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Parks & Wilderness Areas of KwaZulu Natal


Parks & Wilderness Areas of South Africa

The nature of South Africa's conserved areas varies enormously. Many are rugged wilderness areas that are the preserve of hardy mountaineers. Others, particularly those around the dams and populated areas, are easily accessible to all.

There are wonderful botanical gardens and green corridors in the big cities. Some are playgrounds or places to sit with binoculars and watch the birds and the world go by. Most boast captivating landscapes and geological formations or host unique flora or fauna. Many are devoted to preserving rock art and other examples of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

It’s the big game parks that attract the most visitors. The Kruger National Park and KwaZulu-Natal reserves are perhaps the best known of this type, but there are numerous other reserves in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Eastern Cape where you can see the Big 5.

Although game viewing is also popular in the Northern and Western Cape, the reserves in these provinces are as much about the spectacular scenery, open spaces, starry skies and extraordinary spring flower displays.

Many of the reserves are steeped in history. Historic battlefields are a feature of many of the reserves in KwaZulu-Natal. The province’s Drakensberg Mountains are a veritable outdoor gallery, home to the largest collection of bushman rock art in the world. There is also a high concentration of magnificent paintings in caves throughout the Cederberg Wilderness area. Sites like Mapungubwe National Park are as famous for their archaeological treasures as for their natural heritage.  So, whaterver your interests, there is bound to be something to suite your taste.

Articles & Blogs

iSimangaliso Birding

Valda 9:55pm 30 Oct

Words and pics Peter Chadwick 

A flock of prehistoric-looking Greater Flamingos flew low across Lake St Lucia, where I stood barefoot on the wooden jetty near Charters Creek.

On the muddy beaches in the early light, I could see the spoor of hippo, crocodile, waterbuck, Burchell’s zebra, common reedbuck, porcupine and water mongoose – signs of the rich life in what is one of South Africa’s most diverse and special places...

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iSimangaliso - Remarkable Victory for Nature

Valda 7:12pm 19 Jun

Judge Mohini Moodley has dismissed the application by uMfolozi Sugar Planters UCOSP and two farmers against the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, and the Departments of Environment Affairs, Water and Sanitation, Rural Land Reform and Development and Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. In her closing on Friday 20 May 2016, Moodley concluded that the interim relief had run its course and dismissed the main application along with two others. Reasons for the judgement and costs would follow.

Moodley noted that this matter had demanded a great deal from iSimangaliso and UCOSP and that...

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In the Place of Miracles

Valda 9:16pm 8 Nov

Words Anita De Villiers, pics Anita De Villiers and supplied

It was the elephant breeding
herd that rumbled a welcome 
to iSimangaliso’s Western Shores. They moved like shadows in 
the twilight, only an arm’s 
length away, their presence so close 
to us we could feel their ancient bond 
with this place. 

“Elephant invasion of Makakatana Bay Lodge is a regular occurrence,” said owner Hugh Morrison, who had been rather busy with some refurbishing after a pachyderm visit just the previous week. But the adrenalin surge had boosted the...

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Crazy about Cobham

Nightjar Travel 9:30am 3 Feb

"Who wants to spend New Years in the heart of the Southern Drakensberg in a rustic house surrounded by mountains, rivers and horses?"

Uh, that would definitely be me, please!

Introducing the hidden treasure that is known as Cobham. Situated just outside of Underberg, KZN, this rustic house ­ composed of many dorm rooms and minimal electricity ­is an ideal holiday option for large groups of friends. We chose to see in 2015 by staying at this beautiful corner of heaven, completing our time there with swims in the river, gentle hikes to a waterfall and socialising with the horses...

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Get Your Feet Wet

Valda 10:56pm 17 Jul

Words Fiona McIntosh

After a 10-year absence, Fiona McIntosh returns to iSimangaliso Wetland Park to discover that this ecological hot spot really does live up to its name, Place of Miracle and Wonder.

Did you know?

iSimangaliso Wetland Park:

• is home to one of Africa’s largest estuaries, Lake St Lucia
• has the largest congregation of hippos and crocodiles in South Africa
• is the last significant breeding ground in Africa for leatherback and logger-head turtles
• comprises eight interlinking ecosystems
• boasts three major lake...

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Ndumo: Place of Plenty

Valda 9:55pm 20 Mar

Words and Pictures Leon Marshall

The setting sun is a red ball through smoke in the Lebombo Mountains, when I bring the overladen pushcart to a halt at the hut’s front steps in the Ndumo Game Reserve. I do not fancy doing more trips than necessary from the car park. From the stoep next door a man compliments me on my handling of the contraption. It’s a wheelbarrow with wooden slats fitted across it for luggage to be heaped the way station porters do it.

He introduces himself as Beyers Hofmeyer. He is much taken with Ndumo, a small reserve in the far north-eastern corner of...

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Policeman's Helmet

Nightjar Travel 6:45am 6 Jan

Policeman's Helmet, Royal Natal National Park.

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Lions in uMkhuze!

Nightjar Travel 1:02pm 5 Dec

iSimangaliso Wetland Park – South Africa’s newest Big Five destination

Yesterday I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The place was uMkhuze, a section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The time was the release of four lion that had been relocated from Tembe Elephant Park. Now witnessing animals take their first steps in a new home is always exciting. But this wasn’t any old release; it was the moment when the park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, achieved Big Five destination...

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Nightjar Travel 5:55am 10 Sep

Ndumo Nature Reserve

A rather small and ‘quieter’ reserve compared to others, Ndumo has something unique and mysterious about it. It also has the highest bird count in South Africa at 430, and so is known to many as a birder's paradise. The wetlands, pans, acacia savannah, thick bush and sand forests provide a home to ‘smaller’ animals such as nyala, hippos, duiker, giraffe and 66 recorded species of mosquito (who knew!) If you ever visit make sure to go on a guided walk with veteran Sonto Tembe, his mimicking of bird calls is truly inspired.

 – Megan...

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Kosi Bay Nature Reserve

Nightjar Travel 5:55am 7 Aug

Found on the northern part of the KwaZulu Natal coast the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is in essence based around a huge interlocking lake system. The reserve is part of the iSimangliso Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and is a series of channels that join four lakes together eventually running out into the sea. Mangroves, coastal forests and crystal clear water make the Kosi Bay an ideal place for a ‘beachish’ holiday. There is excellent snorkeling inside the estuary right by the river mouth, a surprising and unique spot to find a variety of colourful fish and eels.

 – Megan...

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Albert Falls

Wild Card Magazine 9:09am 15 Apr

Did you know that there’s a wonderfully wild getaway within an hour’s drive from Durban? Albert Falls Dam is surrounded by thornveld and grassveld, an oasis that draws birds (and birders) from far. There are at least 280 species on the bird list and specials include secretary bird, osprey and pelican. There aren’t any fences between the visitors area and Notuli Game Park, so zebra graze on the lawns and you could game view from your chalet. Most of the activities centre around the sparkling dam – fishing...

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shane 7:57am 25 Oct

Words and pics by Scott Ramsay

Shadows moved quickly across the land and the blackness of night lurked on the eastern horizon. But right then, time stood still as three white rhinos drifted into view. The beasts emerged slowly from the acacia woodland onto the river bank, their horns scything the twilight air.

Not 20 metres of braided riverbed separated our campsite from the bull, cow and calf. Moments earlier, our group of hikers had been chatting away. Now we...

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