Lake Eland Game Reserve, Tel. 039 687 0395
Bushveld, Grasslands, Wetlands and Coastal Forest are the four distinct ecosystems that provide visitors with the unique opportunity of viewing animals as diverse as giraffe and blue duiker, herds of plain game such as zebra, wildebeest, eland, shy mountain reedbuck, and the elusive bushbuck in close proximity.
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, Tel. 032 342 222
Need a break from the beach? Take a slow drive along the old road that winds over the green KwaZulu-Natal hills from Umzinto towards Highflats and Ixopo. You will pass endless fields of sugar cane before turning off onto the sand road that will take you to the Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve about half an hour’s drive from the coast. Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is set in the rolling hills, 12 km from Umzinto, rich in wildlife and birdlife. The bigger species of antelope, along with zebra and wildebeest, roam the wooded slopes and grassy ridges, while raptors ride the thermals above. The reserve offers panoramic views to the sea. 56 mammal species including: zebra, blue wildebeest and impala. Over 300 bird species and an interesting variety of flora surrounding picturesque picnic spots.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 687 0253
One of KwaZulu-Natal’s most spectacular natural settings, the scenic Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve lies some 21 km inland from Port Shepstone. The Reserve lies snugly at the head of a magnificent river gorge lined with dense coastal bush and forests.
The reserve is 1 917 ha in extent. The resort commands an impressive view of Oribi Gorge. The breathtaking scenery along the Umzimkulwana River Gorge makes this a photographer’s and nature lover’s paradise. Oribi Gorge has a wealth of smaller wildlife species and visitors have occasionally seen leopards, and is a wonderful birding destination with more than 250 species recorded. There are numerous idyllic picnic spots on the banks of the river. Visitors are, however, advised not to swim or paddle in the river because of the risk of contracting bilharzia. There is a reservoir swimming pool, with a sundeck, in the resort for exclusive use by residents. Many delightful walks and self-guided trails to the scenic spots in the reserve, have been laid out. Details of these walks may be obtained from the reception office. Wildlife to be seen in the reserve includes species such as oribi, bushbuck, common reedbuck, blue and grey duiker. Leopard occur in the area. The abundant birdlife in the reserve, makes bird-watching a rewarding experience. Private operators conduct a variety of activities in the area, the bungi swing being most popular with thrill seekers. Self-guided trails descend into the gorge or follow the edge of the cliffs providing beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The resort consists of 6 two-bedded self-catering chalets and five campsites with plug points.
Skyline Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 315 0112
Situated between Uvongo and Margate is known for its collection of trees. The arboretum includes some 76 indigenous coastal tree species, about 300 other indigenous trees and 400 exotic tree species. Offers self guided trails along path ways boasting majestic tree species, plants, duiker and bushbuck. It is ideal for a day visit or picnic, except that there are no ablution or braai facilities.
Mpenjati Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 313 0531
This lush little coastal reserve is 20 km south of Margate on the lower south coast. At present Mpenjati caters essentially for the day visitor. The 60 hectare reserve comprises a system of interlinking wetlands, grasslands and dune forests. The most popular activities are birding, fishing, swimming, and hiking. Two picnic sites on each bank of the Mpenjati River have barbecue facilities, ablution blocks, and a chidren’s playground. The Ipithi trail on the south bank is 1,2 km long and offers visitors the opportunity of sighting blue, red and grey duiker and bushbuck. The Yengele trail on the north bank is 1,8 km long and is routed through one of the largest dune forests on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. The forest is home to forest antelope and a host of bird species, as well as a breeding pair of Fish Eagle. Observation platforms on both trails provide breathtaking views of the lagoon, wetland system and the coast. The lagoon is ideal for canoeing, windsufing and fishing.
Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 311 2383
This southernmost nature reserve in KwaZulu-Natal is a botanical paradise consisting of an interesting stretch of riverine forest and steep rocky cliffs. Bordering the Umtamvuna River, the 3 247 hectare reserve boasts a fine display of flowers in springtime. There are numerous walks highlighting the fantastic scenery of different parts of the reserve. These trails vary in duration from one to three-hour or an all-day hike. Many hours and days can be spent exploring the diverse habitats. Both the Cape vulture and fish eagle breed in the reserve and many other bird species have been recorded. Bushbuck, serval, baboon, samango monkeys, blue and grey duiker and common reedbuck occur in the reserve. No accommodation, caravanning or camping facilities are available in the reserve. Special precautions: As the rivers in the reserve contain bilharzia, visitors are advised not to swim and do so at their own risk. Visitors are also advised not to drink river water. There is no camp at Umtamvuna Nature Reserve. Pets are not permitted at Reserve. Gate opening and closing times; Summer: 6h00 – 6h00; Winter: 6h30 – 5h30. An entrance fee is payable at the gate. The field ranger will provide maps and details of the reserve.
Ivongo River Conservancy, Tel. 039 312 2322
This 28ha reserve in Uvongo protects the strip both sides of the Vungu River. Walking trails along the banks of the river provides visitors with the means to penetrate the lush riverine forest and gain access to numerous bird species. No special arrangements are necessary and the reserve may be visited at any time. Access can be gained by crossing the river bridge to the south bank, take the first road right. After the tennis courts, turn right to Striders Club House, there is plenty of shaded parking. Well-defined walking trails extend up-stream from the Uvongo Beach Lodge on the north bank and from the Thure Lilliecrona Park on the south bank. There are picnic spots, braai sites and toilet facilities.
Empisini Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 973 0093
Located in Umkomaas, 120ha coastal forest. There are picnic and braai sites alongside the dam for the use of day visitors. Several excellent trails meander through the various habitats in the reserve and the trails alongside the Empisini Stream provide excellent forest birding. Mammal species include bushbuck, mongoose, vervet monkey, large-spotted genet and blue duiker.
River Valley Nature Reserve, Contact Andrew Lewis 083 263 5537
The reserve falls within a horseshoe of a picturesque section of the Ivungu River. It boasts a variety of different ecosystems within a small area. Abundant birdlife, antelope and small mammals can be seen on the reserve. It is our pleasure to be able to share this beautiful part of God’s creation for others to enjoy by being accommodated in our upmarket cottages, a small private campsite, a picnic area and walking trails through the reserve. The Nature Reserve boasts a herd of impala and a herd of nyala. The shy bushbuck as well as the elusive blue duiker and the more common grey duiker are also present on the reserve. Smaller mammals such as porcupine, the large grey, banded and water mongooses as well as the cape clawless otter are evidenced by the presence of their tracks. They are sometimes spotted if you are at the right place at the right time. The lesser known tree hyrax and the more common rock hyrax can be seen too. As many as 145 species of birds have been sighted in the iVungu area and these include the unusual sightings of the beautiful Narina Trogan, the majestic ever present African Crowned Eagle, the colourful Knysna and Purple Crested Turaco, the Green Malkoha (Coucal), the “Lord deliver me” Fiery necked and the Freckled Nightjar, the Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher and the Mountain (Long tailed) Wagtail. Early mornings and still days are the most productive times to satisfy any birders hunger for these diversely created feathered creatures.
Tc Roberston Nature Reserve, Derrick 082 406 9891
A system of trails about 10 km in total length cover all habitats in the reserve. Mammal species include Slender Mongoose and black-backed jackal. Situated along the banks of the Mpambonyoni River, the TC Robertson Nature Reserve offers its visitors a unique nature experience. The reserve has become a popular picnic and braai venue for people who enjoy spending a pleasant day in the country. A walk in the reserve will take one through coastal forest, coastal grasslands, wetlands, riverine and estuarine systems, palmveld and thornveld. An interpretation of the name Mpamonyoni, is “where birds gather” and the bird life is indeed prolific with over 200 species having been recorded here. A strategically placed hide offers the bird watcher the chance to observe both terrestrial and aquatic birds. Also in the reserve, one can find an assortment of smaller wildlife from buck to butterflies and mongoose to monkeys. There are 12 km of established trails which can either be self-guided walks by a ranger.
The TC Robertson Nature Reserve lies right on the edge of Scottburgh on the south bank of the Mapambanyoni River, between the N2 and the R102.
Umdoni Nature Reserve, Tel. 039 312 2323
There is an extensive network of trails through Umdoni. The forest birding is one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. Mammals on the estate include bush buck and blue duiker.
Weza-Ngele Forest, Tel. 039 312 2322
A network of trails and forestry roads pass through the forest varying between 1.2 km and 16 km in length. A wealth of colourful forest birds-and more! Many a quiet corner can be found to delight the prospective birder secret lagoons, sheltered forests, rugged wooded gorges and rolling open grasslands offer a wealth of birdlife. Here one will find some of the best birdwatching spots to be experienced in Southern Africa.