Six of the best day walks and hikes in Durban

Posted on 3 February 2012

With the Drakensberg within spitting distance, Durban’s never cracked it as a hiking destination. But the city has a surprising number of lush, tropical reserves abounding with birds and game where you can enjoy beautiful walks.

Beachfront promenade

Durbs is all about the beaches and walking the recently revamped Beachfront Promenade is the way to appreciate this splendour to the full. The six-kilometre paved walkway links Blue Lagoon in the north, to uShaka in the south, taking you past Suncoast, Battery, North, Dairy, New, South and Addington beaches. There is parking all the way, so you can shorten your walk or toss your shoes and hop down onto the sand at any point.

Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

There are a number of short marked walks in this pretty reserve, southwest of Durban, including the 5,5-kilometre Mkumbi Trail. It passes a dam and wetland area alive with waterbirds, grasslands on which you see zebra and various antelope, and a section of coastal forest leading down to the Umhlatuzana River. The reserve also has mountainbiking trails, so keep your eyes peeled for enthusiastic cyclists at intersections. There is a small fee for the trail.

Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve

Although right on the edge of the holiday town of Umhlanga, this little piece of wilderness is a refuge for many wetland and coastal forest species and is a popular destination for families. From the entrance on Lagoon Drive, the trail goes past a picnic area and crosses a wooden boardwalk before cutting into coastal forest, home to vervet monkeys, small buck and butterflies. Many of the trees on the trail have identification labels, so it’s a fun, educational ramble.

Krantzkloof Nature Reserve

This reserve to the west of Durban protects the forested gorges carved by the Molweni and Nkutu rivers and has an abundance of wildlife, including zebra, bushbuck, blue, red and grey duiker as well as more than 200 bird species. The strenuous, six-kilometre Molweni Trail starts at the main picnic area and drops through thick indigenous forest to the bottom of Kloof Falls in the valley, where there are numerous rock pools in which to swim. The reserve is also home to some rare trees such as the Natal quince (Dahlgrenodendron natalensi).

Vernon Crookes

This extensive reserve is an hour south of Durban, but it’s worth the drive. The grasslands and coastal forests are home to 56 mammal and 350 confirmed bird species, including a number of raptors such as crowned and Martial eagles. One of the best walks is the Hlathikulu Trail, a 4,2-kilometre circular trail that offers spectacular views from the open ridges, interspersed with dense forested sections with their resident fauna.

Durban Green Corridor

A new network of guided trails allows hikers to enjoy the uMngeni basin, stretching inland from the beachfront all the way to the outer west boundary in the vicinity of Cato Ridge. There are three sections, each with separate hubs. The first is the Green Hub, from where various loops of two to 25 kilometres lead along the river and into the Beachwood Mangrove Reserve. Once you’re on the riverbank it’s hard to believe you’re in the city and passing through an industrial area. You can spot a number of birds, small mammals and even crocodiles.

Then there’s a network of trails around the Inanda Dam and the Matabethule plateau, radiating out from the eNanda Adventures Trail Centre. The Isithumba Adventures Centre, at the Isithumba Village, is the hub for the upper section of trails, between Mfula Store and Marianne- Foley Causeway. Entrance is R20 for adults, R10 for kids and a guide is R50 an hour for a group of six. Tel 031-311-4235, [email protected],
Photo by Shaen Adey

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