afford views of KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and Lesotho. The location of the Mnweni Valley in respect of the N3 (only 70 km), the busiest transport corridor in South Africa, makes it a very attractive proposition." approx. 2000


Background & Guidelines for Prospective Developers of a Cable-way in the QwqQwa Drakensberg
A document prepared for Highlands Development, providing some background and important considerations for a Drakensberg cableway in the QwaQwa area.
"Propspective developers will be allowed to investigate the possiblity of building a cable-way from the Elands River valley in the old Qwaqwa.
"After an application by a development group to build a cable-way from the parking area below the Sentinel to the upper plateua, the Ecotourism Division of the Highlands Development decided to do a study of the present situation on the mountain and the environmental implications of such a development."
early 1990s


Proposed Okhahlamba Drakensberg Cableway - An Analysis of the Requirements and Options, by Willem van Riet Landscape Architects
One of the earliest documents proposing a cableway, identifying 16 possible sites for it in the Drakensberg. Currently unavailable.
July 1994


See also Documents relating to the Busingatha proposal