How friendly is our routes for people living with disabilities?

We receive a lot of queries about how accessible the Moreletakloof Nature Reserve is for  people living with disabilities, so we asked a few of our regular visitors, Chris Patton from SANParks and Mathys Roets, to give us their personal experiences:

Chris Patton:

I am a T6 paraplegic in my 40s and reliant on a wheelchair to move around.  I find Moreletakloof Nature Reserve an excellent place to visit for exercise and to get fresh air in a safe natural location in the Pretoria area.  It also enables me to interact closely with nature, particularly birds and the reserves large animals which include zebra, blesbok, springbok and ostriches, all of which are relatively comfortable with human presence.  There is also an amazing array of flora – trees, grasses and flowers, plus fungi, reptiles and insects, all an indication of a healthy eco-system in the heart of suburbia.

At present there are 3 specific features adapted for use by mobility impaired visitors:

  • A paved level parking area ideal for getting in and out of a vehicle from one’s wheelchair.
  • An accessible toilet with ramped access, grab rails, and a 2 way swing door easily pushed open by hand or one’s feet.
  • The Flufftail hide overlooking a vlei area and containing ramps and moveable benches in front of viewing slots that are designed in such a way to provide comfortable clearance to accommodate wheelchair users wanting to gaze out of the view slot.

Because Moreletakloof Nature Reserve is a kloof it is not a flat landscape and one must descend from the parking area down to the stream that runs through the reserve’s centre to get to the hide.  One has 2 choices to do so… one can free wheel down the tar service road, which oscillates between a gentle gradient to a steep gradient in parts; or one can take the more rugged foot path through the indigenous woodland, where one travels over compacted earth, and a wheelchair user needs to negotiate leaf litter and the odd tree root or rock, in what is very natural experience.  Because one is moving downhill progression is possible, but the patches of steeper gradient, loose earth and occasional obstacle mean that this alternate route is probably only an option for a wheelchair user in its descent, and to come back up the hill the tar road is the route one must take.

For those persons of frailer disposition, it is possible to drive all the way down to the bottom of the hill and park near the accessible toilet; and to then only have to travel a shorter distance through the river bed along a grass-covered path and then to move along a short path parallel to the stream to get into the hide.  This distance can be negotiated by oneself or with assistance depending on the physical strength of an individual. 

If one ignores or has finished with the hide diversion, the main pathway ascends up the Kloof parallel to the stream.  The tarred section is left behind.  The gradient is gentle enough for a few hundred metres and one passes the vlei and through woodland.  Eventually one comes to a steeper rise as the path ascends up to a dam wall that breaches the stream and forms a small pond.  Here a wheelchair user will require a bit of assistance to negotiate both the gradient and the tilt of the pathway.  From the pond there are other walking routes moving further up the Kloof and into the woodland on the steep slopes of the other side of the stream, but these routes are not realistically accessible to persons in wheelchairs.

Mathys Roets:

Op die stadium is die toegangklikheid vir ons paraplee baie goed. Ek dink dit is ideale omgewing om so bietjie jouself uit te daag en buite lewe te geniet. Dit is heel doenbaar sonder te veel moeilike dinge en kan baie help met bietjie oefen terwyl mens omgewing geniet. Uit die aard van die saak praat ek namens myself. Ek raai altyd ouens aan wat so bietjie onfiks is of quadrapliee om iemand saam te bring om saam te stap. Die bult boontoe is nogal moeilik as mens nie gewoond is nie. Selfs vir die stoter is dit uitdagend.

Nogmaals baie dankie vir die birdhide wat rerig baie goed werk vir rolstoele.

Mathys

 

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