The Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve was established in 1976 by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa. To this day it remains one of our country’s foremost environmental education centres and thousands of learners participate in a variety of courses presented here annually.
The reserve lies on the outskirts of the town of Howick in the Natal Midlands and is easily accessible from the main N3-highway. It covers an area of just 759 hectares stretching along the course of the Umgeni River below the Howick Falls (in itself worth a visit). Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve protects a variety of habitats including dense riverine thickets, open woodland, thorn-veld, grasslands and towering cliffs. Giraffe, monkeys, zebras and numerous antelope have found a home in the Umgeni Valley, and among the 270 bird species that have been recorded in the reserve are to be found raptors like the Crowned, Fish and Verreaux’s Eagles.
Visitors can enjoy a picnic or tackle one of the seven different walking trails of varying difficulty, fly-fishing (strictly on a catch-and-release basis), mountain biking or rock-climbing. Guided game-viewing drives are available while a gravel road (negotiable, slowly and carefully, in a standard sedan vehicle), five kilometres in length, stretches from the reserve entrance along the edge of the gorge, offering scenic views of the valley and the river below. Accommodation in the reserve ranges from the dormitories used by visiting school groups to rustic bush camps, cottages and self-catering chalets.