It is a gorgeous day in Durban, with temperatures around 30 degrees. My friend and I are driving home from King Shaka International Airport when we spot a sign that says uMhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve. Nestled among uMhlanga’s string of hotels and holiday homes, this hidden gem became a nature reserve in 1980. We maneuver our way through traffic and drive towards the reserve.
We jump out of the car and make our way down the reserve. We spot a few trail runners and parents with their children. The clean Durban air is just what I need. The shade along the route keeps the sun at bay, making the exploring much more bearable. As we wander through the wetlands to the dune forest, I hear birds sing a morning song. When we enter the Hawaan forest in the nature reserve, bees and other flying insects glide pass us. The forest is a delight to walk through, and while not dressed for the impromptu walk,we savour every moment.
During the walk, we hear the calming sounds of the ocean and decide to investigate. As we venture uphill, we discover a hidden paradise. Staring in front of us is the sandy shores of the uMhlanga beach. This stretch is away from the infamous lighthouse and perfect for those who seek peace and quiet.
The clear blue waters, coupled with a light wind, is euphoric. This image stirs up nostalgic feelings of beach trips with the family as a child. In minutes, we are in the warm Indian Ocean. We take in the waves, the sunlight and the vast ocean before us.
Those who do not want to frolic at the beach can continue their walk into the forest, where they will see trees like the thorny elms, buffalo thorns and coastal red milkwoods. There is also about 300 recorded bird species in the park.
If you are lucky, you may spot the blue duiker, the smallest antelope in South Africa.The reserve is great for bird watching, picnicking, trail running and self guided walks. This Northern KZN gem ticks all the right boxes. It is the perfect family outing, a place to clear your thoughts or a spot for that romantic stroll.