Chelmsford Nature Reserve, March 2013

Tall grass and thick mist – a wonderful long-weekend retreat!


We recently spent a very relaxing long weekend at one of our favourite small wild places, the beautiful and little-known Chelmsford Nature Reserve in the north-west of Kwazulu-Natal Province.

The reserve must have received good rainfall during the summer, as almost the entire area was covered in tall, green grass, which made it difficult to get good sightings (and photographs) of Chelmsford’s star attraction: the oribi, a small and endangered species of antelope.

Chelmsford Oribi

Chelmsford Oribi

Chelmsford Oribi

Chelmsford Oribi

We spent three nights in our comfortable chalet, one of only eight at the Leokop Camp on the bank of the Ntshingwayo Dam. The reserve also offers shady campsites at the dam’s edge, and it is easy to see why so many people enjoy pitching a tent or unhitching their caravan in such an idyllic setting.

The reserve doesn’t have any dangerous large animals, allowing visitors to walk or cycle around among the game to their hearts’ content. Plains zebra, blesbok, springbok and black wildebeest were plentiful, and we also had numerous, if fleeting, sightings of smaller animals like the oribi, cape fox, and a number of mongooses.




Plains Zebra

Chelmsford is also a renowned bird-watching destination, and during our stay we ticked of more than 70 feathered species including a variety of raptors.

Surrounding a large body of water and with the mornings here in South Africa turning rather chilly now, it wasn’t surprising to find the reserve blanketed in thick fog every morning.

We’ve always found a visit to Chelmsford to be well worth our while and we will definitely return as often as we possibly can – a resolution our latest visit reaffirmed.

Dewy spider's web

Dewy spider’s web

Dewdrops on spider's web

Dewdrops on spider’s web

Have a look at an earlier blogpost of ours on Chelmsford here, if you’d like to read more of our impressions of this wonderful nature reserve. During our visit, we tried to post a daily photo as well, which you may not have seen yet: 21/03/2013, 22/03/2013 and 23/03/2013.

17 thoughts on “Chelmsford Nature Reserve, March 2013

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Hi Jasmin!

      We’ve been to Chelmsford in every season of the year, and found it a lovely experience every time. Of course, outside school holidays and long weekends there are far fewer visitors and much more peace and quiet. Like most South African reserves, the vegetation is most open during the dry winter season, allowing the best game viewing. Summer is lush and green, with an influx of summer bird migrants. Some road sections in the game viewing area can get muddy and slippery during the rains though.

      I can’t think of anything that would make it difficult for the elderly to visit Chelmsford. The chalet parking is right at each unit’s kitchen door, so unpacking the provisions from the car is easily achieved. There’s only a few steps to the reception office’s entrance and the picnic and fishing areas, and camping sites, all have spacious flat areas that should be easy to walk. Newcastle is an easy fifteen minutes drive away, is one of the bigger towns in Kwazulu-Natal and has all the modern conveniences in terms of emergency health care you could need.

      Are you planning a visit to Chelmsford?


    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Pieter! I noticed you were “bragging” about not staying in one of the big cities on your blog and wondered where you could be staying that’s close to the Drakensberg… Now I have a much better idea ;-).



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