By Myrtle Ryan
Durban - Because it is so close to Durban, many people feel Howick hardly warrants a nod. Instead they head for the Midlands Meander.
Given the rising cost of petrol, it might be rewarding to unpack your bags and venture no further than the attractive town.
An ideal way to show youngsters nature is to book into the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.
The greater part of the reserve lies in the spectacular gorge below the 95m Howick Falls, which the original Zulu inhabitants referred to as kwaNogqaza or “The place of the tall one”. The uplands section is mainly rolling plateau grasslands and the cottages have fine views.
Hit the trails and you might spot antelope, zebra and giraffe. Head for the environmental education centre for the indigenous tree trail and check the skies for the many species of birds, among them the crowned eagle.
The town lends itself to a stroll. While some of the trees have been cut down – to the dismay of residents – it remains a leafy destination; and you don’t have to go far to enjoy fine food at the restaurants.
The falls, of course, are the main attraction. Stroll down to the bottom of the garden at Yellowwood Cafe for a different view of the falls.
My favourite is to walk down to the river, on the path below the Gorge View Restaurant. This takes you through some indigenous forest, allows you to boulder hop and then look up at the water spilling over the lip of the gorge.
The children might enjoy a round of putt-putt on the course in the bush.
In addition to the Umgeni Valley chalets, a good option is The Best Little B&B in Town, in lovely gardens. Then, even though I had been determined not to leave town, a friend had raved so about Blueberry Cafe, I could not resist.
Just outside Nottingham Road, on top of a hill, the Blueberry Cafe has magnificent views to the Drakensberg, rolling hills and dams and is the perfect place to chill and have a light meal or a cup of coffee.