Rocklands Association for Development:

Enabling positive impact tourism


RAD is committed to conservation of the Rocklands wilderness, and to the creation of benefits for the local communities. In the six years since RAD’s inception, we have worked in collaboration with representatives from the climbing world, and from all of the community groups in Rocklands in order to properly understand what is needed and come up with creative solutions. We have a number of projects on the go, but there is a more far-reaching strategy for which we continue to lobby financial support.

A summary of our overall objectives:

The climbing community has changed over time. With the growth, there are many newer climbers, with little outdoor experience or knowledge of proper land ethos. This IS having an impact on the land – from improper “toilet” action to broken trees and foliage. From erosion caused by pad dragging to breaking and moving of rocks, to destruction of San paintings. The impact on the land needs to be contained. Keeping it clean is our collective responsibility, but RAD is striving to help by providing guideline information, doing clean-ups, helping to clean up paths, and fostering awareness. We are also lending our support to a valley-wide strategic waste management initiative. ¬†


In this time of social and economic transformation for South Africa, there is real need for resident local communities to start participating on an independent economic level, and not merely as blue-collar workers. A broad strategy is in place to create economic opportunity and inclusion for the communities of Rocklands, and a few fledgeling projects are underway. What we have come to realise, however, was that grassroots education was the first and most important step and have subsequently built a creche for the local children of Rocklands, and trained local women as educators. The creche runs every week day and also offers as after school care facility for junior primary school children.

To say that children are the future may seem like a tired cliche, but it is nonetheless true. For children growing up in Rocklands (a space which is not quite rural in that tourists bring increased population density and subsequent restrictions to the traditional ways of being in the landscape – but also certainly by no means urban, with a dearth of any real entertainment and facilities), the young people are at significant risk. The Rocklands Association for Development first started as a climbing outreach programme run by climbers, and this aspect is critically in need of participation by committed new climbers. Other aspects of youth outreach have historically included yoga (when teachers are available), mental and physical health support, opportunities to participate in mentorships with the University of Cape Town’s Archeology and Geography departments (ongoing), access to theatre performances and even career mentorships. We are constantly available to facilitate any and all youth outreach programmes that come Rocklands’ way.¬†