KwaZulu Natal has some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa, and a multitude of hiking and walking trails are within a short distance from Durban’s city centre. Options range from rambles to day hikes to multi-day excursions.
It’s now possible to walk along the beachfront all the way from the Suncoast Casino to uShaka Marine World. This gentle and pleasant walk is filled plenty to see and do, from the outdoor gym where locals and tourists alike gather to work out, to stopping points at a multitude of places to eat and drink.
Runners, walkers and cyclists frequent this beautifully paved promenade, soaking up the sun and gentle ocean breezes.
Other popular spots include the Amphitheatre Flea market, where you can pick up souvenirs and trinkets; several piers where you can stroll out to emjoy the views and watch local fisherman; and Mini Town, which provides a miniature version of Durban’s best-loved attractions.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve is a 253 hectare reserve in Yellowwood Park, offering walking trails up to four hours duration, plus opportunities for bird watching and picnics.
Proclaimed in 1963, the area offers fine examples of coastal forest and grassland habitats for many species of plants and animals. Notable species are zebra, bushbuck, reedbuck, impala, blue, red and grey duiker,vervet monkey, rock hyrax, slender mongoose, bushbaby, egyptian mongoose, banded mongoose, water monitor and genet. The reserve has an wide variety of indigenous flora and over 200 bird species on record.
There are 13 km of nature walks and a pleasant picnic site is available. A walk for the physically disabled has been specially designed. There is also a 10km mountain bike trail which is fairly challenging in places. An entrance fee is charged at the entrance gate, where visitors can obtain maps, plant and animal lists from the Field Ranger.
Umhlanga is Zulu for ‘place of reeds’, and this is reflected by the copious numbers of reeds that grow on the banks of Ohlange River in the reserve. It is a sanctuary not only for small wildlife but also for a number of wetland and coastal forest species.
Although the reserve only measure 26 hectares, the trails are spectacular and lead through dune forest, across the lagoon and onto the beach. The entrance gates lie just beyond the Breakers Hotel on Lagoon Drive and from there the Umhlanga Lagoon Trail passes many labelled trees. There is also a picnic site.
Bird watchers will be delighted with the more than 208 bird species who make the reserve their home, as do blue and grey duiker, bushbuck and other smaller mammals.
Daily guided walks through Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve are available, at 9am, 11am and 3pm that take roughly an hour and a half – ask at the Breakers Hotel reception area.
The Umhlanga Ponds lie just beyond the reserve, whilst over the freeway on the corner of Portland Drive and Herald Drive is a wonderful, preserved piece of ancient forest known as Hawaan Forest.
Just inland of Durban, on the coastal escarpment between Pinetown and Hillcrest, is the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. It is the meeting place of two river gorges and is covered by dense forest and vegetation.
The reserve’s 584 hectares a fine example of coastal forest and grasslands. It boasts an abundance of wildlife, including zebra, bushbuck, blue, red and grey duiker, vervet monkey, rock hyrax, slender mongoose, white-tailed mongoose, egyptian mongoose, banded mongoose, water monitor and genet. Birdlife is abundant, with over 200 species on record.
The best known attraction at Krantzkloof are the well-developed picnic areas at the head of Kloof Falls and Nkutu Falls. There are a number of marked trails leaving from the two picnic sites which allow visitors the chance to view the falls or descend into the gorge, following the river course.
The trails within the Reserve are marked with coloured markers making them suitable for self-guided walks. Alternatively, guided walks are offered on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month. The first Sunday is a strenuous six hour walk and is recommended for fit walkers only while the 3rd Sunday is a more relaxed 3-4 hour walk which can be enjoyed by all.
A massive reserve at 2,189 ha, Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is the jewel in the KwaZulu-Natal south coast protected areas crown. The reserve boasts a wide variety of different habitats, including scarp forest, extensive grasslands, rivers, wetlands, cliff faces, and dams which provide a haven for a wide variety of wildlife which exist in the reserve.
Game animals that occur in the reserve include: zebra, blue wildebeest, bushbuck, blesbuck, impala, blue duiker, black backed jackal, dassies, mountain and common reedbuck and many more. Due to its wide variety of habitats over 300 bird species have been recorded in the reserve.
A nature trail network of 15 km features an excellent picnic site with braai and ablution facilities. In addition to this the is also the Nyengelezi hutted camp, which provides 20 beds, and tucked away in the forest is a self-contained 7 bed tree house.
Most visitors start their walks either from the hutted camp, picnic site or reception office. Visitors can choose trails which can vary from one hours to six hours. The trails traverse a wide variety of habitats in the reserve, from open grassland, parkland and forest. All of the trails are clearly signposted, and are maintained on a regular basis.
Durban Green Corridor has a variety of locations for a day out enjoying guided nature trails. Perfect for families and those looking to get into the great outdoors, learn about nature or just for something special to do over the weekend.
Durban Green Corridors Guided Nature Trails start at approximately two hours and cover relatively easy terrain. Hiking trails along the uMngeni River, Inanda dam and deep valleys are ideal places to get away from the crowds and enjoy African nature.