If you in KwaZulu-Natal in April, I recommend you go on a weekend hike. Many international tourists are incorporating their hikes to their South African holiday, sharing stories of their country with locals. Recently, I have incorporated hiking into my fitness regime. There is something about nature that makes me fall in love with it every single time and it does help that my fitness levels are slowly, but surely increasing with every hike.
The Durban Ramblers who organise guided hiking and walking trips have their hikes on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. I decided to join them one Saturday afternoon. Our 6km hike started from the Stella Sports Bar in Berea to Pigeon Valley, a natural heritage park and formally declared municipal nature reserve in Durban. It is home to red and blue duiker. I meet the group of people outside the bar.
You would be surprised at the diverse group of people who join these hikes and they welcome you to the fold like you are the returning prodigal son. I felt like I was part of a community with people from different races and ages. I met many new friends, including a Canadian couple who was visiting the country for two weeks. They wanted to incorporate their hikes to their holiday and could not stop raving about Durban's hidden gems. Newbie Nomfundo Sipunzi from Westville was my walking partner as it was our first time with the group. However, by the end of the hike we made friends with so many members of the group that we lost count. This particular walk is classified a grade 2, so it was not as strenuous or grueling as their Sunday walks. The hike was a breeze, except for the climbing of hills, but I managed.
Walking in Pigeon Valley was magical as we spotted birds, red duiker, verket monkeys and water mongoose. What's great about their hiking trails is that there are new hiking trails every week. This is a bonus for adventure travellers who want to view the scenery during their hikes. Durban Ramblers started in 1932 with their focus on all hikers- whether you are a beginner to a seasoned hiker. Sunday hikes are generally for the enthusiast. They offer hikes ranging from 12km to 20km. over terrain that varies from well trodden to wild. Saturday hikes cater for hikers at all levels and range from 8km to 14km. It starts at 2pm and ends at 5pm so one can spend the rest their mornings experiencing more adventures. Wednesday hikes are popular for retired folk or those working flexible hours. The hikes are carefully chosen to expose members not only to the popular trails that abound our fair province but also to new and challenging trails that are constantly being developed by our trail leaders.
Where to go:
15 April: A walk around the newly created Westville trail. Meet and park at the Westville country Club at 13.45. 083 353 8319.
22 April: Nkonka trail: Meet at the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve Picnic spot at 13.45. The hike goes up to the escarpment, along veld and to the Nkonka Falls. Entrance fee to the reserve R25.00. 084 478 6779.
29 April: Saurus Pools - KKNR Ann New Hike. Meet at the Uve Road Car Park of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve at 13.45. Walk down to Saurus Pools and back again. R25.00 entrance fee to the reserve. 083 666 5630.
6 May: Assagay Coffee farm. Meet and park at Assagay Coffee farm. 084 952 0622.
13 May: Crowned Eagle Nature Reserve. Something different in a guided walk through the privately owned Crowned Eagle Conservancy taking in the indigenous flora and fauna and areas of historical interest. Meet and park at the Gillitts Post office at 13.45. 082 417 0204.
For more information, visit http://durbanramblers.co.za/