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A watery wonderland

Durban - Ncandu Falls can be found in the 3 000ha Ncandu State Forest Nature Reserve, in a valley about 32km from Newcastle, on the northern Drakensberg escarpment.

After attending a wedding, I found myself in Newcastle with time on my hands and took the opportunity to tour the town, which is known for its cultural mix, heritage homes and history.

A peaceful view from one of the many trails you can follow around Ncandu, Falls not far from Newcastle. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Driving from here, we spotted a dilapidated board pointing to the falls and decided to investigate.

Maintained by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the waterfall is about 30m high and considered part of Chelmsford Dam, which is 40km away.

We followed a lovely path around bushes and boulders to the base – 45 minutes down a steep slope.

Though we went in summer, the clear water was too cold to swim in. But the area is a magnet for daredevils – youngsters were diving off a cliff into the water, and we saw rafters out in force on the river.

There are braai and picnic areas.

The reserve is the second-largest indigenous forest in KwaZulu-Natal and home to three species of yellowwood and the white stinkwood, which grows to an impressive height.

Many trails take you past sandstone cliffs and the waterfall. Birds that can be spotted include Olive Woodpecker, Heuglin’s Robin, Bush Blackcap, African Wood Owl and Bush Blackcap, as well as the elusive Cape Parrot.

You can also take boardwalks for a stunning view from the roof of the forest.

Accommodation is available nearby, at Chelmsford Dam and in Newcastle.

Chelmsford Dam has eight five-bed chalets and two camp sites on the northern shore and four five-bed chalets and a camp site to the south, all fully equipped. The dam is noted for carp fishing and the 1 000ha game reserve is stocked with game such as wildebeest, rhino, zebra, jackal and springbok. Sailing, powerboating, swimming and skiing are permitted on the dam. - Sunday Tribune

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