Umtamvuna Nature Reserve
The most southerly nature reserve in KZN, Umtavuna's 3,247 hectares lie alongside its name-sake river and mark the border with the Eastern Cape. The coastal strip becomes evermore lush the further south you travel and Umtamvuna is testament to that. A haven of botanical diversity with a rich display of spring flowers along a stretch of riverine forest and steep rocky cliffs. Come for the flora and the walking trails that can last from an hour to a whole day. Eyes peeled for breeding Cape vulture and fish eagle as well as bushbuck, baboon, duiker and samango monkeys.
Prices: R10 per adult, R5 per child entry fee payable at the gate.
Contact: Outside Port Edward on Eastern Cape border.
Drakensberg walking trails
This mountain range forms the backbone of eastern South Africa, running from the Eastern Cape all the way up through Lesotho, KZN, Swaziland, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. There are literally thousands of kilometres of walking trails and some of the best are to be found towering over the KZN Midlands. Everything from half-hour strolls to hard-core multi-day hikes are available and the four main reserve camps sell detailed maps. Keen hikers should order a map before you travel to South Africa to really see what's on offer and to plan your expedition.
Prices: Laminated maps (go on - spoil yourself!) cost around R50 and you will have to pay if you wish to join longer, guided walks.
Contact: Royal Natal National Park, off R74 at Bergville, 036-438-6310
Cathedral Peak, off R600 at Winterton, 036-488-8012/4
Giants Castle, off R103 at Rosetta, 036-353-3718
Cobham Nature Reserve, off R617 at Himeville, 033-702-0831
To order maps call central reservations on 033-845-1000
For specific enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosi Bay Hike
Kosi Bay Nature Reserve drips with greenery and hums with bird- and wildlife. Surrounding the Kosi lake system in northern KwaZulu Natal, it's hemmed in to the north by Mozambique and to the east by the Indian Ocean and the four-day hike on offer circumnavigates almost the entire Kosi system. It'll take some planning as it has to be booked and you need to take all of your own food and kit.
- The first night, your arrival date, is spent at the Nhlange base camp where there are rustic ablutions and a kitchenette with a two-plate gas cooker, frying pan, two pots and a kettle. Day One heads 8km north to a camp overlooking the First Lake, which you reach (in true explorer fashion) by wading thigh-deep across the estuary channel - a great place to come and snorkel later.
- Day Two heads back south for 14km to the Bhanga Nek camp near the beach. Reward yourself here with an afternoon's swimming, snorkelling or fishing off the beach. During the turtle survey season you can take a fabulous turtle-spotting walk in the evening to watch the females lay their eggs on the beach.
- Potter around on the morning of Day Three enjoying the beach and rock pools before hiking 7km on to the riverside Sihadla Trail camp where you'll sleep in small thatch and reed huts.
- Cross the river on a punt to start the longer final day, 15km through stunning raffia palm forest to the Nhlange base camp where you can stay the night again or leave the same day.
See our accommodation guide for places to stay near Kosi Bay that offer a little luxury to reward your travails.
Prices: R3,500 per group for up to 10 people with a deposit of R1,500 to confirm the booking with the balance to be paid a month before the start. R20 pp and R15 per vehicle entry fee to reserve not included. You will need to take all your own food. Porters are available at extra cost. Accommodation in log cabins and campsites.
The reserve gates open at sunrise and close at sunset.
It takes about 7 hours to drive to the reserve from Pretoria and 5 hours from Durban. Ask for directions when you book.
Contact: Kosi Nature Reserve, off N2 at Jozini.
Tel: 031-783-4610 to book trails.