Just because winter is around the corner and Durbanites are starting to dig out their woollies, exploring the outdoors is still a fantastic way to spend a day or two. It may be a bit chilly in the mornings and evenings, but the rest of the day’s mild temperatures make it a perfect time of year to head into the outdoors and get some fresh air and exercise.
So what is there to do the Valley of a 1000 Hills? How does a hike through nature strike you? Or maybe a little boating or fishing? Or possibly even challenge your go-karting skills, go quad-biking and maybe even zoom through the air on a zipline. What ever floats your boat, here are some our suggestions on getting out and back to nature in the Valley of a 1000 Hills.
- Hiking through Krantzkloof Nature Reserve.
- Enjoy swimming, fishing and boating at Inanda Dam.
- Spend a day enjoying adrenaline fueled excitement at Highstakes Venue.
- Explore the bird life at Springside Nature Reserve.
- Go-Karting at Watercrest Mall.
Hiking at Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
Durbanites are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking and walking trails, almost every suburb has a natural trail of some sort nearby. For the visitors to the Valley of a 1000 Hills, it’s the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. Managed by Ezemvelo, Krantzkloof has a number of trails to choose from which will suit all levels of fitness. Some of the trails follow the Molweni River while others follow the cliffs alongside the river.
It may be a little confusing but there are two entrances to Krantzkloof; the first is Nqutu Pinic Site in Valley Drive, Forest Hills. The second (and by far the most popular) is the Kloof Falls Picnic site in Kloof Falls Road, Kloof. A word of warning though, parking is limited and there is a no waiting rule to avoid traffic congestion so it’s best to get there early, or better yet park at the Watercrest Mall and catch an Uber to the entrance.
The trails are for the most part really easy to negotiate even for the unfit (yup, I’m talking about me) and there is so much to see, from birds (think Crowned Eagles, the Narina Trogon, Turaco’s and much more. What is also fun is identifying tree species (many trees have a marker on them identifying them) and if you’re up to the challenge, try name the various butterflies that flutter about.
There some things you should know before heading to Krantzkloof;
- There is an entry fee (R50 per adult, R20 per child at the time of writing) cash only.
- A map is available for R20.
- No picnicking at the site.
- Open at at 6am, gates close at 12pm, and all visitors must have left by 3pm.
- Limited parking,
- Only 10 visitors per day.
- There are no shops to buy water, snacks etc.
It’s worth looking at the website to get up to date information on opening times, costs etc. Follow this link for the website.
Inanda Dam is one of my favorite places to visit, summer or winter, but I may be a bit bias since it’s only 15 minutes from where I live and I’m an avid bass fisherman. It’s about 15 minutes from Waterfall, maybe 25 minutes from Hillcrest and roughly 45 minutes from Durban.
Inanda Dam is managed by Msinsi and has to be one of the best maintained dams in their management portfolio (not that the others are worse, just different). Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing and camping at the dam, or if you’re like my better half, just simply lay int he sun and enjoy a good book.
There are some trails at the Msinsi Dam site but they are not very well kept, I don’t think too many people actually walk them at all. Mostly families congregate around the convenient braai stands under the shade giving acacias where they just enjoy the day out.
There is a charge to enter the Msinsi resort section and for those that do wand to fish, a fishing license will need to be purchased. Boaters will also need to ensure the boats have their certification and that captains have their licenses. Life jackets must be worn on the boats.
What you should know;
- At the time of writing the entry fee was R42 per person and cash and card are accepted.
- There are plenty of picnic sites and braai facilities.
- Great bathrooms that are pretty well maintained.
- No shops on site to buy anything.
- Fishing license required (can be purchased at the gate).
- Boating paperwork must be up to date.
- The website can be found here -> Msinsi Inanda Dam.
Stay in Durban’s fastest growing tourism destination
There is so much to do in the Valley of a 1000 Hills that you’ll need to stay for more than a day. We have great accommodation options available, from B&B’s to hotels, self-catering to backpackers and everything in-between. Easy access to the N3 means Durban is just 20 minutes away, and best of all, you’ll be staying in one of the healthiest climates in the world. So click the link to view all the accommodation options available and book today!
Highstakes Venue is one of those places where no descriptions can do it justice. Quad biking, 4×4 trails, clay pigeon shooting, archery…honestly you just need to get yourself there and experience it for yourself.
Highstakes is some 60km from Durban; jump onto the N3 west until the R103 exit comes up at Cato Ridge, then left along the R103 until you see the signs. We recently did the trip in about 60 minutes from Durban North.
Rates differ for all the different activities so it’s best to check the website or call ahead. Highstakes are open 7 days a week and are only closed on the 25th December; they are open from 8am to 4:30pm.
I didn’t know this at the time, but Highstakes offers accommodation and conferencing facilities. Imagine having a corporate team event at Highstakes, you could do some presentations and then go shoot some clay pigeons, what a way to spend a work day!
Springside Nature Reserve
Proclimed in 1948, Springside Nature Reserve is 20ha of rich biodiversity – at least that is what the website description reads. All I know is that it one of the best spots in Hillcrest to get back to nature and explore the trails and do a little bird watching.
Situated almost slap-bang in the center of what is no longer the “village” of Hillcrest (it’s a bustling suburb/town in it’s own right these days) it’s easy to get to and you can easily forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life in just minutes. Springside Nature Reserve is also a special place for me as it’s where I did my practical tour guiding exam for nature guiding way back when.
Walking the trail has you making your way through grasslands and then wetlands and then forested areas. Loads of birds are usually about and if you get bored of them, you can learn about the different grasses and trees about as well. Every now and again guided walks will be arranged (click this link for more info) where for a small fee you can enjoy the trail accompanied by a bird guide, this makes the walks really come alive.
Good to know
- Open year round.
- Opens 7:30am and closes at 4pm.
- There is a entry / donation fee of R20 per person.
- For directions to the park and other info, visit the website here.
KZN Karting at Watercrest Mall
Although not strictly speaking “outdoors” as such, karting at Watercrest Mall is a fantastic way to kill a few fun filled hours.
Situated in the lower level parking lot, you can strap on a helmet and slide into a kart and start testing your skill in beating the lap times, or just beat your family members which is sometimes more fun. At present I am our families karting champion though some
sore losers family members have sworn to get even.
Karting is even a fun way to hold corporate events, I mean how sweet would victory of your boss be? another popular idea is birthday parties for both boys and girls, let them test their mettle against one another; they’ll need these skills for when they one day share the road with other users!
Good to know
- Various options are available so check out the KZN karting website here.
- Group bookings are available.
- There is an age limit, children should be 10 years or older (and a height limit).
There is a lot more to the Valley of a 1000 Hills than meets the eye. If you’re looking for a holiday destination that offers wildlife, shopping, food, adventure and culture, well you’re in the right place. And best of all, the Valley of a 1000 Hills is just 20 min west of the busy city of Durban.
Images sourced from “unsplash.com” and were not taken at the venues described.