Well, it takes a lot of bulldozers!
We have asked our head ranger, Nihan Marais, to share the process of building and maintaining our fantastic landing strip at Groot Sleutelfontein. The landing strip has recently been extended from 733m to 1200m, and this has been quite a process! This special piece of dirt makes coming on safari so much easier and so much more accessible. Therefor we value the initiative and the project tremendously.
According to Nihan, six machines were used to extend the landing strip. These included a bulldozer, a scoop, a grader, an excavator, a dumper and a roller. About 70 loads of soil had to be moved to the area, in order to level the extended landing strip. Each of these loads weighed about 2 tons. That comes down to about 140 tons of soil!
To the eastern side of the strip, two reservoirs have been built in order to act as catchment for the flow of rainwater from the plain. Each reservoir was designed to direct the overflow of water in the opposite direction to the landing strip, thus preventing any floods.
At the bottom of the landing strip, an area has been cleared to put up a hanger. This will enable a safe overnight area or parking area should the plane have to stay on the reserve for a few days.
Ranger Nihan told us that there has already been successful landings and take-offs of 5 small aircraft since the airstrip has been extended during April 2015. All of the pilots were very happy and impressed with the airstrip, which gives us great pride and confidence in the project.
The airstrip has also been rolled with a roller machine a few times, but this is usually only done after rains in the Karoo. In this way, water is conserved, and it is ensured that the strip stays level.
Congratualtions to Nihan and the Groot Sleutefontein team for completing another successful project on the reserve.