A day spent in nature
The weekend is rolling around, or there’s a public holiday insight, and you don’t feel like doing the same old, same old. You want some adventure, a day in the countryside and preferably the chance to see animals in the wild. Except you’re not in the mood for a marathon roadtrip to get all those boxes checked. If you live in and around the Durban area, we’ve got a boredom buster trip for you to Shongweni Dam.
South Africa has a plethora of game reserves, many of them far between the big towns making them inaccessible to the majority. There are however a few smaller nature reserves on the outskirts of big cities that are perfect for day trips, and don’t need 4x4s to see everything they have on offer.
Taking the N3 north out of Durban towards the hills, up through Marian Hill toll and exiting at the Assagay/Shongweni exit. An easy drive the N3 winds through lush green forests, slowly changing from the lush-tropical foliage into the green woodlands and sugarcane fields. If tolls are not your thing you can take Fields Hill or the King Cetshwayo Highway, a fearsome ribbon of tarmac with a steep gradient and plenty of corners. A Comrades Marathon veteran will recognise the bitumen, particularly if they did the ‘up’ run. From there the M13 exits to Shongweni/Assagay and it’s a short drive down to Shongweni Dam.
A drive through sugarcane fields, through the village of Shongweni will lead to the entrance gates. Shongweni Dam has 51-hectres of water surface on offer, popular with canoeists and fishermen. The 1 800-hectre reserve may be small by South African standards though it has plenty on offer.
While swimming is not permitted in the dam there are plenty of other ways to have fun or occupy the kids between snack time and lunchtime. For the extreme adventurer’s there’s abseiling and rock-climbing on offer. Those who want to see the reserve from a different perspective can take to the water on a guided-kayak tour or a bush walk that can be tailored to the distance covered, perfect for families or walking enthusiasts.
Pack the padkos, picnic blankets, and camping chairs and your swimmers if tanning is in the plan. The hours of a day pass easily so prepare enough food and drinks for the whole day, even if you plan to be there for two-hours you’ll end up staying longer. A wonderful way to spend a day, no music is permitted which makes the experience even better as you listen to the sound of nature.
If you’ve seen enough of your home and need an overnight break you can book into the campsite, book a tented cabin or check into the lodge to wake-up to the chorus of frogs and birds, there are 200 recorded species that call the reserve home.
To see what Ntshongweni Nature Reserve has on offer you can visit their website here.