The Valley of 1000 Hills

Posted by Teagan Cunniffe on 5 July 2017 Tags:,

In a place where the Umgeni River meets the Msunduzi River, thousands live in quiet tradition amidst seldom-explored mountains spreading as far as the eye can see. The Valley of 1000 Hills is most frequently associated with Inanda Dam, the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Comrades Marathon. On a recent portfolio story for Getaway, I wanted to showcase what else you can do in this area, and just how beautiful this valley is.

For Durbanites, the unexpected panoramas and river crossings make it well worth a Sunday drive. You can find more route information on Durban Green Corridor’s website.

Here are some of the images from the portfolio, published in the March 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Sound carries far here. Sitting on the edge of the steep Monteseel cliffs, you’re removed from – yet oddly a part of – the KwaNyuswa community as the clamour of roosters, cars, dogs and people reaches your ears.

Rock climbing happens along certain parts of these cliffs and a footpath winds its way along the lip of the gorge at Monteseel.

Traditional healers have a strong influence within the community. I met Gugu Ndlovu at her home, where she shared the story of her journey to becoming a healer. Many visit her, mainly on the weekends, for guidance from the amadlozi (ancestral spirits).

The Umgeni River is an integral part of daily life, as well as the annual water-churning frenzy of the Dusi Canoe Marathon. Rapids pool to stillness here in this section of Inanda Dam, before picking up again on its journey towards the sea.

Officially starting from Cato Ridge, the valley undulates its way down towards Kloof, ending in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve (pictured here) where numerous day-trails lead to viewpoints, swimming holes and waterfalls.

The dirt road runs adjacent to the river, sometimes crossing it and sometimes peering down from cliffs at its winding snake far below. Just carry on following the dirt road – it only gets more beautiful.

Overlooking the gorge at Krantzview (left) and high up on the mountain following the dirt road that runs past mountains tipped with granite heads.

LEFT: Overlooking the gorge at Krantzview. RIGHT: High up on the mountain following the dirt road that runs past mountains tipped with granite heads.

LEFT: The Light Providers is a community education initiative run by Vuk’Afrika Tours, who took me on a tour through the KwaNyuswa section of the valley. RIGHT: Up in Hillcrest, you’ll find the Woza Moya Craft shop, which aims to uplift those suffering from AIDS in the community.

Every year in April these aloes flower in a shower of orange. They overlook the valley below, commonly shrouded in early-morning mist. Thanks to landscape photographer Carl Smorenburg for the location tip.

The valley wakes as the sun warms up the air, sluggishly pushing off its blanket of mist. The changing pressure speeds the eager wind on as it rushes up the cliffs.

More from our March issue:


This story first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

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Our March issue features a self-catering trip to the Seychelles that you can afford, a Karoo secret retreat, learning to fly-fish in Rhodes and a Joburg road trip for beer lovers.